Govt, Army brief Parl panel about Surgical Strikes

FILE: File photo of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File photo of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.
Photo – PTI

Briefing Parliamentary panel about the surgical strikes carried by the Indian army on terror launch pads across the LoC, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told that the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it.

Jaishankar gave this information to the Parliamentary Committee on Exernal Affairs, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, when he was specifically asked by MPs whether surgical strikes have been done in the past.

“Professionally done, target-specific, limited calibre counter-terrorist operations have been carried out across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time that the government has made it public,” according to sources present in the meeting.

The Foreign Secretary’s comments assume significance in the context of claims by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s claims last week rejecting Congress’s claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government too.

Parrikar had asserted that it was the first time that surgical strikes had taken place in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and what was undertaken previously were operations locally executed by commanders without involving the government.

Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar and DG BSF KK Sharma were also present at the meeting besides the Foreign Secretary and the Vice Chief of Army Staff.

Among the members, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, whose remarks on surgical strikes accusing the government of politicising the issue had created controversy, too attended the meet. Gandhi, however, did not ask any questions, a member said.

Jammu: BSF personnel keeping a tight vigil at the International Border. Photo - PTI

Jammu: BSF personnel keeping a tight vigil at the International Border.
Photo – PTI

Briefing further on spike in India-Pakistan tension off-late, Jaishankar said India has been engaging with Pakistan post the September 29 surgical strikes, but no “calendar” has so far been prepared regarding future engagement and its level with Islamabad, members said on condition of anonymity.

He also said soon after the operations had ended, the Director General Military Operations of the Pakistan Army was informed about the strikes.

Government representatives told the panel that the strikes have fulfilled the purpose as of now and there will always be a nagging doubt in the Pakistani establishment whether India will carry out similar operations in the future.

A Congress member wanted to know whether similar operations could be carried out in the future.

Later in the evening, sources in the government told the press that “What FS said is that the key issue is that we went public after conducting the surgical strikes which conveyed a politico-military message. Whether any previous crossings had been done only the army would know. But it is irrelevant anyway because there was no message”.

(With inputs from the PTI)