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Pakistan Has 'All-weather' Supporters, Diplomatic Isolation Won't Help Much: Counter-terrorism Expert Ajai Sahni

The West is not willing to confront the problem of Pakistan, counter terrorism expert Ajai Sahni says, adding that the Indian diplomatic efforts need to intensify to de-escalate tensions.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:March 7, 2019, 12:33 PM IST
Pakistan Has 'All-weather' Supporters, Diplomatic Isolation Won't Help Much: Counter-terrorism Expert Ajai Sahni
A staff member raises Pakistan's flag in front of the Great Hall of the People in China (Reuters)

New Delhi: As questions around the success of the Balakot attacks continue, noted analyst and counter terrorism expert Ajai Sahni, in an interview to News18, said that the biggest takeaway from the attack was that a new normal had been established.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

On Territorial Violations From Both Sides

The only consequence of the Balakot strikes by the Indian Air Force is that a ‘new normal’ will be established at a higher level of chronic military confrontation. Just as we have continuous exchanges of fire between ground Forces along the Line of Control and the International Border, we are now likely to have periodic aerial and possibly naval skirmishes as well, with a purposeless loss of life and assets, since these tactical interventions appear to have no coherent strategic underpinning.

Such a strategic anchor can only be constructed through a process of extraordinary capacity building on the Indian side, and the deployment of these capacities with a well-planned framework that harnesses every dimension of national power to secure the objective of inflicting crippling costs on Pakistan, as long as it continues to support terrorism against India.

India’s Response To Pakistan’s Alleged Ignorance Towards Stopping Terror Activities

A fitting reply can only be formulated within the context of a protracted conflict paradigm. This requires all institutions in Pakistan to be targeted in an enduring campaign that harnesses every aspect of state power in India over an extended period of time, exploiting Pakistan’s vulnerabilities and eroding its limited strengths. This requires a doctrine, a strategy, the acquisition of capacities and capabilities, and the continuous deployment of tactical interventions. None of this appears to be within the ken of those who run this country — or who have run this country over decades in the past.

How ‘Isolated’ is Pakistan Diplomatically

This is a variable that has no significant impact on the trajectory of Pakistan-backed terrorism. The US has been losing its own soldiers in Afghanistan as a result of Pak-backed terrorist groups, but has failed to push for Pakistan’s isolation. The West is not willing to confront the problem of Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan has its own band of ‘all weather’ supporters, and they seem to be willing to give unqualified support to Islamabad, countering the limited sanctions or penalties Western nations may choose to apply. While Indian diplomatic efforts need to intensify, we cannot have very high expectations in terms of impact.

Home Ministry’s Role In Curbing Violence In Kashmir

In terms of operations, the performance has been good. Beyond this, as I said above the regime has followed a policy of mischief and destabilisation. How much of this emanates from the Home Ministry, or from other sources in the Government, is not something I am privy to.

Government’s Kashmir Policy

This regime’s policy – if it can be called as such – on Kashmir has been one of mischief and destabilisation. Communal polarisation has been their principal strategy and objective, and they have used divisive issues such as Article 370 and 35A to inflame passions, in full knowledge that they cannot, in fact, alter the Constitution at the present juncture.

The purpose has only been to consolidate what they see as their ‘Hindu’ vote bank in Jammu, since they have no hope of any electoral gains in the Valley. Groups ideologically affiliated to the regime have made continuous efforts to paint all Kashmiri Muslims as traitors, separatists and terrorist collaborators, if not terrorists, and no one in authority has said a word in condemnation.

Indeed, several persons in high office have sought to encourage such collective defamation. This has done tremendous harm to the national interest in J&K. This was a state substantially on the mend. Even with the extremely damaging policies of the Centre and actions of the Hindutva groups, we find tremendous flows of intelligence from the people enabling narrowly targeted intelligence-based operations by the security forces.

This has been the reason why so many terrorists, including leadership elements, have been eliminated in the Valley over the past years. However, terrorist recruitment has also risen, largely as a result of the hate politics in play. Political destabilisation, the dissolution of the State Assembly and the marginalisation of mainstream political parties has also created a tremendous vacuum, and this has created opportunities for Pakistan and its terrorist proxies to escalate terrorism and street violence in the State.

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