What Can Modi’s Fanaticism Unleash and Why?

By Zara Ali

Two South Asian nuclear powers with 71 year history of high-strung relations seemingly stand at the brink of war.  The recent stand off now seems to point towards a strong possibility of an intensified conflict beyond the extent of routine skirmishes along the Line of Control (LOC) or the Working Boundary – unless and until back door diplomacy bears fruit and other deterrents such as a degree of political and public pressure within India come to check Modi’s fanatic drive for war.

Following the provocative one-sided military action taken by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on February 26 during which India claimed to have targeted a JeM training camp killing 300 terrorists near the city of Balakot in Pakistan, more action was witnessed on February 27.

As I indicated in an earlier op-ed on the current tension in the region, Pakistan’s official verbal response to India’s unlawful act seemed to indicate Pak may not sit quiet.  And that is exactly what transpired during the course of February 27 morning.  Pak decided to send a strong message to Delhi thereby categorically reminding Modi he no more enjoyed the clandestine support of a CIA puppet regime enthroned in Islamabad as was the case during the last ten years of dark democratic rule and he should therefore understand Pakistan will not sit put rather act unanimously and effectively if he did not hold his horses back.

Unlike what Ms. Ayres, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations prefers to believe, the truth is perhaps there never has been a greater sense of coherence between the military command and the civilian government in the history of Pakistan than under Khan’s premiership – Khan shall not ‘feel the need to push back on the military’ whether or not he has ‘a political base of his own’ for one simple reason – and that is the civilian and military leadership is single-mindedly serving one agenda only – the security and national interest of Pakistan.  Looks like the ‘senior’ fellows at CFR will take much longer to realise they are no longer dealing with the treacherous soul-selling breed of politicians of the likes of Nawaz and Zardari and that the entire dynamics of a country, Washington thought it could successfully enslave, has more than significantly altered – a process that is on-going and shall not come to a halt.

Coming back to February 27, 2019 – the Pakistani nation witnessed its armed forces and its civilian leadership acting in unison – from the looks of it the decision had been made in principle on the same day as the IAF attempted attack on Balakot city i.e. February 26.  Hence with prior warning and in broad daylight Pakistan reportedly engaged six targets across the LOC to strike – the intention was singularly clear:  ‘We have the ability to strike, and the capability for self defence.  We do not wish to escalate the matter but if we are drawn into that paradigm, we will act accordingly’.  India as usual contested the claim and insisted “Pak attempt was foiled successfully, PAF presence was detected, and IAF responded instantly”.

Amidst a plethora of statements and counter statements, admissions and denials, that have continued to pour out since the one thing that is categorically clear is that Pak did shoot down one IAF MiG 21 and captured one pilot.  The Pak claim of having shot down another IAF aircraft that fell in Indian Occupied Kashmir has been denied by Indian officials – they insist one IAF Mi-17 helicopter did come down about 7 km from Srinagar airport but due to an ‘unrelated reason – a technical fault’.  The Indian claim of having shot down a PAF F-16 (that fell on the Pak side of LOC according to India) has been denied by Pak indicating the dog fight occurred between a Combat Air Partol (CAP) JF-17 Thunder Block 2 that hit down the MiG-21 – F-16s were not involved.

Quite evidently military information is never released as it is, one can only attempt to piece official and leaked information together to paint a picture that makes sense however at this point in time, judging from the reaction shaping within India, it does appear Modi has fallen into the trap he had set out for Pak – to a considerable extent.  From a strictly military point of view Pak has come out on top.  Yet war will only open all doors to hell in the region, hence not a sane option for either Pakistan or India.  Pak has categorically and repeatedly sent out message of peace inviting India to talk – albeit the likes of Ms. Ayres tend to doubt the sincerity of this intention in an evidently vile attempt to malign Pakistan after all!

On February 28, during the full tri-service press conference, India’s chiefs of armed forces failed to provide evidence of the ‘successful surgical strike on a JeM terrorist camp in Balakot city’ and evaded the question indicating ‘evidence’ will be made public upon the discretion of Modi’s administration.  May be that is the evidence contained in the dossier handed over to Pak on February 27, however sharing such a dossier after having invaded Pakistan’s sovereign air space for an attempted surgical strike, only tends to cast more doubts on Delhi’s intent.  During the press conference the Indian army chiefs also put on exhibit a piece of metal they claimed came off the AIM-120 AMRAM missile fired by the PAF F-16 which according to India’s claim was later downed by IAF.  It appears they were not aware the said missile can in fact be used by the JF-17 Thunder as well – it would have made them sound more credible if they had also pieced together any other available bits of information/evidence to substantiate their claim in this regard even if the F-16 had rather fallen on the Pak side of the LOC – a task that is not too difficult to achieve in this time and age.

The truth of the matter is with highly advanced strategic partners of the likes of the United States, if there had been any JeM training facility that was destroyed and 300 terrorists that were killed, both Delhi and Washington would have jubilantly pounced upon the proof and marketed it around the globe faster than the speed of light, not to forget threaten Pakistan of dire consequences with great conviction.  And as for the events of February 27, from the looks of it India continues to cook up patches to shape her own story around the obvious facts in order to mitigate the reaction upon IAF aircraft going down and a pilot in Pak custody (now handed back) – after all Indian mass public has been known to not forgive even its own cricket stars following a defeat at the hands of Pakistan.

