Just when it appeared that tensions between Pakistan and India could de-escalate after last week’s aerial incursion and response, it seems India is unwilling to move forwards towards dialogue and normalisation of ties. It continues to provoke and test Pakistan’s patience. Indian warplanes had dropped their payload inside Pakistan last week and Pakistani fighter aircraft subsequently took down an Indian MiG-21, capturing its pilot. The heightened tensions, which appeared to be a prelude to declaration of war by New Delhi, persisted for a few days. Islamabad acted with utmost restraint; and in a gesture of goodwill and in the interest of peace, it returned the captured pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
But India seems bent on upping the ante. It has emerged that even after the return of their pilot and a string of skirmishes across the Line of Control, India was mulling over plans to launch ballistic missiles at targets in Pakistan and its navy had tried to sneak one of its submarines into Pakistani waters. Both of these attempts were thwarted. The first through contact between security agencies of both sides wherein Pakistan, after learning about the missile attack plan through intelligence sources, warned that any such misadventure would result in a threefold response. Then late on Monday, the navy detected the Indian submarine trying to make its way into Pakistani waters. Instead of engaging and destroying the intruder, the navy exercised restraint.
Islamabad has been patient and vigilant in the face of naked Indian aggression, showing that it clearly values peace and its sovereignty. Pakistan’s goodwill gesture of returning the Indian pilot has been well received across the globe, and it must now bank on this diplomatic victory to build pressure on New Delhi to climb down from its current path of military escalation which leads to only one plausible outcome – war and annihilation. New Delhi must realise that war is no solution of problems. It must take up Islamabad’s offer of working together to trace those elements which it claims were involved in the Pulwama attack.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2019.
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