Washington: Pakistan cannot take India’s policy of strategic restraint for granted for too long and if Islamabad rejects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer of cooperation, it will become part of a case for making the country a “pariah nation”, a US daily has claimed.
“Modi is practicing restraint for now, but Islamabad can’t rely on that continuing. Modi’s offer of cooperation, if rejected, will become part of a case for making Pakistan even more of a pariah nation than it already is,” The Wall Street Journal said in an opinion piece yesterday.
“If the (Pakistani) military continues to send arms and fighters across the border, the Indian Prime Minister will have a strong justification to take action,” it warned.
The Wall Street Journal said India has always enjoyed the moral high ground on the terrorism issue, but past Congress and BJP governments lacked the courage to assert it forthrightly.
That led to a policy of “strategic restraint”, which meant that Pakistan would never be held accountable for its terrorist proxies, no matter how heinous their attacks, it noted.
Praising Modi for deciding against taking any military action, the daily said even as he walked back threats of military action, he replaced them with a pledge to isolate Pakistan internationally if the military doesn’t stop supporting terrorist groups.
He is considering the cancellation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, which protects Pakistan’s rights to the Indus River’s water.
He could also withdraw most-favoured-nation trading status, granted in 1996, that Pakistan has never reciprocated, the daily said.
In an op-ed published in Foreign Affairs, Sameer Lalwani, Deputy Director of the Stimson Center’s South Asia program, said in the wake of the Uri attack, the understandable anger and frustration of Indian policymakers and strategies is building momentum for major military action.
“But the arguments for such action are highly debatable, if not incorrect.
A major militarised response might satisfy a desire for revenge, but it is not clear that it would serve the Indian government’s political, credibility, prestige, or coercive interests,” Lalwani said.
“The 2009 elections and recent polling data suggest that
Indian prime ministers have thus far suffered no real political costs for opting against military actions in retribution for major attacks.
“Further, the country could actually weaken its credibility if it embarked on a militarily disastrous adventure that exposes gaps in capabilities,” he said.
“Finally, although India has fulminated over its lack of options to punish its enemies, it has invested little in the comparatively easier approach of denying its enemies their goals.
“With new considerations of costs and benefits, Indian strategists might turn their conversations toward security through meaningful capabilities and political engagements and away from risky, punitive gambits,” Lalwani wrote.
George Perkovich from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said beyond small-scale tit-for-tat action against targets in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, India’s best recourse is to persuade the rest of the world to exert sufficient political and economic pressure to punish Pakistan for its toleration-if not outright support-of violence against India.
“To do that, however, New Delhi must recognise the largely indigenous cause of the Kashmir uprising and end its refusal to negotiate with relevant parties, including, maddeningly, Pakistan,” he said.
Perkovich said India could, and probably will, increase the intensity of covert operations to foment disorder in Pakistan, particularly in the restive province of Balochistan.
“Such activities would certainly harm the interests of the Pakistani military.
“But they would also bolster Pakistan’s effort to portray India as morally and politically equivalent to Pakistan in the use of terrorism, a label India has long sought to avoid,” he wrote in his op-ed.
“India will also justifiably seek to mobilise the world against Pakistan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which is increasingly difficult to deny,” he said.