Imran Khan
Pakistan PM Imran Khan | Photo: @ImranKhanOfficial | Facebook
Text Size:

In his infamous op-ed in The New York Times, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to the predictable nuclear blackmail to draw the world’s attention to Kashmir. “World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow,” he wrote.

The very next day, his foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a BBC Urdu interview that war was not an option to deal with the Kashmir issue. He also seemed to soften his position on bilateral talks with India. Imran Khan, in contrast, had categorically said that there would be no talks until India reversed its 5 August decision to “annex” Jammu & Kashmir.

Changing its tune on war-mongering, Imran Khan has now himself said that Pakistan won’t initiate a conflict with India: “Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and if tension escalates, the world will face danger… I want to tell India that war is not a solution to any problem. The winner in war is also a loser. War gives birth to host of other issues.”

He didn’t say, as initially misreported, that Pakistan was changing its nuclear policy to no-first-use, but there is nevertheless a shift from “two nuclear-armed states get(ting) ever closer to a direct military confrontation” to “we will never ever start the war”.

There have been other interesting shifts in Pakistan’s strategy. It expelled the Indian High Commissioner, an act that often accompanies military tensions. But when it came to closing Pakistani air space to Indian commercial traffic, Islamabad decided not to do so for the moment, suggesting that the two countries aren’t scrambling to launch their fighter jets yet.


Also read: As Bangladesh races ahead of India, Pakistan reiterates Nuclear First Use policy


No terror attack yet

Imran Khan’s first response to the Modi government’s changes in the constitutional status of J&K was to threaten India with Pakistan’s real nuclear arsenal, terrorists. He said, “incidents like Pulwama are bound to happen again… I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again…”

When the Pakistani establishment wants to make a point, a big terror attack can happen very quickly. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks happened just a few days after then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said his country would not be the first to use nuclear weapons against India, a policy change not backed by the military establishment. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan, a terror attack on an Indian Air Force base took place within a week. Narendra Modi gave up on bilateral negotiations since then.

This time, however, Pakistan openly warned of a terror attack, but nearly a month later we are yet to see it. Many have said that’s because Pakistan is under global spotlight and pressure, negotiating with Donald Trump, the IMF, and the FATF at the same time even as it manages a precarious economy. Some analysts feel a terror attack will take place after the United Nations General Assembly’s 74th session concludes in September-end.

Sweet revenge

After the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, India did not respond militarily to Pakistan despite immense domestic pressure to do so. Similarly, India did not cross the Line of Control during the Kargil war, did not respond militarily to the Kandahar hijack in December 1999, and did not actually go to war after Parliament attack in 2001 despite threatening to do so.

The idea was to look like the more responsible state between the two and use the opportunity to lobby against Pakistan globally. This ‘strategic restraint’ was aimed at destroying Pakistan’s reputation at the international stage, painting it as a ‘terror state’, and isolating it in the international fora. Such a strategy aims to impose non-military costs on a country, such as its relations with other countries, its foreign aid and investments, its tourist inflows and the worth of its passport. Narendra Modi changed the policy of strategic restraint with a surgical strike in 2016 and an air strike in 2019.

In the ongoing clampdown on Kashmir, Pakistan now sees an opportunity for sweet revenge. It is belatedly but calculatedly changing its tune on war-mongering so that it doesn’t look like the bad guy in the story. Pakistan-backed terror attacks are often aimed at creating global headlines to ‘internationalise’ Kashmir. But they often fail to do so. Now that India is itself ‘internationalising’ the issue, why would Pakistan need a terror attack?

This is why the Pakistani offensive is not limited to Kashmir. Pakistan wants to paint Modi’s India as an authoritarian regime where religious minorities are unsafe and unequal. As part of this strategy, Imran Khan and his government are repeating ad nauseam keywords, such as “RSS”, “fascist”, “Hitler”. In his NYT op-ed, Imran Khan devoted four of the 18 paragraphs to the rise of Hindu nationalism in India, even expressing concern for Christians and Dalits.

