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The day after

Could it really be that Modi sarkar did not think this one through? Playing to the extremist, right-wing, Hindutva gallery is one thing, but everybody knows that once you cross the line in Kashmir there are more parties to answer to. Kashmiris for one, Pakistan for another, and then there’s Uncle Sam, who holds India dear enough to give it the civilian nuclear technology deal so it would facilitate the pivot against China. That’s why reports in the Indian media that Washington had been informed well in advance, discomforting as they were, made sense. But now that the Americans have poured cold water all over that game-changer, Delhi seems a little more isolated than it would have expected.
Ironically, from Pakistan’s point of view especially, that only raises the stakes. If they have come this far, all on their own, then they must have contemplated the ‘come what may’ option. And logical as Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations is, it does only serve to push the severity of the confrontation a notch higher. Then there’s the cluster bombs to consider. As mentioned before in this space, Indian forces have been throwing banned weapons on our side of the LoC. That means, sooner or later, the Pakistani military will respond. Such, sadly, is the nature of eyeball-to-eyeball conflict. Could it be that India is luring Pakistan into just such a reaction to spark a much wider conflict and then blame it on us; with the usual help from the international media?
No doubt Islamabad, too, has considered all possible options by now. Hence the Security council and corps commanders meetings on the same day. And no surprise that both came to the same conclusion. We’re having none of this charade, to put it simply, and if that means escalation in the conflict, then let it at least be known that we stood for talks till the very end.
That said, though, the next few days will test Islamabad’s- and Rawalpindi’s for that matter – skills to the hilt. Pakistan must not back down, but it must also not rush into a trap. The best route, again at the risk of repetition, lies in engaging the international community diplomatically. Once enough of the world is convinced of the absurdity the BJP is trying to commit in the name of India, it will only be a matter of time before Modi is forced onto the back foot. With Kashmir boiling with rage, India’s own opposition rejecting Modi’s gambit, and foreign capitals bearing down on New Delhi, the threat of war might finally turn into a chance for talks.



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