The developments since Uri attack which killed 19 soldiers have followed more or less a surreal trajectory. The attack came days ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session where the ongoing Kashmir ferment was supposed to pit Pakistan against India. Pakistan would highlight the ongoing atrocities in Kashmir, this time backed up with some immediate solid evidence, and seek global attention towards the troubled situation in the state and to the need for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. And India, on its part, would do everything to not let Pakistan succeed in turning Kashmir into a ‘hot issue’ at UN. While this script played out as expected with New Delhi achieving a fair degree of success in its diplomatic goals than Pakistan, the Uri attack had dramatically altered the context of the discussion on Kashmir and to Pakistan’s disadvantage.
This almost makes one beg the all important question: Why Uri? At that time, the attack appeared to many analysts a deliberate act geared to provoke India in the run up to UN General Assembly session. And a very calculated provocation at that. Pakistan seemed to want New Delhi to respond in kind and then escalate the conflict. And should that have happened, Kashmir could be expected to become the centre of global attention amid the UN session. The clash between nuclear armed rivals would have alarmed the world, making a case for some international intervention which Pakistan desperately wants.
The attack was thus seen as a well-laid trap. By adopting a muscular approach towards Pakistan, and rallying his support base around it, Modi seemed to have left himself no other honourable option but to retaliate to Uri in kind. And if it did, it was going to work to Pakistan’s plan. But if at all this was the thinking behind the attack it didn’t pan out as planned. New Delhi waited out UN session, milked the Uri attack to buttress its argument on Pakistan sponsored terror and got the world to overlook Kashmir situation. And when this was achieved, it claimed to have launched a strike across LoC at the “terror launch pads”. Far from being outraged at India’s chest thumping announcement, Pakistan promptly denied any strikes had taken place, giving the country no reason to retaliate. Pakistan has since stuck to this line, even while India has gone to great lengths to gloat about the attack with some senior ministers even ridiculing Islamabad’s inability to stop the strike. The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Pakistan was under anaesthesia after the strike.
So, something is seriously amiss somewhere. If all that Uri attack achieved was further global isolation of Pakistan and the obscuring of the ongoing and unprecedented Kashmir upsurge, who executed it and why. Islamabad has denied it was involved in the attack and blamed New Delhi for it, but the country has singularly failed to convince any one about its innocence. Nor has Pakistan made any great effort to press this point home, choosing instead to lie low and let the world understand what it chooses to. New Delhi, on the contrary, has not only convinced the world of its stand, but more or less also rallied it behind its surgical strike. What is more, it has galvanized the great powers to mount further diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to abandon its alleged support to terror. And if there was any doubt that the isolation is not happening or the pressure is not working on Pakistan, the Dawn story has snapped us out of the illusion. It reveals that the civilian government has told the Army that it should act against the militant groups if Pakistan was to pre-empt the global isolation.
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