image – Jaish-e-Mohammed training
By Jay Tharappel – On the 24th of Feb, two days before the Indian airforce (IAF) claimed to have killed “300 terrorists” in “surgical strikes” in Pakistani held territory, the following appeared in Times of India, written by Swaminathan Aiyar, which accurately describes what the Modi government stands accused of, namely, making tall claims for political purposes that are not credible.
“There remains innovative political theatre. Many old terrorist camps, or offices of terrorist leaders, may be mostly empty or inactive. Hence they may be unguarded or lightly guarded. Why not use covert action to blow these up, and then exaggerate the damage done and casualties inflicted? Much creative video manipulation is possible to give the impression of a major success. The media will readily lap up tales of victory, and opposition parties will look unpatriotic if they object.” (Read the rest of the Indian Op-ed here, J. Flores)
Then there’s the former CM of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa who claimed the airstrikes will help the party secure 22 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. As I alluded to earlier, is this about helping the BJP win, or defending India’s legitimate national interests?
That said, now that it’s clear that things are de-escalating, I hope there’s some appreciation of India’s genuine grievances against Pakistan, as the latter has maintained a policy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts” as part of its decades long thirst for revenge after losing the 1971 war with India, which produced a free Bangladesh.
Ever since 1989 this manifested itself in the form of Pakistan’s support for Islamist separatism, which functioned as a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy in the sense that the Indian military lock-down in response to the “thousand cuts” policy would breed resentment among Kashmiris thereby regenerating the cycle of homegrown support for groups like Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
As bad as the BJP-RSS are internally (I’m a CPI-M sympathising Malayalee after all), there should be no doubt that Pakistan is not a normal state, rather this is one of the “deepest” states in the world, with black budgets that have paid for outright terrorism as seen in the Mumbai 26/11 bombings in 2008. So if you’re going to say India shouldn’t be so ruthless in Kashmir with its suffocating presence then yes, I agree with you, even on the grounds that it is counterproductive, but please remember the “thousand cuts” doctrine.
Just look at what Pakistan did to Afghanistan in the 1980s, which went from being a modernizing Soviet-backed socialist republic, to one where reactionary feudal landlords, armed by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US, took over and tore the country to pieces, leveling Kabul in the process. Billions of dollars were poured into that proxy-war, and after the collapse of President Najibullah’s government, the jihadists traveled east to Kashmir to fight and bleed India.
Allowing pre-partition J&K a plebiscite to resolve the question of accession should not be a prerequisite for the Pakistani Army-ISI ending its support for terrorist groups under the cover of thinly veiled plausible deniability. How is that not reasonable?