GVS News Analysis|
India Planning Escalations at LOC? The latest position of Gen. Sarath Chand, India’s Vice Chief of Army Staff, that India will choose a time and place of its own in retaliating for the alleged beheading and mutilation of two Indian soldiers, is a strong indication that Indian political establishment wants to further ratchet up the tensions on Line of Control. But what is India trying to achieve? Though the border tensions have continuously escalated, achieving one spike after another, since the ascension of Narendra Modi to power in New Delhi in June of 2014, yet since the so-called “Surgical Strikes” by India on 28th September, 2016, there is hardly a situation that justifies the kind of rhetoric that is being build up, so its only fair to ask: What is Indian up to? And given a fast developing political situation inside Pakistan, could Narendra Modi be trying to influence events inside Pakistan?
“I do not want to say what we will do. Instead of speaking, we will focus on our action at a time and place of our choosing,”
Allegations of beheadings of Soldiers?
On 1st May, the Indian media broke a news story about an alleged border violation by a Pakistan Army Special forces team which allegedly killed and beheaded two soldiers on patrol within Indian Territory. Since then, Pakistani Military has not only denied these killings but has also clarified that its records show that no border skirmish or clash of any sort took place in that sector during that time period. Indian and Pakistani DGMOs have also spoken at length. And Pakistani Army has been demanding “actionable evidence” from the Indians that can be checked.
Given this background Gen. Sarath Chand’s statement at a public event, quoted by all India’s mainstream and regional media: “I do not want to say what we will do. Instead of speaking, we will focus on our action at a time and place of our choosing,” is surprising, to say the least.
Pakistani Military: Not a medieval era militia?
Pakistani Army sources point out that the description of the event presented by the Indian media does not measure up. Reportedly, an Indian Army spokesperson had said that Pakistan started unprovoked mortar shelling early Monday morning and then a Pakistani Border action team penetrated within 250 meters of Indian Territory, under covering mortar fire, and killed two Indian border patrolmen.
“It is only when a hefty price is extracted from them (Pakistan Army) that they will understand the repercussions. The Indian Army has the means and methods and can inflict a heavy price on the Pakistan Army,”
Following this report, the Indian media erupted into outcry and called for revenge. In multiple statements, from both serving and retired generals, the Indian Army is promising revenge.
“It is only when a hefty price is extracted from them (Pakistan Army) that they will understand the repercussions. The Indian Army has the means and methods and can inflict a heavy price on the Pakistan Army,” said Lt Gen (retd) Kadyan, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff.
Story of beheadings fits into Indian Narrative on Pakistan?
However, the Pakistani sources point out that the description of the events doesn’t add up. Firstly, this attack was supposedly carried out under covering mortar fire however, the Indian patrol still managed to be surprised by an ambush. Secondly, the terrain of that segment of L.O.C does not allow for such unobstructed intrusions into Indian Territory.
Also, there is no conceivable motive for Pakistan’s military to carry out a barbaric attack on the L.O.C to kill two soldiers. The whole Indian story simply does not make sense. However, it fits neatly within the narrative Indian political establishment, think tanks, and media keep on propagating about Pakistani military. Such an incident, if it were true, leads one to believe that Pakistani Army is not a modern professional military institution but some sort of medieval, rogue or tribal militia. Or it’s a self-interested rogue institution bent upon creating a war situation with India to undermine government in Pakistan. This is precisely how Indian narrative wants world to see Pakistan – and many in Pakistan too have started to buy into this simplistic narrative. Perhaps this testifies to the power of “Neuro-lingusistic programing (NLP)”
How do we explain Sajjan Jindal’s secret visit and talk of track-II diplomacy at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz is confronted by corruption investigations in the form of Panama JIT and has little political capital to take initiative on?
Where is Pakistan’s Narrative? Why Appease India?
But if events like “Dawn Leaks”, “Posters in Gujranwala story” Capture of Kalbushan Yadev in Baluchistan and the recent confessional statements of Ehsan Ullah Ahsan and the details he provides about a nexus between NDS and RAW are taken into context, we begin to see the broader contours of Indian strategy towards Pakistan.This is something which George Perkovich and Toby Dalton had explained in their provocative book, “No War No Peace”. They had examined the “Indian Options” to contain Pakistan to explain that India may be employing multi-pronged strategies to compel Pakistan to accept its hegemony in South Asia. Shaping a world wide narrative around Pakistan – and also within Pakistan against its own army- thus appears to be an essential component of the Indian strategy.
The Indian postures of sudden escalation immediately after Sajjan Jindal’s visit thus raises questions if it was track-II for peace or something else?
What surprises many in Pakistan is that despite mounting evidence of Indian strategy the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif never came up with a coherent realistic counter-strategy or well thought out Foreign policy initiative to respond, rebuff and then engage India in a meaningful fashion. Its approaches towards Delhi continue to reflect ideas of pre-Modi era which now only look like abject appeasement. In the post-Mumbai scenario and when Congress under Manmohan and Sonia ran the show and Secretary Clinton was engaged with Pakistan these approaches could make some sense. But Nawaz government’s failure to grasp a changed scenario, and up its inability to intelligently capitalize on Kulbashan Yadev, disclosures of TTP and MQM militants and the insurgency in Kashmir are all examples of that rather strange appeasement.
Why to meet “Sajjan Jindal” in current political scenario?
Pakistani analysts are thus increasingly concerned as to what is the nature of relationship or understanding between PM Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart: Narendra Modi. How do we explain Sajjan Jindal’s sudden secret visit to Murree and then sheepish explanations of “track-II diplomacy” at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz is confronted by corruption investigations in the form of Panama JIT and has little political capital to take any meaningful initiative towards India.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan starting bilateral talks with India, without any official announcement, at the time when he is in hot water over multiple allegations of money laundering and while the whole opposition is calling for his resignation, is a surprisingly bewildering move – to say the least.
The Indian postures of sudden escalation immediately after Sajjan Jindal’s visit thus raises questions if it was track-II for peace in South Asia or something else? What happens on LOC in coming days may help to answer this question better.