Testing time for India’s Modi

Source:  Samaa Published in Politics on Friday, September 23, 2016

India is abuzz with jingoism, blame-game and war-mongering after the Uri attack which has led two nuclear-armed neighbors to a heightened hostility. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing enormous pressure, rather provocations from the hawks to give an ‘effective’ response to Pakistan based group that has been blamed for one of the worst attacks in the recent history where some unknown assailants stormed an Indian army base in Uri area of Indian-Occupied Kashmir killing 18 soldiers and injuring dozens others. War-mongers jumped into conclusion that it is the job of none other than Pakistan-based JeM militants who are allegedly also behind the Pathankot attack. There were talks of limited surgical strikes or a hot pursuit inside Pakistani part of Kahsmir on the pattern of Myanmar. At the same time they realized since Pakistan is an atomic power and it can be very dangerous for India to take such a step.

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Modi vowed to punish those behind the attack while India’s Home Minister termed Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ and world community should ‘isolate’ it. Another BJP leader Ram Madhav went to the extent, “A tooth for a tooth isn’t enough to avenge the terror attack in Uri. For one tooth, the complete jaw.” Indian media is also playing its role to give rise to the temperatures to cater to the hawks that want India and Pakistan to continue their hostile positions to serve their interests.

After all those threats to Pakistan for public consumption, India’s top-notch leaders sat the other day and decided to show no ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the Uri attack. However, they were all unanimous on isolating Pakistan at the international level through diplomacy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, wanted his team to provide solid proof of Pakistan connection in this regard so that they could convince the world community.

Pathankot attack

On the other hand Pakistan has dismissed the allegations of its hand behind the Uri attack as “unfounded and pre-mature”. Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria termed the charges “totally baseless and irresponsible”, saying that India a ‘history of blaming Pakistan’ immediately after a terror strike.

This is not for the first time that the Indian media and the government have started leveling allegations against Pakistan for its ‘involvement’ in such attacks on the Indian territory even before the investigation had started. On this pretext the Indian government also would suspend the ongoing dialogue process and start pressurizing Pakistan to hold talks on terrorism first.

Questions are also being raised in India that the security agencies failed to preempt this attack even after getting some information that some groups may target their installations before the start of United Nations General Assembly session to bring the Kashmir issue into the spotlight. The Indian security agencies have also been criticized for their failure to stop the attackers from entering the Army base after breaching the three-layer security grid.

The BJP leaders have a new challenge in front of them. Some hawks believe the government should launch a limited operation inside Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir to eliminate terror sanctuaries while others call for restraint and respond to Uri attack diplomatically.

The world community needs to act now and realize that Kashmir is a flash point and the current tension may escalate into full scale-war if it continues with its policy of non-intervention. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged the United States to use its good offices to help lower tension in Kashmir which has been an unfinished agenda of the partition for the last seven decades.

Nawaz

What Modi needs to do? According to Indian media reports Modi said the elements behind the attack will not go unpunished. But, some newspapers quoted sources of a high level meeting chaired by Modi that the Indian government will react very carefully. Mr Modi has asked the security forces to provide concrete evidence before making any decision. The focus seems to be on making efforts to isolate Pakistan and put more pressure to take action against the JeM leaders and activists. Any misadventure or hot pursuit idea would have disastrous results for India and the region in the decades to come. The situation after Uri attack has become very precarious and tricky. Saner voices must prevail to avoid further confrontation. Mr Modi must realize that the only solution to every problem is through dialogue.

What Pakistan needs to do? The government and the security establishment have clearly indicated that it can act only after India provides a solid evidence that some Pakistan-based groups are involved in the Uri attack. Pakistan should assure India of full support and cooperation in investigations. In order to win back international support, Islamabad should expedite action against the terrorist and sectarian organizations without discrimination.

indian troop

The biggest question remains to be answered. Who is going to benefit from the attack? The indigenous uprising in Kashmir has lately raised alarm bells among those who had thought the Kashmir struggle was only alive in the past due to an external support. According to Indian media the recent clashes between protesters and security forces have resulted in 82 deaths and hundreds injured. Even some Indian experts, diplomats and politicians have advised the Modi government to reach out to the Kashmiri leaders and people there to listen to their demands. But, the aggressive approach of the Indian government towards Kashmir remains unchanged which has resulted in more violence than peace in the region.