An immature neighbour
Isolated by the international community on its Kashmir rant, Pakistan’s frustration was evident through its decision to close airspace for Indian President
In a bizarre and brazen breach of any diplomatic norm, Pakistan refused its air space to the VVIP aircraft carrying President Ramnath Kovind and his entourage heading on official visits to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia, commencing on September 9. Piqued by a dismal failure to drum up support for the Kashmiri Muslims following dramatic and positive developments in Kashmir, this is yet another display of Pakistan's frustration to deal with the situation arising since the abrogation of Article 370.
Pakistan's desperation is in ample demonstration as no other than its Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, disclosed that this decision of banning the air space was taken due to India's 'behaviour'. Such an irresponsible statement does not behove a Foreign Minister and exposes the immaturity of a desperate country, bereft of any support flowing from any international quarters. Even within the country, people are confused due to lack of any clarity on part of the Pakistani leadership, including the military top brass, to pursue any consistent policy vis-à-vis Kashmir.
Pakistan, which had assumed in the last couple of years that Russia was warming up to it, received a severe shock of life when President Putin, during the most recent visit of Prime Minister Modi to Vladivostok, described developments in Kashmir as an internal matter of India and that the Indian legislation/decision was well within the parameters of Indian Constitution. That ended all illusions Pakistan hitherto nurtured that it had excellent relations with Russia, and all along mistakenly claimed that its diplomacy was successful in weaning Russia away from India. The fresh Russian-generated bonhomie with India and multiple deals have further demoralised Pakistan which is resorting to cheap and childlike acts such as a denial of its airspace rights even to the Indian President, defying the elementary civilised practices of international relations.
In an apparent bid to put up a brave face against all odds, especially post-August 5, the Pakistani military is trying to flex its emaciated muscles, trying to send message to the domestic constituency that all was well with the country's establishment. Speaking on the occasion of Defence and Martyr's Day (September 6) which also coincides with the 54th anniversary of the Indo-Pak war of 1965, Army Chief, Gen Qamar Ahmad Bajwa expressed complete 'solidarity' with Kashmiris avowing that Pakistan's armed forces are ready to lay down their lives for the Kashmiri people in India. His rhetoric was akin to warmongering and a kind of hysterical reaction possibly due to the country's repeated failures on all counts to deal with the problem to address the Kashmir issue. Significantly, the Defence and Martyr's Day this year is also observed as the Kashmir Solidarity Day. It would seem from such frenzied acts that desperation and frustration reign Pakistan and its only straw to clutch upon is now the UN General Assembly meeting scheduled on September 17. However, judging by the latest trends and emerging global opinion, Pakistan is not expected to gain anything substantial from the United Nations.
Back home in India, measures are actively afoot to ease restrictions in J&K as no other person than the National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, is personally overseeing the security of the state to ensure that Kashmiris are not troubled. He met the media on September 7 and kept them abreast about the steps taken. NSA's role at this critical juncture highlights that an important area like J&K is not dealt routinely but rather being proactively addressed by a very responsible and senior-level figure having wealth of experience since the foremost responsibility now on part of the government is to ensure that common Kashmiri people are safe and secure from Pakistan sponsored terror and frenzied propaganda .
Meanwhile, according to NSA, Pakistani propaganda is going unabated along the 20-km stretch of the border through a series of communication towers. The sustained propaganda, as per intercepts, is very provocative and incendiary calling upon Kashmiris to pursue mindless violence. Provocation is so extreme that the Pak handlers are exhorting their 'targets' to wear bangles for their inaction. It is imperative, therefore, under the circumstances, to expose these Pakistani nefarious designs trying to create terror-linked problems in J&K. As it is, so far 42,000 innocent lives have been lost due to cross-border terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan. Very significantly, in the last over a month, since the promulgation of the prohibitory orders in the J&K, not a single shot has been fired by any component of the Indian Security Forces. The extent of restraint exercised by the Indian authorities to keep things in order and that too under the most trying circumstances is clearly evident.
Again, according to the NSA, to put things in perspective, hospitals and OPDs are working well and most of the communication lines are restored. Banks too are functional and around 92 per cent Apple transportation is in place. This said, at Pakistan's behest, Apple traders were targeted by terrorists and a three-year-old girl lost her life in terrorist gunfire. High-level government functionaries are watching the situation and people's welfare remains on priority as seen realistically on the ground. Such measures continue to further frustrate Pakistani plans to resurrect its terror architecture in Kashmir.
To step up the stranglehold on Pakistan to preempt its attempts to abet terror in India, the government has initiated new terror laws of designating individuals as terrorists. Under this measure, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) activist Masood Azhar and wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim are being declared as terrorists. Any proactive action against them could now appear legitimate including the imposition of travel bans.
Also, Indian PM's most recent talk with Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his stress for the extradition of wanted hate preacher, Dr Zakir Naik is a very welcome move to break the backbone of the terror syndicate, their financiers and supporters. More specifically, this is a fatal blow to the emerging chemistry between Imran Khan and Dr Mahathir especially on the issue of Zakir Naik's deportation to India. Such bold moves and professional initiatives to contain terrorists are likely to pay dividends in the future.
With renewed security cooperation with Russia, Israel and other allies including some Muslim countries, Pakistan and its evil objectives to breed terror, will surely take a deadly blow. This will further isolate Pakistan from the civilised world. Till such time, Pakistan needs to grow up, behave like a mature nation and adhere to basic courtesies so that decisions like forbidding the air space to the President of a sovereign country (neighbour too) do not recur.
(The author is a retired IPS officer and a security analyst. He was also the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. The views expressed are strictly personal)
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