In his speeches, he repeatedly talks about lynchings by cow vigilantes, and now the National Register of Citizens in Assam. He and his foreign minister are even paying tributes to Indian secularism, which Pakistan once rejected. From UNICEF meets to Bernie Sanders talking about Kashmir, Pakistan’s mega offensive on the contentious issue is getting a wide play.


Also read: Tweets, tantrums, half-truths – Pakistan minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s strategy for Kashmir


The party has only begun

The Modi government seems to have decided to risk India’s international image with its Kashmir decision. The idea seems to be that India’s standing before the world is strong enough to survive the onslaught of protests on Kashmir by human rights-types. Don’t they need India’s markets?

As the Indian economy finds itself in the middle of a slowdown, India is further reducing its global bargaining power by weakening its position on Kashmir.

While the constitutional changes may be defensible as India’s personal business, the global press won’t be stopped anytime soon from worrying about an unprecedented lockdown of 80 lakh people India claims are its own.

Pakistan is having a great time punching at India’s image as a democratic country with a big market everyone loves. The party is far from over. The more India delays lifting the clampdown in Kashmir, the more the Kashmir story will drag on in the international press.

The clampdown can’t continue forever. If not tomorrow morning then next summer, it will have to be lifted. The longer it takes, the more it will anger the people. If not now then maybe two years later, but Kashmir is bound to erupt in large-scale protests and violence. Pakistan is waiting for the headlines that will scream the climbing death toll. No matter how the story proceeds, it is India that looks like the bad guy here. Patriotic Indians should ask themselves: what did we achieve apart from the schadenfreude over Kashmiri humiliation?


Also read: Pakistan Army chief General Bajwa has two big challenges now. Kashmir is just one of them


Views are personal.

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

37 Comments Share Your Views

37 COMMENTS

  1. Pakistan knows it cannot win a conventional war against India, so they have ratcheted-up their funding, training and support for their jihadi proxy-armies to achieve their foreign polcy objectives, which also has the added benefit of plausible deniability when their proxies commit acts of terror within India.

  2. When 9/11 Islamic Terrorists Attacks Happened, USA Attacked Afghanistan & Has Been There Since!! Secular USA Even Attacked Iraqi Muslims For WMD It Never Found!! When Paris Jihadi Attacks Happened, France Started Bombing Syria!!

    Will The Author Suggest Image Building, Secularism, strategic restraint, A Non authoritarian Regime Building To The Above SO Called “Democratic” States??!!

    Take Islamic Jihadi Terror Lying Low Is What This STUPID Author Is Proposing Against A narco-terrorist-jihadi state Bent On Nuclear Mayhem & Blackmail!

    Is Qureshi’s BBC Interview Telling??!! Well Qureshi’s Nation Has Done MASS Genocide Of Hindus & Minorities!! And.. Of course BBC, A British Led Media Propaganist Which Was Hailing The Brave British While They Were Butchering Millions Of Unarmed Iraqi & Libyan Muslims For No Reason At All!!

    Thanks For The Advise!! The Print & The Author Have Shown Themselves To Be Brilliant Secularists Inspired By Islamic Jihadi Pakistan & Their Supporters!!

  3. Abrogation of article 370 was long over due. It was temporary in nature and against the integrity of the nation. The Govt has shown great courage removing it. The repercussions like bad press, protests etc would have been anyway whenever it had been removed. A strong and decisive leadership doesn’t let its decisions influenced by these flimsy outcomes. Only a biased and sworn antagonist to ruling party can write such article.

  4. While looking at the comment section, some people are obsessed with what international media talks about us and India lost credibility with other countries. I have to just to lough it off as so naive, we still have people who do not have individuality.

  5. Kashmiris may or may not erupt when curbs are lifted. But Pakistan will certainly creat conditions of violence in the state, because it is her agenda since 1947. And domestically, those who donot want Modi to succeed in any programme, especially in Kashmir, will do their best to create unrest in the valley. Because if Modi succeeds in this 370 issue, the Congress is certain to loose ground forever. Hence the government should not only watch Pakistan, but the moves of Congress too.

