Kashmir gunbattle underscores India-Pakistan tensions

January 7, 2010

srinagar hotelA nearly 24-hour gunbattle this week between militants and Indian security forces in the centre of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a powerful reminder of the tensions in the region at the heart of enmity between India and Pakistan. Two people were killed along with the two militants -  one of whom was described by police as a Pakistani - in the biggest attack in Srinagar in two years.  Hundreds of people, who had become accustomed to relative calm after years of separatist violence, had to be rescued from nearby buildings.

The attack itself might or might not turn out to be an isolated incident.  But what is troubling is that it took place within the context of a deterioration in relations between India and Pakistan.

After plummeting following the attack on Mumbai in November 2008, relations improved enough between India and Pakistan for their leaders to hold two rounds of talks on the sidelines of international meetings last year. As recently as July, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to keep the lines of communication open with Pakistan. Since then the atmosphere has soured considerably, in part because of information which followed the arrest in Chicago of American David Headley which suggested the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group blamed for Mumbai might be planning new attacks in India.

Not only are the two countries not talking, but they appear to be on a collision course over both Afghanistan and Kashmir.

For much of last year, and indeed the year before, policy debates about Afghanistan included the possibility of easing tensions between Islamabad and Delhi to reduce their long-standing rivalry there and to encourage Pakistan to focus on battling Islamist militants rather than on its traditional enemy India.  But the  framework for debate has been shifting almost imperceptibly but fairly steadily for months now into a discussion - at least inside India – of whether Indian troops should be sent to Afghanistan to help secure the peace there. (See here, here, and here for some recent coverage of this.) 

That would be a red rag to a bull to Pakistan, which would find itself facing a perceived threat from its much bigger neighbour to the east along with Indian troops in Afghanistan to the west. In the short term it would reduce further its willingness to target groups like the Afghan Taliban in the “Quetta shura” led by Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network that it might want to use to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan in the event of a U.S. withdrawal. In the longer term it could lead to both countries backing opposing forces in a renewed civil war in Afghanistan.

On the Kashmir front, the atmosphere has become equally sour, even before the latest violence in Srinagar.  (Although Delhi said late last year it was pulling out some troops from Jammu and Kashmir, this covered a fraction of its security forces inside the region. It did not apply to troops deployed along the international border and Line of Control which divides the disputed region between India and Pakistan, and therefore had no impact on relations between the two neighbours.)

Islamabad reacted angrily this month to a comment by the Indian army chief that India should be prepared to fight wars simultaneously against both Pakistan and China.  Even President Asif Ali Zardari, who had taken a notably softer stance on the Kashmir dispute when he first took office, has hardened his language. This week he described Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan - a revival of a phrase used to suggest that the country’s very survival had been threatened by Indian control over a large part of the disputed region.

India and Pakistan had moved a long distance away from that kind of language during a thaw which developed in 2003, leading to a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC), and an eventual opening up of  travel and trade between the two sides of the disputed region. In the bitter days immediately after Mumbai the ceasefire held, and the trade across the LoC continued. It is a sign of the times that even the cross-LoC trade appears to be stuttering to a halt.

(Hotel in Srinagar is set on fire during gunbattle/photo by Fayaz Kabli)

23 comments

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Myra:

This one seemed like miniature version of 26/11. Add a Westerner dead here and we’ll see it a big issue. May be Pakistan is testing the Indian reaction here?

@Islamabad reacted angrily this month to a comment by the Indian army chief that India should be prepared to fight wars simultaneously against both Pakistan and China.”

Myra: Can you please show me the source of Kapoor’s statement and what exactly he said. All I see are media reports like “Kapoor said and Kayani responded” —-not reliable to me. What you said is much toned down version and I have also seen some media and commenter saying that India is planning to attack both P&C. It is like chinese whisper effect.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Myra
below is an article from Maleeha Lodhi assessing India’s new military doctrine recently:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArtic leNew.asp?xfile=/data/opinion/2010/Janua ry/opinion_January39.xml&section=opinion

Pretty clear what Indian designs are, i think Pakistan Army must now move away from its own doctrine of ‘limited offensive defense’ to the next level. Though as an ordinary Pakistani I have nothing against the people/citizens of India but it is very much clear what are the intentions of Indian military planners/leaders.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

I was intrigued to see the recent launch of the Aman ki Asha (Desire for Peace)initiative by the Pakistani Jang Group and Times of India.

