CAN MODI GOVERNMENT DO THIS COURSE CORRECTION?

Today’s is the third day after the attack on army base camp in Uri that killed 18 Indian soldiers. Terrorists attacked the camp early in the morning when most of the soldiers were deep in sleep. While saluting the soldiers and paying homage on their supreme sacrifice, the whole nation is understandably deeply disturbed and angry and wants Pakistan aptly punished this time. If many have advocated a direct war with Pakistan, it is a natural expression of that anger.

But a direct war can never be the answer to a proxy war that Pakistan has forced India into. Our policymakers and strategists realize it, especially when internationalizing Kashmir and showing India in bad light is the main aim of Pakistan’s diplomacy. Now that India is emerging as a global power and the world community has started taking notice of Pakistan sponsored terrorism in India, attacking Pakistan would be like playing into its hands because it will immediately divert the world’s attention from Pakistan’s proxy war to India’s attack on Pakistan and Kashmir. So, even if the Indian Army has asserted to respond to the cowardly Uri attack, it has added that the response will be ‘at the time and place of its choosing’.

Also, we cannot forget that both, India and Pakistan, are nuclear powers. India can and will keep restraint but what about Pakistan. Its leaders threaten nuclear strike against India even on the slightest pretext. Just yesterday, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif again spoke of use of nuclear weapons against India.

In that case, the other alternative that remains is diplomatic offensive.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, a senior minister of the NDA government, summed up the sentiments of the Indian establishment when he said that ‘after the Uri attack, the India-Pakistan ties can never be same again’. At the moment, India is deliberating on many alternatives. The major among them are curtailing diplomatic ties with Pakistan, strongly counteracting Pakistan’s Kashmir and anti-India propaganda and telling the world in a mission mode Pakistan’s atrocities and human rights violation in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir and Balochistan.

And the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), that began today, can be the launch platform. Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to address the UNGA tomorrow and Pakistan has said that it will use the UN platform and Sharif’s speech to tell the world how India is indulged in perpetrating atrocities and human rights violations in Kashmir. Pakistan has been doing it for decades, sending its politicians and bureaucrats to different countries and world-bodies to raise the Kashmir bogey and spread anti-India propaganda. But there has been a desperate rush in these activities with the ongoing phase of unrest in Kashmir (that is again fuelled by Pakistan).

Now India has to answer it and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is ready that if Nawaz Sharif raises the Kashmir pitch in the UN, India will forcefully counter with evidence of Pakistan’s atrocities and human rights violations in PoK and Balochistan and Pakistan sponsored terrorism in India with the Uri attack being the latest example. And to extend her diplomatic offensive, India has already firmed up its strategy to reach out to every global platform. Last week, when Pakistan had tried to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Human Rights Council, India had vehemently rejected it, putting its stand firmly that the present phase of unrest in Kashmir was, like always, Pakistan sponsored. In fact, India should have begun on these initiatives much earlier. It is an established fact that Pakistan is behind terrorism in Kashmir yet we have failed in telling it to the world. Now the Narendra Modi government is talking of changing all this.

If we look through the years of India-Pakistan ties, we will find that barring few occasions, Pakistan has always been ahead of us in diplomatically ratcheting up the Kashmir issue on international platforms. India needs to shape up its diplomatic offensive keeping in mind ‘how and why’ of these lapses. It is totally unacceptable that we have failed to raise the PoK human rights abuses while Pakistan keeps spreading lies about Kashmir. It is disturbing that terrorists and criminals wanted in India are respectable citizens in Pakistan yet India never thought of extending the olive branch to Baloch, Sindhi and other groups who are fighting for independence from Pakistan. Showing the mirror to Pakistan and fighting and winning diplomacy at the level of diplomacy should be the guiding principle for India now. And PoK, Balochistan and Pakistan sponsored terrorism should be at its core.

Narendra Modi has made it clear that if there is anything contentious between India and Pakistan, it is Pakistan sponsored terrorism and PoK. Narendra Modi also made a much needed policy correction when he asserted in his Independence Day address on August 15 that India would support the Baloch activists and would raise the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan. So, a beginning has been made but the road ahead is unpredictable and the path is long. Let’s see how the Modi government carries out this course correction.

But one needs to keep in mind that a diplomatic offensive needs to be proactive and not reactive. India should not wait to react on Pakistan’s bravados. Instead, it should go full throttle in exposing Pakistan through its diplomatic offensive when we know that Pakistan’s atrocity and barbarism has continued unabated in PoK and Balochistan and when we have Baloch leaders and freedom fighter speaking against it from different global platforms. India should try to get such voices even from PoK.

©SantoshChaubey

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