The Big Picture – Uri Attacks: Diplomatic Options & Challenges

  • October 7, 2016
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The Big Picture- RSTV
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Uri Attacks: Diplomatic options & Challenges


TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,


The attack on the army base in Uri in J&K and the killing of 18 jawans gave rise to public outcry. The government faced with demands against the action of perpetrators have been approaching the issue with deliberate caution. As expected, Pakistan has rejected its role in the attack, and criticised India for blaming Pakistan even prior to conducting a proper investigation. Meanwhile, the Indian government is preparing to take on Pakistan diplomatically at the international level for supporting and exporting terrorism.

At the annual UNGA, both India and Pakistan will be putting its efforts diplomatically and convince the world leaders about its respective stand.

Dwindling past

PM Modi had invited Pakistan PM to his oath taking ceremony to signal an initiative to improve bilateral relationship between two countries. The PM as well as senior leaders and officials have made visits to Pakistan but none of it seems to be effective. Hence, another diplomatic bilateral dialogue option is not possible right now.

In the past, it has been observed that Pakistan makes certain commitments, which it is able to adhere for few months but very soon inside consensus in Pakistan gets disturbed and then they are not able to follow up. For example, the January 2004 joint statement when the army and the political leadership was together but then, there were problems within the Pakistan because of the lawyers agitation, the judiciary getting angry with them and all kind of charges which were put for violating human rights and killing many of the political leaders in Pakistan. PM Shariff had good reputation with Indian political leadership from time to time. But, he is also one of the leaders who said he did not know about Kargil operation when he received PM Vajpayee in Lahore. On the other hand, the military leader at that time Musharaff said how it was possible when it was all discussed in front of PM. So, there is question of political leadership in Pakistan and the kind of consensus making process that breaks down very quickly. In this case, it is the army leadership and the intelligence set up which has been promoting all these terrorist elements with funding and training support.

Since last year, Pakistan has been ramping up its efforts in Kashmir valley, pumped lot of money to create lot of problems and the Uri attack can be termed as an act of aggression. The myth that army and ISI are separate from PM of Pakistan is very difficult to buy when the PM is the one who appoints the army chief. The ISI chief often becomes the army chief. So all is inter-related.

Options for India

All options exists including the military option. The PM has already mentioned that the perpetrators of the carnage will not go unpunished. It cannot be said what government will do but with the kind of public opinion coming up, some action will be taken. The options exist in conventional, political, diplomatic and military domain. But the government will take into considerations all possible fallouts from the decision it takes.

This time, Indian government is not likely to engage in the bilateral talks as it is futile. Though Pakistan also suffers from terrorist attacks, but those acts of terror are the result of the Pakistan state having actually nurtured and created those organisations. In India, for last so many years, there have been organisations nurtured, built and financed by the Pakistan state who have been mounting attacks in India.

As it seems, the military has taken complete charge over Pakistan position on Kashmir and Afghanistan. Pakistan has convinced itself that it can carry on with proxy war, the low cost options and India will do nothing about it unless you cross the threshold. However, collectively all these actions taken against India has already crossed the threshold.

The government is not being carried away by the general atmosphere that prevails in the country. The internal meetings that have taken place after the Uri attacks conclude that this is not the right time for coercive actions but diplomacy should be the main option now. The military option is complicated because if you attack across the international border like in provinces of Punjab and Pampore, there is a risk of triggering even bigger conflict which could end in a nuclear war. No disrespect to the highest sacrifices made by our soldiers, but triggering a nuclear war on basis of Uri attack will not serve India’s purpose of teaching Pakistan any lesson.

If the military action is taken across the line of control, it might not be sufficient to pressure the Pakistanis. In any case, cross border military strikes are pretty difficult to contemplate because of the escalation factor.

On the other hand, covert action option has to be evaluated. However, in such kind of development when it is supposed to be hidden who has done it, it has been observed that the Indian politicians often need to publicly say that they have done it and want to claim over it. This muddies the issue further.

India is still being ‘soft’ target

India has to manage the relations with Pakistan with a hardened stand. Even after Pathankot, India did not take any strict action. India has to keep up the pressure on Pakistan with regards to Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. India should give them political and moral support and take up their cause in international meetings. Thus, aggressive diplomacy may be one way out. For this, two important countries have to be picked upon- China and USA. They are two lynchpins of the Pakistani support system. The Chinese have high stakes in Pakistan hence they might not rebuke Pakistan, but USA which condemns terrorism refuses to take any strict action against Pakistan and goes very easy on it.

Isolating Pakistan at an international level is easier said than done. Most of the countries of the region whether Bangladesh, Afghanistan or even China and Russia have seen that most of the terrorists are emanating from Pakistan and they have links with them. Therefore it becomes little bit more easy for the PM to say that Pakistan can be isolated. But to achieve it, it will be little bit difficult because other interest also come into play when you go into that kind of action.

There can be certain support from US, UK and France as recently they have suffered terror attacks which had direct links to Pakistan. USA said that it had information on Pathankot attack and India has also provided evidences of it to Pakistan. Now India needs to use its diplomatic tactics by telling its friends that just a statement is not enough and they have to stand and impose sanctions on Pakistan. The financial sanctions, diplomatic isolation, damaging Pakistan’s reputation in international fora, these all should be part of tool kit of the diplomacy. India has to simultaneously take actions on various fronts and show that it will no longer remain a silent spectator.

Connecting the dots:

  • It is the time India realises what are Pakistan’s intention and without being the ‘good’ neighbour, it should show what it is capable of. Do you agree? Analyse.


Related article:

Uri terror attack- What are India’s choices?

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