The conspiracy behind Pakistan's mutilation of Indian soldiers

The date and timing of the strike were crucial and it was planned to perfection.

 |  6-minute read |   02-05-2017
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Whenever there are even remote attempts of stabilisation, improvement of relations, important visits, Pakistan escalates. Looking back into history, when Vajpayee visited Lahore, Kargil was in the pipeline; when Agra was expected to thaw relations, Mumbai followed and recently, post the visit to Lahore by Modi, Pathankot occurred.

Further, whenever Pakistan notices that the Indian government, especially the present one, is on a high, an incident would be planned to bring it down. What better than mutilation of its soldiers. Nationalism would rise to a peak, pushing all possible progress into the background.

A lot has been happening in the sub-continent in recent days, indicating that an incident was in the offing.

Take Pakistan first. The death sentence to proclaimed spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, attempts by India to seek consular access, including an approach by his mother, placed Pakistan in a quandary. In all probability, he is already dead or severely tortured, preventing his appearance before any Indian representative.

Alongside this has been the case of the missing Pakistani officer who, in the neighbouring country's belief, is under the custody of India's RAW. India has neither denied, nor admitted, nor passed any judgement on his disappearance. However, Pakistan has suddenly gone quiet on his whereabouts.

It has possibly got the message through clandestine means of his whereabouts. It knows India could seek an exchange, but Jadhav may be in no position to be exchanged. Hence, delay Indian action by worsening the border situation.

Their civilian government is being held to ransom by the army as was evident in the tweets made by Major General Asif Ghafoor of the ISPR, on the notification issued post the Dawn leak case. It compelled the government to publicly announce the release of relevant paragraphs of the report, to assuage the army’s anger.

This put the government on the backfoot. Pakistan has been facing losses on its Afghan border in regular strikes by the Pakistan Taliban. While India has denied any involvement or support to them, Pakistan claims the reverse.

To divert its losses, it had to resort to some action. It knew India would accuse it, while it would deny, thus convincing its population of having maintained the upper hand.

Simultaneously going on was the recent meeting between Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif. While no details were released, in either the Pakistani or Indian media, the army was suspicious.

The meeting could have conveyed news about their missing ISI officer, asked for inputs on Jadhav or even been a precursor to a likely meeting of the two PMs on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in June.

This had to be forestalled. An action to hurt Indians at the heart was what was needed. Mutilating a body is against our culture and hence would hurt Indian sentiments to the extreme. 

soldier-embed_050217122719.jpgTo divert its losses, Pakistan had to resort to some action.

The incident came immediately post the visit of the Pakistan army chief to the LOC. While the visit may have been planned previously, since there was no pressing incident requiring his immediate attention, however, an earlier series of events would have triggered his likely directions to the local formation.

Under normal conditions, incidents occur on posts dominated by fire and observation; further regular observations indicate likely locations suitable for a strike. Pakistan has done what has hurt the Indian heart. It knows India would retaliate.

On the Indian side, the government has been gaining ground politically, winning in almost all states. It is yet to face flak on its Kashmir policy. The criticism by Farooq Abdullah meant nothing and was ignored. In fact, Farooq is among the most hated politicians in India, unwelcome anywhere else in the country, other than Kashmir.

The Turkish president was to visit. He is a strong supporter, not of Pakistan but of Nawaz Sharif, whom he continuously called a close friend and a "good man". He would have a personal message from him. After all, elections in Pakistan are due next year and Nawaz won the last on the promise of improving India-Pakistan relations.

Any Indian comments on the issue had to be stalled. Hence, the date and timing of the strike were crucial and it was planned to perfection, just when the Turkish president was in Delhi.

India has not resorted to a hard approach in the Valley, and is still seeking to try the softer line, despite Pakistan pushing for increased protests, militant action and stone-throwing. The Indian military has been keeping itself under check, avoiding firing as much as it can.

The attack on the cash van in Kashmir, on the same day, with no loss of money, was aimed at instigating security forces to respond with force, possibly burning the Valley more. That has not happened. The Army chief is in Kashmir, to possibly discuss the future course of action against rising militancy and protests. There may be a change in the days ahead.

For India, south of the Pir Panjal, civilians live close to the border and earn their livelihood from their fields there. Hence, India seeks to avoid escalation, unless Pakistan provokes. Invariably, it is Pakistan which starts and the Indian response is always greater.

India has never shied back, but avoids targeting civilians, which Pakistan never hesitates to do. Tensions are now on the rise and locals would be moved to shelters away from the firing.

There is a difference between the two nations on handling its martyrs. India announces their details as also the manner of their death. Pakistan in many cases refuses to accept or even announce, as it would break the myth of their army, internally.

This happened in Kargil, where they refused to accept the remains of their soldiers, during surgical strike and many occasions when India responded with force. It would after a few days announce their soldiers as civilian casualties to Indian firing. 

India would respond, it already has. It would damage posts, cause immense casualties and degrade Pakistani fighting capabilities. Reports talk of over seven Pakistani soldiers killed in retaliatory firing. However, Pakistan has achieved its aim. It has pushed back any chances rapprochement between the two nations.

There is no way the two PMs would even acknowledge each other at the SCO summit. The Turkish President would return empty handed. The only gainer is the Pakistan army, whose chief would now be smiling.

Also read: Soldiers' bodies mutilated: Modi and Doval have muddled up India's Pakistan and China policy

Writer

Harsha Kakar Harsha Kakar @kakar_harsha

The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army and author of the book, Harsha Kakar writes.

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