What did the Balakot air strikes achieve?

India needs to keep the pressure in the international forums to establish Pakistan's terror-mongering. We cannot afford laxity at a point when we have support from most other countries.

 |  4-minute read |   09-03-2019
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The Pakistan PM has said that Pakistan won't allow its soil to be used for terror activities. His DG ISPR said that JeM does not exists in Pakistan.

Sounds familiar? Absolutely!

This is the game of deceit that Pakistan have perfected over decades.

The only issue this time around is that the US will soon be out of Afghanistan and no Soviet occupation looms. The idea is the very reason that made Pakistan useful. The reason no longer exists. The all-weather friend and ally is distinctly uncomfortable at the idea of isolating itself internationally and be seen as a tacit supporter of terrorism. Besides, there are other considerations, like a flourishing bilateral trade with India, uncertainty about investment in the CPEC project, a looming trade war with the USA and some similar considerations.

Using terror as a tool of state policy has its own pitfalls. When the proverbial tail wags the dog, it can be presumed that the system has failed horribly. However, questions remain — what have the air strikes achieved? It was a high-risk move. Were the returns commensurate?

For decades India has been literally shouting from the rooftop about the rouge nature of Pakistan. Few in the international community shared that view — others remained unconvinced. The developments after attack on Pulwama on February 14 have established Pakistan's terror credentials unanimously. This was enabled by the ground facts and India's all out diplomatic response.

main_balakot_030919112257.jpgThe air strikes must be followed up with diplomatic action. Here a Pakistan army soldier walks near the crater where Indian military aircrafts released payload in Jaba village, Balakot, Pakistan. (Source: Reuters)

Even the all-weather friend and ally had little support to offer, it has its own compulsions and for that matter no leading country in the world would like to portray itself as a supporter of terror. The OIC which has been one of Pakistan's favourite forums for India bashing, refused to play ball. Saudi Arabia walked the diplomatic tight rope in balancing relations with Pakistan and a huge potential market — India.

Pakistan had little choice but to act nice — for the time being. Any presumed goodwill that the Pakistani Prime Minister showed, had nothing to do with 'will'. It was compulsion — political, economic and strategic. An economy teetering — on the brink of collapse — cannot afford war.

The takeaway for India would be in establishing Pakistan as the fountainhead of international terrorism. India was quick to provide the proof that the Pakistani Prime Minister was asking for. The penal codes of the neighbours have a lot in common, and the world will see what action Pakistan takes against terrorists it sponsors and nurtures. Though Pakistan has escaped the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) black-list till June, the pressure must be kept up. We have a bad habit of dozing off in the continuous game of attrition against Pakistan.

Make no mistake — Pakistan will be at it again — as soon as they can. DG ISPR has already said that Jaish does not exist in Pakistan on a day when a grenade attack targeted a bus stand in Jammu — the death toll stands at two currently.

Hopefully, post February 14, India's stances vis-à-vis response to Pakistan will become proactive rather than reactive. The entire neighbourhood has been turned into the most terror-prone zone worldwide — courtesy to Pakistan and its policies. Afghanistan and Iran have suffered as much as we did. It is time the aggrieved join hands to counter the tormentor. Else with the US withdrawal, Afghanistan would slip back in the hands of the Taliban, exclusive Pak proxies.

Don't believe in every diplomatic nicety you hear. No, we do not want a stable, united and prosperous Pakistan. We want a Pakistan that will be so involved internally that it will not have the time, or resource to look for misadventures elsewhere. The seeds of dissent exist in Pakistan and 1971 is not exactly ancient history.

Act first and act fast — let Pakistan react.

Also read: Where are the authentic ground reports from Balakot's JeM camp? Why does the media have no real access?


Arindam De Arindam De @arindamde01

The writer is journalist working with India Today.

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