01 Марта 2019 г. 17:08

Tensions between India and Pakistan along the line of control in the form of ceasefire violations may continue for a considerable time – Indian expert

Tensions between India and Pakistan along the line of control in the form of ceasefire violations may continue for a considerable time – Indian expert

The dogfights on February 27th were the first between the air forces of India and Pakistan to be publicly acknowledged since 1971. Both parties realize the need for de-escalation, since otherwise the situation could spin into a full-scale war. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has agreed to Russian mediation in the conflict with India. However, Research Scholar at the Centre for Central Eurasian Studies Prathamesh Karle claims that New Delhi is unlikely to accept any proposal for dialogue until Pakistan shows that it takes action against terrorists on its territory targeting India. Mr. Karle told “Eurasia.Expert” about the causes for the conflict between the two nations, scenarios of its further development and analyzed the way it could affect the activity of the SCO.

- Mr. Karle, what caused the tension between India and Pakistan?

- The ongoing tension between the two countries is a result of a vehicle-borne attack on a paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, 2019. The attack killed at least 40 members of the paramilitary forces. It was claimed by the terrorist group Jaesh-e-Mohammad (JeM), proscribed by several countries including US and United Nations, as a Pakistan-based terrorist group. The group intends to separate the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and bring it under Pakistan’s control.

On February 26, the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control (LoC- a de facto border between India and Pakistan) and conducted a “non-military, preemptive strike” at one of the JeM facility in Balakot, Pakistan.

On February 27, Pakistan aircrafts crossed LoC and targeted military establishments in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Following an engagement between the aircraft fighters of both the countries, one personnel of the Indian Air Force was reported missing by the government officials. While he safely ejected fr om his aircraft, he landed in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) region wh ere he was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army. As per recent developments, Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced while addressing the Parliament that the pilot would be released on Friday, March 1.

JeM under Masood Azhar has carried out a series of terror attacks in India including the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament, the 2016 Pathankot terror attack, the 2016 Uri terror attack, and 2019 Pulwama terror attack. Ironically, JeM also attempted to assassinate the former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in 2003, after the government banned it in 2002. Pakistan has also harbored another global terrorist Hafeez Saeed, leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), who was the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Pakistan’s harboring of terrorists who have repeatedly attacked India and its inaction against them remains at the heart of India-Pakistan tensions.

- Mass media around the world say that India and Pakistan are on the brink of a big war. How will the situation develop from here?

- The situation is likely to de-escalate as Pakistan has agreed to return the Indian Air Force personnel. At a joint press briefing of the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force, on February 28, Air Force official stated that the institution was happy of the news of his return and would retaliate if there was any further escalation from the Pakistan side.

Pakistan is also unlikely to further escalate the situation to avoid any further confrontation. However, tensions along the LoC in the form of ceasefire violations may continue for a considerable time.

- Can India and Pakistan resort to nuclear weapons?

- It is far-fetched to think that there would be a nuclear strike by either side. Both the governments are well aware of the humanitarian, regional and international consequences of such an action.

- How does the Indian society react to the escalation of the conflict between the two states?

- The attack killing 40 paramilitary forces shocked the country and caused a huge uproar against Pakistan, that called for a stern action against the country. However, the resultant escalating situation along with the custody of the Indian Air Force personnel has focused people’s attention on his safe return.

Like any other society, India wants peace too. However, there are continued and simmering calls for a strong action against Pakistan as it continues to deny existence of any terrorist camps in its territory.

- Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan called New Delhi for dialogue, but India doesn’t want to engage in it. Why?

- It is important to understand the difference between the “war between the two countries” and “fight against terrorism.” The Indian government, following the February 26 airstrike, clarified that the target was the terrorist facility and not the Pakistan state. The official statement stated that the strike was based on credible intelligence that the group was planning to conduct more attacks against India. On two occasions, (2009, 2016) Indian government had proposed UN to designate Masood Azhar, a global terrorist. However, China had blocked the proposal on both the occasions. Hence, lack of resolve and support from the international institution and Pakistan may have convinced the Indian government to take necessary action.

Indian PM is unlikely to accept any proposal for dialogue from and with Pakistan until it exhibits any credible evidence of action against militants and their camps targeting India.

- How did major powers react to the escalation of the India-Pakistan conflict? 

- US, France and Britain have initiated fresh proposals to designate the JeM founder Masood Azhar as a UN designated global terrorist. Russia’s support is also expected for the same due to its support on the issue in the past. It however remains to be seen how China votes on the issue this time. As per recent reports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has proposed to host talks between India and Pakistan to achieve settlement.

While most countries have called for restraint and dialogue to avoid any escalation of the conflict, several of them have also called on Pakistan to act on the terrorist camps in its territory.

- As you know, India and Pakistan both are members of the SCO. How will this conflict affect the organization’s activities?

- India’s participation in SCO should be perceived as its attempt to be an important strategic partner in securing the overall development of the Eurasian region. India has centuries long civilisational links with Eurasia which it hopes to reinvent and boost in order to tap the overall potential of its engagement with the region.

On February 19, Russia’s Special Representative to SCO, Bakhtiyer Khakimov stated that Moscow expects the two sides to resolve the conflict bilaterally and refrain from bringing it to the SCO.

While the statement reiterates Moscow’s stand on the issue of considering the conflict as a bilateral issue, it may also be perceived by New Delhi as a hasty and narrow assessment of India’s engagement with the institution. Fighting the three evils stated by the SCO namely, terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, remains at the heart of the institution, members of which face a common threat. The institution hence cannot afford to remain indifferent to these principles. India would continue to work within the SCO platform to combat these principles in a just manner.

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