Domestic compulsions determine reactions

Domestic compulsions determine reactions

By Pankaj Vohra | 24 September, 2016

The recent attack by a Pakistan trained fidayeen squad on Indian Army personnel at Uri, a garrison town located near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has created a war like situation between India and Pakistan. It is evident that rattled by New Delhi’s decision to raise the issue of atrocities on the Baloch people at the global level, Islamabad acted in haste to strike at Uri, leaving at least 19 jawans killed on the Indian side. The Pakistan intention was clear that the focus had to be brought back on Kashmir if international attention was to be diverted from Balochistan and the excesses of the Pakistan army. In that limited extent, Pakistan did succeed to some degree. However, what happened at the United Nations General Assembly a few days later was perhaps the most shameful speech by a head of government ever at the august forum.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his address, devoted a lion’s share of his allotted time on India and on Kashmir, knowing full well that the issue can be resolved solely through bilateral dialogue as agreed upon during the Shimla pact between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Sharif appeared to be under immense pressure while delivering his address and to everyone’s shocking amazement portrayed the late Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander as some sort of an iconic figure. Sharif’s praise of Wani and his feeble attempts to identify himself with the people of Kashmir were certainly a part of a well thought out strategy by the military rulers controlling the nation from Rawalpindi.

According to knowledgeable sources, had Sharif not offered salutations to Wani in his speech, he would have faced huge trouble back home. He was like a caged parrot mouthing every word under stern and strict instructions of the army, whom he fears, having been deposed by General Pervez Musharraf soon after the Kargil conflict in the late 1990s. Sharif spoke about Kashmir and the struggle of its people, with the aim of discrediting the Indian establishment. He called for a plebiscite, which is improbable due to political compulsions on both sides, as also Pakistan’s reluctance to give up its claim on what it refers to as Azad Kashmir, or as we refer to as Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Sharif may not have realised the consequences of what he stated at the United Nations, though the whole world is in full knowhow that Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of all terrorist activities, especially in relation to the United States. The recent terrorist incident in New York, like many previous ones, had been committed by a militant who had some while ago been to Pakistan and was recruited by the Inter State Intelligence (ISI) to carry out such acts on American soil. There is already pressure on the US leadership to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state, so that economic sanctions can be applied without any further delay. The Americans have been especially peeved with Pakistan ever since Osama Bin Laden was traced and eliminated by the US Seals in Abbottabad, a garrison town.

The tragic irony for the Pakistan leadership is that no one anywhere in the world is willing to buy its sob story regarding their country being the biggest victim of terrorism. This, despite the fact that they have been continuously crying hoarse that a large number of their soldiers and civilians have borne the brunt of terrorist strikes. The Americans, who were amongst the closest allies of Islamabad, have apparently realised that there was no reason left to support the soon to be terrorist state. It is very significant to note that the State Department in the US treats Pakistan as a part of South Asia, but the Defense Department has clubbed Pakistan in Central Asia, along with countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.

On the other hand, New Delhi too needs to pull up its socks and show better preparedness so far as dealing with Pakistan is concerned. It is no secret that the Indian security forces and the intelligence agencies were caught napping when Uri happened. They had simply not taken sufficient preventive measures. The Centre must fix accountability and ensure that such lapses do not recur.

The government should act firmly after giving proper thought to all the various aspects which would get impacted if there is immediate retaliation. Some of the BJP leaders continue to behave as if they are in the opposition and therefore have come up with jingoistic responses. “A whole jaw for a tooth” is not the appropriate kind of statement from a senior functionary, when the Prime Minister is seized of the matter and is considering various options. In sharp contrast to what his take on Pakistan terror strikes was prior to his taking over as PM, Narendra Modi displayed a lot of political maturity in giving out his initial reaction. The hallmark of a responsible leader is that he acts stridently, but with restraint to choose the timing of his liking.

What has made matters worse is that some sections have been trying to spread rumours that India has already taken revenge for Uri by attacking terrorist camps in PoK. There is no need for such misinformation, because the present government will certainly not keep mum on its concrete actions when they actually happen on the ground. Between us.

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