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Indian aerial strikes near LOC and Pakistan’s response

By Asia Maqsood

Feb 26, 2019 between 3.30 am to 4.30am, Indian Air Force (IAF) Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft has violated Pakistani airspace near the Line of Control (LOC). India claims (According to BBC) that the air strike has targeted a militant camp near Balakot in the Pakistan’s Province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  There is a confusion that the aircrafts came to Balakot in KPK, in reality, Indian aircrafts incursions occurred in a small village of Balakot near LOC.  Pakistan’s Major General Ghafoor tweeted at 4.40am Tweeted, “Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled, Indian aircrafts gone back.” 

This incident has provoked a great debate on media in both countries. Yet another clarification from Major General Ghafoor came, “Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzafarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot.No casualties or damage”.  Thank God that there is no casualty, otherwise the ultimate are the Kashmiris who would suffer from the revenge attacks from the Indian Side. 

Indian Motivations 

Major portion of debate by the analysts on Pakistani electronic media is that the strikes are part of Modi’s election strategy, accusing Pakistan with terrorist groups to enhance the volume of the whole vote bank of Modi’s government. This apprehension is true to certain extent.  Apart from political motivation, there are some other motivations behind these strikes: firstly, India is trying to pulling its military muscle and projecting that is more powerful country than Pakistan and it has right to intrude any time without counting the counter reaction from Pakistan. Secondly, it is trying to put more pressure on the Khan’s government on diplomatic front. Khan’s government is attracting world community for the foreign direct investment in Pakistan. The most recent Saudi Crown Prince visited Pakistan and signed MoU of $20 billion with Pakistan. Thirdly, this situation is leading towards the mitigation of any room for the dialogue between the two countries to resolve the Kashmir issue during Khan’s reign.  

The Indian strikes are actually in response to the most recent Pulwama attack that happened on 14thof Feb, 2019. A terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed its responsibility.  India accused Pakistan being behind this attack saying that the group is based in Pakistan. After the Pulwam attack,speaking in front of a backdrop with the photos of the Indian soldiers killed by a suicide bomber. “We won’t let this country bow down!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a charged rally in New Delhi, Pakistan has denied all accusation saying that we are ready for taking action against the culprits if India provided any proof regarding Pakistan.

Yes for any state to be in war state, there are several motivations are causes required such as economic gains, territorial gains, nationalism, revenge, civil war, defensive war and revolutionary war. According to Dr. Richard Ned Lebow, Professor of International Political Theory at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London that while other causes of war may be present, nationalism, or spirit, is nearly always a factor. In his essay “Most wars are not fought for reasons of security or material interests, but instead reflect a nation’s spirit.  India’s violations/airstrikes are projecting a mixture of two motivations: revenge and nationalism which could trigger a sub conventional war between the two countries across the LOC or could lead both countries towards severe crises. 

Therefore, these airstrikes are nothing more than the reflection of India’s aggression against Pakistan and projection of its power.  Now, how Pakistan would responds to this violation, this should be a big concern for international community. “India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing,” Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office said in a statement.

In response to India’s accusation in Pulwama incident, PM Khan said, “Pakistan is willing to take action if India provides any proof that a Pakistani is involved. He added, “I have repeatedly said that this is the new Pakistan with a new mindset and a new thought process. he warned India, “if you think, you would launch any attack on Pakistan and we would not think of retaliating, Pakistan will retaliate.” There is clear difference of the mindsets of the prime ministers of both countries. Khan is talking about a solution while Modi is trying to repeat history just to gain a holistic sympathy of Indian people against Pakistan. Terrorism, a global phenomenon must be resolved through the bilateral efforts of both India and Pakistan instead using terrorist’s attacks as a tool for a war.  

Many analysts from Pakistan are optimistically saying that if India is has regrets on these aerial strikes, there is a room for dialogue and the relations could go for better. Moreover, Analysts are now calling on the ISPR to grant foreign media outlets access to the place where the attack took place. Pakistani public is also talking (through social media, twitter, electronic media) about peace and negotiations unlike India where public is taking a pride for this incident. Public opinion is one of the most powerful instruments of policy making, so people from both sides should be empathetic to this critical situation. Otherwise, there will be no room for de-escalation between the two countries.  On contrary, only masses would suffer and the universality of human rights would be challenged.

Asia Maqsood has a degree of M. Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. She has done Masters in International Relations from the same Institute.  She has also done a workshop on Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, US. She frequently writes on China Pakistan affairs, CPEC, South Asia’s Regional Issues which have been published in various national, international blogs and newspapers.

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