Close on the heels of a ghastly suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy killing over 40 personnel near Pulwama on Jammu-Srinagar highway, a Major-rank officer of Indian Army lost his life on Saturday (February 16). He met the tragedy while defusing an improvised explosive device. The second unfortunate incident that also led to injuries to a soldier took place in Nowshera sector near Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir. The explosive is suspected to have been planted by intruders from Pakistan near the Line of Control.
The two incidents reported within a gap of only 48 hours have, indeed, once again put Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in the dock as the JEM took responsibility for the first attack on Srinagar-bound CRPF jawans soon after an explosive laden car rammed one of the buses in the convoy on Thursday, or February 14.
But such a bloodbath cannot be without the culpability of the larger Pakistani establishment. In incidents like the latest two as also other similar attempts in the past to destabilise Jammu and Kashmir there has never been a doubt about the role of Pakistan army and its intelligence agency ISI. Taken together the gun totting blowhards and Pakistan’s regular army and intelligence brass pose a twin-challenge not only across their borders for India but also to Pakistan itself and other neighbours too.
Thus, the question that arises is how to stem this out to at least keep this side of the border safe. It is all the more serious since meddling from the other side has been continuing for decades now. The vexed issue cannot be fully understood without looking at Islamabad’s modus operandi that it has relentlessly followed since the times of military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. And it has been built and nurtured to fight an indirect battle by creating a deadly war theatre in neighbouring Afghanistan. Ever since Zia’s times this has also changed the terms of conventional warfare both in the neighbourhood and much beyond it.
So much so that now the wars through the better part of the world and for many years are unstated and yet no less lethal than what could be the case with a declared war. The main persona, or player, behind such slow, consistent and unduly long showdowns has the advantage of having a buffer between him and the target. Taliban in Afghanistan have been the real executioners of Pakistan’s war plans since the time of Russian invasion while the Pakistani army has been operating from behind the scenes. This continues to be so after Russians left and is still the case.
As for Kashmir the low to medium intensity battle and conflict that have been going on in the Valley for about three-decades now alongside that of Afghanistan Pakistan could often get advantage by pretending to be engaged on Afghan front and yet keeping the Kashmir pot boiling.
The international community and more so the United States did turn against Taliban fighters after Russia’s exit but not Pakistan completely till this day. Since American troops are now trying to get out of Afghanistan Pakistan knows that the US withdrawal is not going to be possible without Islamabad’s backing and assurance for taking care of Kabul. With America recalling its troops from Afghanistan as is increasingly becoming likely Pakistan could well get more clout in the region though it is clearly going to be detrimental for India’s interests.
Buoyed up by the prospects of changing situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to be more inclined to escalate tension on the other front, or in Kashmir. It is in this context that the latest incident in Pulwama deserves to be seen.
The kind of outrage it has generated throughout the country, indeed, calls for a befitting response by the Government. Diplomatic efforts alone to isolate Pakistan may not be enough to assuage indignation. Thus, a military option is now being said to be very much on the table.
Its outcome cannot be predicted though the idea behind a possible military action or strike has to be aimed at deterring Pakistan from any further attempts at destabilisation in Jammu and Kashmir, or for that matter in also other parts of the country. More so when the chances are high that Pakistan may well turn Talibans’ attention to Kashmir after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as per the fears being expressed by the strategic experts.
Somehow, the timing of Pulwama attack by militants has been too close to be missed to the countrywide general elections. And since the attack has palpable signs of Pakistan’s backing the turn that the events to come may take can well have a bearing on the upcoming polls.
Thus, what is imperative is that while calling to teach a lesson to Pakistan the anger and bitterness should not spill over to have a toll domestically. Certain incidents that rocked Jammu and a few other cities during protests in the aftermath of Pulwama indicate that the anger brought by the tragedy faced by the personnel of the paramilitary force on Thursday can well get misdirected. This can only suit the enemy on the one hand and also make the situation back home fraught with unintended outcomes.
No intermix of the domestic politics with the situation arisen in the wake of the tragic attack at Pulwama can be afforded both from the point of view of giving an appropriate response to the tragedy inflicted on the Jawans and keeping the country at a higher moral ground than what has been the case with Pakistan.
The distinction that the world makes between India and Pakistan is because of the ethos evolved, built and nursed by the two countries ever since their birth as virtual twins though the two always had had a estranged relationship. It is only the idea of India because of which the country is not only different from Pakistan today but also has an edge over most other countries of the post-colonial third world. This difference should only move for better instead of being allowed to get blurred and lost.
More so, since attacks like Pulwama are also an assault on the very idea that India has always been credited with. And it has been mainly because of its civilian, multiparty, democratic rule unlike Pakistan that often had had long spells of military dictatorship and military-supported governments as it is also the case now.