Although your article claims “Not only are the two countries not talking, but they appear to be on a collision course over both Afghanistan and Kashmir” – there are clearly vast swaths if Indian and Pakistani society that ARE talking – including, now, some of their media. How about shining a spotlight onsome good in the name of balanced reporting?

Posted by Clennell-Jaine | Report as abusive

@ Rajeev,

On Gen. Kapoor’s remarks, I’d be inclined to trust the version given here by K. Subramanyam, characterising them as a personal view given at a closed door seminar:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/genera lly-speaking/564862/

I presume you saw the Times of India version?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india  /Army-reworks-war-doctrine-for-Pakistan -China/articleshow/5392683.cms

Here is The Hindu on Gen. Kayani’s reaction, which I did not mention earlier:

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/internatio nal/article74204.ece

Finally, do please read this piece by Ayesha Siddiqa in Dawn. She makes the point that the exchange is relevant in the context of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. Presumably a remark from an army chief about a country needing to be ready to defend its borders would not have elicited the same reaction if the two countries were talking.

She also raises an interesting question about whether the Indian Army is becoming more assertive in national affairs. I’m not convinced that Gen. Kapoor’s remarks are the right example for this, but it’s a good question:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/14-ayesha-siddiqa-indias-challeng e-810-zj-02

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

@Myra

Ayesha Siddiqa is extrapolating Gen. Kapoor’s remarks in a way that resonates very well with the role of the Pakistani Army in the Pakistani civil society. India Army’s role in Indian civil politics is very low, and it will remain low. During the Kargil invasion, Army strictly followed the orders from the Govt. in New Delhi, and didn’t get involve in any adventurous activity. So Ayesha’s remarks that Indian Army is asserting in civil politics are flatly wrong. Besides that I have seen that the Pakistani civil society and Army, in particular, don’t understand these remarks which are meant for a debate and analyzing scenarios which could be interesting. I have seen many times Pakistani Army and even civil society reacting in a hysterical way to some of the reports from Washington based non-government think tanks which considered some academically interesting security scenarios in South Asia.

Posted by TruthSeeker | Report as abusive

Myra:

Thanks for the links. K. Subrahmanyam is more reliable but it still is not from horse’s mouth (Subrahmanyam did not quote him). Going by how different media is reporting and splitting hair, who knows what exactly was stated.

Ayesha (Dawn) is getting hyper and her whole discussion is based as if Kapoor is influencing India to attack Pakistan (and China). While she is concerned about hawks in India and Pak, she herself is doing great job at drum beating by her poor interpretations. She needs to get a grip and know that Indian and Pakistan Armies are different and so are their influence. Just because we share a wall, we do not behave the same way. She can split hair and write articles the way she want. It is just that India has 2 neighbors who are friends with each other and have separately attacked India in the past too many times for India’ comfort and they continue to have problems with India. Commonsense says India should be ready to face them if they attack together, as K. Subrahmanyam said:

“It can perhaps be argued that by talking about India getting prepared for a two-front war the purpose was to discourage the two anti-status quo neighbours who have committed aggression against India in the past. Professionally, Indian armed forces officers have a duty to anticipate such adventures by our potential adversaries in future and plan to forestall them.”

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

I am a Pakistani and I dont understand why the Pakistani press is being so jingoisitic.If some sovereign country declares that it is prepared to wage two wars concurrently then what is wrong with that?
Don’t tell me the Pak Army or for that matter any army not simulate wars etc against a set of adversaries.
We should try to let common sense prevail.Pakistan has to understand that India is now a regional heavy weight and not fixated with Pakistan but its got global ambitions whereas Pakistan is just fixated with India. Just goes to show what the two nations have achieved in 60 years.
Some of the people would lambast my comments as being Pro Indian but come on people lets change ourselves first our neighbours will also change. Lets shrug this militancy, The Pak Army should be forced not to support militants be they India specific or whatever. Lets not try to undermine each other, India has the resources to do it but Pakistan doesnt? So lets not waste time doing this!!

