The Samjhauta Bombing Acquittal is Proof Of India’s “Deep State” Civil War

By Andrew Korybko

Nothing proves that India stands at the cusp of fundamental change more than the Samjhauta bombing acquittal, which is also the most public evidence yet confirming that the country’s “deep state” is in the throes of civil war over whether the civilization-state should remain a secular republic or transform into a Hindu theocracy.

An Audacious Acquittal

Four Hindu extremists were just acquitted of their long-suspected role in the 2007 terrorist bombing of the Samjhauta Express. The attack killed 70 people (the majority of whom were Pakistanis) on the railway whose name symbolically means “accord” or “compromise” and which was initially supposed to be a sign of both nuclear-armed Great Powers’ willingness to overcome their geopolitical differences, at one time even representing the only rail route between their two nations for decades at the time of its establishment in 1976. The terrorist attack was connected to Hindu extremists who carried it a day prior to the planned arrival of the Pakistani Foreign Minister to India as part of both parties’ desire to continue peace talks at the time, with the suspected intent being to derail those negotiations.

“Deep State” Divisions

It should be noted that the ruling Congress party at the time immediately condemned the attack and actively sought to bring its perpetrators to justice, hence why the four Hindu extremists were brought into custody in the first place. The Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Maharashtra Police also publicly linked Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit to the incident, who claimed innocence by pleading that he had only “infiltrated” the group as part of his professional duty but ended up being the first Indian Army officer arrested on terrorism charges for his alleged involvement in the 2006 Malegaon anti-Muslim terrorist bombings. It’s beyond the scope of the present piece to delve into all the intricate details of these two terrorist cases, but it’s enough to point out that they raised very serious questions about the connection between elements of the Indian military-intelligence community (“deep state”) and terrorist-inclined Hindu extremists.

All of this is important to keep in mind as India approaches its upcoming general elections next month because the civilization-state is at the cusp of fundamental change if the BJP comes out on top. The contemporary ruling party differs from its Congress predecessors in that it espouses the fundamentalist Hindu ideology of Hindutva and is dedicated to imposing a so-called “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu religious government) on the over 1.2 billion people living in this constitutionally secular state whose founding principles Congress is dedicated to protecting. In fact, it can even be said that the whole reason why the Samjhauta suspects were rounded up in the first place and Lt. Col. Purohit’s role was publicly revealed was because Congress wanted to expose the danger that Hindutva poses to India.

Birds Of A Feather

It’s extremely unlikely that the BJP would have seriously investigated that terrorist attack had it been in power at the time, especially when considering that it pretty much ignores India’s lynching epidemic carried out by its Hindutva followers against Muslims. Looking back on it, the Samjhauta bombing was one of the most recent high-profile salvos of India’s current “deep state” civil war between secularists and fundamentalists because it represented the militant rise of religious extremists against the constitutionally secular state that directly led to the Mumbai false flag terrorist attack the year later, an ascent to power that would later be “electorally legitimized” following the manipulation of communal tensions in the run-up to the 2014 polls. No one should therefore believe it to be a mere coincidence that the BJP-led government acquitted the Samjhauta suspects despite one of them – Swami Aseemanand – previously confessing to the role of the BJP’s RSS ideological fountainhead in that attack and others.

The BJP and their Hindutva ilk aren’t just content with trying to create a “Hindu Rashtra” but also want to expand such a concept across what they regard as “Akhand Bharat”, or “Greater India”, from Afghanistan to Myanmar and Tibet down to the Maldives. This neo-imperial expansionist policy is strongly supported by the BJP’s “fellow travelers” in the “deep state” and given a wink-and-a-nod approval from Prime Minister Modi, though the ruling authorities are facing opposition to this from the geopolitically responsible elements of the military-intelligence bureaucracy who are suspected of undermining the government’s strategy of using Baloch terrorists in the Hybrid War on CPEC. It’s also facing resistance from secular political leaders like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who publicly raised serious questions about whether the authorities let the recent Pulwama attack happen in order to shore up support for Modi’s reelection.

