By Vijeth Kanahalli
The Republic of India is the world’s 6thlargest economy; has the world’s 2ndlargest standing military; possesses a nuclear triad with a no first use policy and is revered internationally for exercising its power in the form of soft power diplomacy. Also, one cannot think of any U.N. led peacekeeping mission without Indian soldiers as a part of such operations. Internationally, due to its objective nature in holding neutral yet correct positions on issues of global importance, it has now become the most popular nation to find support from members across continents for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Despite the abovementioned achievements in a short span of 72 years since inception one miniscule nation that borders India continues to inflict pain and unprovoked humiliation on it. One doesn’t need to ponder much to figure the country being referred to. The rogue nation of Pakistan, which was founded on a misguided notion of religion has always been problematic to the national security of India. What the country cannot achieve directly through its rather inefficient armed forces, it achieves it through the means of radicalization of youth through terrorist organizations in the Indian side. While my terming the Pakistani armed forces as inefficient may ruffle a few feathers internationally, history is my proof as all of Pakistan’s wars have been against India and all their humiliating defeats have been against India with one war even leading to the permanent loss of their territory which led to the formation of Bangladesh.
With such humiliating losses, it has been Pakistan’s state strategy to raise terrorists to fight proxy wars on the emotional issue of Kashmir. The intelligence wing of Pakistan, the ISI, funds every known terror group in South Asia to keep the region destabilized. One such group, which goes by the name Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked a bus carrying Indian paramilitary forces at Pulwama district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The dastardly suicide attack, which was carried out by a brainwashed 20-year-old Indian Muslim resulted in the martyrdom of over 45 brave Indian soldiers. The aim of the JeM is the cessation of Kashmir from India. They carry out attacks through suicide bombings, hijacking of flights and massive indoctrination programs for misguided youth who are religious fanatics on both sides of the border.
What frustrates such terror groups and the Pakistani establishment is the relentless pursuit of the Indian establishment to counter and strike back against all of them. The armed forces conduct constant raids and crack down on terror plots; the political class is always working towards launching schemes and programs to woo the businessmen, students and other groups of society away from the radical preaching; and the bureaucracy travels world over exposing the wrong doing by Pakistan through its state and non-state actors. While the frustration in Pakistan exists over this never give up attitude of India, they’ve cracked the code on India being a soft state, despite having all hard power necessary to decimate Pakistan.
The renewed engagement that the Indian establishment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated in 2014 with Pakistan was viewed by many in Islamabad as a soft power state attitude. The invitation to all SAARC leaders to the swearing ceremony of Mr. Modi; the visit by the Indian PM to Pakistan and the continuing co-operation with them in the Indus-Water treaty have all given Pakistan an impression that India will tolerate Pakistan come what may due to its nuclear power status.
However, the current leadership hates to be called a Soft- State. They’ve taken time but have in return cracked the code on Pakistan’s repeated assertions on its nuclear might. It is now a well forming opinion worldwide about the nuclear bluff of Pakistan. While it is true that they possess nukes, every nation knows that the price to be paid in the form of economic sanctions from the entire global community is undesirable. Not even Pakistan’s all-weather ally China can morally and for the sake of its quest to achieving a global repute support any nuclear action from Pakistan. Also, even in the event of such adventurism by Pakistan, it stands in a situation beyond Mutually Assured Destruction due to the now added capacity of Nuclear submarines in India which the Pakistani’s don’t possess. While neither I nor any Pakistani International Affairs scholar desires a nuclear attack, if push comes to shove, the truth is that it is going to be another war they end up losing and again to India!
So far, in the soft power front, India has revoked the Most Favored Nation status which was re-accorded to Pakistan by India in 1996 under Article 1 of the GATT Agreement of 1947. This is not going to cause any aberration on the economy of Pakistan as the bilateral trade between the nations stood at less than $ 1.9 billion. Next, the Ministry of External Affairs has vowed to draw international consensus in gathering support to isolate Pakistan diplomatically. Although while this intention and initiative seems laudable it could face a rocky route in achieving this objective due to the strategically important geopolitical position that Pakistan is placed at for the United States, China and Russia. But, one area that India can hit hard and strike precisely is with the Indus Water sharing treaty. India can walk out of this World Bank brokered treaty and begin diverting water that it shares with Pakistan. This is bound to cause serious water shortage to the food producing belts of Pakistan.
In the realm of hard power, one is immediately drawn towards the flak or support India may draw from the international community should it decide to flex its muscle and showcase its military might. The constant irritation that India has faced to its sovereignty by a nation which it can reduce to dust needs to be brought to the forefront. This is equivalent to if Mexico attacked the U.S., or if Mongolia attacked China or if Belarus attacked Russia. None of the abovementioned super powers would have spared the smaller nations mentioned for even a minute skirmish. But, India through time has tried everything that is possible, to be patient and accommodate Pakistan’s opinions and unprovoked terror activities.
