Uri attack

India driven to the wall, say diplomats

An Army helicopter flies above the military base which was attacked by militants in Uri on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Mukhtar Khan

India has a wide range of options for a “measured and effective” response to the attack in Uri, veteran diplomats and experts said on Sunday. They said India was left with no option but to retaliate, heightening the possibility of an imminent escalation of violence.

“Pakistan is isolated within SAARC, as three members of the regional group have accused it of sponsoring terrorism. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India have accused Islamabad of sponsoring terrorism that ISI continues to generate, irrespective of the condition of the bilateral ties with India. Such attacks take place irrespective of the ties being temporarily good or continuously bad. A response therefore has to be forcefully enunciated,” said G. Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. He said India could choose from a “wide range of options” to deliver a response to the latest attack.

The attack in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC), revived memories of the Kaluchak attack of 2002 which claimed at least 31 lives. Mr. Parthasarathy said the government could consider a mix of diplomatic and multilateral response. “We have already recognised the suffering of the Baloch people which has sent out a message about our strategy,” he said. Pakistan’s attacks were based on the support that it drew from its “all-weather friend” China.

Diplomats said a major challenge in crafting a suitable response to Pakistan was its ability to use its nuclear umbrella as a shield for unconventional warfare with India. However, India could engage the Pakistan military in response for Uri without triggering a war.

“We have done similar military-to-military engagements in the past and can do so again, as Pakistan has launched an undeclared war on India by killing soldiers,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal. “War means attack on the soldiers of a country and Pakistan has attacked our soldiers. So the official response immediately has to focus on how to deliver a punishment to the Pakistan military.”

Mr. Sibal said the Indian defence establishment should introspect about how the militants succeeded in attacking the base eight months after the Pathankot air base attack.

P. Stobdan, former diplomat and scholar at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said that the international alignment of powers provided a mix of opportunity and challenges that New Delhi could use to retaliate against Pakistan. “Due to the threat of global terrorism, Pakistan is isolated from major western powers. India can use this as a factor while delivering a punitive strike against Pakistan. However, such initiatives will come with a cost,” Dr. Stobdan said. “While a punitive strike is the first option that India can explore, it might also alert the U.N. Security Council which might intervene.”

India will, however, have to watch out, Dr. Stobdan said, for the presence of Chinese nationals in PoK who are employed to build the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Increase in the risk factor for CPEC through that region will draw in China,” he cautioned.

Fitting response

The attack in Uri has come as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left for the annual meeting of the heads of governments at the U.N. General Assembly, where India and Pakistan are likely to counter each other on the terror issue. During the 33rd session of the UNHRC, India had accused Pakistan of being the “global epicentre of terrorism.” India has already made a beginning, with Vice President Hamid Ansari asking for “concrete action against terrorism” at the ongoing NAM summit in Venezuela.

However, Mr. Sibal argued that India should prioritise a fitting response to the attack in Uri above other diplomatic steps. “India can engage the U.N. for counter terror convention and to highlight Balochistan later. But for now, all attention has to be focused on a suitable military response to the attack by Pakistan-backed ultras,” he said.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 5:38:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/India-driven-to-the-wall-say-diplomats/article14521431.ece

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