Concluding Thoughts

The BJP is on the brink of taking its plans for a “Hindu Rashtra” across “Akhand Bharat” to the next level if it wins the upcoming elections and forms the next government, hinting that this rogue state could become not only more geopolitically dangerous, but also more internally dictatorial after the ruling party strongly implied earlier this month that dissent is treasonous. The Samjhauta acquittal is proof of the future that lays ahead for India where Hindu extremists can commit acts of terror with abandon and impunity, a scenario that few could have thought possible back in the days of Congress rule when the authorities cracked down on such terrorist organizations and sought to bring them to justice. Nevertheless, dissident elements of the “deep state” can only do so much to fight back against the impending dystopia, with it ultimately being up to the citizens themselves to decide if this is what they truly want to see happen to their civilization-state.


Balochistan And Yemen: Twin Fronts Against Iran? — Agha Hussain

Posted originally to Eurasia Future on 21 March 2019. For Israel, the failure to oust the Iran and Hezbollah-aligned Syrian government has arguably marked the last nail in the coffin for the hyper-aggressive ‘Yinon Plan’ style geostrategic strategy it employed from the early 80s. However, Israel’s new path forward toward its unachieved goals – mainly, bringing down […]

via Balochistan And Yemen: Twin Fronts Against Iran? — Agha Hussain

India’s Ambassador To Russia Lied About Rejecting International Mediation

By Andrew Korybko

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Emirati Ambassador To India, and several unnamed US diplomatic sources all released statements around the same time disproving the Indian Ambassador to Russia’s previous on-the-record statement that “no country has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan” and that his government “will not accept” any such offer even if it was made, making one wonder whether New Delhi’s highest-ranking diplomat in Moscow lied as shamelessly as he did in a desperate attempt to “save face” for shockingly shooting down Russia’s mediation interest despite secretly accepting other countries’ diplomatic assistance in this respect instead.

America Cracks The Whip

The Indian Ambassador to Russia was just caught red-handed shamelessly lying to his host country after he went on record a few days after Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed his interest in having Russia mediate between India and Pakistan to shockingly shoot down the peacemaking proposal by what his government misleadingly portrays as its closest international partner, saying in no uncertain terms that “no country has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan” and that his government “will not accept” any such offer even if it was made. It’s now been revealed that Ambassador D. Bala Venkatesh Varma wasn’t telling the truth after Reuters released a report this weekend citing several unnamed US diplomatic sources who alleged that Washington intervened to crack the whip and get its new military-strategic ally to back down from its threat to launch missiles against Pakistan and escalate the unprovoked crisis with its neighbor to the dangerous level of risking a nuclear war.

India’s Secret Diplomacy Deliberately Snubbed Russia

Evidently, it seems that while the US probably greenlit India’s dramatic but ultimately fake “surgical strike” stunt against Pakistan in a bid to improve Modi’s reelection prospects and send negative fake news signals about the viability of CPEC, it didn’t approve of New Delhi responding to the epic humiliation of the Pakistan Air Force shooting down one of its counterpart’s “vintage” (but possibly upgraded) Russian jets by irresponsibly taking tensions to the next level, suggesting that Modi might have “gone rogue” from even his American handlers and seriously considered starting World War III for a brief moment. Before National Security Advisor Bolton’s reported intervention, it’s now known from the Emirati Ambassador to India that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed “had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi and the Pakistani PM Imran Khan” “on the day of the huge escalation”, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry officially said that it “pro-actively promoted peace talks” between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

All of this proves beyond any credible doubt that the Indian Ambassador to Russia was lying when he said in early March a day after Wing Commander Abhinandan’s release and the consequent de-escalation of the crisis that “no country has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan” and that his government “will not accept” any such offer even if it was made despite it now being known that New Delhi had secretly accepted other countries’ diplomatic assistance in this respect instead, even including its chief geopolitical rival China’s though stunningly not its “bhai” (“brother”) Russia’s. This suggests an attempt on the part of India’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) to deliberately snub Russia after Lavrov unintentionally “offended” them by challenging the ruling BJP’s self-assumed supremacist stance against Pakistan by treating the two countries as international equals by expressing an interest to mediate between them. Curiously, New Delhi seemingly didn’t care that others did this too and only singled out Russia.