While Pakistan believes that it is an invaluable asset to China, U.S. and Russia, it is not true. It is merely a gateway to the three countries to satisfy their national interests and in securing their geo political objectives. If the U.S. respected the sovereignty of Pakistan, it would have notified the Pakistani authorities prior to conducting ‘Operation Geronimo’ on Pakistani soil which led to the successful capturing of Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. always uses the ‘Do what you wish and get away with’ card in Pakistan. Pakistan is merely a means to an end for the U.S. in securing its troops movements from in and out of Afghanistan.
Pakistan may boast of its success in convincing China to block India’s request in placing sanctions on JeM chief Masood Azhar under the UNSC resolution 1267. But, the nature of China is easy to understand. As and when its international status will see a rise, it is bound to walk out on its constant support to Pakistan. No country in the world that wants to be respected as a superpower would want to be seen aligned with North Korea, Myanmar and Pakistan. The EU, which is a large trading partner with China and with many countries there being strategic partners of India would like to see a global shift in China’s policy of constantly supporting nations that have little or no respect to human rights, democracy and sovereignty. Also, with India constantly raising the issue on CPEC as an infringement to India’s sovereignty and One Belt One Road (OBOR) as a debt trap, China cannot be seen supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as it would raise doubts of China’s already shaky position to the respect of sovereignty of the participants of the project.
Pakistan doesn’t have any independent strategic thinking or foreign policy. It is heavily influenced by China and to a large extent by the U.S. too. However, one independent and constant aim has been to destabilize India through its support to terrorist organizations in Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. India on the other hand has lost considerable amount of police, armed forces and civilians in its quest to keep India united and away from the hands of the vultures in Pakistan. It constantly works at positively engaging all sections of society that seek peace. It keeps its end of the border safe. So far, there has never been any proof of India having funded or indirectly being involved in a single terror attack on Pakistani soil.
This is what the international community admires about India. India has been tackling its problems in its own mode and manner and has never sought international assistance in over 6 decades. But the same community is fully aware of the military might and considerably strong soft power that India possess world over in order to tackle its adversaries. The surgical strikes that were conducted in Pakistan occupied Kashmir by the special forces of the Indian Army on 29 September 2016 exhibited the so far unheard potent and lethal nature of the kind of troops that are available at India’s disposal.
Military strikes are not favorable to anyone. It leads to civilian casualty on both sides of the border. However, if that option was on the table in any form, India hands down stands a huge chance to win against Pakistan. The Indian armed forces have reached a critical point where it finds that a rogue nation like Pakistan understands no language of peace or dialogue. India’s silence at most incidents are due to its secured feeling of materialistic military might in handling Pakistan. But Pakistan has misunderstood this as a lack of spine on the part of India.
Should India launch any attack in any noticeable form it will not find on the ground support from any nation. So be it as India has neither sought pity nor tactical support from any nation to handle the situation. That being said, neither will any country stand up to support Pakistan. Both nations are on their own. In Pakistan’s case neither Afghanistan nor Iran which are its neighbors have minced their words in condemning the attacks. The insignificant nation of Pakistan has no friends in its surroundings. It has caused and inflicted loss to the lives of people in all its neighboring countries. Recently, Pakistan based terror groups carried out attacks on Iranian Revolutionary Guards which led to the death of 27 of its armed forces members. Therefore, if these nations including India were to put diplomatic pressure or economic sanctions or should they decide to attack together, Pakistan may find itself in a very surprising position.
Prime Minister Modi has given the Indian Army a free hand to deal with Pakistan in any manner that it suits the forces at the time and place that it considers fitting. While this is widely being expected, one awaits to see how the Indian armed forces will avenge the deaths of India’s martyrs. There could be coordinated strikes by the elite wings of all the three services of the Indian Armed Forces simultaneously occurring in more than one location.
India believes in rather standing up in support for the sovereignty of all nations rather than infringing upon it. While it is known to be a benevolent beast, one must not forget that a beast is still a beast and when one awakens it, it will finish what was started by Pakistan. If India could stand up for Bhutan against China; stand up for the creation of Bangladesh against Pakistan and continue standing tall with the people of Afghanistan without a single pair of boots on the ground, India will and definitely withstand and deal with Pakistan.The price of freedom is high. Every Indian salutes the bravery of its soldiers who selflessly sacrifice themselves in securing that freedom for its citizens without compromise. Far too much time has offered to Pakistan to mend its ways. Unfortunately, despite this, India is the one that has been at the receiving end. The Indian establishment is looking to pack up this game of life and death that Pakistan has been carelessly playing without any due regard to India’s sovereignty. Islamabad may have begun the attacks from Parliament to Pulwama. But one can be assured that India will finish it from Pulwama to Pakistan using all means possible and necessary.
By Vijeth Kanahalli is a Corporate Solicitor and a student of M.A. International Affairs (Diplomacy, Law and Business) at Jindal School of International Affairs at O P Jindal Global University, India.