This is how it unfolded. The Uri film releases, with the media very transparently hyping it up. Just a month later, in the midst of the Rafael controversy, out of the blue, comes an opportunity to replicate that (disputed) strike in real life again, just two months before the elections.
The North Korean Indian TV channels activate full-blown mass hysteria. (While South Korea gives Modi a peace prize.)
Suddenly, the Pulwama attack is more about Pakistan than Kashmir, more about World Cup cricket than time-honoured rogue terrorism and most disconcertedly, more about war than dialogue.
Despite zero proof that the Pakistanis are involved this time (unlike, say, in 2008), there is zero benefit of doubt given to the new Pakistani PM (who, in his own response, explains how terribly inconvenient the timing of such an attack is for him while he tries to raise money from the Saudis), and the Indian strike happens, in the darkness of 3-30 a.m.
Our media claims 300 people are killed (wonder who counted?) and an entire camp destroyed (with absolutely zero evidence; in fact, the Indian Defence Ministry said to Bloomberg that they “have no information of air strike on Pakistan”, which is beyond bizarre). Pakistan does not deny the attack, but claims only one injury and no damage (videos trickling in now, purportedly “proving” that).
Modi’s uninhibited glee at a rally in Rajasthan suggests he has won the elections. There are full-throated celebrations all around (a Delhi restaurant offers 20% off with the discount code ‘FPAKAGAIN’).
Four questions. One, if Indian intelligence knew about those terror camps before, why did we wait so long to “destroy” them? Two, why exactly were so many terrorists gathered together in one space, especially with an impending strike being threatened by India for a few days? Three, after all these years of claiming the moral high ground, is this then the first instance in independent India’s history that we have become aggressors? Four, since we have been so keen to shout about this strike from the rooftops, how does this foray play on the international stage?
Since Pakistan denies any casualties (and the international media completely supports their version currently), their sensible option would simply be to not respond to the attack (except a symbolic gesture or two to soothe their hardliners) and claim once again that Modi did this for election publicity. And focus international attention on the border transgression (which is what has genuinely stung them).
So, in the end, how exactly has India gained anything? Forget the facts (which might be even more damaging), in pure perception terms on current evidence, how has India benefited?
Or was India’s benefit even the point in any of this?