K B Jandial
The worst ever terror strike at Pulwama on February 14 martyring 44 brave hearts of CRPF has united India in grief and anger. As the shroud of sadness descended on the nation the political parties temporarily buried their mutual animosity and politics, and announced full support to Central Govt for taking any step that is necessary in the situation. Regrettably, the political unity didn’t last more than 48 hours. And in seven days this façade vanished with politicians lashing were at each other even when pyres of the martyrs are still smoldering.
PM Modi has warned Pakistan and terrorist organisations for this horrendous terror attack four times in just 24 hours which were received with tumultuous public response, representing the hostile mood of India. But are these actionable warnings meant to assuage the public outrage across the country? But the fact remains that everybody including Modi bashers would like these warnings go real and not remain just hallow bravados. After all, it is a matter of India’s honour. Next three to four weeks shall make things clear.
Meanwhile, within four days of Pulwama massacre, the security forces eliminated two Pakistani Jaish top commanders, who masterminded the terror attack but at a heavy cost. The prompt cordon and search operation in nearby localities led to fierce encounter and elimination of Jaish’s top leadership in South Kashmir. Despite a quick retribution, it could not satisfy the public outrage. Nation is expecting much more.
In the aftermath of this carnage, it haunts the nation as to what PM Modi and our defence forces would do for retribution of the sacrifices of brave hearts. While ‘Josh’ of security forces including CRPF is still ‘very high’ and the nation doesn’t want to ‘forget and forgive’ the pain of this attack, what are the options available to “teach Pakistan a lesson”?While security forces are laying down their lives in Kashmir on daily basis and the scene of Pulwama’s horrifying bloodbath still fresh,a few of the likes of Navjot Singh Sidhu taken to a counter narrative of dialogue with Pakistan. They need to be named and shamed for holding PM Imran and Pakistan above the nation which boils the blood of many at this moment.
Pulwama forced India to go in for economic and diplomatic offensive that did show seriousness of the Govt as compared to the earlier terror strikes. Withdrawal of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan and 200 percent hike on exports from Pakistan are the important economic penalties. Pakistan’s annual export is valued at about Rs 3500 crore. For a country which is economically shattered even this small revenue should matter but in reality Pakistan doesn’t seem to be worried on this count.
As part of quick diplomatic offensive New Delhi based envoys were briefed and secured condemnation of more than 50 nations of this barbaric terror strike within 24 hours and more condemnations followed. Steps to internationally isolating Pakistan too have limited impact on Pakistan as China, Saudi and UAE are at its back and don’t support the charge of Pakistan’s involvement of terrorism. China continues to help Pakistan on all fronts and checkmate India on Pak abetted terrorism in Kashmir despite openly waging a brutal war against Islamists and radicalisation within its country. It is no secret that China doesn’t brook any voice of Islamic jihad and crush Islamists in her country. But it doesn’t give any quarter to India by supporting any economic sanction against its all-weather ally and proposed UN Security Council to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist since March 2016 despite Jaish accepting responsibility of Pulwama strike. China is pursuing it in the commercial and strategic interest in CPEC passing through PoK.
Saudi Arabia, despite being an increasingly friendly with India and agreed to invest here $100 billion, still bailed out Pakistan. Crown Prince Mohd Bin Salman not only gave clean chit to Pakistan on Pulwama terror attack during his visit to Pakistan on 19 February, 2019 but also gave her financial commitment of $20billon. UAE is also extending economic aid to Pakistan.
US which has asked India to exercise right of self defence against Pakistan still wish to keep its ties with Pakistan intact as Pakistan continues to be relevant for her in peace process in Afghanistan.
India is trying to get international financial help to Pakistan, reeling under huge financial problems,from international institutions, stopped through Financial Action Task Force which has sought compliance of its directions on funding terror groups. While India submitted a comprehensive dossier on LeT and Pakistan’s involvement in terrorist strike at Pulwama, FATF in its meeting on Friday at Paris has put Pak on notice with 10-point action agenda and kept it again in Grey List despite its hurried ban on 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed led Jamat-ud-Dawa. FATF will now take the call in Octobermeeting.
Another major step taken was to withdraw the personal security to four Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz Farooq. While this step has no consequences on the situation in Kashmir or Pakistan’s role, but it definitely meets the widespread demand of the people across the country for spending Indian tax payers’ money on those who work for secession of Kashmir from India. Decidedly, it was logical to do so even if it is inconsequential on the situation.