Bhadrakumar’s Insight Into The Indian “Deep State”

The reason why it was “unforgivably offensive” for Russia to hold this implied position as opposed to any other country doing the same is because India assumed that it could “buy off” Russia’s support through multibillion-dollar arms deals and therefore get it to sacrifice its geostrategic interests in the global pivot state of Pakistan as a result. This isn’t just the author’s own interpretation but it also reflects the one that career diplomat, Indian “deep state” insider (especially regarding the attitude of his government’s multipolar-leaning faction towards Russia), and well-known columnist on international affairs Mr. M.K. Bhadrakumarrecently wrote in his article for The Tribune about “The big let-down”. This highly respected expert has an extensive track record of Russian-friendly analyses but suddenly switched his tune in the aftermath of “The Latest Kashmir Crisis Proving That India, Not Pakistan, Is The Real Rogue State” by lashing out against the Russian people for what he disrespectfully described as their “notorious avarice”:

“What comes as a total surprise is in regard of the Russian attitude. Moscow’s mediation offer is not the point here, but its demonstrative attempt to be ‘neutral’. The mega multi-billion dollar arms deals that the Modi government presented to Russian vendors, defying the threat of US sanctions, have apparently not placated the Kremlin. Curiously, the Kremlin-funded news channel RT featured a half-hour interview only last week with former Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar fulminating against Modi, Indian media and politics, and Hindutva meta-nationalism. Why are Russians so mighty upset? It must have something to do with money. Is it about Essar Steel not going to the Russian bidder? Or, about Saudi Aramco likely trumping Gazprom in the race for the highly lucrative Indian retail energy market? Or, about some pending arms deal? No matter the notorious Russian avarice, Moscow’s choice to ‘balance’ between India and Pakistan when Delhi needed its support most is the unkindest cut of all.”

Mr. Bhadrakumar’s ad hominem attack against the same people with whom he spent a large portion of his entire career building bridges was apparently triggered by his “total surprise in regard” to “[Russia’s] demonstrative attempt to be ‘neutral’” in spite of “the mega multi-billion dollar arms deals that the Modi government presented to Russian vendors”, which actually shouldn’t have been unexpected at all for a man who served in Russia for slightly less than half as many years as I am old had he been following the many articles that I’ve written about this topic and which I compiled in my recent piece about how “Russia Officially Returns To South Asia By Offering To Host Indo-Pak Peace Talks” that was released a full half-month before his “big let-down” article. It’s not that Mr. Bhadrakumar isn’t aware of my work either since he wrongly speculated about the intention of one of my older pieces, which I clarified last year.

“The Unkindest Cut Of All”

Mr. Oleg Barabanov – a programme director at the Valdai Club (Russia’s most prestigious think tank), a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO, which is run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences – raised a very relevant point earlier this month in his recent analysis about “Russia and the Search for Balance Between India and Pakistan” when he wrote that “Sometimes the Indian expert community expresses mistrust of Russia because of what they consider the excessively close Russia-China partnership, as a result of which Russia is losing its independent political image in India. Obviously, viewing Russia exclusively through the prism of Indo-Chinese divergences does not promote trust. Thus, US policy in the region (and probably the potential Indo-US link) serves as an additional external impetus for Russia-Pakistan dialogue.” As Mr. Bhadrakumar’s words prove, Mr. Barabanov was entirely right, but even more so than he could have imagined.

Bearing in mind the Valdai Club expert’s piercing insight into one of the many recent US-encouraged problems plaguing Russian-Indian relations and recalling how “Russia Regards The ‘Indo-Pacific Region’ As An ‘Artificially Imposed’ Pro-US Concept” to “contain” China, “the unkindest cut of all” (to channel Mr.Bhadrakumar) is that the Indian Ambassador to Russia shamelessly lied to his host country about the apparent absence of any previous mediation proposals when shooting own Moscow’s own informal one despite having already secretly relied upon the diplomatic services of the US, the UAE, and even India’s chief geopolitical rival China. There couldn’t be any stronger signal from India to Russia that their Soviet-era “brotherhood” is over and that their strategic partnership is now purely transactional after losing the “romantic allure” that it once held for decades in the minds of both of their “deep states” (contrary to whatever “feel-good” rhetoric they might each espouse during this “sensitive” time).

