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South Asia

Pulwama, Indian Diplomatic Offensive and Masood Azhar’s Declaration as Global Terrorist

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Authors: Tarranum Kazmi &Tahira Shabbir

It looks like this all plot was planned to get political benefits and also to ruin good image of Pakistan which Islamabad developed during its fight against the menace of terrorism and as well to put pressure on UN to declare Masood Azhar a global terrorist who is heading Jaish-e-Muhammad and is suspect to involve in many terrorist attacks in India and also held responsible for Pulwama attack. The present article intends to investigate that to what extent Pulwama terror attack pay back India in its bids to declare Masood Azhar a global terror? The author argues that the attack proved a blessing for New Delhi’s endeavours to designate Masood Azhar a global terrorist and to put diplomatic pressure on China and Pakistan.

In Feb 2019 a terrorist attack consumed 40 soldiers of CPRF in Pulwama district of Indian Held Jammu & Kashmir. The incident abruptly changed the environment in both states of India and Pakistan as India instantly blamed Pakistan for the attack but Pakistan denied its involvement. The accusation of India was based on the basis that Jaish-e-Muhammad is a Pakistani originated militant group and the responsibility of this terrorist attack was claimed by said militant group whose head is Masood Azhar. As was expected both countries immediately used offensive language specially leadership of India was going beyond the thought.

The Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley had said that India would completely isolate Pakistan in the diplomatic community. Besides proclamation India took immediate steps against Pakistan by deciding to boycott the cricket world cup of 2019 though which was refused by ICC but India succeeded to get permission to wear camouflage military caps to show aggression against Pakistan. India also banned its movies being released in Pakistan.

Contrary to Indian actions, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran khan on 19th Feb 2019 publicly stated that providing safe heavens to terrorists is not in Pakistan’s interest. He asked Indian government to provide authentic evidence about Pakistan’s involvement in this attack. But India could not prove that Pakistan itself was involved in this attack but the statements of leadership provoked people against Pakistan and also media played a big hand in this attempt of leadership by showing all the offensive stuff against Pakistan.

Against this backdrop, Pakistani leadership publicly proclaimed that Islamabad would retaliate in case of any misadventure from Indian side. Later on different aims and interests of Indian leadership get exposed. It got cleared gradually that this attack was totally in Indian interest and Pakistani involvement was putting its state in total loss economically and internationally.

As internationally India tried to remove Pakistani status of MFN and also imposed trade restrictions on Pakistan. These trade restrictions effected Pakistani economy. India being a traditional and historical rival of Pakistan had already breached the water agreement and had built the dams which are affecting the water flow to Pakistan and after the Pulwama attack India once again stated that they will starve Pakistan by building more dams to stop water flow to Pakistan.

Though Jaish e Muhammad is Pakistani based terrorist group but on this base India cannot link Pakistan with this terrorist attack of Pulwama in IOK because terrorist group is non-state actor and state do not own it.

This deadly attack of Pulwama only proved a loss for Pakistan because it was to damage the image of Pakistan and also the environment at the time when the important incidents were going to happen in Pakistan. Firstly the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was going to visit Pakistan which could be cancelled due to this attack and also the PSL which is the grand event of Pakistan with the involvement of foreign cricketers and ICJ was going to hear the case of Indian Spy Jhadav.

Pakistan was going to face total loss but India on the contrary was totally going to be benefitted and to some extent it is proved. Firstly the election was on the head of Modi government and due to Modi’s extremist Hindu policies was going to lose it. Secondly the traditional rival was trying to built possibilities to ruin the image of Pakistan so it could declare it a terrorist country and also the beneficiary visit of crown prince could be cancelled and more and the biggest aim was to make an environment to declare Masood Azhar an international terrorist so it could be said that Pakistan is a country who gives shelter to the terrorists so hatred towards Pakistan could be generated. India from long ago was trying to declare Masood Azhar an international terrorist but China was a hurdle which became weak after Pulwama attack and could not resist international pressure of western alliance of U.S, France and the UK and consequently lifted its hold due to which UN Security Council under resolution 1267 declared Masood Azhar a global terrorist. India with its conspiracy of Pulwama attack got international sympathy and made itself reasonable to breach the agreement on borders and violate the international law and order on the basis of self defense like it did on the name of surgical strikes.