While Pakistan, as usual, shot down India’s indictment of its involvement, Pak PM Imran Khan who seems to be rattled by global condemnation, PM Modi’s threats of retribution and some of the Indian actions, reacted after five days through a video statement that was visibly edited, presumably by the army. Like his predecessors, he too has sought proof of Pak involvement in Pulwama terror strike and “promised” to take action if found true. It didn’t cut ice with India as it had handed over to Pakistan volumes of proofs to substantiate involvement of Jaish after terror attack on Parliament, Mumbai, Pathankot, and in the latter case, India unconventionally even gave access to Pak team, reportedly had ISI men in it, to Pathankot airbase; and what happened? Pakistan is in the usual denial mode! There is no way Indiacan make Pakistan to accept any proof? What more proof Imran Khan wanted when ISI’s launched and Pakistan based, JeM has owned the responsibility of the attack. Imran Khan can take back bodies of its two terrorists-Ghazi and Kamran, and get their DNA confirmed to satisfy himself. It is Pakistan’s old trick to divert the emotionally charged issue through its ‘Make India Fool’ policy and buy time before the matter is put on backburner and in the meanwhile, a new terror strike would take place.
Unmindful of the sacrifice of 44 CRPF personnel, some politicians and activists are trying to bail out Pakistan and Imran by parroting dialogue with Pakistan which is atrocious.Will these brutal terror strikes bring India at its knee and settle for dialogue? And to what Pakistan would agree? Allowing Pakistan to take Kashmir on the strength of Muslim majority? India would never submit to terrorism. While Kashmir politicians often remember Vajpayee for his remark that “we can change friends but not the neigbhour”, and for visiting Lahore and inviting the author of Kargil war, Gen Musharraf for Agra submit, but how everybody conveniently forget that all these “bold initiatives”of Vajpayee as also surprise move of Modi to land at Lahore on return from Afghanistan, to attend a marriage in Nawaz Sharif family, were sabotaged by no other than Pakistan army. The latest initiative is Kartarpur corridor which too has similar overtones. And what followed these bold initiatives? Kargil, Pathankot, Uri and now Pulwama! And still some elements have the timidity to try to change the narrative in the country. But Modi Govt, now with the backing of all opposition parties, has made it clear that time for talk on terrorism is over and the situation demands firm action. Earlier dialogues didn’t help in resolving Indo-Pak issues. Even Tashkent and Shimla Pacts didn’t stop Pakistan in meddling in Kashmir and bleeding India.
Pulwama may not be the last of such gruesome terror attacks in the run up to the elections to Lok Sabha. One is reminded of PM Imran Khan’s statement that Indo-Pak relations cannot improve as long as BJP and Modi are in power in New Delhi. Is Pulwama attack designed to discredit Modi Govt on the eve of elections, knowing well that options available to Modi Govt are limited? But perhaps, contrary to his expectation, Pulwama has done one good thing; it united India. Modi Govt has already given free hand to defence forces to choose their own timing and place for full scale retribution. But nonetheless, this has increased Modi’s accountability that too close to Lok Sabha poll.
One should not forget that India is dealing with a country which has terrorism in its DNA. It is using terrorism against threeneighbours – India, Iran and Afghanistan. Iran has repaid killing of its 28 people by taking lives of eight Pakistanis in Karachi through sub-conventional way. Why can’t India eliminate Hafiz Sayeed and Azhar Masood in similar way? With Israel extending full support against terrorism and making a dependable axis with Iran & Afghanistan, India can corner Pakistan.
Option of war cannot be decided in the noisy debates in TV studios nor in the social media. The nation should not forget that India didn’t go for full war after Kargil incursions in 1999 and instead relied on diplomatic pressure of US on Pakistan. India didn’t use this option when terror attack took place at on Parliament House on 13 December, 2001. Forces were mobilized and deployed on Pakistan border but were called back almost a year later. And when Mumbai terror attack took place on 26 November, 2008 killing over 160 people, India didn’t go for war. US had played significant role in preventing Indian retaliation in the past but today things are different. NSA of US has commended India’s right of self defence.
India can consider some other options like scraping Indus Water Treaty and using water of as weapon of war; blockading Karachi port; prohibiting use of Indian air space for Pakistan’s and Pakistan bound flights and targeting Jaish camps and its chief Masood Azhar and Hafiz Sayeed locations through IAF guided missiles. On military option, Modi Govt and the Chiefs of Defence Forces have to take a call after assessing their capabilities and availability of sufficient military equipment and ammunition. All these options have international & security ramifications but there are no options. The nation wants these and it should be ready for the ramifications.
K B Jandial