The 14th of February marks the first anniversary of the Pulwama Attack. The Pakistan sponsored terror attack that resulted in the death of more than forty of our CRPF Jawans was the second big event of the first chapter of the Modi-Amit Shah-Doval era (MAD era). The first chapter, obviously, culminated with the abrogation of Article 370 and the complete integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of the Indian Union.
The Pulwama Attack, as devastating as it was, finally broke the Dam that had kept a check on India’s thirst for vengeance as a nation. The barbarity of the attack that was on display made the nation realize the true nature of the barbarism we are up against. As was the case with the Uri Attack three years prior, there was a terrible miscalculation on the part of the Pakistani establishment with regards to the Pulwama Attack as well.
It is safe to argue that through the Pulwama Attack, the Pakistani establishment hoped to cause a dent on Narendra Modi’s image as a strong and no-nonsense leader and thereby, undermine his stature ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections couple of months later. Pakistan believed that they could manage to prevent and safeguard themselves from another ‘Surgical Strike’ by beefing up security at the Border. What they didn’t take into account was the fact that India under Prime Minister Modi would consider other more aggressive actions as well.
Since the Balakot Airstrikes, there has been a remarkable change in Pakistan’s conduct. That change was a consequence of the changes India had itself undergone as a country. As India adopted a hardline stance towards the country, Pakistan was relegated to screeching on social media and howling in a rage without having the ability to respond to India in any manner whatsoever.
The world has changed remarkably since the Pulwama Terror Attack. The greatest change has been the status of Jammu & Kashmir within the Indian Union. After Article 370 was abrogated, for all its huff and puff, the Pakistani establishment couldn’t really bring itself to retaliate against India. All their aggression was limited to social media and speech. Their actions have been demure when compared with the past.
There is a good reason for that. India’s clout in global affairs has been growing greatly in recent years, so much that Pakistan has been abandoned by its trusted Islamic allies. As a consequence perhaps of India’s growing ties with the United States, our own relationship with the USA’s trusted ally Saudi Arabia has been improving steadily as well. Simultaneously, our ties with other Arab countries have been getting better too. Thus, countries which Pakistan would have traditionally expected to stand by it on the international forum have been forming closer ties with India.
The greatest evidence of this is Sushma Swaraj’s attendance at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour in March 2019 when tempers were still running high between India and Pakistan, merely three days after the Balakot Airstrikes, and despite numerous objections from Pakistan.
Narendra Modi as Prime Minister also has received numerous awards from Islamic countries. The Order of Zayed Award from the United Arab Emirates within two months of the Pulwama Attacks and the Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddin from the Maldives in June 2019 is reflective of that fact. Earlier in 2016, the Prime Minister had been awarded the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud by Saudi Arabia demonstrating India’s growing ties with the Islamic world.
The abrogation of Article 370 marked the conclusion of the first chapter of the MAD era. In the second chapter, the battleground will be Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as evidenced by the plethora of statements made by high ranking Union Ministers in the cabinet of the Modi Government. Thus far, on the matter of Kashmir, Pakistan has found no support at the international forum, apart from China, Turkey and Malaysia. Of these three countries, the third is already regretting antagonizing India as our country has hit back at them by reducing its palm oil imports, thereby affecting its economy. Turkey, too, has suffered India’s wrath by raking up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations. Thus, India’s hardline stance against Pakistan has raised the costs for other countries to side with Pakistan at international forums.
India’s relationship with Pakistan has never been friendly but it was the Pulwama Terror Attack that broke the camel’s back. The Pakistani establishment did not expect such an aggressive retaliation from India following the attack. And it is this miscalculation that has cost them terribly. Now, it stands alone at the international forum with nobody backing them apart from China which does so for its own benefit.
The trade war between the USA and China, too, has affected the relationship between India and Pakistan. The USA recognizes that it cannot afford to alienate India completely in the midst of its trade war with China and it has provided India with more leverage to bargain at the negotiation table. Pakistan’s overtures towards China hasn’t helped their cause either. And so it happens that Imran Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister, can be regularly found on Twitter screaming into the void about India becoming a fascist country and yet, no entity of consequence pays him any attention.
Recently, a Pakistani court has convicted Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai Terror Attacks, in cases related to funding terrorism. It is, of course, a desperate move ahead of the FATF plenary meet in order to avoid being blacklisted by the agency. At the same time, India has upped its offensive against the persecution of Pakistan’s religious minorities in the country.
Pakistan’s position at the moment is far worse than it was before the Pulwama Terror Attack. Its economy is collapsing, its influence on the international forums has diminished greatly and it is in no position to retaliate against India’s moves on Kashmir. And it doesn’t appear that the situation is likely to improve for them at any point in the near future. Pakistan has not recovered from the terrible blow it has suffered due to the nefarious act of terrorism it plotted against India in Pulwama and it is unlikely they will any time soon.