The last one week has been an eventful week for many reasons- first the airstrikes, then the attempt to violate India’s airspace followed by the capture of our wing commander and his subsequent return with the Prime Minister of Pakistan requesting for a de-escalation of the current situation.
The irony, however, is that despite the Prime Minister of Pakistan asking for peace, his army continues with its ceasefire violations. The confused signals are indicating that either both the military leadership of our neighbour and its political leaders are not on the same page or perhaps, they both are on the same page and are attempting to send a signal to the world that it wants peace while it provokes the Indian leadership.
The message from India’s political leadership is clear, if there is an attempt of provocation, the political leadership will back whatever the military leadership deems as a befitting reply. This is significant as the Prime Minister in the run-up to 2014 campaign had stated categorically that the response of Indian Government after 26/11 was too weak and he would have responded differently. Over the last week, we’ve seen precisely what Prime Minister Modi meant but beyond that, we also saw what he managed to achieve over the last 5 years.
Through successful diplomacy and multiple outreach programs by India’s Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister have ushered in a new global political scenario whereby most nations view India as a key strategic partner. Our greater engagements have enabled us to help the entire world understand our concerns and it is this understanding that has led it to stand firm with India post-Pulwama attacks. In fact, for the first time since 1971 India violated the airspace of Pakistan and attacked their terror camps- for most countries air strike is the first response however India has refrained from using it until recently. Post the airstrikes, most nations recognized India’s legitimate right to undertake such preemptive strikes- this shows that time is now on India’s side.
Diplomatic pressure in itself was enough to ensure that despite the capture of one of India’s brave fighter pilot, Pakistan was bound to eventually return him to India but the fact that his return came within 48 hours after his capture combined with repeated unsuccessful attempts by Pakistan’s Prime Minister to talk to India’s Prime Minister indicate the growing diplomatic influence that India yields.
It is through this diplomatic influence that India has ensured that it changes its Pakistan policy and looks at the challenge of dealing with Pakistan in a more comprehensive manner. While Pakistan’s political leadership claims to broker peace, the military leadership is ensuring that a de-escalation of the current situation becomes a distant dream. Their continuous provocation has resulted in a befitting reply from the Indian armed forces across the LOC. It is clear from India’s side that talks and terrorism or provocation cannot simultaneously coexist.
It is worth mentioning that while Pakistan lives in fear of escalation from the Indian side, India has continued with business as usual approach. Despite the Opposition, political analysts and certain sections in the media going all out against the Prime Minister of India, he has remained calm as he continued to work towards ensuring that our pilot comes back to India as soon as possible. While launching the Khelo App, as soon as the Prime Minister was informed of the attempt by Pakistan to target our military base, he cut the program short and rushed back to get a hold of the situation. He continued with his work, while he ensured that all necessary measures were taken to ensure a swift return of our hero but the fun part is that he was criticized for this too! Some people just love to hate Modi because they love to love “Gandhi’s”.
India has just unleashed a prolonged period of economic hardships on Pakistan due to the increase in duties and decision to speed the process of ensuring that India’s share of water as per Indus Water Treaty no longer goes to Pakistan. While Pakistan digests the impact of these measures, their immature decision to send in an F-16 will result in more trouble as the US sold them under the condition that they were to be used for the sole purpose of anti-terrorism activities. Add to this the decision to completely diplomatically isolate Pakistan and we would have perhaps managed to ensure a complete and systematic collapse of the Pakistani Economy. The new approach towards dealing with Pakistan combined economic, political and diplomatic might of India with its military might and this must be viewed by Pakistan as a stern warning should it not change it ways and stop supporting terrorist groups.
It is in the interest of Pakistan’s political leadership to curtail the military leaders and mend their ways. Handing over India’s most wanted should be the only acceptable peace gesture and Pakistan must surely contemplate it. Pakistan can no longer afford hostilities with India- India has always wanted peace and stability in the region. It is time, that Pakistan takes charge and delivers on its promises on terrorism.
What the military leadership of Pakistan doesn’t understand is that the war is already over and they’ve already lost it- time is on India’s side and it is business as usual in India while Pakistan continues with blackouts every night. We’ve struck them hard and they’re scared as they live in fear and despair. India has won already, but the war isn’t over unless they dismantle all their terrorist camps. There may be casualties as we tread on this path, but we shall emerge victorious- for time is on our side.
Karan Bhasin is a political economist by training and has diversified research interests in the field of economics. He tweets @karanbhasin95.