Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - NATION - Jayanth Ja­cob

NEW DELHI: Af­ter years of stra te­gic res­train, In­dia’s Pak­istan pol­icy got a ‘de­fen­sive-of­fen­sive pos­ture on Wed­nes­day.

The essence of this tran­si­tion is a po­lit­i­cal mes­sag­ing to the do­mes­tic au­di­ence that the Mod govern­ment is not afraid of exer cis­ing mil­i­tary op­tion against the nu­clear-armed neigh­bour.

The use of mil­i­tary op­tion, in a re­strained form, comes af­ter the govern­ment’s over­drive to diplo­mat­i­cally iso­late Pak­istan In­dia was suc­cess­ful in scut­tling the Saarc sum­mit Pak­istan was to host on Novem­ber 9-10 in Is­lam­abad.

The govern­ment re­viewed the 1960 In­dus water shar­ing pact and de­cided to step up ef­forts to make use of water right­fully be­long­ing to it un­der the treaty

“The govern­ment showed it can exercise po­lit­i­cal, di­plo matic as well as mil­i­tary op­tions Mil­i­tary op­tion was not some thing In­dia wasn’t keen on us­ing un­der its strate­gic res­train pol icy,” said for­mer for­eign se­cre tary Lalit Mans­ingh.

But New Delhi has pitched ex­er­cis­ing mil­i­tary op­tion as a counter-ter­ror­ism mea­sure for the in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence This fits in the nar­ra­tive of In­dia be­ing a vic­tim of con­tin­u­ous cross-bor­der ter­ror­ism and any govern­ment which faces such con­sis­tent on­slaught would run out of pa­tience.

From at­tack on Pathankot air­base, strike on its diplo­matic mis­sions in Afghanistan to kill ing of 18 sol­diers in Uri, In­dia has been un­der at­tack from Pak­istan-based mil­i­tant out­fits

Even when for­eign sec­re­tary S Jais­hankar sum­moned Pak­istan en­voy on the Uri at­tack, two oper ations were un­der way to fend off in­fil­tra­tors. “The mes­sage is that there is a limit to gov ern­ment be­ing mute wit­ness to mind­less cross-bor­der vi­o­lence,” Mans­ingh said.

And do­mes­ti­cally, the narra tive gives mus­cle for the BJP. As the op­tics of the Cen­tre us­ing mil itary op­tion against Pak­istan gets played up, it will help the party po­lit­i­cally and add to the im­age of Prime Minister Naren­dra Modi be­ing a de­ci­sive leader.

On the other hand, Modi has enough to show to the world that he did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to be friendly with Pak­istan. And it just didn’t work out. “He tried his best to mend ways with Pak­istan but failed,” said Mans­ingh. But the world pow­ers will be wor­ried about any con­flict between the two nu­clear-armed rivals. There will be pres­sure to thwart any es­ca­la­tion in hos­til­i­ties between the neigh­bours be­cause of vari ous fac­tors, in­clud­ing the ten­u­ous po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan.

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