What is routine in India-Pakistan ties has reportedly happened with the reports saying the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has refuted India’s charges and the Pathankot airbase attack, in fact, was stage managed by India to malign Pakistan in the world community.
That is on the line how Pakistan behaves and therefore has no surprise or shock value.
What was unusual, and in fact, remarkable – was Narendra Modi’s decision to engage Pakistan again after the bitterness on Pakistan High Commission’s insistence on inviting J&K separatists that rendered India-Pakistan ties hostile for months – with verbal rhetoric, escalated tension in capitals, Delhi and Islamabad, and cross-border firings.
With today’s development, that says the Pakistan’s Pathankot JIT has rubbished all Indian claims of any Pakistani hand in the Pathankot airbase attack, there are now valid questions being raised on the diplomatic coup that Narendra Modi seemed to have achieved with his unscheduled stopover at Lahore while coming back from Afghanistan on December 25 last year.
The dramatic event changed the bilateral course and the news agenda about India-Pakistan ties. Though there were developments like the National Security Advisors of both countries meeting in a third country and some meetings of officials of both countries, the way perspectives to look at things in Indo-Pak context changed, was visibly different after this visit.
Border skirmishes, if not stopped, came down significantly. Verbal rhetoric was toned down. The escalated tension between both neighbours looked giving way to a thaw towards a normalizing relation with Sushma Swaraj visiting Pakistan for a SAARC meet and talks of Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor, coming to India to take forward the Indo-Pak dialogue.
And then – the Pathankot airbase attack happened – on the intervening night of January 1-2.
The terror attack that killed seven Indian security personnel and four terrorists lasted for three days. It was proved beyond doubt, with the evidence available, that the terrorists had come from Pakistan and Pakistan even showed sincerity in acting on evidence India provided – with Nawaz Sharif forming a team to probe the incident and the reported crackdown on the terror group responsible for the attack, JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammad) and its members, including JeM chief Masood Azhar though it was never officially confirmed.
That was the first clearly visible sign of Pakistan backtracking. Many flip-flops on Pathankot incident probe in Pakistan then ensued. The almost certain dates of India-Pakistan NSA level talks were postponed with India making the talks conditional with the progress made by Pakistan in the Pathankot probe. Pakistan also continued with its audacity on hosting the J&K separatists to the Pakistan High Commission.
Then came Pakistan’s proposal to send its JIT to India to see the evidence-set to further the probe. India accepted it and the Pakistan JIT team was in India for five days (March 27 to April 1) to carry out its investigation, ascertain facts, and collect evidence that was needed in the Pakistan courts.
Now that the JIT is back in Pakistan, everyone in India is desperately waiting for what comes next.
Obviously, the logical extension would be, from India’s perspective – the JIT should come with a status report that would speed-up the probe there in Pakistan.
But what about designs of all stakeholders involved?
Pakistan’s Army and ISI (a JIT member was from ISI) would never accept Pakistan’s hand and would do all to shield JeM and Masood Azhar. Civilian government of Pakistan would want to toe a more disciplined approach given the international interest and pressure. The political opposition in Pakistan would obviously take the side of the Pakistan’s Army.
In India, the first preference of everyone would be that all goes well and the Pakistan JIT carries the work ahead by expediting the probe there based on evidence India has provided. But given the Pakistan’s history of backstabbing and backtracking, the groups in India opposed to NDA, BJP and Narendra Modi would see a ‘windfall opportunity’ in catching up on any hostile development and thus the opportunity to corner the Narendra Modi government over failure of a much discussed foreign policy move, something that happened today with the alleged report that the Pakistan JIT had dubbed the Indian version a blatant lie.
For the moment, India and its agencies have done the right thing by not jumping to any conclusion. Even with Pakistan’s dubious history and credentials, we need to wait for any official version from Pakistan and must not go by whatever crap the hysterical media outlets in Pakistan report.
But, if indeed the reports coming out in the Pakistani media about the JIT report are true, then also we should not jump to any such conclusion as seeing it as some ‘impulsive foreign policy move’ by the Narendra Modi government.
Because, after Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover and India’s permission for Pakistan JIT to visit India to see and collect evidence, Pakistan is simply not in a position to junk the Pathankot airbase attack as some stage-managed propaganda attack to malign Pakistan.
The world saw and appreciated Narendra Modi’s Lahore move. The world went to believe the use of Pakistan’s soil in orchestrating attack on Pathankot airbase. The world knows that Pakistan is home to some of the world’s most dreaded groups. The world knows how Pakistan made mockery of 26/11 probe where its non-state actors were involved. The world knows Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan. The world knows how he survived there for years – with the state’s patronage. The world knows JeM is a UN recognized terrorist group and Masood Azhar was freed (swapped) in the 1999 Kandahar hijacking incident. The world knows ISI is more involved in promoting terror groups in India than caring for incessant intelligence failures in Pakistan.
This all has made Pakistan like a failed state in the international community – a state which cannot be trusted. After all, the US did not inform Pakistan before the operation to kill Osama bin Laden fearing leaks.
The world knows how serious India has been with Pakistan, in taking the dialogue process forward, especially after Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover and after India allowed the Pakistan JIT visit in spite of strong opposition in India.
Now any further bravado/sham will further dent Pakistan’s credibility in the International arena as the country has already lost much of its currency after Pakistan it’s exposed patronage of the terror groups including Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network and countless others. And it should also be seen in the context of Narendra Modi’s emphasis on improving ties with the Muslim countries including Pakistan’s supporter nations like Saudi Arabia.
If Pakistan now denies use of its soil and junks the Pathankot terror attack, it will do so at its own peril. Yes, it is an altogether different issue to see if it happens so, then how India plays it out at international platforms.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/