To Pressure Pak, India’s Reaction to Uri Must Be Sober, Not Shrill
Indian army soldiers arrive at the army base which was attacked. (Photo: AP)
Indian army soldiers arrive at the army base which was attacked. (Photo: AP)

To Pressure Pak, India’s Reaction to Uri Must Be Sober, Not Shrill

The nation is rightly outraged at this morning’s Uri Brigade Headquarters terrorist attack in which, so far, seventeen soldiers have been martyred and many others critically injured. While the identity of the four terrorist perpetrators, who have all been killed, has not been established as yet, there is no doubt that they came from across the border.

The timing of the attack makes it amply clear that it is the work of the official Pakistani agencies, and is designed to coincide with the beginning of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly. It is meant to attract international attention to the situation in the Kashmir valley while avoiding the opprobrium over civilians being killed.

World leaders gather at the start of each session in New York; Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is leading his country’s delegation and has reached the city. Pakistan has already announced that he will raise the Kashmir situation at the UN, and also in his bilateral interactions with his international peers.

Through this attack, Pakistan hopes that he will taken more seriously when he calls on the UN to intervene in Kashmir, both to address what Pakistan claims are human rights violations as well as the dangerous situation that is developing there between India and Pakistan.

Snapshotclose

  • Uri attack designed to coincide with the beginning of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Uri attack meant to attract international attention to the situation in the Kashmir valley and at the same time avoid opprobrium over civilian deaths.
  • International community recognises the realities of the Kashmir problem and its inextricable linkage with Pakistani-instigated terrorism.
  • Indian official responses need to be measured and sober, not shrill and heavy on rhetoric. That will put the pressure on Pakistan.
  • PM Modi made a statement of intent that India will act deliberately at a place and time of its choosing.

Also Read: Live Updates on the Uri Attack

An Indian army helicopter flies above the army base that was attacked in the town of Uri, west of Srinagar. (Photo: AP)
An Indian army helicopter flies above the army base that was attacked in the town of Uri, west of Srinagar. (Photo: AP)

Uri Attack is Pakistan’s Follow-Up on Burhan Wani Protests

The fact is that in the ten weeks since the Hizb-e-Mujahidden terrorist Burhan Wani’s killing, Pakistan has tried its best to project the protests as a spontaneous intifada undertaken by stone-pelting youth who are calling for freedom from India. Its propaganda machine is pushing the idea that the protests are peaceful in nature but that India is responding with brute force.

Nawaz Sharif has written to the UN and world leaders, sent out political envoys to major capitals, and even dedicated this year’s Eid-e-Zuha to the Kashmiris to highlight the so-called Kashmir cause. However,all this has not even remotely evoked the response that Pakistan had hoped for.

The international community recognises the realities of the Kashmir problem and its inextricable linkage with Pakistani-instigated terrorism.

It also knows that the Indian security forces have essentially responded with restraint to control stone-pelting crowds. The failure to move international opinion has been acknowledged by Pakistani analysts, including diplomats and commentators.

In a recent column in a respected Pakistani daily, Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, who has served as Pakistan’ s High Commissioner in Delhi lamented Pakistan’s failed India policy. Specifically, he noted, “There are hardly any international takers today for Pakistan’s case on Kashmir”. He also underlined the international community’s “indifference” to the human rights situation in the valley.

This marks a severe indictment of Pakistani efforts led by Nawaz Sharif himself in internationalising the Kashmir situation. One respected Pakistani journalist went to the extent of advising the Kashmiris in a recent article in an Indian daily not to raise the Pakistani flag for, “The world simply looks away when a reference to Pakistan crops up”.

Will Pakistan’s Uri Gambit Succeed?

Will the international community now begin to pay greater attention to the Kashmir situation and be more responsive to Nawaz Sharif’s call for a scrutiny of India’s human rights record and the right of self-determination in Kashmir?

It is unlikely that any major power will seek to alienate India on this issue, though some may call for an India-Pakistan dialogue to reduce the temperature of the relationship. However, this is the time for smart Indian diplomacy, especially over the next few weeks.

This does not imply that India should not show firmness in its dealings with Pakistan in the wake of the attack. There is no contradiction between a firm resolve to safeguard India’s security interests, not merely restricted to words, and the practice of smart diplomacy.

The latter means that Indian official responses need to be, among other diplomatic steps, measured and sober, not shrill and heavy on rhetoric. That will put the pressure on Pakistan.

Also Read: Defensive and In Denial: How Pakistanis Reacted to the Uri Attack

Home Minister Rajnath Singh holding a high-level security meeting at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday in the wake of terror attack at 12th brigade headquarters in Uri. (Photo: PTI)
Home Minister Rajnath Singh holding a high-level security meeting at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday in the wake of terror attack at 12th brigade headquarters in Uri. (Photo: PTI)

Also Read: Experts, Ex-Servicemen React to Deadly Terror Incident

PM Modi Has Put His Credibility on the Line

In this perspective, the Prime Minister’s comment, “I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished” is very significant. It is a statement of intent that India will act deliberately at a place and time of its choosing. Modi has put his credibility on the line for no other Indian Prime Minister has been so explicit. The international community will take note and countries such as the US may counsel India to be restrained and at the same time put the onus on Pakistan to rein in the terrorists.

One last thought: the Indian army has acted in Kashmir with dedication and valour in difficult circumstances. They have earned the nation’s gratitude for their sacrifices and the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Uri did so in the tradition of the army.

However, a question has to be asked of the army leadership: how did the terrorists enter the camp? Was there laxity on someone’s part? Answers will have to be given to the people.

(The writer is a former Secretary [West], Ministry of External Affairs.)

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