Following the Pulwama attack, India has hastily pinned the blame on Pakistan. The Indian media reports reflect that India’s accusation, if anything, was a knee-jerk reaction to pander to sentiments of a fanatic gallery. It would have sounded more credible if the accusation had been corroborated with evidence. The allegation was made even before forensic-lab and National Investigation Agency teams visited the site of the attack at Lethpora, some 30 kilometres from Srinagar on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The February 15, 2019 edition of the Indian Express speculated `High-grade RDX explosive, weighing about 80 kilograms, was used in the suicide attack’. The Hindu, dated February 16, 2019 estimated 100-150 kg of the explosive was used. Investigating agencies have also taken tower dumps of the attack area to filter out suspicious calls and those made in around the same time as the attack (Hindustan Times dated February 16, 2019). However, no word has come yet from the actual investigators. The CRPF’s Standing Operating Procedure required movement of up to 100 persons in a convoy. The CRPF had been moving such convoys, comprising more than 2,500 personnel each, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. In the past fortnight, two such convoys had moved from Jammu to Srinagar. The latest was on February 4, with a convoy of 91 vehicles and 2,871 personnel’. Why could the convoy not spot the lonely suicide vehicle trailing behind? How did the terrorists know that the convoy movement was delayed by two days? How did they remain undetected while loading the vehicle with explosives the whole day? Obviously, some demoralised security personnel provided information to the ‘militants’. There are frequent suicides and desertions in the Indian forces. A few days back, a soldier was abducted and killed by freedom fighters. Later, an inquiry blamed some of his companions of collusion with the terrorists. Critics, including Kashmiri leaders, have questioned why the CRPF personnel were not airlifted to safety. To demonise Valley-based Kashmiris, the Indian government encouraged Hindu fanatics to stage violent rallies in Jammu. Eventually, the centre had to impose a curfew to maintain law and order and protect the lives of local residents. The spectre of civil war between various regions of Kashmir has alarmed the central government. Its dignitaries have rushed to Srinagar to hold an all-party conference. Kashmiri leaders are already rueful at the creation of Ladakh as a separate divisional headquarters. Fearing internecine clashes, Kashmiri leaders, including Hurriyat’s Gilani, had to appeal to the government to provide security to Kashmiris marooned outside the Valley and in Indian states. Kashmiris are furious that the Centre could not provide safe passage to students `imprisoned’ in Srinagar University because of broken road-rail links. There are frequent suicides and desertions in the Indian forces. A few days back, a soldier was abducted and killed by freedom fighters. Later, an inquiry blamed some of his companions of collusion with the terrorists Kashmiri leaders have pointed out that attacks similar to Pulwama took place in Chhattisgarh, but this matter received no attention. In 2010, Naxalites ambushed Indian troops in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, killing 76 personnel. On April 24, 2017, 25 Indian soldiers were killed at Sukma, Chhattisgarh. This shows India is using the Pulwama attack as an excuse to escalate tensions with Pakistan. It made no bones about using the air force in future surgical strikes. It wants to attack Azad Kashmir at 25 points (Happymon, Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India-Pakistan Escalation Dynamics). India wants to revive the mukti bahini experience in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. India wants to isolate Pakistan, particularly from the United States. But, days before the attack, the US, in its travel advisory used the word “Azad Kashmir” for Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s leverage in Afghan peace is also undeniable. India has ratcheted the pressure on Pakistan by withdrawing its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. This was a largely symbolic gesture. In fact, it could also lead to increased illegal trade between the two countries. The gesture is unlikely to affect bilateral trade, which is worth $2 billion by the usual route and another $6 billion via Dubai and Singapore. Pakistan is yet to give India MFN status and maintains a list of 1,200 items that are banned for import from India. India’s tough talk of `surgical attacks’ is hollow as Pakistan reportedly used US Raytheon TOW 2A anti-armour missiles, TOW-2 anti-tank guided missiles and 120 mm heavy mortars to target Indian army bunkers in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors. If the Indian army advances on the international border, it will have to face Pakistan’s Nasr TNW missiles and Chinese Sh-15 Howitzer (TNW) Guns (American equivalent M-777). The surge in the violence in Kashmir has occurred due to a political vacuum. The disputed state is under ‘governor rule’. More and more youth are being attracted to violence and militancy because of a lack of political representation. The February 16, 2019 edition of Indian Express reported, “over the last three years, the total number of freedom fighters killed, both local and foreign, climbed from 130 in 2016 to 200 in 2017 and 240 in 2018. Most of them were local youth”. India must stop blaming Pakistan and look to the ground realities. New Delhi must reminisce about what the historian Pundit Kalhana wrote in his twelfth century magnum opus Raja Tarangni (River of Kings), “Such is Kashmir, the country which may be conquered by the forces of spiritual love but not by armed forces”. The writer has been a freelance contributor to various newspapers for over five decades Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2019.