Editorial: Pakistan-India tensions

WEB DESK: While the situation along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary remains volatile, resulting in several civilian deaths and injuries, things are getting from bad to worse on the diplomatic front.

Although Islamabad is yet to make a formal announcement, information leaked to the media reveals eight officers and staffers at the Indian High Commission have been identified as undercover intelligence operatives. It may be recalled that a few days ago, India had arrested a Pakistan’s New Delhi mission staffer forcing him to record a statement naming four diplomats as spies. Following the episode, Pakistan pulled out the four diplomats along with two others. The arrest of the mission staffer and use of coercion to extract a statement from him is not only a violation of diplomatic norms but a serious act of provocation.

Indeed, there is nothing extraordinary for a country to post undercover intelligence operatives in a foreign mission. In such circumstances, countries normally respond with a tit-for-tat action. The sending state expels an equal number of diplomats from the receiving state, declaring them personas non grata and asking them to leave. But this case is different given the state of Pak-India relations.

The number of those likely to be thrown out, or withdrawn by India on its own, exceeds those of the other side, indicating there is more to it than simple retaliation. Those named are accused of having been involved in subversive activities, including creating fear and chaos in the country, and attempting to disrupt the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Considering the background, these do not look mere allegations. Earlier this year, a RAW field officer – a status acknowledged by New Delhi – Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan. He had admitted his mission was to carry out acts of violence in that restive province in collaboration with Baloch insurgents and create chaos in Karachi. Just last August, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval while spelling out, at a public event, his ‘offensive defence’ plan to tackle Pakistan had talked of working on this country’s economic and internal security vulnerabilities. New Delhi has also been raising objections to the CPEC project.

The Modi government’s declared policy is to isolate Pakistan internationally and, as the preceding details show, to create internal instability through violent means. Why would he want to do that? A general explanation is that to divert international attention from the uprising in occupied Kashmir.

New Delhi may have genuine complaints on other scores, but targeting Pakistan’s vulnerabilities is a zero sum game since that country has its own vulnerabilities. India also needs to realise that its short-sighted policy of seeking to undermine this country’s stability holds potential ramifications for its own security. Good sense suggests both sides engage in a meaningful dialogue to deal with all issues of contention. Islamabad remains committed to the stalled peace process which is as much in the interest of India as this country.

Not long ago when the channels of communication were still open, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser had informed his Indian counterpart of a likely terrorist attack in Gujarat state, helping avert a tragedy. A covert war can only lead to disastrous consequences for this entire region’s peace and progress.

Source: Business Recorder