Concluding Thoughts

There’s no doubt that India will continue to be one of Russia’s priority partners for the indefinite future by virtue of its enormous market size and the billions of dollars’ worth of military deals that they agreed to in the past six months alone, but the mutual trust that they enjoyed during the Old Cold War days of “Rusi-Hindi Bhai Bhai” (“Russians and Indians are brothers”) is forever lost after New Delhi succumbed to the pressure of its new American patron by deliberating snubbing Russia from the international mediation process with Pakistan. Even worse, the Indian Ambassador to Russia flat-out lied about the secret diplomatic assistance that his country received from others in this respect, with it later being revealed that even India’s chief geopolitical rival China played a role in the same process that New Delhi denied its “bhai” Moscow a chance to participate in. In response, Russia is expected to “recalibrate” its regional “balancing” strategy in the direction of its newfound Pakistani strategic partner.

India’s Outrageous Media Compounds Constant Failures Against Pakistan

By Aga Hussain

One can barely get used to the mixture of amusement and disbelief that Indian propaganda delivered through its burgeoning network of news channels. Retweeted and spread about immediately by the world’s largest Twitter community, it seems odd that the cartoonish levels of false propaganda created and pushed by the Indian media hasn’t become a topic discussed and analyzed far and wide yet.

While this may be explainable by the fact that the Indian public’s overwhelmingly Pakistan-centric approach results in the fake-news campaigns directed at mostly Pakistani online communities, the capability of such a vast apparatus to escalate tensions between two nuclear-armed states makes it worth a lot more attention than it is getting.

The ‘Surgical Strike’ of 25 February and its embarrassing consequences

Early morning on the 25th of February, India claimed to have aerially struck ‘terror camps’ on the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir region. After initial variations, the main claim from Indian leaders and media settled around ‘300 Jaish e Mohammed militants killed’ (JeM is a Pakistan-based group that recruits fighters to attack India’s occupation forces in Kashmir). Cue the victory lap by Indian media and the announcements of Bollywood films to follow, and ‘revenge’ for the 14 February car-bombing by a Kashmiri of an Indian paramilitary force convoy that killed near 50 Indian personnel. JeM, of course, was blamed by India, without evidence and thus the 25 February strikes were hailed as ‘payback’.

However, Pakistan’s military PR wing quickly uploaded pictures of the site of the attacks and showed that, far from there being no evidence of such a large number of militants having been killed, let alone even being there, the Indian jets had merely dropped a ‘payload’ before speeding back into India after pursuit by Pakistani jets. The fuel tanks damaged trees and injured an old man, and that was about it. Videos taken separately by locals also matched the pictures the military released to Twitter.

The village where India’s few minutes-long incursion into Pakistani airspace yielded the ‘strike’ was Balakot, lying essentially on the de facto border or Line of Control. To maximize the ‘impressiveness’ of the ‘strike’, Indian media claimed India had hit a city with the same name in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which would imply a very deep incursion as opposed to the real one which was only a few miles.

Pakistan’s army acted quickly in getting validation for its response to India’s erratic claims from third party sources and demonstrated that no such fantastic strike had been carried out by the Indians. Pakistan promised a response at a time and place of its own choosing and the stage was set for the Indian media to go from the offensive to the defensive and attempt to exert damage control over the impending losses India would soon incur.

Notwithstanding more recent statements by India ‘accepting’ that it scored no successes in its Balakot adventure, Indian media did still earn more ridicule by playing ‘recordings’ of ‘Pakistani’ militants ‘discussing the strike’ and using Hindi words as well as Indian accents to make it appear as if the strike happened.

Attempting to hide the beating at the hands of the Pakistani airforce with incredulous claims

Pakistan’s airforce successfully shot down two Indian jets, two MIG-21s, the next day as a response to the Indian aerial incursion. One had its pilot eject and land on the Pakistani side of the LoC and proceed to be rescued by Pakistani soldiers before he would have otherwise been killed by a mob as can be seen in this video. The captive Wing Commander, Abhinandan, was interviewed by the Pakistani military and shown to be treated as according to international humanitarian standards. He probably could not have guessed, however, that the Indians would be busy claiming he had downed a Pakistani jet himself.

As expected, there was no video of this Pakistani jet going down or its debris on the Pakistani side of the LoC, or of the mysterious F-16 Pakistani pilot claimed by India to have been ‘nearly lynched’ by a Pakistani mob ‘mistaking him for an Indian pilot’. Apparently, the Pakistani mob would be too foolish to recognize his Pakistani air force uniform or be able to communicate in proper Urdu with him, if one were to believe Indian media claims.

