An Indian Drama
Every new day brings another fresh attempt by India to ramp up its campaign against Pakistan and fool the world and its own people. After the Uri attacks, India fired verbal volleys in holding us responsible without a shred of evidence. It then pulled out of next month’s Saarc summit and issued threats to disregard its treaty obligations by withdrawing from the Indus Waters Treaty. For six hours early on Thursday morning it launched military strikes across the Line of Control and the Indian media, with typical hawkish relish, echoed sources from its government, declaring them ‘surgical strikes’ at terrorist teams. The Indian media, even by its own very low standards, has acted shamelessly by throwing all the rules of journalism out of the window. The ISPR has contradicted the Indian claim and said the firing was indiscriminate and unprovoked and that Pakistan responded by firing back. There is ample reason to doubt the official Indian version. It is far too convenient for India to suddenly discover the exact locations of supposed terrorists at a time when it is itching for a fight and to provoke Pakistan into one. In fact, a more accurate assessment would be that the claim of surgical strikes inside Pakistan is nonsense – unless the Indian media wants to claim that the surgical strikes intended to target Pakistani army check posts. The Pakistan Army and government have said what occurred Wednesday night (September 29, 2016) was cross-border firing. There is every reason to believe this sequence of events, with the ISPR backing it up with a detailed account.
Modi has drawn himself into a corner with his tough talk. He has been so belligerent throughout his tenure as prime minister and so critical of his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s relative restraint that the Indian public is expecting an aggressive response to an act Modi has explicitly blamed on Pakistan. Modi’s history and rhetoric suggest there is nothing he would like more than an all-out war but the nuclear deterrent has worked so far in ruling that out. To appease those he has so riled up, Modi is going as far as he can and this unjustifiable firing seems part of that strategy. There is a real danger that Modi’s strategy will spiral out of control. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said nine Pakistani soldiers were injured and ISPR confirmed the death of two soldiers. As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in response to India’s violation of the ceasefire line, Pakistan’s restraint should not be mistaken for weakness. Should India continue its aggression, events could spark a major regional conflagration, something even someone as enamoured of war as Modi should want to avoid. Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria was correct in saying Modi is trying to fool both the Indian people and international community into thinking Pakistan is the problem rather than India’s continued occupation and brutal crackdown in Kashmir. The situation is growing increasingly unpleasant. The dangers too grow by the hour. It is time for the international community to take very serious notice of all that is going on, and for Pakistan to persuade it to do so.