Even as the Congress central leadership restricted itself to supporting the government in deciding the nature and scope of response after the Pulwama terror attack, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday called for a military retaliation.
“Pakistan has killed 41 of our men, we should kill 82. They won’t get the message if we don’t retaliate. Apart from economic pressures, a military response is needed. I am not calling for a war but a tit-for-tat policy is a must,” the Congress veteran said.
He argued that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s posturing about friendly relations means nothing unless Pakistan stops backing terrorism.
Responding to Khan’s statement on the attack, the Punjab chief minister tweeted: “Dear Imran Khan, you have Jaish chief Masood Azhar sitting in Bahawalpur & masterminding the attacks with ISI help. Go pick him up from there. If you can’t let us know, we’ll do it for you.”
Singh added: “By the way, what has been done about the proofs of Mumbai’s 26/11 attack? Time to walk the talk.”
Asking what more proof Khan wants, he said: “JeM chief Masood Azhar is sitting there…. So what kind of a statement is this? …If even one of our jawans is martyred, we should kill two of theirs.”
Although the Congress leadership hasn’t articulated this so far, they are in sync with Singh’s posturing. “We can’t imagine how any government can afford to ignore this provocation. What Amarinder is saying is right; we don’t want war but the nation will not be satisfied without a befitting reply,” a leader said.
The party’s communication chief, Randeep Surjewala, tweeted: “It is regrettable and shameful that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is still speaking the language of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Don’t forget Indira Gandhi and Indian Army in 1971 divided Pakistan and created Bangladesh. 91,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered in Dhaka.”
Through these interventions, the Congress is trying to ensure the Narendra Modi government doesn’t run away with credit after executing a military response that the party presumes is on the cards.
The Congress leadership and the Punjab chief minister had promptly told off Navjot Singh Sidhu whose initial remark about all of Pakistan not being at fault was vehemently criticised for not being in tune with the national sentiment.
Sidhu immediately came up with a nuanced stance, asserting that no perpetrator be spared. He also pointed out the failure of the Modi government to protect the soldiers.
Sidhu asked: “Why and how did soldiers die? Who freed Masood Azhar? Why no permanent solution so far?”
Azhar was one of three jailed militants freed by the BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the Kandahar hijack. He then went to Pakistan and formed the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The Congress central leadership, too, will come up with a forceful articulation pointing out the Modi government’s failure in tackling Pakistan. It will highlight how former
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn’t visit Pakistan despite countless invitations during his 10-year term while Modi not only visited Islamabad uninvited but also invited the Pakistani spy agency ISI into the Pathankot air force base.