By Asif Durrani

Lessons from the Indian brinkmanship

March 9, 2019

What lessons have we learnt from Mr. Modi’s misadventure in the past week? Alertness to face the enemy on the diplomatic and military fronts has been the major takeaway for Pakistan of this episode which won accolades globally from friends and foes. The second important lesson which our policy makers may have learnt is that in the international arena, it is your own prowess which saves the day for you. Third and most important gain from Pakistan’s point of view has been the internationalization of Kashmir dispute, much to the chagrin of India. Fourth, and pleasantly surprising for Pakistan, was Russian offer of mediation between Pakistan and India, which, of course, India did not like a bit.

For the time being the danger of war has been averted through intervention from influential friends and prudent handling by the government at the military and diplomatic fronts. The Indian opposition has also realised that Prime Minister Modi has taken them for a ride by turning the Pulwama incident to his advantage to boost his declining popularity dented due to controversial Rafale aircraft deal. His hyper-nationalist agenda has not only alienated the minorities, especially Muslims, but created a fear psychosis in the country which may have wider ramifications in the region where Muslims are in majority.

Alarmingly, Hindutva forces have unleashed their jingoistic agenda in full force. Minorities are being coerced to submission. So much so that liberal Hindus are being stigmatized and hounded not only in the social media but at times harmed physically. Under pressure many objective journalists who earned a good name in their profession have succumbed to the Hindutva agenda and those still opposing have to face the wrath of Hindutva brigade.

Chauvinism breeds jingoism and its practitioners can play havoc with their own people and cause instability in the neighbourhood. Had Hitler and Mussolini not been the leaders of Germany and Italy, respectively, one could say safely that the world would have been saved from the destruction of the Second World War which cost 60 million lives in the European, Asian and African continents. Unfortunately, Indian people have elected a person whose hands are already tainted with the blood of over 2000 Muslims when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was declared international pariah while his entry in the US and many western capitals was banned. But politics makes strange bedfellows; as soon as Mr. Modi got elected on hyper nationalist agenda doors were opened for him in the US and European capitals. His preference for expensive defence equipment made him a darling of the West.

That modern defence technology may be a blessing but “it is the man behind machine” which matters. This phenomenon was on display when Pakistan promptly responded to India in its post Pulwama adventure. The international media has been unanimous in its assessment that the Indian armed forces could not cope up with the defence equipment either being obsolete or very old, or lack of motivation in the armed forces which proved disastrous for India in a tit-for-tat spat with Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) won accolades for its professionalism which finally turned the tables. Even subsequent attacks by India along the Line of Control (LOC) turned out to be a fatal blow to its ground forces when responded by the Pakistani counterparts.

While there may be lull in the Indian adventure, Pakistan has to remain alert all the time as India is likely to use combination of military and diplomatic channels to pressurize Pakistan. India may exercise variety of options against Pakistan; the foremost being 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council to get the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) a terrorist organization and arrest of its leaders. Secondly, being a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), India may strive to put Pakistan from the existing “Grey List” to the “Black List”. If it succeeds, Pakistan, in the Blacklist, may face tremendous problems in the international banking sector, which would badly damage Pakistan’s trade. Concurrently, international financial institutions may also become reluctant to come to Pakistan’s rescue because of overwhelming presence of FATF member states in the international financial institutions.

Government of Pakistan’s action against the proscribed organizations, including arrest of top leadership of these organizations, is timely and need to be followed up vigorously. Indian media has started claiming that GoP’s action is a result of Indian pressure, but being unaware of the fact that this action was already in the offing following the recommendations of the National Security Council (NSC) in its meeting in January this year, much before the Pulwama incident. These actions are a corollary of evolving developments in the region, foremost being the ongoing dialogue between the US government and the Taliban which Pakistan would desire to conclude successfully. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan can usher in an era of prosperity in the region and positively contribute to strengthening Pakistan’s regional policy.

 Second, completion of first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and keen interest expressed by the leading Gulf states to invest in Gwadar to take benefit of the state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities offered by the EPEC is going to be a game changer for Pakistan. Third, promotion of tourism in the country can project Pakistan’s soft image and generate revenues for the country in the shortest possible time. However, presence of proscribed organizations may be detrimental for Pakistan becoming a desirable tourist destination.

There are also reports that some of the proscribed organizations have been expressing strong reservations over government’s intrusive monitoring of those organizations following a clear warning to their leaders not to meddle in the country’s external affairs. Unfortunately, Mr. Modi reacted in haste in maligning Pakistan when Prime Minister Imran Khan assured that if India provided concrete evidence, his government would take immediate action against the perpetrators. The incumbent government has taken a decision in principle to wind up these organizations as they have lived their utility.

Lashkar-e-Taiaba (LeT) or Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) may have been involved in the past in the occupied Kashmir in motivating or training the Kashmiri youth. However, during the past three decades Kashmiri people under the Indian occupation have gained enough political capital to counter the Indian narrative–”Kashmir is an integral part of India”. Now the Indian political leaders and commentators have started saying without qualms that “Kashmiri alienation against India is complete”. Kashmiris celebrate India’s Independence Day as “black day”, while they unfurl Pakistani flags on each occasion whether it is Pakistan’s Independence Day or a Kashmiri freedom fighter’s funeral. At the moment India’s link with Kashmir is only through the guns, but its attempts to bludgeon the Kashmiris to submission have miserably failed.

By internationalizing the issue, India has paved the way for international mediation and a chance for the Kashmiris to present their case to the international community. And Kashmiris have learnt a lesson from the Taliban book that “Indian forces may have watches, but Kashmiris have time”. Having sustained Indian repression for the past three decades Kashmiri freedom fighters have become a formidable force and their strength is growing by the day. By maligning Pakistan India cannot sidestep the Kashmir issue or justify it occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. The only option is a negotiated solution in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

(Source: Daily Times)

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