Mounting tensions

Spearhead Analysis – 09.07.2015

By Moiz Agha
Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

india-pakistan-borderThe ‘Hindutva’ and the ‘Fortress of Islam’ have, for quite some time now, been treading a dangerous road which appears to be leading to a head on collision between the two nuclear powers of the Sub-continent.  The Prime Ministers of the two countries are scheduled to be present on the same platform on 9th July for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Ufa. Some argue that this fortuitous meeting of the two head of states will provide an opportunity to bury the hatchet and take a step towards reaching a détente. However, the wedge between the two leaders seems to have been plunged too deep to allow this meeting a chance to improve relations between the belligerent states. Of late both nations have become vociferous in berating their neighbours at every opportunity that presents itself. Ever since Narendra Modi assumed his present position, bilateral relations have not only plummeted but each country is ever ready to take a swing at their neighbour, with allegations and defamation attempts abound in recent times. Hence expectations of establishing amicability by dint of this meeting should be reined in. Even if a modicum of ostensible camaraderie is displayed by the two leaders, it would be little more than a beguiling charade; a fig leaf to cover the deep animosity that is simmering in both nations directed against each other.

Though the interminable war of words between India and Pakistan has been making the headlines over the past few months, the hot exchange of words was being played out on a regional scale. But now both countries are attempting at highlighting the mischievous machinations of their neighbours at the international forum. At India’s bidding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will be monitoring Pakistan in order to ensure the enforcement of UN Financial sanctions against terrorism. This step was undertaken despite opposition from China, who pointed out the fact that Pakistan was a non FATF member.  Whereas China’s reaction was expected, what was surprising and most likely perturbing for India was Russia’s response, since Russia too opposed the scrutinizing of Pakistan by FATF. Perhaps it is too early to prognosticate but this incident has the markings of a seminal event which heralds the realignment of age old alliances in the region. India had already been upset over the sale of Russian Mi 35 Hind E helicopters to Pakistan. In the coming summit of the SCO, Pakistan and Russia are expected to sign a $2 billion deal for laying a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. With India’s greater tilt towards the U.S and Israel clearly visible, Russia would certainly want to play its cards right in this region. A change of former alliances is a very likely scenario in times to come. The increasing bonhomie and the LNG deal between the Cold War adversaries, Pakistan and Russia, is certainly going to be opposed by Modi, in manner similar to the way he opposed the CPEC by dubbing it as ‘unacceptable.’ India also raised the issue of releasing Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi by the Lahore High Court and sought action against Pakistan for violation of UN resolution 1267 which deals with such designated individuals. India’s permanent member of the UN Asoke Mukherjee pointed out the same in a letter addressed to the current chair of the UN Sanctions Committee Jim McLay. This move however was also thwarted by China who vetoed against it. Nonetheless India has kept on ballyhooing, insisting that Pakistan should seize the assets of the Lakhvi, Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim and that the international community should take some punitive action against Pakistan for not taking any concrete steps against these individuals.

With India jockeying against Pakistan at international forums, Pakistan too is believed to take the Indian interference issue to the United Nations. A plethora of allegations and confessions have come forward in recent times which directly incriminates the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for being complicit in various nefarious designs which intend on destabilizing Pakistan. From the Mastung and Safura killings, to training and resourcing of the BLA, to the BBC report which deals with funding of the MQM for destabilizing Karachi, RAW’s presence has never been felt so profoundly in the ‘Land of the Pure.’ Adding to the list of accusations, the Former Chief of RAW Amirjit Singh Dalut also stepped forward as a whistle blower and divulged that RAW has also been responsible for funding various terrorist groups in Kashmir as well. According to various sources Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given the green signal for raising the issue of Indian interference in the UN and has handed over this task to Pakistan’s permanent member of the UN Dr. Maleeha Lodhi. Maleeha Lodhi has already been summoned and briefed by the PM in Islamabad. “Pakistan’s security setup has compiled evidences showing RAW’s footprints in Pakistan and soon the real face of India will be exposed before the world,” said an official source. Currently Pakistan is believed to be ascertaining the prevailing mood in the UN and at the appropriate moment will strike with aforementioned accusations against India.

Realignment of allies in this region is patently visible. The frequency of skirmishes in the border areas is at an all time high. Any dialogues between the two states have been completely suspended. The officials at the highest echelons in the Indian government are behaving in the most pugnacious manner, making gratuitous and imprudent remarks like, ‘We will fight terror with terror,’ and flagrantly confessing committing of international crimes against Pakistan by playing an egregious and vicious role in separating East Pakistan. The situation in Kashmir too does not omen well for improving relations, with separatist movements and unfurling of the Pakistani flag becoming ever so common; and now oratorical battles are also in the offing between the two states in the United Nations. One can only hope that taking the matter to the international forum might allow the international community to whittle down the heat between the two countries. Even if establishing amiability between the two states seems a farfetched notion at the moment, perhaps pressure from the international community will cajole the two rivals not to allow the current antagonism between each other to escalate into an inextinguishable conflagration which consumes both nations.