The Uri Attacks were the latest attempt by Pakistan to destabilize India after Pathankot. Pakistan has naturally said that it is not responsible for these attacks despite mounting evidence against it and is likely to divert the blame to its “non-state actors” as has been the norm by Rawalpindi. These attacks are the result of India steeping up the ante talking of the human right violations in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan, rigged elections in POK and the independence movements that are gaining momentum in the region. Brahumdagh Bugti, the founder of the Baloch Republican Party that seeks independence from Pakistan’s illegal occupation will also be applying for asylum in India today evening from Switzerland.
While India has undoubtedly exploited Pakistan’s Faultlines in the region that threaten the very existence and relevance of the Pakistani army and ISI, the blame for these attacks does not wrest solely with Pakistan for it has a powerful backer, China in the region that is aware of the strategic losses of its ambitious CPEC should all the above movements succeed. China has invested over $45 billion in CPEC as a counter to the shipping route along the Strait of Malacca where the US Navy enjoys dominance as well as the Indian Ocean which India considers its backyard. For China, the recent bonhomie between the US and India and better relations between Afghanistan, Iran and India are not good signs.
While it is natural that the Uri Attacks will create war mongering we must first understand the geopolitical realities in order to strike back effectively and lethally. India is growing very fast diplomatically and economically while China is slowing down and losing face internationally due to the recent South China Sea ruling. Its prominent think-tank has already stated that “China is worried about its investment in CPEC”. China’s FDI is also slowing down and it would like nothing more than India entering into a full blown military conflict as it would set it back by a decade.
The United States will not be happy about CPEC becoming successful which India must use to its advantage. While Russia and China are locked in a marriage of convenience, CPEC will embolden China in Central Asia and undermine Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union. India’s recent defence tilt towards the US has upset Russia but India and Russia are old allies and Asia-Pacific is slowly moving towards an alliance of democracies against China. Thus, while the whole world is fully aware of Pakistan’s state-sponsorship of terror and may choose to call it out but still sit on the sidelines, the common threat of China unites them and this should be an important aspect of India’s policy formulation for Pakistan.
While this is a battle that India will have to fight alone it is essential that it first frames a serious Pakistan policy which so far has been rather lacklustre. As Vikram Sood, former RAW chief and one of the biggest strategic analysts says, “India needs to first identify a goal and then develop tactics and strategy”. The primary goal should be making the cost of terror unsustainable for Pakistan and removing Kashmir as the centre of India’s Pakistan policy. Pakistan is, has been and will continue to use terror as its foreign policy regardless of the Kashmir issue because that is the basis of its foundation. India must adopt a no-compromise agenda on Kashmir and continuously assert its rightful claims over the region be it, Gilgit-Baltistan, POK or other parts of the state.
All the tactics and strategy that are formulated must stem from the above. There have been a host of people suggesting that India should revoke the Indus Water treaty. While it is true that the IWT has been the most successful water treaty in history and is an extremely generous one in Pakistan’s favour, such actions would only destroy the goodwill garnered by India. The need for the hour is not a water crisis in Pakistan but rather some fundamental course corrections on India’s part and the rest will slowly but surely start falling in place.
Where should India begin? India should adopt a multi-pronged strategy of isolating Pakistan diplomatically and economically. India must remove the MFN status to Pakistan and cut off all trade ties. Cultural and sporting ties should be cut off and diplomatic relations should be downgraded. India should even consider disallowing Pakistani artists from performing in India and making money here. It should also use the weight and size of its economy to bleed Pakistan economically by making the cost of doing business for other countries and companies that have interests in Pakistan unaffordable in India. It is time to fully de-hyphenate Pakistan from India and treat it with the disdain it deserves. Pakistan must be isolated in SAARC and an anti-terror charter should be created and adopted by the nations that will also result in it becoming a pariah.
India should also work with other countries in the world with whom it has a strong trade, cultural or diplomatic ties to create anti-terror cooperation to constantly name and shame Pakistan and go after its funding with brutal intensity. All terror roads of the world lead to Pakistan. Even the NYC bombing suspect Ahmed Khan Rahami has travelled many times to Pakistan and is married to a Pakistani woman. At the same time, India must continue supporting the Baloch people and its Indian citizens in POK constantly highlighting Pakistan’s human rights violations at all international forums, further isolating it. It must also highlight Pakistan’s suppression of the minorities especially the Shias globally. India must also corner China on its stance of not calling the Jaish e Mohammed a terrorist organisation at the UN.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have already pledged support to India and condemned Pakistan’s role in sponsoring terror. India must work strongly with Afghanistan and develop the Chabahar port successfully to corner Pakistan and take away its importance of being a gateway to Central Asia. Pakistan is already in the middle of a civil war and India should exploit these Faultlines further while bleeding it economically so that any country or company will be forced to think twice before investing in Pakistan. It is important to remember that the $45 billion CPEC by China is not a gift but a loan so while China may slowly come to terms with its investment being deadweight, Pakistan too will have to pay a heavy price for this significant loss.
This process will also have to be supported by ably cracking down on ISI’s networks and terror modules in India. This includes stopping all funding and privileges to the separatists and identifying them as people who are carrying out treasonous activities against India. India must take a hard stand towards these separatists and accept that they do not desire peace in Kashmir but rather secession from India and are nothing more than ISI’s proxies.
India needs to set its narrative to counter ISI propaganda whilst going after the Pakistani moles in the Indian establishment and that includes the civil society, thinktanks, activists, NGO’s, media and other sections of the society. Any strong Indian action will be countered by this brigade that are a part of the “Aman ki Asha” club who keep linking Kashmir as the reason for Pakistani terror. Their sympathy, pro- Pak propaganda and actions that undermine the security of the Indian state should become unsustainable. With the growing Chinese interest in Pakistan, there has been an addition to this coterie called the “Dimsum Ki Asha” club who sing a pro-China stance. It is time that India introduced a Patriot Law which also has guidelines on media and broadcasting.
The law can state among others:
“Any Individual or Legal entity which is found to be associated directly or indirectly in any relationship with an agency or organisation adverse to India’s security shall be debarred from entering into any contract or project with Public Sector or Private enterprise as the case may be upon material satisfaction by Govt agencies.
The Govt shall be empowered to issue such notification debarring such individuals and legal entities from operating into India for a specified period subject to renewal based on material satisfaction of the Government Agencies.
The Term security should be defined as – ‘National Security i.e. unity and territorial integrity of India; economic security includes such developmental project of critical nature to the State. Any person or entity that challenges by words accompanied with visible action the Unity and Integrity of India should be said to have committed Treason punishable with the highest imprisonment. Also, anyone challenging the security of India i.e. national security or economic security as defined under the law shall be punishable for committing the crime against the state & be punishable for a maximum of life term imprisonment”.
India must ensure that the cost of abetting terror becomes unsustainable and this applies to any individual, company or country. Companies which have stakes in Pakistan must be made to understand that they will face obstacles in doing business with the world’s largest democracy and the next Asian powerhouse. Terror is more than just an ideology; it is a business and a very profitable one at that. So far, it is our soldiers who have given their blood; it is time that Pakistan, its terror organisations, their sympathisers, investors, and stakeholders and their moles in India face bloodied bottom lines. Let us bleed them dry this day ahead.