Pakistan stated that it had not used any F-16. In a strange way, then, of trying to prove the possibility of such having happened, Indian media went about attempting to explain that an F-16 had indeed been used by the Pakistani side. Claims were made that Pakistan’s released pictures of Abhinandan’s destroyed MIG-21 were actually pictures of a destroyed Pakistani F-16 and thus that Pakistan was engaging in false propaganda. However, it was soon shown by independent researchers that the pictures Indian media was flaunting desperately of the ‘destroyed Pakistani F-16’ were actually pictures of the downed Indian MIG-21. Despite desperate claims by India’s most prominent print and electronic media outlets, the pictures quite clearly showed discernible MIG-21 parts and not F-16 ones.

India’s continuingly deteriorating quality of propaganda during the escalated situation with Pakistan showed that it clearly had no plan B if its planned ‘surgical strike’ went wrong, whether on the military front or the media front. With officials now backpedalling on the ‘300 militants killed’ rhetoric, fissures seem visible in the Indian camp. Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar’s retirement soon after the aerial combat losses may also have been compelled and one wonders what Abhinandan’s own life will be like from here on now.

Kashmir insurgency rises as India grows yet more erratic

Handwara, Kashmir, saw 2 Kashmiri fighters kill at least 7 Indian paramilitary personnel and police and injure several more. Reported as belonging to the JeM group, they compounded a tough month for Indian forces in Kashmir where continued ambushes by Kashmiri fighters persisted before and after the Pulwama blast.

Notably, the day of sabre-rattling before India’s ill-fated incursion into Pakistani airspace and subsequent ‘surgical strike’ claims had seen a large crackdown on Kashmiri political groups by India with particular focus on Jamaat e Islami. Declaring the popular party responsible for running hundreds of schools officially banned on 28 February, India added another large provocation to an already rising Kashmiri freedom struggle to go with several others such as hints at attempting demographic change and seeing considerable violence against Kashmiris in Indian cities and towns following the Pulwama blast.

The Kashmiri resistance won’t be diffused or defanged into a state of impotent ‘negotiations’ and stagnancy by an India acting as reckless as it is now. False propaganda about JeM chief Masood Azhar being dead seems to be India’s latest attempt to salvage pride out of its current strategic and military woes.

Setback at the OIC

On the diplomatic front, India also suffered a setback when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned its atrocities in Kashmir and praised Pakistan’s conduct during the escalation. The presence of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the OIC recently after an invite was hailed across India as a snubbing of Pakistan by the latter and provoked a refusal by Pakistan to send its own FM to attend (albeit it did send a lower-level delegation). However, the OIC responded to Swaraj’s assertions of India ‘fighting against terrorism’ by adopting a resolution condemning Indian state atrocities in Kashmir and also endorsing the rebuilding of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya which was destroyed by Hindutva groups in 1992 the day after Swaraj’s ‘guest of honour’ address to the organization.

Ruling party BJP bigwigs responded with anger soon afterward, with Hindutva ideologue Subramaniam Swamy insultingly declaring that Hindus should respond to the OIC verdict by ‘reclaiming the Kaaba’ as a ‘Shivaling’ (or phallus of the Hindu god Shiva).

The fact that the OIC doesn’t do or matter much as an organization here means little. That Pakistan clearly succeeded in getting the OIC to pass the condemnation of India’s atrocities is indicative of a more proactive Pakistan matching up against a more erratic India and a setback that comes amid bigger setbacks during the escalation with Pakistan. Pakistan’s coherence and unity, especially with regard to the civil-military relationship, has contrasted sharply with the conduct and behaviour of the Indian side and the latter shows little signs of bringing its tendencies under check for the foreseeable future.

The Latest Kashmir Crisis Proved That India, Not Pakistan, Is the Real Rogue State

Astute News

The latest Kashmir Crisis resulted in a stunning reversal of international perceptions about India and Pakistan whereby the self-professed “world’s largest democracy” has now been recast as a rogue state wanting to wage a war of aggression on unproven pretexts while the previously presumed “rogue state” of Pakistan has been revealed to be a responsible international actor fighting to uphold the UN-enshrined rules-based international order that the US and “Israel’s” South Asian ally is dangerously trying to undermine.

