Ambassador of India to Myanmar & GCTC Advisory Board Member
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address in Kozhikode spelt out the broad parameters of what India’s response would be in the aftermath of the Uri attack.
He revealed that there had been a series of such attacks in Jammu and Kashmir this year, in which India’s armed forces eliminated more than 100 terrorists.
He drew attention to the fact that Pakistan is now internationally regarded as the epicentre of global terrorism. It is a country that welcomes and provides haven to terrorists like Osama bin Laden.
Modi used the occasion to directly address the people of Pakistan. He referred to the shared yearning of the people of both countries, for progress and economic development.
He pointedly noted that it was not just India, but even other South Asian countries like Bangladesh and Afghanistan that were raising their voices against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
He sarcastically noted that while India was recognised worldwide for its exports of software, Pakistan had acquired a reputation of being an exporter of terrorism.
PM Narendra Modi. (Photo credit: PTI)
Most significantly, he went beyond his Independence Day speech by alluding not just to the persecution and sufferings of the people of Balochistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, but also pointedly alluded to the plight of thousands of Pashtuns, who have been driven from their homes by the Pakistan army’s operations in their homeland.
The contours of Modi’s policies to deal with a recalcitrant Pakistan are now emerging. While he has not ruled out military options at a time and place of India’s choosing, he is also not going to be pressurised into taking any precipitate military action.
In the meantime, he is going to build up an environment internationally, to turn the heat on Pakistan for its sponsorship of terrorism.
Following the Uri attack, India has received statements of understanding and support from four permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, USA, France and UK.
Interestingly, similar statements of sympathy and support have come for the first time from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, where millions of Indians and Pakistanis reside.
China’s reaction to the Uri attack has been relatively muted, clearly indicating unease with the attack.
Unsurprisingly, Turkey is the only country voicing understanding of Pakistan’s position. Japan’s statement has been the most forthright from east Asia.
This intense diplomatic effort is set continue, following UN address of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to the UN General Assembly.
The action will then shift to the BRICS Summit in Goa, where Pakistan has been pointedly excluded from participating, while India’s eastern neighbours Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand will be present, as members of the BIMSTEC grouping.
In the meantime, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan appear likely to lead an effort to boycott the SAARC summit in Islamabad on November 20.
Pakistan has, after all, adopted a negative attitude and stonewalled attempts for greater economic cooperation and integration in South Asia.
It is averse to meaningful counterterror cooperation. It has a one-point agenda of seeking to get China, which is not a South Asian country, admitted to SAARC as a full member, just to embarrass India. It remains to be seen how this effort to review the working of SAARC, will be executed.
It would be necessary to complement these efforts with moves to place reciprocal restraints on Pakistan’s exports to India and also encourage and facilitate our textile and cotton industries to undercut Pakistan’s exports in these crucial sectors.
There has been some irresponsible talk of annulling the Indus Waters Treaty and denying Pakistan waters it is entitled to receive.
PM Modi on Monday chaired a meeting to review this treaty where the government explored ways to use its share of water of rivers flowing into Pakistan, rather than outrightly scrapping the deal. This treaty, after all, is not bilateral and has provisions for third-party involvement.
Actions seeking to annul the treaty will, therefore, be challenged internationally. There are, however, provisions in the treaty, which permit us to significantly reduce present levels of water flowing into Pakistan, which can and should be invoked by us.
Prime Minister Modi’s reference to “Pashtuns” was extremely significant, as the Pashtuns have never recognised the Durand Line, the present border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as a legal border.
They consider it as a line imposed on them by British imperialism. We should consult Afghanistan and depict the entire region between the Durand Line and the Indus river at Attock, as disputed.
Just as the Balochs across the world have appreciated and welcomed the prime minister’s speech on Independence Day, millions of Pashtuns, on both sides of the Durand Line in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will appreciate such an action by India.
Most importantly, however, in dealing with Pakistan, we would hopefully, as the prime minister has enunciated, make a clear distinction between our approach to Pakistan’s ordinary people and professionals on the one hand, and its rogue army establishment and those associated with it, on the other.