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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS – A case for aggressive diplomacy : on India – Pakistan relations

The Editorial covers GS paper 2 : India & its neighborhood- relations

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Introduction

  • Tensions between Pakistan and India post Pulwama are rising and diffusing at the same time.
  • Pakistan alleged on March 5 that it had thwarted the entry of an Indian submarine into its waters. India responded that Pakistan was indulging in false propaganda.
  • On the same evening, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement that its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, would be returning to Delhiand talks with India on the Kartarpur Corridor would go ahead.

Why is Agenda of Pakistan?

  • Pakistan, through its morning assertion, was playing to its domestic audience, while its evening statement was a signal to the international community that it had no further desire to climb the escalation ladder with India.
  • It was U.S. President Donald Trump who provided the first clear indication of the involvement of major powers in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan.
  •  If the Indian intention post-Pulwama was to isolate Pakistan, that doesn’t seem to have happened.
  • For the two governments, given that the score was level — one had shot down a F-16 and the other had shot down an MiG-21 — they could now respond positively to global concerns.
  • There is little doubt that India got away with its pre-emptive strike in Balakot because Pakistan’s denials that it has nothing to do with fostering groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carry no credibility, including among thinking members of its own civil society.
  • Further, the JeM even claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike.

What are the past conflicts and tensions?

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  • The India-Pakistan nuclear ‘deterrent’ was first put to test by General Pervez Musharraf, who planned the Kargil incursion months after Pakistan went publicly nuclear in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998.
  • As India began clearing the Kargil heights of the Pakistani Northern Light Infantry masquerading as ‘mujahideen’, there was enormous pressure on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to use the Indian Air Force across the Line of Control after the loss of two MiG aircraft.
  •  But Vajpayee held firm against both public and IAF pressure.
  • Pakistan’s conduct during Kargil exposed the state as irresponsible and led to numerous international calls for respecting the LoC.
  • Pakistan went to great lengths to obtain its nuclear capability to insulate itself against India and no “miltablishment” can survive there if it’s unable to even the score with India. The nuclear option is built into the trajectory of its survival as a state.
  • During the Kargil war in 1999, after the Parliament attack in 2001, and post the Mumbai attack in 2008, two Prime Ministers of India had the option of retaliation, but they did not exercise it.
  • Instead, India’s patience projected the responsible nature of the state, which was in stark opposition to Pakistan’s tattered credibility.

What is the way forward?

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  • A conventional response to terrorist groups can demonstrate intent, but does very little to whittle down their abilities.
  • Covert capabilities coupled with deft and persistent diplomacy is the only way forward in such difficult circumstances.
  • The government’s inability to reach out to Kashmiris and its actions against the Hurriyat leadership at a time when the separatists have lost control of the public mood underline an uncaring attitude.
  • This has also created a fertile ground for Kashmiri youth to join terrorist ranks.
  • Indian state responses cannot be reactive to the agenda of terrorist groups, howsoever brutal their actions are.
  • A calm, mature, informed and long-term strategy with aggressive diplomacy at its core, one that leverages India’s economic strength, remains the country’s best bet to deal with the terrorist threat from Pakistani soil.

Source: The Hindu.