Posted by verboseguy | Report as abusive

Marhaba my friend,YOU seem really to be a nice thinker, and not me but every one will appreciate your comments.Pakistan should always go for the progress of the people and development instead of chaging the leaders and changing the colours.I appreciate you brother.

Posted by khaliq | Report as abusive

All these attacks definately confirm that there is a serious trouble in pakistan and it can have ripples in india too. There are bombs blowing away everyday in pakistan. Its unfortunate that so many people are dying daily. Pakistan is getting a doze of its own medicine. i remember in 2008 when there were bombs blowing people in delhi, jaipur,mumbai,hyderabad,guwahati,varanas i, bangalore and 26/11 in mumbai.it was a frustrating period. personally i think india should have attacked the militant camps in POK and india has not sent a right message to them.

people in pakistan and india are peace loving people but the politics both sides have not helped at all,the we had dictators in pakistan who were short sighted and believed in bleeding india with a thousand cuts .though i think there were many oppertunities to sort things out, but i think democratic system in pakistan is not strong enough to churn out strong leaders like vajpayee or Mr singh.

even today there is a clear indication that india is willing to have the borders the way they are in kashmir and making POK and IOK as free trade zones with free movement of people. with that the international borders will not have any significance just like canada and Usa.but there is no towering figure in pakistan which can take this message to their people instead there is Mr 10%.

well this is a message to commen pakistanis that there will be politicians who will always tell whom to blame but nobody will face the fire themselves.the Young people of both countries are dieing. its a sad situtation.the people who fought for freedom together are fighting each other.
there is famous line from one of guru dutt movie pyassa ki “Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahan hai”.
but i know for a fact that if these two adverseries come together there will be nobody stopping us and 21st century will be ours.india is a big nation and we should show some leadership in calming south asia.

Posted by kanishka | Report as abusive

Myra,

This cat and mouse game with Pak Army and Militants can be fixed in many ways.

One possible way is for the Durand Line to be redrawn as a new border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtuns and the tribal Waziris need to have their own homeland and the mere formation of Pakistan has taken away all dignity from these peoples, as they do not recognize the border and flow freely. The mere formation of Pakistan has enabled and given rise to militantism to a greater degree, that if the British were more mindful of not creating artificial borders with the intention to fuel future conflicts.

As a return gift, the Pashtuns have setup shop in the cities and are merely button pushing distance away from inflicting raw suicide carnage on average Pakistani’s.

Perhaps it is time for Pakistan to let the so called ungovernable Pashtuns separate and join their brethern in Afghanistan. It is time for the world to dismember parts of Pakistan, namely the NWFP and Kashmir those areas that it cannot control or uses those areas as frontier proxy bases for wars against Afghanistan and India.

The time has come to tighten the vice and corner the extreme or rogue elements of the PA/ISI, the Militants and AQ with surprising and overwhelming might and finality.

Why does Pakistan even want land that it cannot control and that is a drain on its resources?

The people and the gov’t of Pakistan have no will, direction or insight within themselves to guide themselves in an intelligent, coherent and civilized manner, perhaps the world needs to step in and make things happen.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Such attacks really do not come as a surprise. As an Indian, one expects that they will continue. The fact remains that given the hostility of the militant organisations towards India and the support they obviously receive from the army, all talk of improving relations will lead nowhere. Kashmir is a very potent catalyst to keep the pot boiling.

The army in Pakistan, whether we like it or not, will continue to call the shots on Indo Pak relations as also on any security aspects concerning Pakistan. The civil government there is merely a facade and has no say in the matter. They are only there to make bellicose anti India statements as and when the army tells them to.

The hoopla surrounding Indian plans to cater for and confront a two pronged attack from China and Pakistan is simply more of the same. Going by the hysteria that this seems to have aroused, one is expected to believe that the Pakistani Army doesn’t have any war plans. Moreover, if there are, they are never updated and of course India or Afghanistan find no place in them! By the same token, Pakistani reluctance to remove troops from its Eastern border to fight on the western front, should then be taken as proof that Pakistan is out to attack India.

Bemoaning the deterioration in relations and expecting an improvement at the present, given the conditions as they exist in Pakistan today, is being terribly naive.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

As regards the “shifting almost imperceptibly but fairly steadily for months now into a discussion – at least inside India – of whether Indian troops should be sent to Afghanistan to help secure the peace there.” as suggested by Myra I must confess this come as a surprise to me.

