It’s no secret that rationality and the Pakistani government have nothing do with each other whatsoever, but now it appears that not only has incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s administration managed to get on the Indian right-wing’s nerve, but also lose the plot.
On the 19th, Pakistan’s defense minister Khawaja Asif warned India by, of all the means, tweeting out that it would become an official sponsor of terrorism if it were to grant asylum to Baloch Republican Party leader Brahumdagh Bugti.
By doing this, Pakistan is playing the same card as its budding ally, China, placing official designations atop a pedestal that is untouchable by any other.
China argues that India can’t join the NSG being a non-signatory of the NPT, despite it being clear that the intended utilization would serve civilian purposes, rather than those concerning weapons.
Pakistan, on the other hand, argues that India would become a supporter of terrorism by granting Bugti asylum. They throw around allegations with confidence, and without any hesitation, despite their allocation of funds to terrorist organizations being awfully clear, for no major world power has classified them as a terrorist state, yet.
But Pakistan may have an advantage in this particular situation by strictly adhering to official designations, for Bugti is a third generation politician, and one of the many poster-boys of the deeply fragmented Balochi separatist movement, which has forced the Pakistani army to foray into Balochistan on multiple occasions to quell rebellion, hence explaining their biased attitude toward the province and its population.
Thus, India might not want to grant Bugti asylum, for he is, in fact, a Balochi nationalist, whose party probably influences or inspires separatist terrorism.
Sheltering Bugti would be seen a move on India’s part to threaten the sovereignty of Pakistan and diminish its borders, which would prompt international bodies to discourage India from doing so, further disparaging the Modi government’s efforts to emancipate Pakistan from state-run terrorism.
But yet, Khawaja Asif’s move isn’t prudent in any way, for even if India isn’t going to aid Bugti, he’s only created further interest in Balochistan, a region which Pakistan wants to be exempt from international scrutiny, considering the endemic abuse committed there by the Pakistani army, which has transformed into an almost entirely separate and independent entity from the government taking into account the great power it wields.
Only a month ago, PM Modi’s Independence day speech reference to Balochistan birthed a wave of concern which could be strongly felt from Islamabad to Beijing, as both, China and Pakistan, believe that Modi’s remark didn’t have the altruistic intentions to try and put an end to human rights abuse in the province, but rather to hinder the CPEC’s development.
Chinese officials and intellectuals sprung to address the speech, making sure that the consequences of India taking action, which could mean war, were understood. That’s because the protection of Pakistan on an international stage and its own investment in the country is on top of China’s agenda.
The string of warnings came due to a mere reference to Balochistan, and if a decision to grant asylum to Bugti were to be made, Pakistan and China would most probably be enraged.
It would be mere conjecture to imagine what action the Chinese government could take, but it will probably happen, for officials in Beijing were deeply disturbed by media attention to Balochistan before, and will be more irritable this time around.
But Modi’s speech did do some good and managed to achieve multiple purposes, as it strengthened the fight by foreign Balochi nationals to force international organizations into taking action against Pakistan and helped realize their dream, as the European Union warned Pakistan that if the endemic violence in Balochistan wasn’t curbed, they would enforce crushing economic sanctions, which would result in the CPEC’s development being halted and Modi gaining an advantage.
That would also make India’s job to effectively retaliate against Pakistan in lieu of the Uri attacks a lot more simple, although there’s a plethora of options to be explored.
But Khawaja Asif seems to be in denial of this too, for he is warning others before realizing that his own nation is under threat, and fails to acknowledge the consequences that could come as a result of the Uri attacks, although the population of Pakistan isn’t.
The Karachi stock exchange nearly crashed on Thursday after news came that the Pakistani air force had begun drills in fear of Indian retaliation.
Penny stockholders, and many average citizens, quickly sold their shares in order to convert their liquid assets and run with the money, for they fear that if India takes action, the economy will surely decline and descend into turmoil.
Their nightmares might come true, as the Indian population appears to have agreed on a plan of action that needs to be taken. In recent days, the more rational minds have opted to support the idea of utilizing the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) to unnerve Pakistan, rather than an open conflict between both eternal enemies that could bring hell upon earth.
Certainly, the IWT favors the Pakistanis, and repealing it would rob the nation of their water supply, while contributing to stagnation in agriculture, which would in turn send the economy into a downward spiral.
But India must utilize the treaty sparingly, doing only what is dictated by the necessity to retaliate against Pakistan’s state run terrorism fund, rather than parching our neighbors of water, for that would be equated with human rights abuse by international bodies.
Pakistan’s dependency upon the river is obvious, and though India parted with a larger share of water than it should ever have had, the goodwill of the past won’t be taken into account when the matter is of importance today.
Further, backing Pakistan into a tough spot would only humiliate its government and the equally powerful and chauvinistic army, which could compel them to not reach consensus at all. The Indian government would have to perform any action with discretion, and engage in diplomatic talks with Pakistan to reach concrete conclusions, before slowly tapering off the blockade.
Whatever the route, the Modi government would still need to proceed with caution when taking further action, for China’s involvement through its alliance with Pakistan grants the Indo-Pak relations a dimension they’ve never had before, and a shortage of patience on behalf of any party could result in devastation.
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