Protestors holding Tricolor raise slogans during a demonstration against the Pulwama terror attack
Protestors holding the Indian flag raise slogans against the Pulwama terror attack| Representational image | PTI
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Pakistan has long become accustomed to using its various terrorist organisations as tools of foreign policy to murder Indians with the impunity afforded by its nuclear umbrella. Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks developed a familiar rhythm since the overt nuclearisation of the subcontinent in May 1998.

The attack would take place and the international community would galvanise largely to press India to use restraint. The usual bromides would follow encouraging Pakistan to refrain from letting its territory be used by terrorist groups. Pakistan would succeed in the narrow sense that the jejune international media would usher forth false equivalencies by discussing in ahistorical generalities the “India-Pakistan dispute”. Pakistan would succeed in foisting Kashmir again into the news cycle. Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations would unfailingly make historically false claims with little resistance. Papers of record would predictably carry editorials calling for restraint and essentially rubbishing India’s right to self-defence while failing to hold Pakistan to account for using terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. Within a few weeks, the event would fall out of the news cycle. Indians would bury or cremate their dead, and the world would move on having escaped narrowly the next crisis in South Asia.

Also read: India has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff again, but Modi cannot become complacent

Consequently, Pakistan has never really borne the cost of its behaviour and thus concluded that its policies of terror afforded the expected benefits at virtually no cost. While there is no “Naya Pakistan”, after 26 February 2019 it seems that there is a “Naya India.”

When Pakistan allegedly authorised the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide attack on the CRPF convoy at Pulwama, it likely had several distal and proximate goals. First, in recent years, both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda India Subcontinent have sought to co-opt the Kashmir project. Pakistan surely wanted to re-exert control over its Kashmir project.

Second, Jaish-e-Mohammed along with the Afghan Taliban have been the principal rehabilitation vehicles through which Pakistan has been able to re-orient fighters from the Pakistani Taliban who share the Deobandi orientation of Jaish-e-Mohammed. (In fact, fighters previously associated with Jaish-e-Mohammed defected from the group to join the Pakistani Taliban.)

Third, Pakistan needed Narendra Modi’s electoral win for several reasons. Pakistan’s deep state has a lot of internal problems to manage. The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) has shaken the deep state. Unlike the Baloch, whom it can murder with few consequences, Pashtuns are actually more over-represented in the army than the Punjabis. The deep state cannot murder its way out of the PTM crisis as it can in Balochistan. To consolidate public support for its atrocities, it needs a scary neighbour. Frankly speaking, the Congress doesn’t conjure up the existential threats like the BJP does.

Also read: India and Pakistan at the brink, foreign policy heads into the unknown in South Asia

Pakistan surely assumed that if there were to be a response to Pulwama, it would be perhaps like Uri. Pakistan also likely assumed that the United States would help shield it from the consequences of its outrages because President Donald Trump is depending upon Pakistan to provide him some modicum of a fig leaf to facilitate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump has a fetishistic insistence upon fulfilling his campaign promises irrespective of how ill-informed, foolish or dangerous they may be.

But Pakistan got it all wrong. India did not respond as predicted. In fact, it dispatched twelve Mirage 2000s across the LoC and into Pakistani territory to drop ordinance on training facilities associated with Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, which is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. So far, there is no evidence that the Indian aircraft encountered Pakistani anti-air defences throughout the sorties despite Pakistani claims to the contrary.

Pakistan’s response has been telling. The ISPR, the official mouthpiece of the Pakistan military, claimed that Indian jets were ‘forced’ by Pakistan armed forces to drop their ordinance prematurely resulting in no damage. Nonetheless, it promised a befitting reply. This is probably a sign that Pakistan is seeking a path to de-escalation as it did after the Uri attack. The international community has also squarely blamed Pakistan for terror. Even China has not offered Pakistan words of encouragement for the simple reason that while China wants to encourage Pakistani adventurism, it does not want war. China has never offered Pakistan support during any of the wars it started with India and it won’t start now. The United States, however, has been curiously absent likely because of its negotiations with Pakistan and the Taliban.

Also read: Balakot is the first time one nuclear power has used air strikes on another’s territory

There is little doubt that Indians will no longer be satisfied with “strategic restraint” after incidents like Pulwama. Indian millennials have been raised in a post-Kargil media environment. Kargil was India’s first televised war. Prior to Kargil, few beyond north India cared about developments in far away Kashmir. The media coverage of the casualties, of bodies being returned to their homes for cremation, and nonstop reportage from Kashmir helped to create a national narrative about Pakistani predation. Indian millennials are fed up with Pakistan. A Rubicon has been crossed. While there is nothing Naya about Pakistan today, there is a Naya India.

