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India and Pakistan on the Brink of War : China, Russia sees opportunity in US absence

India, Pakistan, Russia, China, United States, Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, Donald Trump, Jammu and Kashmir, Arti Bali analysis, India Pakistan aerial dogfight analysis

Feb 28 ; The aerial combat engagement between Indian and Pakistani Air Forces against each other risks triggering into a worst escalation if not a war like situation between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals. Earlier, US used to play a major role in bringing peace in South Asia but President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is more focused in North Korea and Saudi Arabia. With China and Russia competing for Great Power position in the world, are trying to find an opportunity to increase their influence in this part of the region. Meanwhile, Pakistan has approached China to mediate in its conflict with India, saying it hopes Beijing can play a constructive role in easing the tensions.

The bouts of military aggression between New Delhi and Islamabad took a step forward a day after Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters conducted airstrikes on a terrorist camps inside Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,killing roughly 300 terrorists and eventually it was clear that India has avenged the Jaish-e-Mohmmad Feb 14 suicide car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

12 Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters armed with Israeli Crystal Maze long-range air-to-surface missiles and SPICE-2000 bombs carried out air raids on terror training camps at Balakot (Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed), Muzaffarabad and Chakothi areas in Pakistan is a clear manifestation of India’s new policy.

With the anti- terror preemptive strike, India has redefined its foreign and military policy of securing its national interests and defending its sovereignty. Releasing itself from the clutches of old attitudes that have prevailed since 1947. No more tolerance for terror.

Pakistan military and ISI has been strategically using terror organisations to wage proxy war against India but New Delhi has clearly indicated that it will not hesitate to violate the sanctity of the LoC or the international border to respond to any act of terror.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing Lok Sabha elections just months away, exploited the entire thing by putting a billboard of Martyrs behind him at a rally in Churu in the state of Rajasthan. In first public remarks after strikes by the Indian Air Force , Prime Minister Narendra Modi first patted his back, saying, “the country is in safe hands and that he will not let the country down”.

As India claimed their “preemptive” strike on the militants was a success, Pakistani authorities insisted that no real damage was done and vowed to respond.Consequently, mortar fire had been exchanged between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control in Kashmir.On the second day, Pakistan said it had captured one Indian pilot after his aircraft was shot down in the first air-to-air engagement between the two forces since their last major war in 1971.The Pakistani military soon circulated video of a captured Indian pilot in their custody.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was nervous after Congress won the recently assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, now displayed himself as the protector of the country “We won’t let this country bow down!”.Some ministers even compared surgical strike 2.0 to the United States navy seals operation in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in 2011 in which Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed.

On the second day, Modi met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Services chiefs to discuss about the evolving scenario at the border  and the status of Wing Commander Abhinandan, who has been captured alive by the Pakistani military.

India has sought his immediate release. The details so emerged of the aerial combat suggests that when at least ten Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft were seen heading targeting India’s military installments  along LoC, two MiG21 fighter jets and Su30MKI fighters engaged them and in the process.

On the other side, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met the National Command Authority that oversees the deployment and management of Pakistan’s nuclear arms.

 

BJP should stop driving political mileage from the military operations by crediting PM Modi. India has been giving befitting response to the terror strikes that originated from Pakistan but no government had taken credit .

Military action was imperative but Indian Air Force should be credited and the Modi government needs to analyse his Kashmir and foreign policy towards Pakistan, whose government gave Pakistani intelligence officials access to the country’s top air force base in Pathankot after a terror attack. In January 2016, Pathankot terrorist attack was orchestrated by jaish-e-Mohammad heavily armed group.

After terror attacks in Udhampur (August 2015) and Gurdaspur (July 2015), Modi travelled to Pakistan on an unplanned visit, to attend the wedding of the then PM Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter.

Modi and his party used every opportunity to en-cash the first surgical strike, which was conducted after Uri attack in which 18 soldiers were martyred, during Uttar pradesh assembly elections.

Pointing to the another dimension, PM Modi, his ministers and the right wing Hindu organisations used Armed forces as cannon fodder, no Indian Prime Minister ever allowed such type of treatment meted out to our security forces.

The previous governments had never used Army or military operation for political purposes and has given Indian security personnel due respect, prestige and logistical support to safeguard the borders of the country. Modi should also scrutinize its own policies that led to growing unrest in Kashmir: Population alienated consequently Kashmiris are swelling the ranks of the militants and our security forces are being killed brutally. After the pulwama attack, Kashmiris remain targets of physical abuse and harassment.

One must consider that the local terrorist was a suicide bomber, therefore, internal problems must be addressed as soon as possible and Kashmiris need to be embraced.

It is a tough situation as India targeted terror camps and Pakistan has used its Air Force to target military installations in India.Tough times ahead as it is difficult to say how things would turn out over the next few days.

Diplomacy is the only response to settle disputes when the global economic growth is still struggling following financial crisis.

As the P-5 countries og the UNDC called upon both to de-escalate  or exercise restraint but US President Donald Trump is not applying his personal diplomacy to bring calm in South Asia.

The most significant aspect  is  Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province attached huge importance to China. The 70-mile Thakot-Havelian road project passes through Mansehra, a district where the Indian air attacks took place and is worth $1.3 billion Chinese investment and a hydropower project is also under construction.

China, who has invested billions of dollars in strategic projects including Gwadar port  under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor , has asked Pakistan to avoid any further escalation of the situation.Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi,to help resolve the situation.

 

By Arti Bali,

Sr Journalist

 

 

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