The day started like any other. I woke up, turned my phone on to look at the time and lo and behold, I see what I had feared since the February 14. The Indian Air Force had carried out an incursion across the LOC into Pakistan in what their media was claiming to be an air force strike against terrorist installations in Pakistan, effectively levelling them. My twitter feed was full of tweets from India celebrating ‘India’s Amazing Fighters (IAF)’ as the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee called them. This is the same ‘amazing’ air force whose two Hawk jet aircrafts collided mid-air just days earlier. Looking at the Indian celebrations the question which sprang immediately to my mind was is this really a cause to celebrate? Have they become so blinded by hate and war hysteria that an incursion across the border into the territory of a nuclear adversary seems like a victorious situation? Indian media and personnel have a history of overplaying and hyping up their rhetoric once something like this happens. We saw it after the 2016 Uri attacks, when India claimed to have successfully carried out a surgical strike against Pakistan. The situation was hyped for the next few years as India having taught Pakistan a lesson. Meanwhile all of Pakistan’s offers to probe into the situation and reach a logical understanding were completely overlooked. Was it mere war hysteria or a calculated move to avert attention? You be the judge. This time around, the Pakistani PM Imran Khan, himself offered to help India in every way to investigate how and why the Pulwama attack happened. Less than 48 hours before the Indian air force incursion, PM Khan had promised PM Modi that Pakistan will take immediate action if New Delhi provides ‘actionable intelligence’ on the attack. So far not only have his appeals of ‘giving peace a chance’ been completely overlooked, India has, as per their usual style, decided to be the judge, jury and the executioner themselves. The Indian media is hyping up the rhetoric to such a level that even if it is proved that there was no physical evidence of such a strike, the political gains the Modi government hopes to attain from the situation will still manifest. Modi addressing a public rally in Rajasthan mere hours after the supposed strike and reassuring the public that India is in safe hands only reinforces the fact that this was a political move geared towards gaining political brownie points for the upcoming elections So what does this latest Indian move entail? The Pakistani leadership is resolute that the Pakistani air force scrambled immediately following the Indian incursion, and their planes were forced to release their payload and make a hasty exit. Indian media on the other hand, is claiming everything from carrying out a 60 km incursion inside Pakistan to the complete destruction of the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) camps by 1,000 kg bombs and killing of 300 terrorists. If one is to do some quick math, the reality of their claims falls short. For 1000 kg bombs to kill 300 people they would have to be huddled together in a small geographic area, whereas India claims that they bombed three separate locations and carried out the operation for 21 minutes. The Indian MEA Secretory Vijay Gokhale called it a ‘non-military preemptive action’ designed to avoid civilian casualties. How can an air force strike, which apparently levelled a terrorist camp inside Pakistan, be labeled as a non-military action remains to be seen. Both countries immediately called emergency top level meetings to discuss the situation. But how does one resolve such a situation? So far the Pakistani side has shown a resolve to act as the more responsible restrained power, despite PM Khan promising retaliation to any Indian belligerence. The question that naturally springs to mind is the timing of it all. The attack, followed by the Indian knee jerk reaction of blaming Pakistan, followed by India’s latest move begs the question of why now? Does the timing of it have to do with anything? The answer is that the timing has EVERYTHING to do with it. It is an age old, tested theory that nothing brings nations together like attacks on their sovereignty and subsequent tough line taken by their government against the perpetrators. India has employed this theory with success time and again. With the Indian elections coming up it is not a guessing game to ascertain what the Indian government hopes to gain from this situation. This follows a similar pattern of such incidents taking place in India before any major domestic event, such as elections, or possible talks with Pakistan, where invariably the latter is blamed. Uri, Pathankot, Samjhota, even the Mumbai attacks have all occurred in time when the situation was ripe for India, for both international sympathies and national unity. There is a long history of Indian false flag operations going all the way back to the 1970s, where Pakistan has been blamed and maligned. Whereas India blatantly blames Pakistan, even without evidence, to the sympathetic ears of the international community. Whereas, Pakistan’s case, where the convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav has confessed to Indian involvement in Baloch insurgency, is falling on deaf ears. Given the current situation of mistrust and suspicion on both sides, it remains to be seen how the situation will play on ground. The Indian media is hyping up the rhetoric to such a level that even if it is proved that there was no physical evidence of such a strike, the political gains the Modi government hopes to attain from the situation will still manifest. Modi addressing a public rally in Rajasthan mere hours after the supposed strike and reassuring the public that India is in safe hands only reinforces the fact that this was a political move geared towards gaining political brownie points for the upcoming elections. The writer has recently completed a research fellowship on nuclear security at King’s College London, UK. She has done MPhil from the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University Published in Daily Times, February 28th 2019.