On the basis of so called surgical strikes Indian Air Force after Pulwama entered in the territory of Pakistan and breached its sovereignty through firing missiles on its soil. According to India government press briefing, the so called surgical strike killed some three hundred terrorists and destroyed their campus. But when it did its second attempt Pakistan shot down two Indian Jets and captured one pilot which was later released by showing goodwill gesture by Pakistan.

Indian offensive actions and coercive diplomacy though succeeded and fulfilled Indian desires of enmity with Pakistan but India should not forget that with little miscalculations or with unexpected reactions this diplomacy could have turned into full fledge war which can be fatal for two nuclear rivals. The mutual assured destruction is not only a threat for two South Asian states but it can also endanger the life of entire globe as the nuclear bombs are ten times more powerful than these were at the time of Nagasaki which was also proved disastrous even for the future generation.

Indian attempt to isolate Pakistan and U.S support for New Delhi further distanced Washington and Islamabad. The Indo-US strategic partnership aim to contain Chinese influence which is all-weather friend of Pakistan and any aggression against Islamabad can drag Beijing into it. Moreover, the Indian malicious designs cannot weaken the issue of Kashmir in UN because Kashmir is not the issue of only Pakistan but it also involved the local inhabitants of Kashmir who are the subjects of Indian genocide and mass murders.

On Kashmir issue and other problems India has always adopted the offensive policy whereas Pakistan is following the defensive one, and this strategy by both states yet balancing the situation but if both states chose the offensive policy the situation can be changed as international law is not capable to force any state for certain action and even cannot impose restrictions. So any change in present status que can be proved disastrous for both countries.

As Pakistan has cleared again and again that it is not going to start a war but against any step of India for war Pakistan has right to retaliate. Though India is successful to gain many interests and as well in getting declared Masood Azhar an international terrorist but it cannot link Pakistan. In conclusion it can be stated that Pulwama attack benefitted India and proved to be a total loss for Pakistan either in terms of economic or political gains. Pakistan lost its case in UN by accepting Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

*Authors are MSC Students of International Relations at Women University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Bagh Pakistan

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South Asia

India’s Unclear Neighbourhood Policy: How to Overcome ?

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India has witnessed multiple trends with regards to its relations with its neighbours at a time vaccine diplomacy is gaining prominence and Beijing increasing the pace towards becoming an Asian superpower, whereby making these reasons valid for New Delhi to have a clear foreign policy with respect to its neighbourhood.

Introduction

The Covid Pandemic has led to increased uncertainty in the global order where it comes to power dynamics, role of international organisations. New Delhi has tried to leave no stone unturned when it comes to dealing with its immediate neighbours.  It has distributed medical aid and vaccines to smaller countries to enhance its image abroad at a time it has witnessed conflicts with China and a change in government in Myanmar. These developments make it imperative for New Delhi to increase its focus on regionalism and further international engagement where this opportunity could be used tactically amidst a pandemic by using economic and healthcare aid.

According to Dr. Arvind Gupta, New Delhi has to deal with threats coming from multiple fronts and different tactics where it is essential for New Delhi to save energy using soft means rather than coercive measures.. India under Vaccine Maitri has supplied many of COVAXIN doses to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where many have appreciated this move. The urgency of ensuring humanitarian aid during these periods of unprecedented uncertainty are essential in PM Modi’s Security and Growth For All ( SAGAR) initiative, which focusses on initiating inclusive growth as well as cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.

This pandemic witnessed various threats coming in India’s neighbourhood through multiple dimensions which include maritime, land, cyber as well as air threats where adversaries are using these to put pressure on New Delhi to settle land as well as marine disputes as per their terms.  These encirclement strategies have made it necessary for India to open up various options such as holding maritime joint exercises with like-minded countries, developing partnerships, providing economic as well as healthcare support to weaker countries plus having a clear insight about changing global dynamics and acting as per them.

