Botched intrusion

Under international law, military vessels cannot intrude in another country’s waters without prior permission


October 21, 2021

India continues to pursue a policy of aggression around Pakistani territory, most recently with a submarine that the Pakistan Navy was able to block from entering Pakistani waters. The ISPR did not identify the exact location of the attempted incursion but said the Indian submarine was detected by Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, adding that it was the third such detection in recent years. Under international law, military vessels cannot intrude in another country’s waters without prior permission. Pakistan’s contiguous zone covers 12 nautical miles off the country’s coastline.

Based on images released by ISPR, it appears that the boat was a Sindhughosh-class diesel-electric submarine, which is based on the Soviet-era Kilo-class boat — a 1980’s design that is being phased out, although it is still in use by several countries, including Russia. The attempted incursion is more concerning because of the timing — the last such attempt was reportedly in March 2019, during a period of heightened tensions after the Pulwama incident. While relations today are by no means cordial these days, they are also not — at least to our knowledge — on the brink of war. Aggressive actions at such a time show a reckless and belligerent streak in India’s naval, military, and political leadership. However, there is some speculation that New Delhi’s aggression may have something to do with an uptick in violence in Occupied Kashmir since early October. Indian security forces have been engaged in a violent crackdown after a spate of attacks by freedom fighters. Indian reports say that at least nine troops were killed during operations against freedom fighters last week, representing the highest weekly death toll suffered by the occupying forces in several years.

That is hardly the kind of headline New Delhi would have wanted — while millions of BJP and Narendra Modi supporters see nothing wrong with oppressing Kashmiris, they will question the government if several troops are killed. In this light, the Indian Navy’s actions do actually fall in line with the standard operating procedures of the Modi government and its security forces — distract from domestic failures by manufacturing tensions with Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2021.

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