It were, undoubtedly, satisfying few days for Pakistan. The manner the country has handled the standoff with India both militarily and diplomatically has earned a lot of applause not only from within but outside too.
During the heightened tensions, national fervour was on full display on both sides of the border. But the downside of this hyper nationalism was that it discouraged objective public discourse. Anyone trying to raise questions, which may not fall in line with the myopic definition of nationalism, is quickly labeled as a traitor.
But as the dust settles down after the two countries pulled back from the brink, it’s time for the two nuclear-armed neighbours to do some serious introspection.
Let’s first talk about Pakistan. In recent years every major attack took place in India or Occupied Kashmir has always been linked with groups that are allegedly operating out of Pakistan. The Pulwama attack, which brought the two countries on the brink of a war, was also blamed on the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM).
Pakistan is currently examining the dossier shared by India but officials, who are familiar with the preliminary probe, insisted that Pakistan has no ‘direct or indirect’ role in the Pulwama attack. It may be true since Pakistan has no benefit in orchestrating a cross-border attack when it is already under international pressure not to allow its soil to be used against its neighbours.
However, because of Pakistan’s past policy of flirting with militant groups, the outside world views our explanation with a degree of skepticism.
What nullifies Pakistan’s case further is when people like Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who was once all powerful, publically conceded that militant outfits such as JeM were used as proxies against India. Whether or not JeM was behind the Pulwama attack, Pakistan needs to face the uncomfortable truth that the group in the past was indeed involved in the cross-border attacks.
Previous measures to crack down on such groups have made little impact. Just imagine had Pakistan gotten rid of all remnants of the ‘Afghan Jihad’ today India would have really struggled hard to find a scapegoat of its own failures in Kashmir. Not taking a decisive action against these groups in reality has served the purpose of India than Pakistan. India in its heart hopes that Pakistan never deals the issue of terror head-on.
Our lack of action would always give India the excuse to gloss over its own follies. Now that the government has launched a crackdown to purge the country of all the proscribed organisations, it is hoped that these measures would not be temporary. And this optimism is not misplaced either since there seems finally a realisation in Pakistan to phase out all these groups and individuals.
Now to India. After the Pulwama attack, the debates in India have remained one dimensional. The crux is India believes that the problem lies in Pakistan. Very few have asked questions regarding India’s own failures in Kashmir. Specifically to the Pulwama attack, there were no critical analyses as to how the young suicide bomber was able to penetrate the security cordon.
No questions were asked about the intelligence failure. On top of it, there has been no debate as to why young and educated Kashmiris are so disillusioned with India that they are willing to die. India is mistaken if it thinks Pakistan is the actual reason behind uprising in Kashmir.
Pakistan can woo few Kashmiri leaders here and there but it can’t persuade tens of thousands of Kashmiris to rise up against the Indian oppression. Even the father of Adil Ahmed Dar has no remorse what his son did. This is the truth India has to face.
Finally, irrespective of which side has gained the ascendancy in the recent military standoff, the country, which takes the first move to seek course correction, will certainly be the ultimate winner.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2019.