The Kashmir Crisis of 2019 will go down in history as the moment when international perceptions about India and Pakistan were stunningly reversed. The fast-moving multi-dimensional developments that took place between the last week of February and the first week of March did more than anything else to ruin India’s global reputation (mostly through its own reckless actions) while greatly improving Pakistan’s, something that few observers could have expected because they’d been…

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Behind the India-Pakistan Tension: Kashmir is Struggling to Survive!


By Zeinab Daher

Beirut – While the military situation was heading to further escalation between New Delhi and Islamabad, an area stranded between them has not but barely come to the spotlight.

As always, mainstream media intend to serve the interests of its drivers; but unlike them, our website took it upon itself to shed light on the humanitarian aspect, bringing to the spotlight the suffering of Kashmiri people amid all these developments given the upcoming annual Indian elections.

Commenting on the situation, Kashmir-based PHD candidate Ms. Arshi Javid** told al-Ahed news website that 10,000 students have been forced to leave India and return to Kashmir during the tension, while Kashmiris staying at home were barely living amid the lack of fuel, food and security in their place.

The lady, whose fields of study are centered at gender and conflict, peace studies, and militant movements in South Asia described the situation as very tense, then went on as detailing the whole story as the following:

“It all started on the 14th of February when suicide bombers detonated a vehicle which was carrying an IED of 300 Kgs against an army vehicle. In this particular incident, 40 soldiers of the Indian army were killed. This event became a kind of galvanizing event around the whole of India in which people started saying that we want revenge for these killings.”

When India declared independence Kashmir was made a part of India on the condition that after sometime we will ask you, we will do up a plebiscite about the right to self-determination in Kashmir asking where do Kashmiris want to join. Ever since, India has not fulfilled the promise, she explained.

What happened later on?

In 1989, a militancy erupted because India has not fulfilled the promise and people want to express their decision whether they want to be with India or they want to be with Pakistan or they want to be independent, which India never gave it. So this militancy has been startled for years. Now, the condition is that organizations like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen… all these organizations are militant organizations… The blast on the 14th of February was performed by one particular organization. They claimed we have done this suicide bombing. After this, there was this call of revenge across India that we have to take revenge for this, she added.

Why deporting Kashmiri students?

“Almost, 10,000 Kashmiri students had to return home because there were attacks against them all across India.”

“India has 29 states all across India, and Kashmiri students are a part of India. Kashmiri students are Muslims, and Hinduism is the predominant religion in India. They started attacking Kashmiri Muslim students, saying you and your sympathizers doing blasts and killing our soldiers. Almost, 10,000 Kashmiri students had to return home because there were attacks against them all across India. They returned to Kashmir because people, without right, were lynching them.”

Saying that it was the first reaction of people, Javid explained that then, there was this call of taking revenge. On the nights of Monday and Tuesday [February 25, 26] we heard the news that Indian Air Force has crossed into Pakistan and they have attacked the place where these ‘militants are getting trained by the Pakistani state.’ In order to assuage those calls for revenge, there were a major blunder of Indian Air Forces entering Pakistani territory, and there is no clear record on how many people did they kill there and what is happening there.

Pakistan said they have not been able to kill anybody, in fact the place they attacked is a forest, it is not inhabited by any human; it is a forest. So whatever they have made they have hidden some details, they have kept it confidential. But India was the first one to have entered the escalation and perform airstrikes.

The lady went on to add that on the next night, Pakistan entered Indian airspace and carried out some airstrikes which they said wouldn’t have done but are in retaliation to what was done.

“We are not at war, but this is in retaliation to what India has did, in which Pakistan managed to down two Indian fighter jets. One of them fell on the Pakistani side of Kashmir. The Kashmiris are also divided between India and Pakistan. A part of the Kashmiris are with Pakistan, another part of them are with China and another part are with India.”

Pakistan managed to get hold of one of the Indian pilots, but Pakistan has once again gave a message that we don’t want to go for war, we want to talk and we would also return your pilot. The Indian leadership for its part said it will not escalate because our very important soldier is with Pakistan, she added.

Life, humanitarian situation in Kashmir

“There is no petrol in the city, so there is no life.”

“Now in Kashmir, there is a war taking place. People were informed a couple of days before war that they should fill their rations, they should have their food supplies intact, they should have their medicines. There is a lot of panic in Kashmir, a lot of panic, because people did get food, but petrol almost extinguished. There is no petrol in the city, so there is no life. People are at their houses, confined in their houses. There is no public transportation. You know how war is like… there are incidents of aerial fighting all the times and there are incidents of these fighter jets all over the skies. People are in trouble, people are really in panic over what was happening to them. There are even villages close to borders, which have been evacuated. We don’t know what would happen next because India has clearly said we are not going to de-escalate. One cannot imagine what would happen ahead.”