  6. When is PM Modi planning to visit Srinagar? He needs to go ASAP and explain his logic with his charismatic skills to the people of Kashmir. He should spend a week there and that would be an investment well done before he goes to UN.

    Things will turn around then. Will he? Do not leave this to Amit Shah, he is a strict cop, but what we need is a gentle/warm hug to fellow Indians in Kashmir.

    • Fellow Indians In Kashmir Indeed MINUS The Jiahadis & Their Supporters Which Did Genocide Of Hindus In The Name Of Islam/Allah & narco-terrorist-jihadi Pakistan!!

  7. In one of your earlier article which you wrote about Modi Gov. before General election 2019. I wrote comment that people like you will be permanently shut up after Indian parliament election result(2019). But you are shameless man and big critic of Modi Gov. I can confidently say Modi is going to prove all you wrong again my his bold decision.I also think Shekar Gupta should kik you out from writing aricles in print because you have myopic analytical skill who think only from one angle.

  8. If India gives the entire Kashmir to pakistan on a plate, it will not be the end of terrorism in India sponsored by Pakistan. They will start it in some other places encouraged by kashmir episode. The author should remember that this has nothing to do with aspirations of the Kashmiri people rather to conquer a non-Muslim India and make it another Muslim majority country. hence it will be no good to yield to their blackmail. if there is violence which i am sure it will, India has to face them. Just ask the Israelis.

    • The Only Long Term Solution Is To Break Pakistan Into 4 & End Pak-China Nexus!! India Should Also Have A Strategy To END Islamic/Evangelist Conversions & Growth. If This Is Not Done, India Itself Risks Fragmentation!!

  9. The best way to cripple terrorism is to neutralize the sleeper cells. When the Pandits were driven out of the valley, militants occupied their houses. It is these militants who are sympathetic to Pakistan. They must be identified and neutralized.

  10. The problem in being a journalist is that you are expected to churn out articles at a faster pace than an academic in USA who has to publish or perish. In this situation, the quality of journalism, the thinking, the reasoning suffers. This article is a good example of all these weakness.

  11. Pakistan has never and never boasted to be the first one to use nuclear weapons. The authors of articles on google are biased Indians, twisting the facts. One million Indian Army is in their occupied Kashmir to control 0.8 million people of Kashmir with curfew since a month and yet you claim that Kasmiries are Indians. After all logic must appeal to mind.

  12. Now only if the author’s opinions agree with facts on the ground. Pakistan taking the high ground is laughable. The Pakistan PM is not known as Mr. U-Turn for no reason. Just because he sings a different tune everyday is no reason for India to react. Get real.

  13. Let’s look at the opinions of two wise men in context of this article. First wise man mentions ‘schadenfreude’ and the second one is worried about ‘reputational damage’. Who enjoyed the miseries when Vietnam war was waged? And now who is enjoying when Yemen is being bombed? Who had a glee on their faces when 26/11 was going on? What about Hong Kong right now? Who lost their reputation when they waged an illegal war on Iraq? And what about ‘Black Lives Matter’? Whose reputation was shredded for Guantanamo Bay? Did Musharraf care about repetitional loss when he sent his regulars and then refused to take their bodies? Naive and/or deceptive are these two people who are ready to point fingers. No one is denying that this curfew is unsustainable, but the pressure cooker situation is NOT because of abrogation of 370; it is rather the terror oriented militestablishment that is responsible. Time to deal with it with a firm hand.

  14. This guy is seriously mentally challenged.
    He seems like a typical congressi chamcha, btw all the opeds about modis India destroying democracy are all done by journos and papers who were fed dog bones by the khangressis and ignored by Modi.
    So if anyone is to blame for bad opeds, it is the rotten traitors for khangress and their chamchas.

    This guys sense of morality and understanding of emotions is typical of an under-developed Indian. How is getting attacked by a terrorist country and showing restraint a sign of being responsible. It is of a coward.