Of the three sources, I was not aware of ‘Pragati’ earlier though it does seem to be of interest and I will visit it often. However, to me, the arguments it makes in favour of sending troops to Afghanistan are not convincing, mainly because of the very reasons it has mentioned;the primary one being “Compelling as the case for direct Indian military intervention in Afghanistan may be, political challenges remain on the horizon. Indian governments have rarely provided political backing for strategic foresight, and with a highly risk-averse government in place, crossing the rubicon may prove particularly difficult.”

The other is a piece in the Guardian which really places the focus on India’s dilemma, which is about handling its role in Afghanistan delicately, even though it admits that ‘hawks’ in India would like see India be more active in Afghnaistan. “India may be able to contribute positively to a more stable Afghanistan, but the starting point for any policy decision must be how it will play with the Pakistanis.” As also “The harsh reality that Indians face is that despite frequently being the victim of aggression in recent years – from the bombing of its parliament in December 2001 to the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 – the impetus for change must come from them.”

The Hindustan Times piece actually speaks of training Afghan troops in India. “India can assist rapid capacity-building of the ANA by offering to pay for, equip and train up to two Afghan divisions; and also raise, and arm, an armoured and artillery brigade. This Afghan force could be sent here for training, to be ready before the US withdrawal deadline.”

Surely these can hardly be taken as signs of a discussion in India regarding sending troops to Afghanistan?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

@ Dara, many thanks for your comments which are as usual thoughtful and thorough. You said:

“Surely these can hardly be taken as signs of a discussion in India regarding sending troops to Afghanistan?”

What I am trying to encapsulate is a slight shift in the parameters of public discussion about the Indian presence in Afghanistan and its relationship with Pakistan.

About six months ago the discussion on the whole spanned a spectrum from seeking peace — or at least dialogue — with Pakistan to maintaining the status quo — ie no talks but also no real changes in the Indian position in Afghanistan. The current parameters tend to settle now between maintaining the status quo and increasing India’s presence in Afghanistan, including the possibility of sending troops. I’m not trying to suggest that the government is actively considering sending troops, but rather to say that the framework for public debate has shifted a bit. Does that make sense?

Here is another article on the subject:

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Success +after+NATO+Afghanistan+exit+largely+dep ends+India/2410357/story.html

Also do remember that India already has forces from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Afghanistan to protect its existing interests there. (I’d have to check further to get the exact number, though published reports suggest there are around 1,000.) Any increase in the Indian presence in Afghanistan could also imply a rise in these paramilitary forces.

One final point would be that if you look at the history of the American military footprint in Vietnam, it began with the United States sending special advisors and rose from there. I am not saying this will happen in the case of India in Afghanistan, but it does suggest that you need to pay attention to the presence of military, or in the case of the ITBP paramilitary forces, overseas.

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra, your thoughts on the Indian presence in Afghanistan, as also over the debate on it in India are perfectly clear. What I tried to bring out was that the debate, or what passes for it at the moment, is not so much on the kind of foot print India has there, but more on how Pakistan reacts to it. There is growing frustration over the frequent barbs by Pakistan on the subject. There is an acrimonious reaction to Pakistan treating Afghanistan as if it were its private preserve and a vassal state.

This also ties up with the impasse over relations between the two. Pakistan on the one hand has a single fixation; start talks, resume the dialogue; never mind about terror strikes, never mind our support to terror and militant groups, forget 26/11 that is old hat, brush it all under the carpet lets just talk. On the other hand it appears to be doing all it can, even going out of its way to alienate India.

The Indian Express front page caption this morning is an example. “Pakistan opposes India’s inclusion in a regional council on Afghanistan. Prime Minister Gillani told British Foreign Secretary Miliband that such a move was against Pakistn’s interests”. Now mind you, I do not know the details about this council. The point, however, is that all Pakistan has brought to the table so far is negativity. When Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussed, and it isn’t too often in casual discussions in India, what comes through most is a total anti-India bias trumpeted by the Pakistani establishment. The ordinary person, interested in the subject, is just about fed up with what is seen as a constant anti-India refrain. The result is people don’t care any more. There is much else happening in India – positive and negative – and they would rather discuss that.

