Pulwama Terror Attack and Indian Diplomatic Offensive against Pakistan: Achievements and Limitations

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Dr. Mehmood Hussain 25 February 2019

On 14th February 2019, Pulwama district of Indian occupied Kashmir witnessed a deadly suicide attack killing 40 CRPF soldiers and numerous injured. The attack was most dreadful after the Mumbai attacks of 2008 which left 195 peoples dead.  Right after the attack, India followed the traditional culture of blame game and once again accused Pakistan for planning and executing the deadly attack and announced to retaliate with strong force. India claims that Pakistan is a nerve center of terrorism and New Delhi will not tolerate any infiltration made by Islamabad. The Indian authorities made announcement to damage Pakistan politically and economically. In such a move, Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that his government has decided to stop the flow of its share of water to Pakistan from rivers under the Indus Water Treaty. The Indian decision is a serious violation of the treaty signed back in 1960. Indian Union Minister for External Affairs General VK Singh pointed out that after concerted diplomatic efforts, Pakistan has been isolated internationally. He claimed that more than 40 countries condemned the heinous attack in Pulwama. He further goes on highlighting Indian retaliatory plans by referencing that India will choose time and place on its own for retribution.

 However, Pakistan out rightly rejected the Indian allegations and said it was conceived, planned and executed indigenously. The Prime Minister of Naya Pakistan (a slogan promoted during the election campaign) Imran Khan a cricketer converted politician warned India to restrain from any offensive. He stated in a video message to nation that India is accusing Pakistan without any evidence, and offer joint investigation. Contrary he highlights the grave human rights violations committed by the Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and pointed out that India must think that what makes Kashmiri youth to take arms and lost their fear of death. On Thursday, 21th February, Prime Minister convened the National Security Council meeting to discuss the geopolitical scenario after the Pulwama attack. The statement of NSC reaffirms commitment to fight against terrorism and banned the Jammad ud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat (FIF) organizations led by Hafiz Saeed. The PM also directed the senior decision makers to accelerate the National Action Plan which was convened in 2014 to combat terrorism. Simultaneously, the NSC also gave formal authorization to the armed forces “to respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India”.

Lobbies are the frontiers of nation states to procure their national interests in anarchical international system. There are different forms of lobbying groups including: the diaspora, business and educational groups, journalists, and public diplomacy groups. However, the most important is the official diplomatic missions of state, which effectively defend the national interests. In recent years, India has invested huge money and strength in lobbying groups to secure its interests in the United States and other European states. The Indian diaspora is playing the fundamental role in bridging the gap between Indian and the United States. Meanwhile Indian official diplomacy also made remarkable success in winning friends and allies. For example, Pakistan’s traditional friends Saudi Arabia and UAE had started to pay special attention to New Delhi over Pakistan which was a grave concern for policy making circles in Islamabad.

India also tried to hit hard Pakistan after Pulwama attacks by approaching various nations. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman paid a state visit to India where he was highly welcomed. During his meetings with Indian leadership, he announced to invest billions of dollar in India and in a joint statement he reaffirmed Saudi commitment to fight against terrorism. He stated that terrorism is a big threat to both India and Saudi Arabia and two countries would work hard to dismantle the terror infrastructure. Although, he shared the concerns over terrorism and condemned the Pulwama attack, but he skillfully made no mention of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism, which was India’s erstwhile wish. Similarly Saudi FM Adel Al-Jubeir in an interview with Indian News Channels praised the Pakistan army to curb terrorism. He said Pakistan did a lot of work against terrorism and thousands of its soldiers and civilians sacrificed their lives to win the war against terrorism. The anchor repeatedly questioned him to speak against Pakistan, but he continued to appreciate the Pakistani efforts. In another interview with India Today, when anchor inquired that why Saudi Arabia reluctant to name Pakistan for terrorism in Pulwama. He said that he is not sure who is responsible for terrorism and therefore is not in a position to address the issue. But he emphasized that Saudi Arabia has worked hard to designate a number of terrorist groups including some in Pakistan. The anchor persistently dragged him to name Pakistan for terrorism but the Saudi Minister carefully avoided his trap by stating that he is not aware about the situation. Therefore not in a position to comment.