As it later turned out instead of allowing the escalation to cool down Modi in fact resolved to continue with an exhibition of his insanity into the night of February 27 – he intended to target 6-7 Pak sites, however these missile attacks would have been carried out from Indian soil without endangering IAF.  On this side of the border a similar plan of action was in place based on the information that leaked out of Delhi, however with an understanding that nothing shall be fired unless and until India took the lead.  Fortunately, from the looks of it diplomatic intervention on part of China and America managed to convince Modi to suspend his plans for the night.  The hope is, combined with the recently voiced Russian offer of mediation, diplomatic efforts of various nations may in fact be able to defuse the current tension in the region – at least for some time to come.

Irrespective of Delhi’s proclaimed narrative, fact is this chain of events was anything but a spontaneous occurring – starting from February 13 attack on IRGC personnel in Sistan-Iran and ending on February 27 with Pak striking back as an act of self-assertion – it now seems hard to believe planning was not carried out mutually between Delhi and Washington – and the target was Pakistan.

Tehran’s imprudent outburst was essentially directed at reiterating to the world Pakistan permits mercenary terrorist groups to use its territory in order to conduct cross border terrorism.  The very next day it was Delhi’s turn.  And a similar narrative was religiously adopted – the world was apprised as to how Pakistan facilitates terrorism.  Perhaps if Tehran had not acted as unwisely as it did, the impact of Indian accusations would not have been as grave – however two neighbours crying wolf in chorus did tend to furnish the world community with more reason to trust what they heard.  Despite no evidence India received a pat on the back from Macron and Pompeo.  And as expected Pompeo asked Pakistan to exercise restraint while he and Macron both applauded the Indian resolve to fight cross-border terrorism.  It is also believed on February 26, Washington actually asked Pak to allow India ‘room for face-saving’ following the failed surgical strike carried out that involved a breach of Pak’s sovereignty – albeit this ‘request’ was quite categorically turned down by Islamabad unlike past times otherwise nothing would have transpired during the course of the morning on February 27.

Perhaps the ‘real exhaustion and fatigue with Pakistan’ that Ms. Ayres of CFR claims is ‘felt by India and other nations of the world’ vis-à-vis Pak’s alleged support of ‘Islamist terrorism’ required fresh ‘evidence’ – after all has not Pak been made a scapegoat for sins committed by Islamist terrorists anywhere since 9/11 whether or not there was any evidence to prove an affiliation?

Unquestionably the success of this anti-Pak campaign has much to do with the fact Pak has not been able to fight her case at the diplomatic level since 9/11 – especially so during the ten years of puppet regimes in Islamabad albeit by 2007-8 it had become clear Pak had in fact dug her own grave by siding with the United States in its fake ‘War on Terror’.  Had Pakistan been able to effectively explain to the world how her role in the Afghan war against the ex-USSR during the 1980s left it socio-politically vulnerable for decades to come; how Washington simply chose to walk away from war torn Afghanistan once Soviet Union was pushed out; why it was necessary for Pak to recognise the Taliban rule in Kabul; how the Af-Pak region remained exposed to the perils of geopolitical and economic instability thereafter until Americans’ opium supply almost dried out and CIA’s future plans necessitated a return only to make things worse; how the religious passion of the ‘freedom fighters’ of yesteryears, the key to the defeat of ex-USSR, was progressively recycled into the extremist Islamist mindset of today; and how her army has resiliently fought a very long and successful battle to root out the menace of religious extremism from its territory – if at all a narrative had been formed around facts and disseminated avidly perhaps the global community would not have been confined to a one-sided storyline whether it came from Delhi or Washington or any other power centre playing its dirty power game and Ms. Ayres would not have been able to refer to ‘other nations of the world’ as emphatically.

The bottom line is clear – very clear – Modi’s ardent desire for Hindutva to dominate South Asia will be employed by the American Empire to isolate and destabilise Pak in a desperate effort to Balkanize the country and denuclearize the only nuclear Muslim nation – the ‘mapped dream’ of Pentagon envisioned to have manifested in 2015.  There is no question the fault does not lie entirely with external powers that have held stakes in Pakistan’s geopolitics for decades and have tended to exploit Pak’s security concerns vis-à-vis the ever present Indian threat in a bid to achieve their own ulterior motives – Pak’s military and civilian institutions have also erred in gauging the long-term repercussions of difficult choices made since the fall of Dhaka in 1971 especially so during the long years of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan – and from one viewpoint Pak’s continued battle against extremism within her borders can be termed as an act of chastisement, however facts on the ground indicate America will not permit Pak to stabilise politically or economically and it shall not allow her armed forces any respite from active engagement – Khan’s rise to power has been a nightmare for Washington – Pak has quite obviously resolved to distance herself from Washington in a bid to align foreign policy goals with the emerging multipolar world order – hence the CIA mission that was hitherto accomplished through sellouts has to be completed one way or the other – what better than engaging Pakistan in a war like scenario at her Eastern and Western borders simultaneously, divert her focus from internal security, wreak havoc upon her through terrorism, and put an end to her dream of standing on her own feet?

That was why even after all the recent acts of madness, while speaking at a conference in India, Modi referred to the current military escalation as a ‘pilot project’ intended as ‘practice’ – may be this was just a political gimmick and may be he in fact intends to unleash darkness of war upon the people of South Asia more hastily than Washington may desire – but if that comes to pass, it would be a mistake to think it shall be contained between these two nations alone.  That scenario will have the potential to alter global geopolitics more significantly than many may presume.

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