India’s response to Uri: Aggressive In Talk, Guarded In Action

New Delhi: It is extremely difficult to be objective for an Indian when it comes to talking about India-Pakistan relations at a crucial juncture like this. The media in India and Pakistan are being carried away by the official rhetoric. While Indian media has been talking about isolating Pakistan in international arena, the Pakistani media has been playing up the US visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Indian media informs that Sharif was rebuked by the world leaders for the Uri attack.

India and Pakistan are cursed to live together while hating each other. Whenever there is a hope that the relation between the two neighbours might improve, the Pakistani army generals would spoil the show. There is a lot of similarity between 1999 and 2016. In both the years the Pakistani Prime Minister happens to be the same Nawaz Sharif. Seventeen year ago, Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee traveled to Lahore by bus raising hopes in the hearts of the peace loving people in both the countries that the neighbours are set to improve their relations. Then the Pakistani army generals headed by Gen. Musharraf struck by sending troops to Kargil. That India had beaten back the Pakistani troops and registered a convincing win at Kargil is history. Gen. Musharraf, who took over from Sharif in a bloodless coup, also made some friendly noise but he was never sincere in his attempts to improve relations with India. The 10 years of the UPA rule under Dr. Manmohan Singh did not leave any positive impact on India-Pakistan relations.

Then came Narendra Modi with a bang by winning a majority of seats in Lok Sabha for the BJP for the first time in the party’s history and for any government since 1984. When Nawaz Sharif responded to Modi’s invitation and attended his swearing-in ceremony, a conducive atmosphere appeared to have been created. There were ups and downs and flip-flops in the India-Pakistan relations in the last two years mainly on account of lack a consistent policy on the part of Narendra Modi. But there were flashes here and there whenever Modi acted as dictated by his conscious. One such instance was his sudden visit to Lahore to attend Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter’s wedding last year. Within one week of Modi’s Lahore visit the terrorists attacked Pathankot air base. Nine months later, the terrorists attack on Indian army camp at Uri in North Kashmir took place. A pattern could be discerned in the events.

One can see that left to himself,  Nawaz Sharif had always tried to improve Pakistan’s relation with India. When he won elections and became Prime Minister again in 2013 he was trying to build bridges with India once again. Modi and Sharif had struck a personal equation. But the Pakistani army, which is the real establishment and which has vested interests in enmity with India, would not allow the bilateral relations to improve. The generals in Pakistan have been aiding and abetting the terrorist groups based in Pakistan encouraging them to infiltrate into Kashmir to create chaos. The Modi government on its part helped the Pakistani generals in destroying peace and tranquility in Kashmir. The so called encounter in which the young Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed had become a turning point in India-Pakistan relations. The use of Pellet Guns which blinded hundreds of Kashmiri youth and the death of more than 80 persons in the three months-long disturbances in the valley gave a handle to Pakistani army to bring about pressure on Nawaz Sharif to raise Kashmir bogey once again. In response to the Pakistan tirade, Indian Prime Minister Modi blamed Pakistan for the violence in Baluchistan during his Independence Day address.

Uri attack was the proverbial last straw. Modi’s image as a strong leader has taken a beating. The nation was shocked when 18 soldiers were killed in sleep by the terrorists. The nation was furious and the people were demanding action. The government and the media made a lot of noise talking about retaliatory measures. There was talk of surgical attack on terrorist bases in Pakistan. The Prime Minister soon realised that the aggressive diplomacy is a better option than a limited war. Thus the efforts to isolate Pakistan have gained momentum. The US, China, Russia, UK, France, and Germany were quick to condemn the terrorist attack on Uri. Bangladesh and Afghanistan have expressed solidarity with India and were prepared to boycott the SARC summit to be held in Pakistan. But when it comes to isolating Pakistan many of the powerful countries may not come forward with the same enthusiasm. Modi is advised to have more patience and a pragmatic approach in dealing with Pakistan. Aggressive diplomacy may help but not the loose talk about waging a war on the neighbor. India should prepare for war but should not start one.

– Sanjaya

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