In recent past the US and India have developed close strategic partnership and announced to work together. In last year, President Trump used stern language against Pakistan for offering safe heavens to terrorists and stopped the military and economic assistance. But after Pulwama, the language of US president suggests a balancing approach towards both South Asian rivals. President Trump termed the current situation between India and Pakistan very dangerous. He said “it’s a terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India … it is a very, very bad situation and it’s a very dangerous situation between the two countries. We would like to see it stopped. A lot of people were just killed and we want to see it stopped”. Meanwhile, he claimed that his administration has developed a much better relationship with Pakistan even after cutting the $1.3 billion financial assistance to Islamabad.  The American response on Pulwama attack exposed that Indian diplomacy failed to persuade President Trump to hold responsible Pakistan. While it also confirm that Pakistan won the trust of United States for its anti-terror efforts.

Turkey also rejected the Indian accusations for involvement of Pakistan in cross border terrorism. Turkish Foreign Minister expressed complete understanding of Pakistan’s position in a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The UN is an international body responsible to maintain peace and security. After a week on Thursday the UNSC issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack and expressing the solidarity with India. The UNSC also urged all nations around the globe to work together to get rid the menace of terrorism. Describing the attack as a “heinous and coward suicide bombing” the UNSC statement noted that “Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility” for it. The JeM is already banned in Pakistan. Diplomatic observers in Washington stated that Islamabad and its allies, particularly Beijing, had worked hard to keep any reference to Pakistan out of the Security Council statement. To vanish the misunderstanding, on Friday China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing that the reference to Jaish in the UNSC statement was only in “general terms” and “does not represent a judgement”.

The European Union spokesperson also issued a statement on heinous attack in Pulwama. In the statement, EU expresses its deep sadness and condolences to the victims’ families and reaffirms its full solidarity with India. But contrary, European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights hosted an official exchange of views on the situation of human rights in Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is first time in a decade that EU members publicly discussed the grave human rights violations in IOK. The discussions paid special attention to June 2018 UN report on human rights situation in Kashmir. The author of the report was invited by the committee where she highlighted the dire human rights situation in the IOK and recommended for establishing a commission of inquiry. The sub-committee Chair Pier Antonio Panzeri expressed the EU’s commitment to uphold and protect human rights throughout the world. However, he pointed out that the event was focused on the human rights situation in Kashmir and the plight of Kashmiris. At the end members called on India to immediately put a halt to its atrocities in occupied Kashmir and carry out investigations into the incidents of grave human rights violations.

 The Pulwama attack was a test case for newly established government of Imran Khan. In the past decade, governments of former President Asif Zardari and PM Nawaz Sharif largely failed to project the Pakistani viewpoint on international forums. The primary reason was absence of foreign minister, as the two leaders reserved this critical post for themselves, which in turn seriously damaged the national interests. During this period, India had made remarkable success on diplomatic fronts by winning support from the United States, EU, and Islamic States around the globe. However, PM Imran Khan immediately observed the importance of foreign minister and appointed Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi as external minister of Pakistan, who is experienced, vigilant and committed to national interests. Mr. Qureshi’s team worked very hard to shun off Indian malign policy after Pulwama through reaching out friends and allies across the globe. The foreign office team under Qureshi worked round the clock and convinced the world that Pakistan is a responsible state and have no connections with terrorists. On the other hand, Indian diplomacy ultimately met with mixed results and failed to sell Pakistan terror sponsoring mantra.  Majority of the nations refused to include Pakistan behind the terror attack in IOK, which left Modi government in somber embarrassment.

In concluding remarks, we claim that Indian rhetoric to isolate Pakistan is meeting with failure as Islamabad skillfully painting its achievements in the fight against terrorism. At the end, it is recommended that India must change its thoughts for Pakistan as confrontation is not rational for both nuclear powers, whereas only cooperation can bring mutual benefits for this region. War is not a solution for disputes as history of modern Europe tells us that even after longest wars, states settled down their disputes through negotiations and dialogue. So the vigilant leadership of both countries must opt the path of peace and dialogue, which ultimately leads them to peace and security.


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