The Guardian article quoted by you in the main text talks of Pakistan’s neurosis about India and I think that is a true reflection of what the average Indian to-day thinks about this present Pakistani establishment, if and when he thinks about it at all.

From an Indian view point, I think this is what underscores the real tension between the two countries.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Myra, please don’t bother to ascertain the exact number of ITBP is Afghanistan. They are there. They are deployed to safeguard Indian workers on various projects being undertaken there by the Indian Govt. That too because neither the ANA or the coalition are able to provide adequate security on their own. I cannot see any Indian government agreeing to send troops there. Specially not at the behest of NATO or the US. There is a very slight possibility that it may do so in case the UN makes a specific request for India to send troops there. Even then I don’t think that either the Government or public opinion in India will favour such a move.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Myra: One can all find all sorts of discussions on whether or not India is going to send troops in Afghanistan. It is obvious that discussions will happen but it is also important to keep in mind the political system of India and the way the decisions are taken. Currently, ITBP companies along with its commando units provide security to embassy/consulates and sensitive installations of Indian interest—-all in line with some of many functions of ITBP.

I do not see Indian troops being sent to Afghanistan “to help secure the peace there”. India, historically, has not sent troops just because another country wants it. Politicians decide that for India and Singh/Congress will not benefit from sending troops nor will India. That will be asking for a revival of BJP and communists. With 2 direct terms under its belt, Congress will need something special to continue into 3rd term. Congress not only has selfish interests but it is in the best interests of the country. Also, Indian politicians should be mindful that Pakistan can retaliate in India via push button terrorists (very possible scenario)—which means that opposition parties will have a just reason for criticizing any such move.

There is only one reason that India might send and that is training Afghan security force (not for fighting the Mullah Omar/terrorists). Unless this cannot happen in India there seems to be no need for sending the troops.

Good thing is India has democracy with its own checks and balances and the nation is not ruled by Army whose general can be arm-twisted into decision making like it happened for Musharraf.

@Also do remember that India already has forces from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Afghanistan to protect its existing interests there. (I’d have to check further to get the exact number, though published reports suggest there are around 1,000.) Any increase in the Indian presence in Afghanistan could also imply a rise in these paramilitary forces.”
Myra, I did not quit get your last sentence. Obviously, 500 more ITBP means increase one should be careful for labeling it with a tag. It is naïve to think that India has fixed ITBP at particular number and will not increase (or decrease) if the reason is as justified as saving Indian lives and interests.
Can you tell me whether US/NATO/ISAF troops are directly taking care of the security of projects/buildings of Indian interests?

Changing gears, we need to give space to some of the peace efforts in the region between Afghanistan/Pakistan/India at different levels as Kamran Shafi wrote in Dawn column on On 15 Dec, 2009:
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/14-abracadabra-529-zj-02

“I had mentioned last week that I was in Kabul for three days attending an Afghan–Pakistan–India trialogue on ‘Finding Common Grounds for Peace’ conducted so admirably by Dr Radha Kumar trustee of the Delhi Policy Group, and director of the Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi.

We talked of the various ways in which the three countries could jointly take steps that could help in combating terrorism in the region. The conference was generally of the view that terror in one country could easily, over time, destabilise the whole region; and that the people of Afghanistan in particular had to be left well enough alone by Pakistan and India to make some sense of their country on their own.”

These peace efforts are also happening and give a different perspective than that of your article.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@ Rajeev,

“These peace efforts are also happening and give a different perspective than that of your article.”

I’m aware of all these Track Two initiatives and follow them quite closely.

Here is a report on a Track Two conference in Bangkok:

http://ipcs.org/conference-report/india/ conflict-resolution-and-peace-building-a n-indo-pak-track-ii-24.html

And here is Maj Gen. Ashok Mehta on a separate series of Track Two talks:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424 052748704500104574651121915350060.html?m od=googlenews_wsj

But remember that these Track Two conferences have always taken place and have not really made much headway in the past. Some even argue they are counter-productive, by muddying the waters of the governments’ negotiating position, though given how little there is in terms of people-to-people contact, it’s hard to believe they don’t do some good in promoting understanding.

I also agree that there are a huge number of people in both countries who want peace — if you remember that is why I was so sceptical about claims last year that public opinion in India was solidly against talks with Pakistan.