C. Christine Fair is the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

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10 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Look who has written this…. a disgraced leech both in India and Pakistan who belongs to the most barbaric nation ever existed on the face of earth ( just to remind Iraq, Libya, Syria and many more) and she has the audacity to say these guys are killing my soldiers inside Afghanistan. US is in search of sacrificial goat against China. Beware Indians.

  2. There is one thing that most of the media and intellectuals are missing everywhere. Its not naya India, its a fed up India. Its not about the millenia generation but the people born in 70s who have seen the 80s misadventures of Pakistan in Punjab. What started as a transicstor bomb in 80s has now grown up to be a Pulwama massacres . 80s to 2000s is a long time to see tolerate and do little except “condemnation”. People in India are fed up now of living under this constant threat that a handful of terrorists having support of a neighbouring country can come in their homes markets parks even armed forces premises and massacre them as and when they want. Its as if someone forcibly enters your house repeatedly and punches you in your face while you are asleep. First you will try to lock your house up so that he cannot enter. When that does not work you will try to fight the slapper within your own house. When that does not work you will surely follow the bugger out in the open catch him and bash him for good. Next step could well be going and punching him while he is asleep in his house. 80s to 2000 is a long time that too when the people know that the same thing has been happening since 1947. This is not just millenia generation Christine its the Fed Up Generations. I think governments, intellectuals and international community has still to fathom the suppressed anger inside Indian psyche.

  3. Christine Fair is a closet Pakistan supporter and a notorious Hindu baiter cum racist who is slyly targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for taking a bold and decisive action against the rogue state that is Pakistan. She may write odd pieces against the global epicentre of terror, but she is secretly in sympathy with Islamists. Christine maintains a cowardly silence over the massacre of three million innocent Bengalis by the likes of Yahya Khan and Tikka Khan in the then East Pakistan, a genocide next only to the gassing of Jews to death by Hitler. Has she spoken out against Churchill, the biggest mass murderer after Hitler, who engineered the starvation deaths of four million people in the great Bengal famine. Most unfortunately, she has not uttered a word against the United States, touted as the world’s greatest democracy which is supportive of the most autocratic and repressive regimes across the globe. And does she remember thugs like Nixon and Kissinger sent the Seventh Fleet to intimidate India during the 1971 war.

  4. Interesting analysis. Internet and its advent on international scene has opened the eyes of many including Indian citizens living in India and in far off places. Post Kargil, things displayed over internet and media have been responded in multi-direction among low to high literates in India. While literates who were fed by communism diet are still not giving up, the nationalists in India are a reckoning majority who want India to show Indians are not a passive country or a neutral country as propagated by Nehru dynasty. True India was protecting the image of non-violence and neutral political stance from the cold war between US and Russia. The image of India has been damaged by Congress and current Govt has a long way to go in transforming the international image. It takes time but the people of India are ready put its new image of self defense and political courage.

  5. Christine fair is no friend of Indians. She has in the past regularly insulted Indians. Even going to the extent of abusing hindu dieties. Truly, she is a racist.

    She regularly labels hindus supporting Modi as Bhakts. I was labelled bhakt as well. To me it is a badge of honor.

    She tends to call hindu self respect as islamaphobia. We hindus (hindus+sikhs+jains+buddhists) need our space in our country. She needs to respect that.

    Another area of disagreement: christian missionary activity. Christian missionaries are seeking to convert people to christianity, in the process creating divisions and discord. She disagrees that missionary activity is criminal. Which indicates how much respect she really has for indians: very little.

    Oh, and she is also a friend of the aurangzeb lover history professor at rutgers.

  6. JeM openly and brazenly took responsibility. Blaming Indian state for all the things in Kashmir, which was legally ascended to India through the treaty of accession, is not correct. Pakistan is an intruder and terrorist support base and has no business in Kashmir.

  7. There is a difference between “power projection” and election-time “war hysteria” to pretend to have a big chest and win votes.

    Pulwama attack was conducted by local Kashmiris who hold a deep grudge and memory of Indian forces atrocities in J&K, so conveniently deflecting all blame to Pakistan is the most EASIEST and LAZIEST excuse this Hindutva govt can do to absolve itself from happily worsening things in Kashmir without remorse.

    Plus firing into a rocks and trees and claiming 300 TERRORISTS KILLED without questioning the state narrative is not “power projection” either.

    • JeM openly and brazenly took responsibility. Blaming Indian state for all the things in Kashmir, which was legally ascended to India through the treaty of accession, is not correct. Pakistan is an intruder and terrorist support base and has no business in Kashmir. Motivating and brainwashing Kashmiri population is the main problem which the Pakistani Army and ISI are fomenting. India should get involved in Balochistan and treat the Pakistani in a similar fashion, pay in kind.
      Regarding damage to Balakot, please refer pictures from BBC.


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