In the aftermath of Uri incident, India’s attempt to isolate Pakistan has not resulted in favourable diplomatic outcomes. In a knee-jerk reaction, state of Pakistan was accused for its involvement. But all important players in world politics have emphasised the need for dialogue between the two countries to settle disputes and ensure peace.
If India hoped that spectacular outbursts of threats and exhibition of war-hysteria will find a favourable international audience, it was obviously living in a fool’s paradise. India can use its new-found international influence and soft-power to pressurise Pakistan, but this influence has its upper limit after all. The war-frenzy created by Indian media and leaders pushed Indian Army into a corner where it had to placate its people by a so-called ‘surgical operation’.
India claims to have eliminated terrorist camps – something that seems for public consumption. Indian rhetoric is based on the assertion that in the past Pakistan has been involved in nurturing militants that have caused havoc for Indian forces in Kashmir – a claim that let’s just say is not very easy to refute. But the flaw in Indian rhetoric is caused by the fact that these non-state actors – at least some of them – are completely out of Pakistan’s influence and have hurt Pakistan more than they could ever hurt India.
To name a few atrocities; they have stormed in our Army’s general head-quarters; attacked important strategic installations and massacred innocent civilians including young APS kids. So even if India proves that attackers were from across the border, it remains highly probable that militants were outside Pakistan’s influence.
Indian failure in isolating Pakistan is not because its rhetoric is flawed or because we have a robust and effective foreign policy, and certainly not because our PM’s speech at UNGA was that good. It was all down to political and geo-strategic necessities of the international powers, who cannot let India escalate the issue.
Pakistan’s response to the attack was largely understandable: our foreign office lambasted the allegations and demanded investigations; our leaders vowed to defend every inch of the country; media and analysts went into nationalistic overdrive finding offence with the Indian rhetoric and logic and built concocted narratives.
One particular narrative that our brilliant strategic analysts built was that this was a ‘false-flag’ operation – an Indian conspiracy to compress Pakistan further and isolate it. This theory is based on the assumption that in the past India has tried similar theatrical performances to gather international sympathies. There cannot be a more receptive audience for these theories than the Pakistani public.
Pakistan’s Defense Minister was quick to term Uri incident as an inside job, a statement that will surely go down well with his constituency. Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi gave this narrative further official backing in her reply to Indian Foreign Minister’s speech at UNGA. ‘The attack on the Indian army base in Uri, particularly its timing, has all the hallmarks of an operation designed to divert attention from India’s atrocities in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.’
So was it an inside job? While there is no way of absolutely refuting this theory, most indicators say that India had little to gain from such a conspiracy, and in Pre-Uri scenario India was having it all, the way it liked. Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts on Kashmir were neutralised, and international community had bought the tale that Pakistan was to blame for the Kashmir problem.
This diplomatic ineffectiveness of Pakistan has a lot to do with our incapability to completely pulverise non-state actors from our territory. At the same time India was applying Doval doctrine to Kashmir – suppressing resistance with full force committing heinous humanitarian crimes, without any international blowback. Its intimidations to Pakistan to eliminate militants and punish Mumbai-attack planners were getting explicit or implicit international approval.
By achieving warm relations with Afghanistan, it had made sure that Pakistan was feeling the heat from eastern and western border. To top it all off, Modi’s aggressive posture was winning him points at home, due to the charged-up nationalistic sentiment in the wider public.
The Uri incident changed it all. Projecting the ultra-aggressive posture in the region, after a provocation like Uri, India had to double down. It amped up the war-hysteria but all it did was obligating the world community to come rushing to cool things off. It also underlined the importance of Kashmir problem – a problem that enabled a few rogue militants to push two nuclear nations to the brink of war.
Additionally it inadvertently brought to the fore the humanitarian crimes in the valley that have claimed close to a 100 innocent lives. It effectively led to the affirmation of Pakistani stance that India should come to the negotiation table to discuss all issues including the core issue of Kashmir. Thus, India has lost a lot of diplomatic space since Uri.
But what is the harm in a little retaliatory mudslinging you say? Firstly, this accusation will get zero worldwide audience and will make Pakistani rhetoric less coherent. Pakistani purpose will be better served by sticking to the usual rhetoric; we are doing all we can to control the menace of terrorism and if India works with us, we will be better placed to operate against the perpetrators if they happen to reside inside Pakistan.
The effectiveness of ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and a renewed political will to up-root terrorism and extremism makes Pakistani narrative more coherent. Pakistan needs to better market the successes of its counter-militancy operation. Second harm these statements do is that they fuel the anti-India sentiment in the masses – and it does not need any fuel as it is.
The hatred and jingoistic nationalism created by the leaders on both sides of the border, reduces the space they will need to create a compromise when they finally come to the negotiation table. Or maybe our leaders actually think they can settle Kashmir with a nuclear war?