Surgical strike and Pak’s isolation

Harsha Kakar

Post the surgical strike, the Indian DGMO (Director General Military Operations) as per international protocol, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart and briefed him on what had transpired. To ensure it remained within escalatory limits, he stated that India had helped Pakistan in eradicating terrorists, which as per the 2004 agreement, theywere expected to do. Further, he stated India had terminatedits operations. The fact that it took place in POK, which India considers its own, there was no violation of international norms.
Another simultaneous action was Indian officials briefing envoys of a number of countries, conveying a clear shift in India’s security policy, from strategic restraint too offensive defence. As a counter move, Pakistan’s ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations), a powerful body of the military, went into overdrive to convince the nation and the world that India’s claims were false. While the world body generally accepted India’s statements, our own politicians, few strategic experts and media personnel demanded proof including videos. Their claim that it was essential to convince the local Pakistani and counter Pak media is a joke. The opposition claiming similar strikes in the past, is again absurd, as local actions, resorted to earlier, do not make a surgical strike.
While the international community has supported India, how this would truly impact Pakistan, is the main question. Within the region, Afghanistan may have supported India, however it can never ignore Pakistan. It would need to continue to interactwith Pakistan, as it controls terror groups operating on its soil, as also for its land trade route with India. Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan have almost no worthwhile trade or ties with Pakistan. Bangladesh also has its own axe to grind, especially with Pakistan’s adverse comments on punishments awarded to those found guilty of war crimes during the 1971 war of liberation. The Sri Lankan President’s comment that Indo- Pak relations have thwarted the growth of SAARC and that terror is a phenomenon which needs to stop is a reality. That SAARC has failed the people of the sub-continent is a fact, as also is the reality that Indo-Pak rivalry and enmity is responsible for this failure. SAARC presently is on the verge of being discarded as India creates and supports other regional groups like BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).
India has been supported by nations like Singapore, Germany and the EU, whose statements endorsed Indian actions. While they did agree to Indian strikes, no further action on Pak for its continuing support to terrorism was made. The most prominent support came from the UAE, an earlier Pak ally, with whom Pakistan shares almost 30% of its trade, openly defending Indian action.
The US was carefully guarded in its comments. It continues to harp its standard line of resumption of talks to reduce tensions. The US has to tread a careful path, even while Indo-US relations grow and mature. While it has reduced its direct support to Pakistan, it presently cannot abandon it. Supplies for its ten thousand troops, still stationed in Afghanistan,transit through Karachi. It has reduced dependence on Karachi and enhanced movement of supplies through the Central Asian Republics (CAR), however, its worsening relations with Russia over support to Syria, would ensure its dependency on Pakistan. Further, increased Taliban and Haqqani operations in Afghanistan would give Pakistan the necessary leverage, as the US struggles to withdraw. Hence, irrespective of the intense media blitz for the signature campaign to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, the White House would find ways to defer this action, as it appears to have done.
Russia commenced its joint military exercises with Pakistan well after the Uri incident. The exercises were in progress when the strike took place. Russian comments supported Indian action, however, there was no announcement impacting the exercises, sale of military hardware, censures in the UN or curtailing future ventures. While it remains miffed with India for closer relations with the US, what irks it, is Indian military procurements from the west. China, as usual continued to support Pakistan, without making any bones to the contrary, except asking for both nations to resume dialogue. However, to indicate its preference, it placed another three month’s technical hold on Masood Azhar being designated an international terrorist by the UN sanctions committee. China’s priorities are out in the open, Pakistan then India.
As per the Dawn newspaper of Pakistan, in a presentation to a select group, on 04 Oct, the foreign minister presented a summary of results of the diplomatic outreach by Pakistan. The summary brought forth that Pakistan faces diplomatic isolation and its views on Kashmir were met with indifference in world capitals, due to its support to terror. As per reports, while China stated that it could continue putting a technical hold on Masood Azhar, they questioned the logic of doing so repeatedly. The only solution, to avoid further degradation in relations, was to meet international demands, which included action against Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, LET and the Haqqani network. The civilian government therefore impressed on the powerful military to act before Pakistan loses international credibility.
Presently, India’s outreachand diplomatic blitz has begun paying dividends. It has Pakistan worried about diplomatic isolation.That would make it lose whatever little support it could garner against India’s proposed action on the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). If internally, Pakistan remains worried, then externally it would be forced to act. India should continue to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on Pakistan, while resorting to relentless counter actions along the LOC. Simultaneously, it could pressurize the international community, with whom it has close trade relations, to force Pakistan to act, with open threats of diplomatic isolation. Pakistan has begun to feel the pinch, now it should feel the pain. We are moving on the right track and should continue to move forward together as a nation, rather than remain politicallydivided.
(The author is a retired Major General of the Indian Army)