Pathankot Attack: A group of heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists, suspected to belong to Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, struck at an Air Force base in Pathankot in Punjab, leading to a fierce gun battle in which three security personnel were killed along with four attackers.
Five heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists were shot down on Saturday after they attacked the Indian air force base in Pathankot. Naturally the Pathankot Attack isn’t being perceived as stray Pakistani disruption, certainly not after the prime minister’s stopover in Lahore on Christmas day. Hawks say they are not surprised that it took our neighbor a whole of eight days to stab us in the back. And Modi-baiters, as unpatriotic as ever, are having a good laugh at the sequence of events. The display of insensitivity towards seven of our men who gave up their lives fighting for us, is disgusting.
One can have several theories as to what exactly the Modi government’s strategy to deal with Pakistan is. But to say that the government doesn’t have one, or that it is the same as the previous government, or that it has failed already, is rubbish. As detailed reports about the Pathankot Attack emerge, one bit of information that we cannot pass off as just another fact is that our intelligence agencies knew something of this nature was headed our way. This enhanced our preparedness and reduced potential damage significantly, it is believed. What it means is that our Pakistan policy does take incidents such as these in account and deals with them effectively. The establishment, at least by the looks of it, remains largely unsurprised.
So what exactly is the Modi government’s strategy in dealing with Pakistan after the Pathankot Attack? TFI’s Kishore suggests that Pakistan is made up of three entities and that the government now looks at these three separately and deals with them separately as well.
The prime minister and the external affairs ministry deal with the civilian establishment, our defense ministry and armed forces under Manohar Parrikar deal with the military, the ISI and non-state actors, and Ajit Doval and company deal exclusively with non-state actors and help our armed forces out in the process. Considering how things have panned out after the BJP came to power, this is the theory which makes most sense.
If this is indeed how the government is proceeding, then there is much to cheer about. For once we are following a strategy that recognizes the non-existence of a sole power center in Pakistan. It is a strategy which refuses to perceive Pakistan through a structured Indian prism, but instead stoops down their chaotic level and plays their chaotic game. For example under Mr. Modi, Delhi will never send Islamabad 26/11 dossiers for it is aware of Islamabad’s limitations. Instead if something of that nature were to take place again, we would activate certain strategic assets in Balochistan which would result in Pakistan’s occupation of the region coming to an end (according to one of Mr. Doval’s speeches).
Our dealings with Pakistan’s civilian establishment is what is most often under scrutiny by our analysts and media. Ever since the BJP has been in government, it has been a mixed bag to say the least. It started off with Sharif being invited for the government’s inauguration. Then the relationship went through a phase in which Mr. Modi refused to make eye contact with Sharif during a summit in Kathmandu. This was followed by Ufa, which was closely followed by the talks getting called off. And recently, the Lahore stopover. The one thing common about these ups and downs is that we have engineered all of them. From pretending as if we’re foolish enough by start afresh to isolating them in the SAARC, from celebrating a token breakthrough to arm-twisting them in calling off the talks, and now a ‘this is how neighbors should be’ gesture, it’s been India all along. On top of that, our dealings with their military and non-state actors have not tallied with the ups and downs of our relationship with their civilian establishment. We have retaliated disproportionately during instances of cross-border firing, foiled several terror attempts and uncovered many harmful underground rings in the last one and half years. Overall, we’ve taken them for a rollercoaster ride.
What do we seek to achieve through this? The answer lies in one of journalist and Pakistan observer Gaurav Sawant’s tweets. He says that the only Indian leader Pakistan ever feared was Indira Gandhi, and this was not because of the birth of Bangladesh but because they failed to understand her.
The only Indian Prime Minister Pakistan feared was Smt Indira Gandhi. Not just the birth of Bangladesh but Pak didnt understand her.
— GAURAV C SAWANT (@gauravcsawant) January 2, 2016
In any interaction between two entities, the entity that successfully confuses the other is the one that sets the agenda. It is visibly clear now that all entities in Pakistan are uneasy about the current establishment and at a loss as to how to go about dealing with it. You may wonder how the bureaucrats of Islamabad or the colonels of Rawalpindi haven’t seen through India’s bipolar syndrome. But then some of the following questions must be giving Pakistan sleepless nights: If India’s objective isn’t peace anymore, are they prepared to fight a war? Is India trying to pit our civilian establishment against our military establishment? How long will Balochistan be used as leverage? How do we counter the new phenomenon that is Indian hypocrisy? Is India gaining international brownie points by taking advantage of our divided house?
This is the conundrum that our neighbors are in right now. The school that thinks the objective of Mr. Modi’s Pakistan policy is a Nobel Peace Prize, is either ignorant or has ulterior motives. Any Indian prime minister who isn’t somebody else’s stooge (yes, this is deliberate) would rather win the next elections than the Nobel Peace Prize.
Having said all of that, let us return to the seven brave-hearts who were martyred in the Pathankot Attack. This is the reason why the government needs to make sure that while sending mixed signals to Pakistan, the policy has clear nationalistic objectives. It needs to make sure that these objectives are indeed solutions to the many problems we face today in regard to Pakistan, and that every turn our newfound agenda takes, brings us closer to those objectives. The biggest achievement so far is that despite playing the fool with our neighbor, our security hasn’t been compromised in any way. We have to ensure that the loss of Indian lives is minimal and that it remains so.
The top brass of the BJP and NSA Ajit Doval have proved to be highly competent in dealing with India’s biggest external menace. The country is in good hands and continues to move forward in the right direction.