Monday, September 19th, 2016

Uri attack: India remains a barking dog that cannot bite?

Shamseer Mambra | September 19, 2016 7:26 pm Print
The recent attack at Uri on the Indian armed forces once again proves that Pakistan's tactic of engaging in a proxy war against India is giving it an edge over India while India has, like in the past, remains in two minds over the response.

There have been arguments and counter-arguments from both sides of the border for decades with India accusing Pakistan of promoting terrorism on its territory and Pakistan raising questions over territorial rights of India over Kashmir. Reckless insurgent activities and counter insurgency operations have led to huge loss of life among locals and armed forces but one factor has underscored the India-Pakistan rivalry since the very beginning – hatred – which has sustained the conflict all these years.

Since partition and the following dispute over Kashmir, both the countries have engaged in two wars and a battle attempting to find a solution to the issue which mars both but has frustratingly remained unresolved. Both the parties engaged in verbal volleys and rhetoric, failing to find a coherent solution to their respective issues, consequently resulting in driveling on to substantiate their political gimmicks.

While around 20 were killed as a result of an attack by militants on an army base, India still searches for a fitting response. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had once stated that the Indian dogs only bark and never bite, mocking aggressive statements of Indian politicians. The Uri attack has made one  revisit that statement made decades ago and ponder whether the Indian polity has the capacity to deliver on its word. Largely, the inaction on the part of India has been blamed on the indecision by the very political leaders who don’t miss an opportunity to rhetorically rant.

It’s quite apparent that India’s current strategy against the unconventional warfare emanating from Pakistan is woefully lacking. People who gave the NDA government a decisive mandate had hoped for a stronger stand against proxy-wars by Pakistan but unfortunately, the reality is far from claims made during the elections. Coming to power promising a stern stand against terrorism, the BJP government now finds itself in a spot, having no clue as to how they should tackle the matter at hand. During the campaign, BJP president Amit Shah had declared the Pakistani intruders will not dare to enter into the country once Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minster.

However, Uri attack followed close behind the Pathankot incident and the latest attack is said to be the worse of its kind since 1990 when insurgency began in Kashmir. The Modi government’s response remains meek and vague: “…condemned the cowardly terrorist attack and those who were responsible would not go unpunished.” This time around, there are  powerful psychological and political compulsions at play here for the Narendra Modi government.

Even months after the Pathankot airbase attack – let’s keep all the conspiracy theories aside now- India failed to mount pressure on Pakistan through diplomatic channels. The response had been identical to what it is now – tweeting ‘strong’ condemnation and threatening statements. Attributing the responsibility to Pakistan, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh then said, ” …if there is any terror attack on India, we will give a befitting reply.” However, Rajnath’s visit to Pakistan after the attack, taking terrorism and Kashmir into account, didn’t serve the purpose. Moreover, the arrival of Pakistan’s five-member probe team, only resulted in more controversies.

The latest militant attack in the Indian Army’s Uri base in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a wide array of reactions. While some experts have advised to exercise restrain and respond without causing collateral damage, other analysts call for a befitting military response. Home Minister earlier slammed Pakistan, saying the country “is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such.” Going a step further, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has instructed the Army to take firm action against those responsible for the attack. Rejecting India’s allegations, Pakistan has denied India’s blame saying all claims are totally baseless and irresponsible.

Will there be a “befitting reply” to this act of terrorism or a firm action to resolve the crisis? India is not in a position to afford a large-scale military action as it is missing the Else, are we going to keep “barking” again and again, as the Pakistani authorities like to claim? Having all those previous incidents remain alive, these would be the questions  that need to be answered. Being revenge is not an ultimate solution, a clear and sensible dialogue between these nuclear powered neighbors needs to happen immediately. Its high time to stop barking at, but act wisely.

Shamseer Mambra
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