This piece will discuss about various changing tactics, pros and cons which India has with respect to developing its national security vis-à-vis its neighbourhood, why should it prioritise its neighbourhood at the first place?

Background

India’s Neighbourhood is filled with many complexities and a lot of suspicion amongst countries, some viewing India because of its size and geography plus economic clout as a bully where it is wanting to dominate in the region putting others aside. This led to New Delhi play an increased role in nudging ties first with its neighbours with whom it had multiple conflicts as well as misunderstandings leading to the latter viewing Beijing as a good alternative in order to keep India under check.

Ever since PM Modi has taken charge at 7 RCR, India’s Neighbourhood First Policy has been followed increasingly to develop relations, to enhance understandings and ensure mutual cooperation as well as benefit with its neighbours. The relations with Islamabad have not seen so much improvement as compared to other leaders in the past. Even though former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was invited for PM Modi’s 1st Swearing In ceremony in 2014, terrorist activities have never stopped which could be seen through Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama terror attacks which killed many of the Indian soldiers. Even though surgical strikes were conducted on terror camps in retaliation to these bombardments, Islamabad has not changed its heart at all about its security or regional demands. New strategies and friendships are being developed where Beijing has played a major role in controlling power dynamics.

The Belt and Road initiative, first time mentioned during President Xi’s 2013 speech in Kazakhstan, then officially in 2015,  lays emphasis of achieving a Chinese Dream of bringing countries under one umbrella, ensuring their security, providing them with infrastructure projects such as ports, railways, pipelines, highways etc. The main bottleneck is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor when it comes to India’s security threats, passing through disputed boundaries of Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir till Gwadar. Other projects have been initiated in Chittagong, Hambantota, Gwadar , Kyapkyou. These projects form a String Of Pearls in the Indo Pacific where New Delhi is being balanced against through economic plus development incentives being given to the member countries under the project. That’s why in the recent past, New Delhi is asserting its influence in the region, looking at new dimensional threats where Beijing’s threats in the maritime domain in the islands in East as well as South China seas are not being seen favourably in many countries such as ASEAN, US, Australia and Japan which is giving India an opportunity to look towards countries with a common threat. Amidst this great power struggle between Washington and Beijing, New Delhi is stuck between a rock and hard place i.e., having a clear and strong foreign policy with its neighbours.

In this region, India has a sole threat which is mainly Beijing where the latter has achieved prowess technologically and militarily where New Delhi lags behind the latter twenty fold. So, there is a need for improvising military technology, increase economic activities with countries, reduce dependence on foreign aid, ensure self-reliance.

Situation

South Asia is backward when it comes to economic development, human development and is a home to majority of the world’s population which lives below poverty line. The colonial rule has left a never-ending impact on divisions based on communal, linguistic and ethnic grounds. Even, in terms of infrastructure and connectivity, New Delhi lags behind Beijing significantly in the neighbourhood because the latter is at an edge when it comes to bringing countries under the same umbrella. Due to these, many initiatives have been taken up by New Delhi on developing infrastructure, providing humanitarian aid to needy countries.

There have been numerous efforts made by India with respect to reaching out to the Neighbours in 2020 through setting up of the SAARC Covid Fund where many Neighbourhood countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka gave contributions to ensure cooperation, joint scientific research, sharing information, healthcare kits where the countries contributed USD $ 18 million jointly towards this fund where New Delhi made an initial offer of USD $ 10 million.

New Delhi has even mustered ties with the Association of Southeast Asian countries during the pandemic under its Act East Policy where proper connectivity through the Northeast could be useful in easing movement of goods but currently, the infrastructure in Northeast needs more improvement where issues such as unemployment, poor connectivity are prevalent whereby disconnecting it from rest of the other states. This region could play an important role in linking Bangladesh, Myanmar to New Delhi along with the proposed India-Thailand –Myanmar Trilateral Corridor. Focus has also been laid to develop inland waterways, rail links and pipelines to ease connections between countries, making trade free and more efficient.

