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The Big Picture- Indo-Pak War of Words: What It Takes To Isolate Pakistan?



The Big Picture- Indo-Pak War of Words: What It Takes To Isolate Pakistan?


The war of words between India and Pakistan has reached a new height following the attack on Uri army base few days back. While India has witnessed serious outrage among the people as well as in media over the attack, the Indian Government has come under tremendous pressure to act. The Pakistani Prime Minister used his address in the United Nations General Assembly to blame India for problems in Kashmir. The speech was countered equally strongly with the speech given by Indian External Affairs Minister for nurturing terrorism.

At one level, it is good that India has put its concerns in front of the international community but the question is whether they would do something to address India’s concerns or not. This is a question of gathering moral support as nothing can be done in isolation. There are a large number of countries which have criticized the Uri attacks and also advised India to resolve issues with Pakistan through bilateral dialogue.

United Nations speeches are largely for record and this might not work to build pressure on Pakistan as support to terrorist groups in not new and it has been raised time and again by India. For the first time, India seems to have attacked on vulnerabilities of Pakistan both internally and externally. Balochistan, Sind, Frontier Province, Indus Water Treaty are internal fault lines of Pakistan which India so far never sought to exploit. India has to raise the cost which Pakistan has to pay by supporting these activities. Merely bringing such issues on the table will not serve the purpose. This can be done either consistently and in a very systematic manner or as a diplomatic or bargaining tool in a well thought manner. For example: Operation Parakaram was thought to be putting pressure on Pakistan but it turned out to be a diplomatic ploy.

A speech from the ramparts of Red Fort or in United Nations will not affect Pakistan. India has to subvert Balochistan. Now, for this India has to operate out of Afghanistan. Balochistan’s stability is also very important for China as well as Iran at present. Creating problems there would mean destabilizing Afghanistan which is very difficult as US has a presence of 40,000 trained military personnels there as well as Pentagon troops. Drone operation in Iran is conducted through Afghanistan. Pakistan maintains a stand that the time is ripe in Kashmir to intervene diplomatically. Given India’s open support to Baluchi nationalists in Pakistan, Pakistan is determined to ensure that there will be no nexus possible between Delhi and Kabul in any future political dispensation in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar can guarantee that, one of the prominent figures of Afghan jihad who signed a peace deal with Kabul few days before the Uri attack.

Debt rescheduling talks of Pakistan is coming up. This can be put as a negotiating pressure if there is sufficient support internationally. Covert action needs strategic patience. For example: In 1971 war, there were issues of Muhajir movement and others which were able to put Pakistan on the defensive and there was peace for a decade. In recent years, because of nuclear deterrence in effect, India has been put on back foot. India removing the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan is also an option.

If India starts using its own share of Indus River, it would affect Pakistan in one way or the other without violating the Treaty. Internally, there is problem between Sind and Punjab in Pakistan over the sharing of water so this option can be exploited. The Treaty cannot be abrogated as there is role of US involved in the form of World Bank and they have immediate role in India Pakistan tension. Indus Water Treaty is the finest moment of mediation for US. All countries have counseled that India and Pakistan should talk to each other but none of them have pointed finger towards Pakistan. Countries like US and China maintain a view that Uri attack was an outcome of Kashmir unrest and raising the issue of Balochistan and Sind would affect international security. Even Iran has said that it would like to be a part of CPEC.

India has limited options. It has to take steps as a responsible nation in a responsible manner. India has to decide its discourse whether other countries favour it or not. India’s rhetoric should not overcome its capability.