Despite all the claims made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan that he will not ‘think twice’ before retaliating to India, the country is not expected to do something on the Indian Air Force’s strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan fears that any retaliation could lead to full-fledged war which the poor country could not afford. The economy of the country is in deep trouble with only 7 billion dollars of foreign exchange reserves. The country could finance imports of less than two months with this amount. International Monetary Fund, the global lender to which Pakistan is going to solve the balance of payments crisis, for 13th time in the last four decades, will be apprehensive to lend if the country goes to war.
The defence budget of India is 58 billion dollars against 11 billion dollars of Pakistan. The defence budget of India is more than the total budget of Pakistan (around 50 billion dollars) and five times more than its defence budget. India has missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads up to 5,000 km (Agni-3) while the Pakistani capability is just 2,000 km (Shaheen-2). India has 12 lakh strong Army 3,565 battle tanks, 3,100 infantry fighting vehicles, 336 armored personnel carriers and 9,719 pieces of artillery, as per International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Pakistan, on the other hand, has only 560,000 troops backed by 2,496 tanks, 1,605 armored personnel carriers, and 4,472 artillery guns, including 375 self-propelled howitzers, according to IISS. Pakistan Air Force and Navy have no match against the Indian side as Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are considered among the best in the world. Therefore, Pakistan could not be compared to India in terms of armed forces superiority.
FATF, the global terror financing watchdog, which has put the terrorist nation on ‘grey list’ also criticized the country for not being able to act against JeM and other terrorist organizations operating within the borders of the country. In any war situation, the country will be vulnerable to be ‘blacklisted’. The United States has already voiced against IMF loans to Pakistan if the money is used to pay back China. US President Donald Trump has supported India’s right to self-defence in the wake of Pulwama attack.
Iran is already in confrontation with Pakistan and the country cannot sustain a two-front war for even a few days. Pakistan has been experiencing troubled relations with Iran for the last few years as terrorist groups based across the border carried out many attacks in Iran. Terrorist attack by the groups based in Pakistan killed 27 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) just days before Pulwama attack. Pakistan is a Sunni dominated Islamic fundamentalist country while Iran is Shia dominated. There have been incidents of persecution of Shia Muslims in the country and Iran showed its reservations against this. Pakistan’s relations with Iran are at an all-time low.
China is the only ally but it is highly unlikely it will open front with India, as has its own geopolitical compulsions. After Imran Khan came to power, his finance minister talked about renegotiation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor deal. However, the support by China remains the same, especially in matters related to India. But it is highly unlikely that the country will go against India in any conflict situation.
Jaish-e-Mohammed is an organization founded and led by dreaded terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar. JeM was found to be involved in the Parliament attack in 2001, the Uri and Pathankot attack in 2016, and now the Pulwama attack in 2019. It is designated as a terrorist organization by India, UK, US, Russia, UAE, and the United Nations. As India has attacked a terrorist camp of an internationally designated terrorist organization, no country would support Pakistan if the country decides to retaliate.