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India’s Pakistan obsession

A series of statements and moves emanating from New Delhi speak volumes about India’s Pakistan obsession despite repeated goodwill gestures from Islamabad. In a latest development, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has threatened Pakistan of nuclear attack, saying that India’s nuclear capability has not been kept for Diwali. Addressing an election rally in Rajasthan, he also boasted that his country was not scared of Pakistan and knows how to respond.
It is shocking that the chief executive of a country that claims to be the largest democracy should hurl naked threats to its neighbours. Everyone knows that both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and, in theory, they can be used in extreme conditions but leaders are not supposed to publicly speak about nuclear attack or aggression. Remarks of Mr. Modi exposed true face of India, which portrays itself in the comity of nations as responsible member of the nuclear club and is being rewarded lavishly by members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for its so-called responsible behaviour. India knows nuclear attack is not a joke and it also knows what kind of response and reaction such a misadventure would evoke from Pakistan as was effectively conveyed during recent standoff. But the statement exposes India’s designs against sovereignty and security of Pakistan. History bears testimony to the fact that Pakistan had no plans to go nuclear but it was New Delhi, which tested its nuclear device twice and also talked in terms of annihilating Pakistan, that forced Islamabad to take measures for its security and defence.
Threatening statement of the Indian Prime Minister was accompanied by several other statements and developments that are fully reflective of the Indian mindset against Pakistan. As a gesture of peace, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to immediately release Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured during Indian air attack against Pakistan, but Modi claims Islamabad released the pilot before ending of an ultimatum given by him to Pakistan on the issue. He also made a ridiculous claim that before Abhinandan jet was hit, the IAF pilot downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan, a claim that has also been rejected by Americans, who keep an inventory of aircraft and equipment provided to other countries. In another move, India has stopped cross Line of Control trade without caring even to inform Pakistan and the decision has evoked strong reaction from traders who feared it could force them into destitution. Pakistan has deplored this unilateral decision of India saying the action is based on groundless accusations that this mechanism is being used for smuggling, narcotics, fake currency and ‘terrorism’. Foreign Office has pointed out that this “litany” is all too familiar and in line with New Delhi’s frequent attempts to portray legitimate activities of the people in Indian-occupied Kashmir as linked to the so-called “terrorism”. It is also a fact that the cross-LoC trade has been one of the functional Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between the two countries, which came about after arduous diplomatic efforts and its unilateral suspension should serve as an eye-opener for all those who plead that CBMs could help lead towards final resolution of the longstanding dispute of Jammu & Kashmir.
If India is not serious about Kashmir-related CBMs how can we expect that it would engage into some meaningful dialogue for resolution of the core issue? Suspension of the trade has added to the economic hardship of the divided Kashmiris and further squeezes the segment of people who could modestly benefit from this facility. According to an office-bearer of the traders in Chakothi, at least 1,200 traders and hundreds of other workers were associated with the activity on both sides of the LoC “who will now be economically devastated if the decision is not reversed”. Indian designs against Pakistan also come to the fore as New Delhi has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) against bailing Islamabad out of its debt crisis, alleging that the money will be used to fund terror-related groups. This is most absurd argument and finalization of a deal with IMF means the Fund officials are also mindful of India’s designs against Pakistan. India has also been lobbying hard at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to keep Pakistan into grey list of the Force. Some analysts as well as some policy-makers in Islamabad believe that Indian posture would change after electioneering/elections but given the track record of New Delhi, Pakistan must not base its policies and plans on such illusions and prepare a counter strategy to safeguard its interests.