Conflict resolution is key
It seems the Uri attack on an Indian military regional headquarters has changed the regional dynamics. It is one of those events that create new realities like 911 produced twin wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Before we get into the discussion of the event itself let’s look at the motivations and ambitions of head of government in India. PM Modi is a self-made man with humble beginnings. His rise from rags to the head of a government is a fascinating story in itself. But there are two tendencies in him that has overbearing influence on his foreign policy decisions. First is his desire for recognition and taking India in a new direction that bears his name. In other words he is looking for a Modi doctrine that is different from Nehru doctrine that has so far been dominant. Nehru leadership of non-alignment movement (NAM) is well remembered and respected. Socialist Nehru friendship with communist USSR is also on record. Second tendency is Modi’s indoctrination in Hindu fundamentalist philosophy and relying on nationalist symbols whether it is the ideology of Chanakya or remembering Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. I learned about these tendencies by reading his biography during his election campaign when it was obvious there was high wind in his sails.
To have a better sense of Uri type events it should be analyzed at three angles which are pre-event, the event and post-event. Pre-Uri there was an uprising in occupied Kashmir which was largely the result of bad crisis management of the Indian government resulting in over 82 civilian deaths and 1000s losing sight because of use of pellet guns. PM Modi instead of fixing a domestic issue gave it a foreign policy angle by blaming it on Pakistan and announcing support for terrorists and separatists in Balochistan during his Independence Day speech. India signed a logistics agreement with USA to provide access to military bases formally abandoning Nehru doctrine of non-alignment and becoming an ally to contain rise of China. India also included China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on its strategic dialogue agenda with China as well as signed an agreement with Iran to develop Chabahar port as a counter move to Gwadar port. India also agreed to join a trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan and USA to form a regional strategic alliance.
In this background Uri happened. It is too early to tell what happened in Uri as facts are still not clear. All we can do is look at media reports and government briefings. According to various respectable Indian newspapers most deaths in Uri resulted from fire as troops were buys fueling at the time of the attack. There was one report that maps collected from the attack location had Pashto language instructions. Both India and Pakistani military analysts agree that it is a heavily militarised area so infiltration of terrorists is highly unlikely. The attack was on a military installation and no terrorist organisation has so far claimed responsibility which is also unusual. Senior Indian ministers claimed it was a Pakistan sponsored attack without even looking at the evidence. Indian government has long history of false flag operations including hijacking of a plane and Samjotha express. I am not suggesting Indian government itself planned this attack but sometimes closing eyes to intelligence is as good as planning it. Secondly India does not have just Pakistan as an enemy. Supply of weapons to Kabul government will not sit well with Afghan Taliban and becoming an ally of USA against China has its own risks. The behavior of Indian Ministers, analysts and opinion makers is such as if Pakistani planners are total fools and will sabotage their own diplomatic efforts by planning a terrorist attacks two days before PM Nawaz speech in UN General Assembly. Their argument is that Pakistan military wanted to embarrassed the civilian Prime Minister. In other words they are trying to play civ-mil divide card which is a fiction. Rather the behavior of Indian ministers has expressed their lack of maturity and depth.
Now let’s look at the post-event scenario. When Uri type events happen many ideas that are considered impractical and too risky suddenly become possible. So in my view PM Modi thinks this is his opportunity to lay seeds of Modi doctrine that will burnish his imprint on Indian foreign policy and include his name in history as a game changer. In other words his craving for recognition will be fully satisfied. So what are the contours of this Modi doctrine? First is that for Modi converting Muslim majority Kashmir to Hindu majority is almost a sacred duty by adopting Israeli style settlements and high handed dealing with intifada. It can ever be allowed to become part of Pakistan rather Pakistani controlled Azad Kashmir should be reclaimed. Since Uri many statements have emerged from government officials claiming illegitimacy of Pakistani control.
Second is that only balkanisation of Pakistan will ensure Indian hegemony in South Asia so all necessary steps will be taken to support separatists of Balochistan. This balkanisation effort will be supported by USA as it has an added advantage of destabilising Iran which is also facing Kurdish separatism in North. Substantial Balochi reside in Iranian Sistan province which is one of the major oil producing areas. Unrest in Balochistan will thwart Chinese ambition to gain access to Middle East and Eurasian markets and energy. In other words there is a link between South China Sea tensions and Balochistan separatist movement. It is to curtail Chinese access to markets and cheap reliable sources of energy.
Balkanisation of Pakistan can only happen when there is a war at its borders and its economy that relies on agriculture is badly hurt. To hurt our agriculture Indus water treaty will be violated which can cause shortages of water during key sowing seasons. This may not happen in short term but certainly in the long term that is on the cards. To initiate war they will look towards Afghanistan to engage her with Pakistan just like it happened between Iran-Iraq. Indian aid to Afghanistan and close alliance is pointing towards that development. Afghanistan is the only country that not only supported Indian allegations of Pakistani involvement in Uri but also supported reprisal. There were recently skirmishes on Torkham border and they can happen repeatedly with higher and higher intensity. I have written repeatedly (check Pakistan Today archives) that a small nation of 35 million with no formal economy can’t afford a large military of 325,000 unless it can be used as a mercenary army as a strategic asset. I think time has now come to see if this will come to pass or not. A war away from Indian border will have less impact on their economy. This strategic move to create war between Afghanistan and Pakistan is also in line with Chanakya thought.
What can Pakistan do? Our efforts should be to reduce tension not by initiating dialogue with fundamentalist government of India but by taking our case to our partner countries directly. We have more than enough evidence available that India is turning into a rogue state by sponsoring terrorism; violating neighbors sovereignty by funding separatists; and engaging in human rights violation that is almost reaching the level of genocide. We should demand installation of UN peace observers on Indian side of LoC. UN Human Rights Commission inquiry into Indian atrocities in Kashmir. And reach out to Russia and China to initiate a dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues.
Our sacrifices to eradicate terrorism are more than any other nation and should be highlighted on all forums. Our diplomats are our front line warriors to thwart Indian design to hurt Pakistan and should be provided all necessary support and resources.