The Future of India-Pakistan Relation

Image Credits: The Quint

Today the current generation is witnessing their greatest global challenge. The Corona Virus (COVID-19) has spread in almost 190 countries. Gradually South Asia (with almost a hundred thousand cases) is becoming the focus of Corona crisis after China, Europe, and the US.

But even in challenging times, we see the news of firings at LOC and encounters between terrorists & security forces. In two separate incidents last week, 8 soldiers Indian security forces (4 from Army, 3 from BSF and one from J&K Police) have lost their lives. A few days back India woke up with news of death 5 special operations soldiers who got Killed In Action while stopping the infiltration at LOC. We have also seen India protesting Pakistan’s court’s order regarding election in Gilgit-Baltistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s usual personal attack on PM Modi and India’s ruling party. India has also started broadcasting weather news for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Pakistan may have opened a new front against India in the gulf region by flooding social media with so-called “Islamophobia in India”.

The dynamics of the India – Pakistan relationship has changed dramatically in the last 15 months. It is believed that the Indian Air Force destroyed a big terror camp in Balakot last year and that’s why last year Kashmir valley was quiet and it might have taken few months for Pakistan to rebuild all those terror treating camps & facilities. And then India revoked Article 370 on August 5, 2019. This changed the dynamics of Kashmir forever between Pakistan and India. India had beefed up security in the valley last year and slowly relaxed the security measures later. That’s why there were relatively fewer terror activities in Kashmir valley in few months after the revocation of Article 370. Now it seems that Pakistan might have recovered from the loss of Balakot and with relaxed security means along with melting of snow in the valley, this may be the perfect time for Pakistan to destabilize Kashmir valley again. In the last few months, we have seen an increased number of terror attacks on security forces and after a long time (barring big attacks) India is losing more soldiers in encounters.

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir/ Image: India Today

Also, Pakistan PM has said that India might launch a “false flag operation” across LOC. This seems that Pakistan may be up to some mischief in Kashmir valley. It has been 9 months (since August 5 when Article 370 was crapped) and the world has accepted Indian decision. Pakistan tried very hard to internationalize Kashmir issue and it seems that they have failed. Now Pakistan Prime Minister has shifted his attack on India by attacking PM Modi and his political party BJP/RSS personally. It seems that there are only two leaders who run diplomacy on Twitter –  President Donald Trump and PM Imran Khan. Almost every other day he tweets against Indian Prime Minister and BJP/RSS in an attempt to convince the world that the Indian ruling party is prosecuting Muslims and BJP is a new Nazi Party. Many western leftist media organizations and leaders like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn bought this narrative of Pakistan. But these two leaders have lost their position in their parties and new leaders of their parties have taken a relatively pro-India stand. Now Pakistan is trying to create a hype  “Islamophobia in India” in the gulf region. They might have convinced some random UAE princess or some editors to create an anti-India environment in Gulf nations. But the Governments of these Gulf countries have stood firm with India.

In recent months India has been successful in shifting the Kashmir issue to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. India has closed the chapter of two UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh with Pakistan. Rawalpindi is desperate as Kashmiri people have not risen against India post scrapping of Article 370. This year, Indian media were somehow successful in showing the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. India needs to convince the world that Kashmir is just not a Muslim issue and Kashmir has a sizeable Hindu & Sikh population. So, Pakistan has only one option to fall back on its most successful policy of sponsoring terrorism in India. But then there is also a risk. India can tolerate small scare losses like Handwara but any big attack will have its consequences. India bombed Balakot which is inside Pakistan, not POK. So a big terror attack (sponsored by Pakistan) would mean that India will have to reach beyond Line of Control.

The economy of the whole world has taken a hit in Coronavirus crisis but Pakistan’s condition was worse even before the Coronavirus crisis. Pakistan PM has talked about loan write off many times and Pakistan has not been able to fight the virus effectively. Islamabad will find difficulties in repaying loans with the new financial crisis. Another issue is that China’s clout on the international arena may take a hit in the post Coronavirus world. Pakistan may have put all eggs in Chinese basket and China may need some sort of Indian support in fighting the image crisis. Future India – China relations may have a big impact on India-Pakistan relations. The Coronavirus crisis will impact the military preparedness of the whole world to some extent. Even India will find difficulties in meeting all the demand for weapon systems of Armed forces and we can imagine the condition of a weak economy like Pakistan.

India-Pakistan flag ceremony at Attari-Wagah border

The only way forward for both India and Pakistan is dialogue. But dialogues over decades have yielded nothing and India is not ready to talk unless Pakistan stops sponsoring terrorism in India. And by personally attacking PM Modi and BJP/RSS, Imran Khan-led government might have closed the door of a meaningful dialogue till 2024. And if PTI & BJP wins the next election in their respective countries then the door for dialogue may be shut for many more years. This can change unless PM Khan & Pakistan Army changes its attitude against India. India over the years has learned to ignore Pakistan. Indian politicians use Pakistan just for their advantage and ignore it when it is not of any advantage. But Pakistan has not learned to ignore India and they have an imaginary fear of India. It’s doubtful to say that India-Pakistan relations will normalize shortly.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Achal Gautam

Achal Gautam is a well-known blogger, and a public policy enthusiast closely monitoring world affairs with respect to India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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