    As for the foreign gora press like NYT and Washington post, they’re anyways third rate and if the same logic applies. They should all pack up their bags and get out of America as they themselves have occupied the land of the native American indians. Shameless people.

    I am happy that people of India are smart enough to see the through the propaganda of this author and his likes who make concocted explanations to defame India and Hindus. Time to publicly ban them.

  15. How in the world does this author come to the conclusion that Indians have schadenfreude from Kashmiri humiliation? Kashmiris are Indians too and the suffering is shared.
    Peace is deliberately and persistently disturbed in Kashmir by external handlers so that a narrative of religious divide is established. This negates the concept of a just, secular and humanist nation India was founded on.
    If Indians in Kashmir understand the extraordinary steps taken to maintain peace, victory is ultimately assured for every Kashmiri IMHO.

  16. The clampdown has to go at the earliest. People in the valley are our own citizen. They should be enjoying equal rights and opportunities. Once this happens, criticism from any quarter doesn’t matter.

  17. Kashmir was already under clampdown for last many years & just like before the world will move on after few months if nothing major regarding terror or counter-terror operations leading to oppression of general public happens in that region.

  18. It looks like Shivam is missing his Prime Minister Maun Singh. Gandhian methods don’t work with Jihadis. Only a small minority in Kashmir valley hold everyone else in ransom through violence. Any Kashmiri speaking against violence or saying they should stay with India face bullets to their heads. With the new UT status and some time, the violent individuals and families will be taken care of. Peace and prosperity for the population will return Be patient.

  19. I reject the analysis. India is a great civilised country. However, she cannot tolerate manupulation by terrorists and supporting countries. Each nation has its core interest. So has India. The Indians have come around to strong leadership by Modi who means restoring India to its past glory. Past glory means the rule of law and equity. It is not easy to discipline huge population by any ordinary leader. Modi has demanded Swachh Bharat, Healthy Population both physically and mentally besides discipline on roads and life. Things are going to take shape and India will shine. People on other side of fence will start seeing the great difference between India and Pakistan and revolt against their leaders to merge with India. If East Germany could merge with West Germany, why can Iit not happen here in this part of the world.
    There are some countries like UK or China or may be few more other powers who may not like to see this happening. However, this is going to happen sooner than later as India is bound to grow more uniformly and steadily.

  20. Shivam
    Terror attacks don’t happen in a few days. Require lot of planning and expenses. Mumbai attack in 2008 was directed live by Pak coward army.

    The spin with Pulwama was it was carried out by a local. Except military grade RDX, logistics, man power, etc obviously indicated Pak coward army invokvement.

    The reasons they are only barking are very weak economy, and FATF noose. They don’t have any real foreign reserves. They begged around and quote fake amount. Any terror attack traceable to them will get them blacklisted.

  21. War, if it happens, will be more by accident than design. Miscalculation, overreaction, a dangerous communication gap. Neither side is suicidal enough to be the first to use a nuclear weapon. The rest of the world, led by the US – partly due to its plan to exit Afghanistan – is fully sensitised to the deterioration in India – Pakistan relations. It will play a restraining role. 2. Kashmir has now truly become an ” internal matter ” of India. Pakistan is no longer required to provide anything more than its proclaimed moral and diplomatic support. There are eight million citizens whose alienation – always an inadequate term to describe their feelings towards India – has been taken to the next level. No shock absorbers, as the mainstream politicians were, between them and the Indian state. 3. Each country is moulding its response to suit its own commercial and other interests. A Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister has said that India has now lost its moral right to advise them on devolution of powers to the Tamils in the north. The mood is darkening on Capitol Hill. Britain is preoccupied with Brexit, but clearly not with us on this. 4. The foreign media is telling it like it is. There are now restrictions being put in place for its coverage of Assam. We are seeing serious reputational damage.

  22. Ridiculous- so the author would have us go back to the age old strategy of taking a beating with a smile so the world feels sorry for us and throws the dog a bone. Woof woof I suppose.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here