Where India stands after the Pulwama attackby Opinion Express February 18, 2019 0 comments
India may have launched a diplomatic blitzkrieg but without China, the job will not be easy.
After the Pulwama attack, conversations are mounting around India’s counter-offensive, diplomatic and military moves. Will the country get the world sanction for the right to defend itself against global terrorism? Will it go for shallow surgical attacks or do limited airstrikes? In fact, the Modi government, which has been quite bold in its reaction to the terrorist attack at Uri, is now caught in a difficult situation. There is internal pressure on it to walk the talk but there is really a short window to do that in an election year. Besides, it cannot be seen as war-mongering and expose itself to the criticism that it is using Kashmir’s worst terrorist violence for its own benefit. Truth be told, the scale, nature and timing of the attack couldn’t have come at a worst time and now that it has, there is no option but to act on with vigour and a dogged sense of purpose. Diplomatically speaking, our stumbling roadblock is China, which rebuffed efforts yet again to name the Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a UN-designated terrorist although the Jaish claimed that it had carried out the suicide bomb attack in Pulwama. But China believes Jaish is in the UN list of terrorist organisations and sees no point in singling out Azhar. China’s position is explainable despite its own efforts to muzzle Islamic terrorists in Uighur province. When it comes to Azhar, it is taciturn simply because he roams freely in Pakistan, China’s “all-weather” friend and counterweight against India. Azhar gives China an upper edge when it comes to putting pressure on India, a one-man answer to India’s push on the Nuclear Supplier’s Group. Besides, India has completely blocked China’s expansionist and imperialist design by opposing the Belt and Road Initiative, the crucial part of which figures as the China-Pak Economic Corridor, and China will but appease Pakistan. Besides, China and Pakistan back each other up on the world stage, representing each other in official groups of nations where the other is not present. For instance, Pakistan stands up for China in the Non-Aligned Movement and in return, Pakistan gets China’s veto power in the UNSC. Besides, if the recent stand-off in Doklam is any indication, then it would seem that China has, in fact, upped efforts in needling India. True Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi did try to simmer things down in Wuhan but all talks of commonality, economic and people-to-people cooperation just do not address the elephant in the room — China’s territorial adventurism against India or its endorsement of Pakistan-exported terrorism as counter-productive to the larger cause of stability in the region. Now we need to resort to some pointed backroom diplomacy with the Chinese to at least focus on Jaish and its depredations. The US has already acknowledged our need to do so and has even warned Pakistan to stop funding its terrorist havens. But it has so far been wary of pushing any move that doesn’t have Chinese approval. And though India has been working the hotlines and talking to envoys, it is too early to say how much both US and Russia can really push China into declaring Azhar a global terrorist. For let’s not forget that Jaish has close links to the Taliban, which has spread its tentacles in Afghanistan and is now seeking political accommodation, and after the troop withdrawal by the US, is expected to call the shots. In fact, this is what Pakistan is leveraging vis-à-vis India. So diplomatically, India does have some tough rules of engagement to negotiate. But militarily, our biggest challenge will not be strikes but in cordon and search operations and keeping vigil. For the Pulwama bomber was a local, one among Kashmiris who have so far not been engaging in suicide attacks considering it to be a sin or haram. If radicalisation has insidiously crept in, then we must make sure that ground offensives don’t push the youth farther away and leave them to a one-sided brainwash of information. India may have launched a diplomatic blitzkrieg but without convincing China, it has a tough job at hand.
Courtesy: The Pioneer