InternationalVolume 14 Issue # 15

Pulwama and India hegemony

The PAF shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside Azad Kashmir while the other fell inside Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s response is actually not a retaliation. It was the demonstration of our capability, capacity and will. We never want to escalate the situation. We even offered an investigation into the Pulwama attack.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohmmed Bin Salman’s visit to India, which came nearly three years after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia when leaders from both countries took a decision to diversify and expand their relationship to include trade, investment and counterterrorism, came under greater scrutiny this time around. For instance, at a more symbolic level, Modi has come under sharp criticism domestically for breaking protocol and doing his usual bear hug with the Saudi crown prince. On a more substantive note, there has also been criticism that Modi did not use the occasion to extract some strong commitment from Saudi Arabia on Pakistan and terrorism. Though, he had said that there would be a strong reference to countering terrorism, yet the fact that MBS did not mention Pulwama is seen in India as a big failure.

India always prefers to play a typical blame game over every terror incident in the country. It just points the finger at Pakistan in rather a mechanical fashion for every major terror attack on its soil. Pakistan has recently extended an olive branch to India in the form of the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims in the country. But regrettably, Pakistan’s peace overture has not yet been reciprocated by India. The Kashmir issue has been the bone of contention between the two South-Asian neighbors. It has been the prime reason for hostilities between India and Pakistan. There exists a UN resolution demanding for a plebiscite in Kashmir, for seeking the will of the Kashmiri people to weather join Pakistan or Kashmir. India, however, refuses to implement the UN resolution in letter and spirit.  Pakistan has been asking India for a dialogue on a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir Issue, but India has not only turned down Pakistan’s offers but also kept its heavy-handedness in suppressing the people of Kashmir. The Pulwama attack is purely a domestic issue and blaming Pakistan is just a way for diverting the attention from the Indian army’s atrocities in Kashmir, its incompetence and BJP’s failures. The BJP is facing an election defeat visibly and the upcoming elections could most likely mean an end to Modi’s political career. Foreseeing his future, he is using a card which plays in India well_ “Pakistan Bashing”. Precious lives have been lost but the BJP and Modi have seen a focus shift from the electorate counting Modi’s weaknesses. No F-16 aircraft was part of any activity which took place near the LoC the ISPR DG said. He said the PAF also undertook six air to surface strikes from the airspace of AJK. Pakistan was left with no option but to respond to the Indian aircraft violation of LoC, but it was kept in view that the response is given by a responsible state, he said. He informed the media that the PAF aircraft had-locked six targets across the LoC in the IHK including an administrative setup, military posts and a supply depot, but undertook the strikes in open places close to the targets to avoid collateral damage and loss of human lives. He said the PAF had demonstrated its capability of hitting any target of its choice. It was not a retaliation in the true sense, but it was a demonstration of the capability of self-defence and the will to retaliate without escalating the situation. He said it was decided that no military target would be hit and there should also be no collateral damage or loss of human lives while engaging the targets. The criticism by Indian opposition parties at this juncture is significant as internal security and terrorism become key political issues ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. 

The way the BJP is ruling the country, misusing the institutions, bulldozing them — it is in the national interest for the opposition parties to unite and challenge the BJP. They want to counter the ensuing misconceptions, hatred and stereotyping and get the people in touch with each other in a manner, unfettered and unfiltered by media biases. Vested interests keep flaring up tensions and selling the conflict to the population for selfish gains. The governments and media need to be honest with the people and tell them how things really stand right now.

The rhetoric needs toning down and the two countries should establish a narrative of mutual respect, along with easing up treaties and policies towards each other. Pakistan to this day remains the most constant hindrance to total Indian hegemony in the subcontinent. That is why most of India’s attention is diverted towards Pakistan and it is now expending its energies in containing and subjugating Pakistan. India, which vows to be a superpower, needs to have its eyes on relations with neighbors and abandon the recklessness and arrogance as the world is undergoing earthshaking changes. The BJP appears to be playing the role of a hegemonic power. Like the Congress before it, the BJP’s present position has a system-defining quality. Both state and national elections are regularly fought in reaction to the BJP. It has not been universally successful in expanding its footprint. India’s eastern seaboard (stretching from West Bengal in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south) remains relatively immune to the BJP’s charms. The party has placed significant emphasis on making fresh inroads in the states in the coming election.

India is a huge market for Western consumer and military goods and services. At the same time, it has strategic significance for the US in its policy of containing China. This has created a sympathetic environment for India in the West. It has also created a sense of arrogance and pride in India.