The URI Attack

Spearhead Analysis – 19.09.2016

terror-attack-in-uriFirst it was the Pathankot Air Base whose defenses were breached by a handful of attackers and a successful attack carried out that left the Indian military and security forces red faced. India and Pakistan handled that with a modicum of restraint that led them down the path of a joint investigation and recourse to legal procedures but not without recriminations and hiccups. Now on Sunday, September 16 an Indian Army Brigade facility has been penetrated and attacked with at least 17 Indian Army personnel killed. This time India has wasted no time in pointing the finger at Pakistan without even a cursory investigation, given the fact that a fierce anti Indian occupation revolt is raging on the streets of Srinagar and the brutal response by Indian military has triggered rage and desperation leaving even Indians aghast. The month’s long street agitation now raging in IHK was triggered by the totally unwarranted killing of young Burhanuddin Wani, seen by the youth as a hero, by the India Army equipped with Draconian powers. Now the recovery of the body of an 11 year old blinded and killed by pellets has injected new rage and violence into the street battles. Over 80 Kashmiris have been killed, 160 blinded and hundreds injured. It is in this context that the URI attack should be seen before arbitrary determinations are made about the perpetrators of the attack.

When Mr Ajit Doval became Prime Minister Modi’s National Security Advisor a video clip of a speech he made earlier in which he advocated ‘offensive-defense’ instead of ‘defensive- defense’ went viral (See it on You Tube). Now India’s Hindustan Times has confirmed that the doctrine advocated by Doval is indeed being implemented (see the Hindustan Times Article). To its credit the article is a dispassionate appraisal and concludes that the Doval doctrine is deeply flawed. The Times is correct — the doctrine has within it the seeds not only of its own failure but of catastrophic consequences for both countries and the region. As part of the doctrine being implemented we have seen the disclosure of Indian covert operations against Pakistan especially Baluchistan through the confessions of a captured RAW agent whose network operated from Iran and Afghanistan. Then there was Prime Minister Modi’s speech on the Indian Independence Day that laid bare Indian plans against Baluchistan and Gilgit Baltistan. The anti Pakistan tirade by the Afghan President during his Delhi visit and India’s gift of a billion dollars in return adds to the murky picture. India’s Baluchistan strategy has been given substance by the establishment of a powerful radio station beaming anti Pakistan propaganda and the decision to grant Indian citizenship to Mr Brahmdagh Bugti an exiled ‘leader’ of Baluch ‘insurgents’. India’s opposition to the CPEC is already known and the US and Afghanistan seem to be on the same page with India on that — President Ghani is talking of bypassing Pakistan altogether through Chahbahar ignoring what geography dictates!!

With all this happening is it any surprise that some in Pakistan are seeing the Uri attack as an orchestrated event and part of the ‘Doval Doctrine’? After all cans of Pakistan origin drinks etc can hardly be called proof of Pakistan’s involvement. Indian media is reporting that a high level meeting between the Home Minister, The Defense Minister, the Army Chief and the Commander 15 Corps has recommended a ‘three point target’ attack against Pakistan after having considered options of an ‘on LOC, across LOC and surgical strike’ type proportionate retaliation. Indian media is going bonkers raising expectations, creating hype and egging on the hardliners (see the Hindustan Times analysis of a retaliatory attack). The perception building up is that India is likely to act out of desperation–desperation created by the unending violence in IHK, domestic political and media pressures and the need to somehow get out of the drubbing it faces at the UN General Assembly meeting– and the timing is just right for that. Pakistan has clearly stated that it has no hand in the Uri attack just as it has stated that the violence in IHK is not of its making but entirely the consequence of Indian policies. India would be making a tragic mistake if it blames Pakistan, closes the joint investigation option and opts for retaliation. The hope is that Mr Modi will not get pressured into making a decision that will lead to misery for the people. This is the time for statesmanship and diplomacy and NOT war. India’s new best friends-the US and Afghanistan — should urge restraint. Meanwhile Pakistan will no doubt be preparing for a ‘worst contingency’ scenario — it has to in its own security interests.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)