The Indian forces’ targeting of a UN vehicle along the Control Line, as well as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s revelations that New Delhi is planning a surgical strike in this region, do not bode well for subcontinental stability. The hard-line BJP government is clearly engaged in brinksmanship, while such adventurism can spin out of control quickly and is best avoided.
Ironically, when its passengers were on their way to investigate ceasefire breaches, the vehicle belonging to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan appeared to have been intentionally attacked on Friday in AJK. Although no one was injured, pictures show the car with bullet holes, easily recognisable by its UN insignia.
The United Nations says it is investigating the incident, while Pakistan has summoned the charge d’affaires of India to complain against this flagrant breach of international standards. This is not the first time Indian forces around the LoC have engaged in violence.
India has allegedly committed almost 3,000 ceasefire breaches this year alone, according to the Foreign Office, resulting in at least 27 deaths. Since Narendra Modi became prime minister of India, the cross-LoC violence has escalated.
Reports of India’s scheduled strike in Pakistan are linked to the LoC disruptions. The reports were picked up by Pakistani intelligence, according to Foreign Minister Qureshi, and India is obviously attempting to gain the permission of its ‘partners’ for this dumb act. No one should be under any illusions about the planned attack; such a decision would definitely ignite international tensions, and Pakistan will have no choice but to strike back to protect itself. The condition will be hard to manage from there onwards.
After the Pulwama affair, India attempted a similar stunt in 2019, and Pakistan’s response was mature but strong. Mr Modi and his cohorts would however be better served not to replicate this kind of adventurism.
In addition, the ‘partners’ of New Delhi must also be conscious that such adventurism should not be tolerated in an area with nuclear power in particular.
Pakistan has extended the hand of peace to India time and again, but the ultra-nationalist Modi regime, which seeks to isolate this region, has rebuffed these gestures. In South Asia, radical thought is needed to let go of the ghosts of the past and work to create peace in the country. Such reasoning, however, can not be expected from the distorted minds created by the Hindutva philosophy, who see Muslims as permanent ‘outsiders’ and ‘enemies’ in South Asia, including India’s own.
The international community must speak out against the targeting by India of UN peacekeepers and innocent civilians along the LoC. Moreover the message to India must be clear at a time when the world is dealing with several crises: any provocation against Pakistan will not be accepted, and this country will totally protect itself.