Surgical strike carried out on September 29th, 2016 was meant to be Prime Minister’s moment of glory. Now it looks like a sham. The Indian Army also called it a great success. This operation was shrouded with controversy right from the day one when its video was leaked to the public.
First, there was an intense debate on whether the government should publish videos or photographic evidence of the strike after Pakistan claimed that no such strike had taken place. Similar demands, made by politicians such as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, were dubbed “anti-national.” They were projected by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and some news channels, as questioning the Indian Army itself. This was not as if this kind of operation never happened before, but they were not to be made public.
As part of the government’s policy of “strategic restraint,” the government allowed the army to deal with cross-border actions against Pakistan at an “operational, tactical level.”One of the important national news paper “The Hindu” published a detailed account   of “Operation Ginger,” carried out in 2011. This “strike” was executed to avenge the killing and beheading of Indian soldiers.
During Operation Ginger, Indian soldiers meted out the same treatment to Pakistani personnel across the LoC. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s national security adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, added his weight to these claims. Covert operations were not announced to the country because the primary goal was to pacify the LoC and cut down infiltration and ceasefire violations, not to manage public opinion at home.
 By keeping operations covert rather than overt, it was made possible for the Pakistan Army to climb down and for a temporary peace to be re-established.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, had reportedly decided to launch a surgical strike across the border while watching a television live debate and it sounds so ridiculous that it is incomprehensible to any sound bodied person.
 BJP did not lose any time to take its political mileage as some of its leaders in UP started reminding all of us that prime minister’s Modi’s chest is “56 inches wide” and posters also appeared in UP celebrating the surgical strike, juxta positioning the prime minister’s photo with the image of the silent soldier and some handy text threatening Pakistan.
In some of these, Prime Minister was also portrayed as Lord Ram and his Pakistani counterpart as the demon king Ravana.
Party president, Amit Shah, said, “We will go to the people with this issue—because every responsible party should motivate the army.”
 The then Defense Minister, Manohar Parikar, had compared the Indian Army to Hanuman (the powerful monkey god). In the epic Ramayana, Hanuman, who could move mountains, had to be made aware of his capabilities by Jambawan (the bear king) and he also planned a “victory rally” in his home state Goa; but following criticism, he postponed it.


Yesterday (7th December 2018), Lt General (retired) D S Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control in the wake of the Uri attack, said the “overhype” of the strikes did not help and “it is not good” when “military operations get politicized”.
 He was speaking in a seminar on the ‘Role of Cross-Border Operations and Surgical Strikes’ at the ongoing Military Literature Festival and he further added that, following the surgical strikes, there were accusations that the issue had been politicized, that there was an “attempt to keep a purely military operation in the political domain by selective leaks of videos, photographs etc”.
He did not stop here and said, “Did the overhype help? I say, completely no. If you start having political resonance in military operations, it is not good. There was too much political banter, on both sides, and when military operations get politicized, that is not good.”
On the possibility of the strikes impacting the thought process of decision-makers in future operations, the former Army Commander said “if you hype a successful operation, then even success has its burden”. He further added that Indian army will think twice next time (what) if there are casualties because it has been so overhyped, and politicized. 
Have we ever thought that what happens if it does not have the same level of success? It may impose some caution in future. If the country had done it quietly, it would have been much better. The strikes were purely tactical in nature with short-term goals and of no strategic value to deter the Pakistan Army from backing future terror attacks. 
The retired general summed it up at the end that when his team was planning it, there was no thought in their mind that Pakistan would stop doing Uri-like incidents.
The conclusion of his talk is very clear and a very straight message has been sent about this government’s Pakistan policy, “As we all know that the aim of the strikes could have been fulfilled through artillery fire. We had had massive artillery duels, but it was not helping.

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