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Pathankot: A Virtual Kargil Replay

Echoes of Kargil have once again been brought by Pathankot, recalls Sudesh Verma to ask Pakistan to act against its desperados soon

Sudesh Verma
Publish Date: Jan 18 2016 3:24PM | Updated Date: Jan 18 2016 4:41PM

Pathankot: A Virtual  Kargil ReplayPhoto : P T I

Will Pakistan have the guts to arrest Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar since JeM is said to be involved in the Pathankot terrorist attack on 2 January? Some activists of JeM have been arrested and their offices sealed but JeM essentially means the two founding chiefs of which Masood Azhar handles the operational part and his brother Rauf the ideological. 

 

The links of ‘actionable intelligence’ on Pathankot that India gave to Pakistan is certain to reach the two. Masood Azhar was the handler of the Pathankot attack. Some actions against JeM, which India described as ‘the first positive step’, show that Pakistan may be keen to act. However, it remains to be seen if the Pakistani side that created JeM to keep alive its proxy war in Kashmir, would be keen to dismantle the organisation just to show to the world that it is serious in its fight against terrorism. This will be the real test.

 

News came on 13 January that the Pakistani establishment had arrested JeM chief and his brother Rauf in relation to the Pathankot terrorist attack in the first week of January? Since the news came in Pakistani media, the Indian side had no reasons to doubt. Yet, both the BJP and the Government were cautious. While the BJP appreciated the reported arrests, the Indian Government showed maturity by awaiting an official communication from Pakistan.

 

News in Pakistani media that the two brothers were arrested in connection with Pathankot attack was received with lot of positivity in India. But within less than 24 hours of the report of arrest of the two brothers, the Pakistani government denied they had information about Masood Azhar’s arrest.

 

It is unexplained why the Pakistani government did not deny the news when it appeared and allowed it to be discussed and dissected for full almost 24 hours.

 

Is it that the Pakistani establishment is divided on how to handle the JeM chief? Did the arrest happen or not? Also, it is not known if there was pressure on the Government from JeM side. Is it true that Masood trained army of Fidayeen are capable to rattle the Pakistani side with the threats of retaliation? He has already warned against warming up to India. Or, is it that the Pakistani establishment wanted to see how India would react? 

 

The Pathankot terrorists’ attack has brought a big question mark on the credibility of the Pakistani civilian administration particularly Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Within a week of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore on 25 December 2015, to wish Sharif on his birthday, India was attacked by terrorists based in Pakistan.

 

How should India take this? Is it an all out war by Pakistan against India? Or, a method used by other actors in Pakistan in an attempt to thwart the peace process. Last time, when Mr Sharif had welcomed Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Lahore in February 1999, his army chief, General Pervez Musharraf was planning Kargil. The Lahore declaration that showed the way to resolve issues was undermined by the Pakistani army that launched Kargil in May. Sharif was unaware.

 

Pathankot attacks by terrorists reminded of the 1999 situation. Can situations have such an uncanny resemblance? Every time Sharif talks of peace, vested interests in Pakistani establishment try to thwart the peace process. The whole world calculated that this time the situation was different since the Pakistani army was on board. The fact that the Pakistani NSA (National Security Advisor) Lt. Gen (retd.) Nasir Khan Janjua came from the army ensured that the Pakistani army knew of what was happening between Janjua and Indian NSA Ajit Doval.

 

Can we then safely assume that the Pakistani non-State Actors have become so strong that they would launch an India offensive without taking the political and military establishment of Pakistan into confidence? There are proofs that the terrorists belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terrorist outfit banned in Pakistan. JeM has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Australia, Canada, India, the UAE, the UK, the US and the United Nations. Has JeM become a Frankenstein monster for Pakistan?

 

It is for these reasons that the Pakistani establishment under Sharif is under test. Whether it is serious to become a partner to fight terrorism or it would continue to fumble and look for alibis for inaction. Initial action shows they would act. The need is to use the threads from evidences given by the Indian side and investigate and bring all perpetrators to justice. This means action against two brothers who are the masterminds of JeM.

 

In the last 21 months, the Modi-led NDA Government has been in power, India has embarked on a new journey- a strong India that would play major role at the world stage. We have been able to evolve and build an international consensus on fighting terrorism. Terror is terror irrespective of the ideology behind it. India has been able to successfully argue this at various world forums.

 

This has also helped build international pressure on Pakistan to fight terror. For the first time Pakistan appears to be coming out of denial mode. India should encourage Pakistan to take more actions so that the culprits are punished and justice is done.

 

No-talk policy is easy to adhere but how would bilateral issues get resolved if two sides do not talk. Needless to remember that India is opposed to any third party interference to resolve bilateral issues with Pakistan. The decision to postpone the foreign secretary level talks to “immediate near future” is a welcome move. This would give Pakistan time to act on the terror promises and prevent talks taking place under the shadow of Pathankot incident.   

 

Those who criticise the BJP as being vocal while in opposition and soft now that it has been in power should understand that the power given by people should be used judiciously. Terror was never on top of the country’s agenda like this before when India and Pakistan spoke. India’s zero tolerance towards terrorism has been recognised the world over. The world listens to you only when you are strong and not when you are weak. And the strengths should be seen not in the flexing of muscles but in the steely determination to achieve results. – The writer is BJP spokesman. Earlier, he has worked for The Statesman and NewsX Television. He has authored the biography of the Prime Minister titled ‘Narendra Modi: The Game Changer’. Views expressed here are his personal.