But beyond the Track Two stuff, I don’t currently see anything else going on. No ministerial meetings, no backchannel diplomacy (at least not the last time I checked – it may have changed since) and no composite dialogue.

You would have to go back to 2001/2002 to find a similar situation when the two countries did not talk to each other for such a long time at any level. In that kind of atmosphere misunderstandings flare up and fester – viz the reaction to Gen. Kapoor’s comments on a two-front war (which I’m told he did say, but they have been taken somewhat out of context).

Add to that an uptick in violence in Srinagar, on the LoC and the IB, combined with a precarious situation in Afghanistan, and you have a very difficult atmosphere.

I see Gen. Mehta says in his article that the PM is keen to get talks with Pakistan started again. But even if talks are resumed at some level, for example via backchannel diplomacy, there is still a mismatch. Last year, it looked possible that India and Pakistan would resume backchannel talks on the Kashmir roadmap set out in 2006/7 under Musharraf. But the current situation in Pakistan — and Zardari’s language on Kashmir — suggests it will be much harder for Pakistan to make the kind of concessions required to get back to that roadmap.

So on the whole, the current outlook is negative – and far more negative than it was in the period between the Indian elections until right up to, and just after, the Sharm talks.

But who knows. Maybe diplomats are working away behind the scenes on some new approach. I am trying to find out and rest assured, if I see signs of progress, I will certainly write about it.

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra and Rajeev,

Though you may find this hard to believe, after some of my recent comments, I am an optimist about Indo Pak relations improving over time. However, given the way things are at the moment, I agree with Myra’s assessment about the amount of negativity prevailing.

There has also been a recent initiative by the media, from both sides, to give the movement some impetus and add to citizen efforts to normalise relations. These are all welcome and useful, in the long run. But I think without some official impetus, the current outlook is gloomy.

While the Indian PM is known to be very keen to get the relationship back on the rails, my impression is that there is a growing indifference in many sections of Indian society towards any intiative. I did cover this in some detail in a recent comment but it seems to have been lost or held back so I will leave it at that.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Myra:

I agree peace talks do not achieve much but it is an indication that things have not gone to the point where even these little efforts stop. So these peace talks are important from the point that they are happening and will be conspicuous by their absence. Once these peace talks stop, they will become significant.

@You would have to go back to 2001/2002 to find a similar situation when the two countries did not talk to each other for such a long time at any level. In that kind of atmosphere misunderstandings flare up and fester – viz the reaction to Gen. Kapoor’s comments on a two-front war (which I’m told he did say, but they have been taken somewhat out of context).”
–Myra, I know that all this hot talk by the India and Pakistan generals is not going to hurt anyone; Kayani responded to please Pakistanis. But this will have no significant effect in terms of India-Pak relationship or create misunderstanding to push some war button; what Kapoor said is no surprise and is well known to Kayani. Even massive Operation Parakram did not hurt anyone and no one pressed any button, whatever may be the reasons for not going ahead with the war.

@Add to that an uptick in violence in Srinagar, on the LoC and the IB, combined with a precarious situation in Afghanistan, and you have a very difficult atmosphere.”
–Myra, situation has been bad since ever in Af-Pak and India. It is nothing new and not above threshold level to push panic buttton or pay too much attention. It is just that we start interpreting the whole dynamics of India-Pak relationship after few words are uttered.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Myra:
@You would have to go back to 2001/2002 to find a similar situation when the two countries did not talk to each other for such a long time at any level. In that kind of atmosphere misunderstandings flare up and fester – viz the reaction to Gen. Kapoor’s comments on a two-front war (which I’m told he did say, but they have been taken somewhat out of context).”

–There is another possibility which is that PA normally assumes that Indian Armed forces are defensive in nature and take time to retaliate (valid one), which perhaps is the reason that Pakistan sets out for wars knowing that India will not retaliate. Don;t you think that the flip side of the argument on the topic and Gen Kapoor’s intention is to present India with an aggressive Armed force so that even non-nuclear conflicts do not arise. This makes sense to me.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@ Rajeev:

“Don;t you think that the flip side of the argument on the topic and Gen Kapoor’s intention is to present India with an aggressive Armed force so that even non-nuclear conflicts do not arise. This makes sense to me.”

