There would seem to be near unanimity in India that Pakistan has been dealt a major blow by India’s military actions. In Pakistan, there would seem to be near unanimity that India has done nothing of the sortby Gareth Price / February 27, 2019 / Leave a comment
For a long time, third countries have attempted to “de-hyphenate” India and Pakistan, attempting to build their relationships with both separately, rather than see one through the prism of the other.
India and Pakistan, however, appear not to have been so successful in doing so. The latest outbreak of hostilities follows a familiar pattern whereby India is attacked by militants ostensibly linked to the Pakistan state, and subsequently responds with its own military show of strength.
Of course, once a military approach has been adopted, the dangers of escalation increase. The combination of nuclear capability coupled with a desire not to lose face is a particularly hazardous one. Added to this is a reluctance, on the Indian side, to engage in dialogue.
India’s approach to Pakistan is relatively straight-forward. It wants Pakistan to stop its crackdown on militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for a suicide attack on police forces which killed 40 on February 14.
Were it to do so, talks would have a purpose. Until that point, what is the value in talks if Pakistan intends to continue sponsoring such groups?
Since Imran Khan became prime minister in Pakistan, he has repeatedly offered dialogue with India, and each time has been rebuffed. Pakistan’s position is more complex than India’s. There is widespread agreement that Pakistan should do more, but options for the international community, such as it is, are somewhat limited.
In the first instance, engagement with Pakistan is necessary for some kind of political reconciliation in Afghanistan, given its special relationship with the Taliban. Second, attempts to target the leader of JeM at the UN have been vetoed by China.
Consequently, India’s aspiration of isolating Pakistan remains, for now, an aspiration. Indeed, its refusal to allow two Pakistani competitors visas to enter India in the aftermath of the attack resulted in the International Olympic Committee urging sports federations not to stage competitions in India.
Projecting strength is a core component of Hindu nationalism, as espoused by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India. In contrast to previous governments, which it would argue allowed India to be pushed around, now it takes bold steps to counter aggression. The BJP is helped in this…