Last week, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. One of them fell inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), while the other fell inside Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK). Pakistan’s response is actually not a retaliation. It was a demonstration of our capability, capacity and will. We never wanted to escalate the situation. We even offered to investigate their claims about the Pulwama attack being launched from inside Pakistan. As a result of engagement with the target, there was no human loss afflicted as we stayed in our jurisdiction. India has always played a typical blame game after every terrorist incident in the country. In a mechanical fashion, fingers in New Delhi point towards Pakistan after any untoward incident without any real information. Pakistan recently extended an olive branch to India in the form of the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims in the country. Regrettably, Pakistan’s peace overture has not been reciprocated by India. Foreseeing a dishonorable end to his political career, Modi is using the one card which always plays well in India, Pakistan bashing The Kashmir dispute has been a bone of contention between the two South-Asian neighbours ever since they became independent. A United Nations (UN) resolution demanding a plebiscite in Kashmir does exist. India, however, refuses to implement the UN resolution in its true letter and spirit. Pakistan has been asking India for a dialogue on a peaceful settlement to the Kashmir Issue, but India has not only turned down Pakistan’s offers but has also continued its heavy-handed tactics of suppressing the people of Kashmir. The Pulwama attack is a consequence of Indian atrocities in Kashmir and blaming Pakistan is just a way to divert attention from the Indian Army’s crimes, its incompetence and the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) failures. BJP is facing an election defeat which could mean the end of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s career. Foreseeing his grim future, Modi is using the one card which always plays well in India, Pakistan bashing. Precious lives have been lost but the BJP and Modi have continued their belligerence. Contrary to New Delhi’s claims, no F-16 aircraft was part of any activity which took place near the Line of Control (LOC) last Wednesday. The DG ISPR said the PAF also undertook six air to surface strikes in BhimbarGali, Narian and KG Peak areas of the IOK from AJK’s airspace. Pakistan was left with no option but to respond to Indian aircraft violation of LOC, but it was kept in view that response is given by a responsible state, he said. He informed media persons that the PAF aircraft on Wednesday from their position in the AJK airspace locked six targets across the LoC in the IOK, including administrative setup, military posts and supply depot, but undertook strikes in open places close to six targets just to avoid collateral damage and loss of human lives. He said the PAF demonstrated capability of hitting any target of their choice. Keeping these facts in view, Pakistan’s actions were not a retaliation in the true sense, but a demonstration of self-defence capabilities and the will to retaliate without escalating the situation. He said it was decided that no military target would be hit and there should also be no collateral damage or loss of human lives while engaging the six targets. Criticism by the opposition parties in India at this juncture is significant, as internal security and terrorism have become key political issues ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Peace and stability in South Asia is a combined responsibility and such irresponsible actions are a direct threat to stability. We do need to give an atmosphere of security and amity to all our citizens. The way the BJP is ruling the country, misusing the institutions, bulldozing them – it is in the national interest of India for the opposition parties to unite and challenge the BJP. The way to counter the ensuing misconceptions, hatred and stereotyping is to get the people in touch with each other in a manner unfettered and unfiltered by media biases. Vested interests within the powers on either side of the border keep flaring up tensions and selling conflict to the populations of their respective countries for selfish gains. The governments and media need to be honest with the people and tell them how things really stand right now. The rhetoric needs toning down and the two should establish a narrative of mutual respect, along with easing up treaties and policies towards one another. Pakistan, to this day, remains the most constant hindrance to total Indian hegemony in the Subcontinent. That is why most of India’s attention is diverted towards Pakistan and it is now using its energies to contain and subjugate Pakistan. India, which vows to be a superpower, needs to forge amicable relations with its neighbours and abandon its recklessness and arrogance. BJP appears to be playing the role of a hegemonic power. Like the Congress before it, the BJP’s present position has a system-defining quality. Both state and national elections are regularly fought in reaction to the BJP. BJP has not been universally successful in expanding its footprint. India’s eastern seaboard (stretching from West Bengal in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south) remains relatively immune to the BJP’s charms. The party has placed significant emphasis on making fresh inroads in precisely these states in the coming election. India is a huge market for Western consumer and military goods and services. At the same time, it has strategic significance for the US in its policy of containing China. This has created a sympathetic environment for India in the West. It has also created a sense of arrogance and pride in India. The writer is freelance columnist based in Peshawar Published in Daily Times, March 11th 2019.