I don’t think these comments were directed specifically “at” Pakistan at all. They seem to be more based on concerns that in the event of a future conflict, China and Pakistan would work together.

The big question is how to break a vicious circle in which India adopts a military position in response to China, and Pakistan – because it is focused on India – assumes that position is directed at it.

Dawn has an op-ed here asking how India, Pakistan and China (and the U.S.) can break out of this pattern:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/world/19-quad rilateral-ties-hh-04

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra:
Thanks for the link.

@I don’t think these comments were directed specifically “at” Pakistan at all. They seem to be more based on concerns that in the event of a future conflict, China and Pakistan would work together.”

–True; not directed specifically at pakistan but it includes Pakistan as well. China may or may not worry that much but Pakistan will.

@The big question is how to break a vicious circle in which India adopts a military position in response to China, and Pakistan – because it is focused on India – assumes that position is directed at it.”

—Pakistan can do what India has done—No first attack nuclear policy. I cannot see why not. If India can, sitting next to China, why not Pakistan? One reason is that they want to solve territorial disputes by proxy wars under nuclear overhang.

As long as no one is getting hurt, such assumptions are OK to have. Pakistan has about India, India might be having about China, and China has about US and US used to have about Russia and vice-versa. If one is not paranoid about them it is OK. So far I do not see India is paranoid about Pak plus China angle, which is an obvious and valid point, missing from the arguments of common Pakistanis and sometimes also by well known Pakistan columnists that India has 2 unfriendly nuke-carrying neigbours.

The link you gave has some basic idea of 4 countries in win-win situation. I do not know how that’s going to be possible. It is asking for the moon but why not?

India and Pakistan need to sit for peace but currently Pakistan is too busy with itself—terrorism and politically instability. Zardari is not trusted by anyone in Pakistan. I like that guy–whatever his image is. He gave several India-friendly statements when he became President–never ever happened in Pakistan history before. But soon he found that he is finding where he belongs.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Myra:

In search of peace By Kuldip Nayar
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/16-kuldip-nayar-in-search-of-peac e-510-hs-10

“It was a welcome coincidence that both Bangladesh and Pakistan figured in the recent discussions in New Delhi. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed was on her first official visit after a landslide electoral victory last year. Top Pakistan lawyers, academicians and human rights activists sat in the capital with their counterparts to find ‘A Road to Peace’.”

“Sheikh Hasina will not allow Bangladesh’s soil to be used by anti-India groups. When Dhaka handed over to Delhi ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) leaders, the insurgents from Assam, it was the beginning of a new chapter.

“In fact, during the talks between Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina, when the latter assured the Indian prime minister that no terrorists would be allowed to function from her country the entire scenario changed. She had a long list of demands.

“But even before she could name the first, Manmohan Singh reportedly said that she did not have to ask for anything. India would go to any extent to meet Bangladesh’s needs.

“The proposed $600m credit to Dhaka was doubled. India gave an undertaking that it would not take any step regarding the Tipaimukh hydroelectric project without the consent of Bangladesh, which is a controversial issue. Nor did New Delhi ask for any transit facility which again is a sensitive issue in Dhaka.

“The resolve to eliminate terrorism is what the region wants, from Kabul to Dhaka. Islamabad would like New Delhi to join the operation but India is in no mood to listen to Pakistani’s argument for the resumption of a composite dialogue.”
“”Islamabad has not yet understood how the system works in New Delhi. Otherwise, it would not have overreacted to the statement made by Indian army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor that India may have to prepare for war against China and Pakistan. However irresponsible the statement, it does not pose any threat to Pakistan.

The systems in the two countries are different. Gen Kapoor or the army has no say in India’s political affairs. He is due to retire after serving his tenure. The government will soon be naming his successor. Making a mountain out of a molehill gives the impression that Pakistan is trying to score a point, however weak.”"

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

[...] since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Indeed, Afghanistan is the new battleground on par with Kashmir, with many in Pakistan saying Indian involvement in Afghanistan was more than altruistic and aimed at [...]

[...] Then we had a series of reports, most recently here, suggesting Washington might welcome a bigger role for India in Afghanistan – precisely the kind of development that would exacerbate tensions with Pakistan given the current sour mood between New Delhi and Islamabad. [...]