Whose interests does the escalations serve?

“The timing of this suits the elections.”

De-escalation is connected to an important thing: India is going for annual elections this year, the ruling party has not performed very well, and it has very bad indicators in terms of the horrible GDP, human rights reports, the monetary values have decreased… I think this will depend on what kind of this party, the ruling party (right-wing Hindu party), they have always resorted to war and dirty tactics for electoral games.

20 days ago, it clearly looked that the ruling party might not come back to power. If they don’t come back to power thy will lose the ground. But in those same days, the situation has started turning in their favor because their narrative against Pakistan and against terrorism is very strong, and so far, it is like the balance with people, they are very good at this narrative as a strategy for electoral games.

I think if the party thinks the job is done and that they have managed to direct it, they might just stop. But if they need some more mobilization, there would be no end to it until elections.

To give it clearly, there is only one party which is gaining out of it. It is not the first time suicide attacks have happened in Kashmir. This is not the first time suicide attacks have targeted the army. It is not the first time Jaish-e-Mohammed has done any attack in Kashmir. This is not the first time any Kashmiris had picked up guns, but the timing of this suits the elections. Largely, it will depend on reports they will get about their own parties. Are they in the position to win or gain some more votes? Until the time their position is not built they will not de-escalate.

Events like this are a routine story in Kashmir, but this time it was played very well in media. Every other day something happens in Kashmir, but it is up to media to decide whether to play it up or not. What this current Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] have done is that he has purchased all the media, 98% of the Indian media has been bought by him. It was played up very well by the media. While I do understand that killing 40 soldiers is a big injury and it will have repercussions, but this man has been able to press down any news and press up any news, he can do anything that he wants to do.


**Arshi Javid is a PHD candidate at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

By Invoking India-Israel Relations, Pakistani Politicians Have Finally Learned The Art of Soft Power

By Adam Garrie

For decades, Pakistan has been cursed with political leaders who seemed incapable of grasping the importance of soft power as a tool for accomplishing important strategic goals without incurring any material expense. Last month however, the penny dropped and now the PTI government appears to be gradually mastering the art of perception management.

A moment of reckoning arrived when throughout the month of February, after non-state terrorists operating along the Pakistan-Iran border conducted an attack on Islamic Revolution Guard Corps fighters in south-eastern Iran, Tehran ended up turning against Islamabad in terms of official rhetoric. Rather than handle the issue through private diplomatic channels with its Pakistani neighbour and potentially important partner, Iranian officials instead began making defamatory anti-Pakistan statements which appeared to be straight out of India’s age-old propaganda playbook. Matters became all the more awkward when Iran and its arch enemy Israel appeared to agree on their assessment of the Pulwama incident in Indian occupied Kashmir.

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But whilst Iran’s outrageous outbursts against Pakistan and Tehran’s strange agreement with Israel on a major issue of international attention were more the result of internal political infighting in Tehran than on anything more directly related to geo-strategy, Pakistan not only took the high road, but took the intelligent and strategic road.

Pakistan has under the Premiership of Imran Khan, become increasingly like the Switzerland of the Ummah (global Islamic community). By refraining from taking sides in the disputes of other Muslim majority nations, Pakistan has been able to balance good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one side and Turkey and Qatar on the other – just to offer one such important example.

As such, Turkey was the first nation in the world to offer its role as a mediator in the recent flaring up of tensions over Indian occupied Kashmir, whilst Turkish officials also showed solidarity with fraternal Pakistan. Then, at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the pan-Islamic group of nations offered its withering condemnation of Indian aggression against Kashmiris, in a move which showed unambiguous solidarity with Pakistan. The OIC’s statement took on a new level of relevance because both Turkey and Pakistan (along with Qatar and Iran) boycotted the meeting in the UAE. As such, it is logical to assume that Pakistan’s Saudi partners and Emirati partners had a vital role in either authoring or green-lighting the OIC’s condemnation of India that was delivered at a meeting in which major Indian officials were present. This itself demonstrates that even in the absence of a Pakistani or pro-Pakistani Turkish delegation, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had the courage to support Pakistan due to Imran Khan’s ability to balance good relations between geopolitical rivals in the Ummah.

