In an embarrassing twist, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, on Tuesday contradicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by admitting before a parliamentary panel that the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too. Jaishankar added that this was for the first time the government has gone public about it, a Parliamentary panel was told today, in remarks that appear to contradict the Defence Minister’s claim.
Jaishankar gave this information to the Parliamentary Committee on Exernal Affairs 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.
His comments came on the same day Modi had implied that the Indian army was not able to carry out surgical strikes in the past and it was only Israel, which could conduct such missions.
In a chest thumping mode, Modi had told the crowd in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, “Earlier it was done by countries like Israel but Indian trooops proved that they are no less.”
The top diplomat’s comments also assume significance in the context of claims by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s last week rejecting Congress’s claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government too.
Janta Ka Reporter’s editor-in-chief, Rifat Jawaid, had reported on the day the Indian government dubbed the surgical strike as the first in Indian history that there were several similar military missions during the Manmohan Singh government’s regime. The report by Rifat had gone viral and was shared more than one lakh times just on Facebook.
He 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.
Jaishankar also told the Committee that while 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 said soon after the operations had ended, the Director General Military Operations of the Pakistan Army was informed about the strikes.
During the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat also gave details of the strikes targeting terrorist launch pads across the LoC.
(With PTI inputs)