Attempts to isolating Pakistan and global scenario!
Following the deadly Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir in which 44 Indian paramilitary forces personnel were killed, there has been widespread demonstration of anger and also the clamour for revenge is resonating from all quarters. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and many of his ministers have already warned Pakistan and vowed to avenge the attack while the Indian media, especially the private news channels, have been dedicating most of their time to discussing how and when India should attack Pakistan rather than discussing the disastrous consequences of war at this point in time. The Newsrooms, it seems, have already initiated a war while the so-called experts are spitting venom and flaring up tensions among the masses. The situation isn’t any different when one watches the Pakistani news studios and an equal amount of venom is being spewed, if not more.
Here, the media is trying its best to hone the opinion against Pakistan and pressurize the union government to take action. With so much noise around about how government of India should deal with its neighbour to avenge the attack and to Isolate it globally, it is imperative to realistically take a look at the current world scenario before making any assessment in this regard. It also merits mention that India had already cut off all efforts to resume bilateral dialogue with Pakistan after the attack on Pathankot airbase in January 2016 and since then there has not been any significant communication between the two countries. In fact India began its efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan but with almost no success.
This time around, there is much more anger among the masses and most of the primetime TV debates suggest that government of the day should not only boycott Pakistan in every field but intensify its efforts to isolate it globally. Government of India, following the Pulwama attack immediately withdrew its MFN status to Pakistan that was granted in 1996 though not reciprocated. The government also increased the custom duty on Pakistan imports by 200% and stopped the export of tomatoes to Pakistan.
The current world scenario, however, reflects that besides these measures there’s little else that the government of India can do against Pakistan diplomatically. The biggest roadblock for Indian diplomatic onslaught seems to be the US talks with Taliban- Pakistan happens to be the chief negotiator and the peace broker between US and Taliban and Trump administration wouldn’t want to create any rift with Pakistan at this crucial juncture. Pakistan under a new dispensation wants to reap maximum benefits of the situation, besides president Trump seems quite busy in dealing with some domestic issues
India has consistently failed in its efforts to garner the support of China for listing JeM chief, Masood Azhar, as globally designated terrorist while China has been blocking the move. China is the permanent member of UNSC and an all weather friend of Pakistan.
The recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince gained more significance as it came following the Pulwama fidayeen attack but there was very little for India to cheer as the crown Prince choose not to condemn Pakistan and instead praised its close association with Pakistan and its efforts to eliminate terrorism. The Saudi foreign minister went an extra mile to say that his country supports UN resolutions on Kashmir .T
The Saudis also offered a whopping 20Bn to cash strapped Pakistan.
The European Union condemned the Pulwama attack but urged the two nuclear powers to engage in dialogue to address the outstanding issues between them. The Russians also came up with condemnation, though very soft in tone keeping in mind their interests in the unfolding events in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal. They may also not want to antagonize Pakistan at this stage.
The Iranian government, for now, seems to be on the Indian side as it blamed Pakistan for the recent attack in Iran as well. The Afghan government also supports Indian narrative on the subject of terror but its support hardly bears any significance amid the reconciliation efforts between the Taliban and US.
Amid these circumstances, India’s most important diplomatic action would be at the Financial Action Task Force(FATF) plenary meeting in Paris on Feb 17-22.Pakistan is already on the FATF grey list since June 2018 and has been put on notice to be blacklisted by Oct 2019 if it failed to curb money laundering and terror financing. If India manages to convince the international financial watchdog on Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism then it would lead to massive financial curbs on Pakistan’s already dwindling economy. It is, however, to be seen if Pakistan government has finalized a functional strategy for meeting with FATF and what brief would they prepare for the measures taken by the government regarding money laundering and terror financing.
The general elections in India are also due in April- May to elect a new government. The ruling dispensation, thus, has to give proper attention to campaigning and organising the said elections successfully. The dominant view is that India is not in a position to take on Pakistan or initiate any action diplomatically amid current world scenario and the domestic milieu. The only possible route for India to avenge Pakistan would be to explore the possibility of a limited military action or incursions and that may well be the option that India would prefer also given the timing of the general elections.
The writer is writer and academic counselor IGNOU and can be mailed at [email protected]