September 21, 2016
In an interconnected world where India is seen as a rising, responsible power, it is necessary to temper the voices being heard about paying Pakistan back in its own coin
In the early dawn of September 18, Pakistani irregulars belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked an Army camp in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, killing 18 jawans and inflicting grievous casualties on many more. The fidayeen were able to breach the Line of Control as also the camp’s security, employing a combination of incendiary grenades and close-quarter weapons to inflict heavy casualties.
Questions are being raised as to how this could happen when Jammu and Kashmir was on maximum alert — this being one of the worst periods in the State’s history since the 1990s. This is, however, not the time for introspection on security breaches and failures; there are far more serious matters on hand.
Uri and the UN
The Uri attack had an eerie similarity to the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in January this year, in which seven security personnel were killed. Lessons from that incident obviously have not filtered down. What is significant is that the JeM was responsible for both attacks. The JeM — even more than the Lashkar-e-Taiba — is the handmaiden of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It obeys implicitly, and acts directly on, the directions of the ISI. There is, hence, a message in the latest attack, coming as it does straight from the deepest recesses of the ‘Pakistani Deep State’.
The timing is hardly fortuitous. The carefully planned attack — with intelligence obviously provided by the ISI — was timed to coincide with the debate in the UN General Assembly (featuring both Pakistan’s Prime Minister and India’s External Affairs Minister), thus helping rivet world attention to an otherwise hardy annual event. Whatever be the nature of evidence produced by India, Pakistan will still remain in denial.
The question is: quo vadis, India-Pakistan relations? Tensions remain high on both sides. All of India feels that mere impotent rage and euphuistic excesses are insufficient. There is clamour for action, all the more because the present government had come into office promising strong action against Pakistan after accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of pusillanimity vis-à-vis the neighbour. The shoe is now on the other foot, and the wearer is since learning where the shoe pinches.
Words, options and actions