A diplomatic offensive

India can take comfort from the strong condemnation that has come from the world community to the Uri attack by Pakistan-based militants. Some of them have been exceptionally strong. In its official communiqué, Russia named Pakistan, saying the attack had been carried out from the latter’s “territory”. France has been as candid, calling for “decisive action” against
the perpetrators.
Afghanistan and Bangladesh have expressed support for an appropriate action by India. New Delhi must utilise this goodwill to proceed with a strong diplomatic offensive against Islamabad. Strong words are expected from the Indian side when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj takes the floor at the UN General Assembly meeting. Pakistan will invariably raise the Kashmir issue but it will have no takers. It never had any in the past and certainly will not after the Uri incident.
Among the diplomatic initiatives India must take is to downgrade the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and formally declare Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror. It must aggressively pursue attempts to make the US especially, see reason and push for cuts in financial and military aid to Pakistan. If the West turns off the tap, Islamabad will fall in line, since China alone cannot keep it afloat. Washington, DC may have its strategic reasons to remain soft on Pakistan, but that cannot override the larger regional and global good.
Pakistan, with its abominable track record, is a fit recipient of ‘terror state’ designation. New Delhi must also isolate Pakistan in regional forums such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. In any case, Pakistan has been a roadblock in the various ideas that India has floated to enhance connectivity among Saarc nations. One good way to checkmate Pakistan is for India to strengthen bilateral relationships with Saarc countries. The recent visit to India of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has energised ties, and this must be exploited to cut Pakistan down to size in the region. Initiatives such as Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) should be given a boost to marginalise Pakistan.
There are other methods India can employ to push Pakistan into a corner, and which it has not used so far. One of them is the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. Pakistan has often violated the spirit of this treaty and cribbed about discrimination. It has
initiated arbitration proceedings against New Delhi.
This is when 80 per cent of the aggregate water flows into the Indus system reserved for Pakistan. Given that the State of Jammu & Kashmir depends on water as a resource for many of its economic needs and has suffered as a result of the skewed distribution, there is no need for India to sustain its generosity towards Pakistan.
At the same time, the military option should not be off the table.
The Narendra Modi Government cannot ignore the strong sentiment of a vast majority of Indians in favour of military strikes against Pakistan (a Pew Research Center’s poll showed 62 per cent Indians wanting military intervention). We must leave the modalities to the Government and the military experts to decide.

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