Of course, Pakistan-Iran relations are more complex than Pakistan-Turkey relations, Pakistan-Saudi relations, Pakistan-Qatar relations or Pakistan-UAE relations. This if the reality because of three things: a post-1979 history of mutual distrust due primarily to issues relating to Afghanistan, the Indian funded port in Iran’s Chabahar and finally, the difficulties that transpire due to the presence of non-state extremist groups that in spite of their declining numbers, are still occasionally active on the Iran-Pakistan border.

Because Iran often vacillates between viewing Pakistan as a brotherly Muslim nation and simplistically viewing Pakistan as a rival because of its strong relations with countries like Saudi Arabia (a line of thinking which conveniently forgets that Russia, China and even India have good relations with Riyadh) – it was anyone’s guess how Iran would respond to the recent Kashmir crisis.

As it turned out, Iran initially approached the matter by appearing to take India’s side. This week however, the tone of Iran’s official state media shifted for one clear reason: Pakistani politicians have at long last become articulate in exposing the incredibly strong India-Israel partnership that continues to go from strength-to-strength under the Premiership of Narendra Modi.

Now that Pakistani politicians are finally discussing Israel’s involvement in south Asia, such statements from Pakistan are guaranteed to perk the ears of international audiences in both the Ummah and in the west – audiences who tend to be more sympathetic to Palestinian issues than to the occupation of Kashmir. The reason that Palestine tends to be a more amplified issue among non-south Asian audiences than Kashmir, is due to the fact that in recent years, international celebrities like Roger Waters and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as mainstream western politicians like Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn and American Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have helped to raise the profile of the Palestinian issue which in turn has elicited a major response from many powerful western Israel supporters. By contrast, India’s slick propaganda campaigns have helped to muffle discussions of Kashmir outside of south Asia and especially in respect of discussions in the west.

There are however several subtle but very real changes afoot in respect of how the world is now viewing Kashmir and the wider India-Pakistan conflict

1. Non-south Asian media are at long last realising that while India portrays itself as a kind of spiritual Disneyland to westerners through propaganda like the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, internal Indian media has largely become a den of extremism.

2. Mainstream western media is finally reporting on the concerns surrounding the erstwhile ignored partnership between India and Israel.

3. While many Muslim majority nations have good relations with India, now that even westerners are questioning India’s direction under BJP rule, it would be counter-productive for Islamic majority states ot be seen as more pro-India than even a habitually Islamophobic west.

Realising this trend, Pakistani politicians have issued several important statements about Israel in recent days:

1. Pakistan has accused Israel of conspiring with India to conduct a missile attack on Pakistan that was ultimately thwarted by Pakistani intelligence.

2. Pakistan’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan referred to Israel as an enemy of Pakistan, a natural ally of India and a country with which Pakistan will never have formal diplomatic relations.

3. Unverified rumours that Pakistan has captured an Israeli pilot who took part in a failed India airstrike against Pakistan have helped to change the nature of the debate on the matter both within Pakistan and outside of south Asia.

The result of Pakistan invoking Israel as a pro-Indian nemesis has consequently resulted in the following:

1. The wider Ummah will now want to publicly distance itself form India to varying degrees. This is not to say that the states of the Ummah will somehow boycott India (far from it), but by withdrawing would-be soft power approval of Indian geo-strategic manoeuvring, Muslim countries will tacitly help Pakistani statements about how New Delhi treats its Muslim neighbours, the Muslims of occupied Kashmir and its Muslim citizens, to be heard in a more impactful and unfiltered manner.

2. By associating India with Israel, not only will the Ummah think twice before offering public displays of political affection towards India, but western media outlets courting the Corbyn-Omar style of left-populism in the west, will think twice before glossing over Kashmir or otherwise taking India’s side.

3.  The Islamic Republic of Iran, the most anti-Israel country in the world, will now have to be more balanced in its relations with both India and Pakistan, or else risk being seen as hypocritical in respect of its well known statements and position regarding Israel.

Taken as a whole, Pakistan’s government and ruling party have at long last begun to think strategically rather than ambivalently and are now using soft power tools to help shift the debate on Kashmir and India, both the Ummah and in the west.

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