India is focussing on developing the Sittwe and Paletwa ports in Myanmar under the Kaladan Development Corridor, at the cost of INR 517.9 Crore in order to provide an alternative e route beneficial for the Northeast for getting shipping access

Summing Up

 These above developments and power display by a strong adversary, give good reasons for New Delhi to adopt collective security mechanisms through QUAD, SIMBEX and JIMEX with a common perception of having safe and open waters through abiding to the UNCLOS which China isn’t showing too much interest in, seen through surveillance units, artificial islands being set up on disputed territories which countries likewise India are facing in context to territorial sovereignty and integrity. These developments make it important for India to look at strategic threats by coming together with countries based on similar interest’s vis-à-vis Chinese threat.

There is a need for India to develop and harness its strength through connectivity and its self reliance initiative ( Aatmanirbharta ) so that there is no dependence on any foreign power at times of need . Proper coordination between policy makers and government officials could make decision making even easier, which is not there completely because of ideological differences, different ideas which makes it important for the political leadership to coordinate with the military jointly during times of threats on borders. Self-reliance could only come through preparedness and strategy.

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South Asia

India is in big trouble as UK stands for Kashmiris

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 A London-based law firm has filed an application with British police seeking the arrest of India’s army chief and a senior Indian government official over their alleged roles in war crimes in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Law firm Stoke White said it submitted extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit on Tuesday, documenting how Indian forces headed by General Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians – particularly Muslim – in the region.

“There is strong reason to believe that Indian authorities are conducting war crimes and other violence against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report states, referring to the territory in the Himalayan region.

Based on more than 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021, the report also accused eight unnamed senior Indian military officials of direct involvement in war crimes and torture in Kashmir.

The law firm’s investigation suggested that the abuse has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. It also included details about the arrest of Khurram Parvez, the region’s most prominent rights activist, by India’s counterterrorism authorities last year.

“This report is dedicated to the families who have lost loved ones without a trace, and who experience daily threats when trying to attain justice,” Khalil Dewan, author of the report and head of the SWI unit, said in a statement.

“The time has now come for victims to seek justice through other avenues, via a firmer application of international law.”

The request to London police was made under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”, which gives countries the authority to prosecute individuals accused of crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.

The international law firm in London said it believes its application is the first time that legal action has been initiated abroad against Indian authorities over alleged war crimes in Kashmir.

Hakan Camuz, director of international law at Stoke White, said he hoped the report would convince British police to open an investigation and ultimately arrest the officials when they set foot in the UK.

Some of the Indian officials have financial assets and other links to Britain.

“We are asking the UK government to do their duty and investigate and arrest them for what they did based on the evidence we supplied to them. We want them to be held accountable,” Camuz said.

The police application was made on behalf of the family of Pakistani prisoner Zia Mustafa, who, Camuz said, was the victim of extrajudicial killing by Indian authorities in 2021, and on behalf of human rights campaigner Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, who was allegedly tortured before his arrest last week.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the past two decades in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.

Muslim Kashmiris mostly support rebels who want to unite the region, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Kashmiris and international rights groups have long accused Indian troops of carrying out systematic abuse and arrests of those who oppose rule from New Delhi.

Rights groups have also criticized the conduct of armed groups, accusing them of carrying out human rights violations against civilians.

In 2018, the United Nations human rights chief called for an independent international investigation into reports of rights violations in Kashmir, alleging “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces”.

India’s government has denied the alleged rights violations and maintains such claims are separatist propaganda meant to demonize Indian troops in the region. It seems, India is in big trouble and may not be able to escape this time. A tough time for Modi-led extremist government and his discriminatory policies. The world opinion about India has been changed completely, and it has been realized that there is no longer a democratic and secular India. India has been hijacked by extremist political parties and heading toward further bias policies. Minorities may suffer further, unless the world exert pressure to rectify the deteriorating human rights records in India.

