Pakistan has ratcheted up its provocative tactics against India, evidently to elicit the threat of a belligerent response so that Islamabad can tell the world of the danger of allowing the Kashmir “dispute” to fester. In response, New Delhi has to make up its mind on how to respond to a demented neighbour which harbours a psychopathic hatred to towards India.
India had moved its troops to the border after the fidayeen attack on Parliament House on December 13, 2001. It had considered resorting to the doctrine of Cold Start or a limited war after the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s murder and mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
Now the time has come after yet another attack by fidayeen, or an ISI-trained suicide squad of Islamic terrorists, on an Indian army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir for New Delhi to decide on what its response should be.
Instead of holding endless meetings and ministers and army officials rushing to and fro between New Delhi and Srinagar, a befitting riposte is in order. It need not necessarily be a military offensive, but a diplomatic initiative which will make the world take notice.
The abrupt termination of diplomatic ties with a patently hostile neighbour will be an effective step because it will tell Pakistan, and especially its army and the ISI, that the relations between the two countries have entered a new and unfamiliar terrain and are now virtually beyond repair.
Such a step is needed because it has been the longstanding intention of the Pakistan army and the ISI to create a warlike situation to justify their own stranglehold on Pakistani politics and society. This is the reason why the two brothers-in-arms of the Deep State with their jihadi mindset have been frustrating virtually every attempt by the civilian leaders of India and Pakistan to improve mutual ties.
The jihadi attack on the Pathankot air base on January 2 this year was in line with this malign objective of the Pakistan army and ISI. The targeting of Uri may well be their response to the Indian support to the Balochi and PoK aspirations for freedom from Pakistan, and New Delhi’s decision to firm up its security ties with Afghanistan, the area of “strategic depth” for Pakistan in the event of a war with India.
Since the deaths of 20 soldiers recall 26/11 for India, New Delhi has no option but to consider a measured response. Since a war – limited or otherwise – is out of the question in an area known to the world as a “nuclear flashpoint”, India’s reply has to be restrained but still dramatic enough to make the international community sit up.
Snapping diplomatic relations can be one such step. As it is, the presence of the high commissioners of the two countries in New Delhi and Islamabad has contributed more to the souring of relations than to improving the ties.
While the Pakistan high commissioner is seemingly interested in boosting the morale of the Kashmiri separatists by routinely interacting with them, his Indian counterpart in Islamabad recently suffered the ignominy of having one of his scheduled lectures to an invited audience suddenly called off.
The snapping of diplomatic relations will hit trade links between the two countries as well, which will hurt Pakistan more than India. India has already suspended its cricketing links with Pakistan both at the level of the two countries playing Tests and one-day matches or allowing Pakistani players to participate in the highly lucrative Indian Premium League.
The cultural exchanges will also come to a halt, underlining how unsuitable such programmes are in an atmosphere where Pakistan is engaged in making its proxy war with India more toxic than ever by sending the jihadi psychos across the border at regular intervals to kill and be killed.
But the most significant fallout of a diplomatic rupture will be the ending of the charade of talks at the official and even the Prime Ministerial level. In any event, these were never liked by the Deep State which evidently thought them to be an uncalled for distraction which diluted the army’s castigation of India as an inveterate enemy. So, the army should be pleased that the farcical endeavours to establish friendly ties have ended.
In the changed circumstances, the Deep State will have to reconsider its options. Till now, it was engaged in provoking India by despatching its murderous foot soldiers across the border, perhaps knowing that India will not respond in kind, and then denying that it sent anyone at all, as Rawalpindi has done with regard to the Uri incident.
The Pakistan army and ISI can still indulge in their provocations in the absence of diplomatic relations. But they will also know that such covert operations against a country with which Pakistan has no formal ties will be tantamount to an act of war.
Pakistan has been called a warrior state whose economy is in dire straits and which faces grave internal security threats. A diplomatic rift with India will add to its pariah status and embolden the anti-Pakistan terror outfits like Tehreek-e-Taliban which want the destruction of their own country.
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)