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South Asia

S. Jaishankar’s ‘The India Way’, Is it a new vision of foreign policy?

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S. Jaishankar has had an illustrious Foreign Service career holding some of the highest and most prestigious positions such as ambassador to China and the US and as foreign secretary of India. Since 2019 he has served as India’s foreign minister. S. Jaishankar also has a Ph.D. in international relations from JNU and his academic background is reflected in this book.

His main argument is simplistic, yet the issues involved are complex. Jaishankar argues that the world is changing fundamentally, and the international environment is experiencing major shifts in power as well as processes. China is rising and western hegemony is declining. We are moving away from a unipolar system dominated by the US to a multipolar system. Globalization is waning and nationalism and polarization is on the rise (p. 29). The old order is going away but we cannot yet glimpse what the future will look like. This is the uncertain world that Dr. Jaishankar sees.

Dr. Jaishankar also argues that India too has changed, it is more capable and more assertive. The liberalization program that began in 1991 has made the Indian economy vibrant and globally competitive and it is well on track to becoming the third biggest economy in the world, after China and the US.  The war of 1971 that liberated Bangladesh, the liberalization of the economy after 1991, the nuclear tests in 1998 and the nuclear understanding with the US in 2005, Jaishankar argues are landmarks in India’s strategic evolution (p. 4). So given that both India and the system have changed, Jaishankar concludes, so should India’s foreign policy.

But his prescription for India’s foreign policy, in the grand scheme of things, is the same as before – India should remain nonaligned and not join the US in its efforts to contain China. India will try to play with both sides it seems in order to exploit the superpowers and maximize its own interests (p. 9). But he fails to highlight how India can find common ground with China other than to say the two nations must resolve things diplomatically. He also seems to think that the US has infinite tolerance for India’s coyness. In his imagination the US will keep making concessions and India will keep playing hard to get.

Jaishankar has a profound contradiction in his thinking. He argues that the future will be determined by what happens between the US and China. In a way he is postulating a bipolar future to global politics. But he then claims that the world is becoming multipolar and this he claims will increase the contests for regional hegemony. The world cannot be both bipolar and multipolar at the same time.

There is also a blind spot in Jaishankar’s book.  He is apparently unaware of the rise of Hindu nationalism and the demand for a Hindu state that is agitating and polarizing India’s domestic politics. The systematic marginalization and oppression of Muslim minorities at home and the growing awareness overseas of the dangers of Hindutva extremism do not exist in the world that he lives in. He misses all this even as he goes on to invoke the Mahabharata and argue how Krishna’s wisdom and the not so ethical choices during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas should be a guide for how India deals with this uncertain world – by balancing ethics with realism (p. 63). Methinks his little digression in discussing the ancient Hindu epic is more to signal his ideological predilections than to add any insights to understanding the world or India’s place in it.  

One aspect of his work that I found interesting is his awareness of the importance of democracy and pluralism. He states that India’s democracy garners respect and gives India a greater opportunity to be liked and admired by other nations in the world (p. 8). Yet recently when he was asked about the decline of India’s democratic credentials, his response was very defensive, and he showed visible signs of irritation. It is possible that he realizes India is losing ground internationally but is unwilling to acknowledge that his political party is responsible for the deterioration of India’s democracy.

This is also apparent when he talks about the importance of India improving its relations with its immediate neighbors. He calls the strategy as neighborhood first approach (pp. 9-10). What he does not explain is how an Islamophobic India will maintain good relations with Muslim majority neighbors like Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan.

The book is interesting, it has its limitations and both, what is addressed and what is left out, are clearly political choices and provide insights into how New Delhi thinks about foreign policy. So, coming to the question with which we started, does India have a new foreign policy vision? The answer is no. Dr. Jaishankar is right, there is indeed an India way, but it is the same old way, and it entails remaining nonaligned with some minor attitudinal adjustments.  

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