The author argues that the Indian government’s effort to combat terrorism has turned into a two-front battle. It must fight foreign-trained and armed terrorists, as well as combat a relentless barrage of criticism at home from Indian Opposition parties that view it as an opportunity to settle political scores. The cross-border attack by the Indian Air Force on terrorist camps in Pakistan demonstrates a new resolve to deal firmly with terrorism. Yet, the author points out weaknesses of military preparedness and legal deficiencies that need to be properly addressed.
THE INDIAN ARMED FORCES HAVE TO MAINTAIN LAW AND ORDER in the state of Jammu & Kashmir amidst a confluence of international and internal terrorism, in collaboration with the Indian Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) and the J&K State Police, finding it unavoidable sometimes to shun harsh measures. When, for example, in the Pulwama district of J&K, on February 14, 2019, a Jaish-e Muhammad (JEM) suicide bomber killed forty CRPF soldiers, the Indian Army, the CRPF and the J&K State Police combined to wipe out the top ranking JEM leaders on February 17-18, hiding in a village about 10 km from the site of the Pulwama onslaught.
But opposition parties do not hesitate to criticise the Indian authorities for the inevitable failure to prevent deaths or injuries to soldiers and civilians. Critics do not understand that the attack in Pulwama could occur because in a democratic state like India there was initially no restriction on civilian traffic during the movement of a large military convoy. Moreover, critics fail to emphasise that Indian security forces took ample care to ensure that there was a minimum of civilian deaths (only one civilian was killed in this case) during the prolonged operation on February 17-18, 2019, although four army men, including a major, died. Highly placed security officers like a brigadier and a deputy inspector general of State Police got injured as they exercised leadership abilities not only in military operations but also in the avoidance of civilian casualties.
A democratic state like India has to bear an additional burden, in contrast to a non-democratic state, while taking on terrorists. For example, a democratic state is not accustomed to conduct large-scale surveillance in order to pre-empt terrorist actions, or to punish friends of terrorists who obstruct the efforts of security forces to fight terrorists. On February 18, 2019, Pakistani terrorists, as also their Indian collaborators, demonstrated evidence of extraordinary training and skill in combat against Indian security forces. At the same time, Indian soldiers had to waste their time and resources in keeping away a local mob trying to facilitate an escape by terrorists. In a non-democratic state, these accomplices of terrorists would have been simply pulverised. Or, a large-scale use of preventive detention, not compatible with Indian democracy, could have kept these accomplices deactivated.
Perhaps Pakistanis were surprised by a prompt and effective response to their Pulwama adventure. For, if one leaves aside the ‘surgical strike’ of 2016, New Delhi is known to have been an exceptionally patient sufferer of almost daily atrocities by Pakistani terrorists, making the daily life of civilians near the border unbearable. In addition to killing Indian soldiers, Pakistan realised that its much-publicised nuclear blackmail—i.e. any determined conventional response by Indian troops might lead to the use of nuclear weapons (big or small) by Pakistan against India—ceased to work. The international reaction to Indian counteraction like the `surgical strike’ being favourable, Pakistan felt embarrassed; no less embarrassing was the perception of ordinary Pakistanis that their state was caught in the commission of terrorist activities.
The post-Pulwama situation illustrates, in diverse ways, how New Delhi is prepared to take measures against Pakistan and Pakistani agents inside India, especially those in J&K. On February 16, 2019, India enhanced to 200 per cent the customs duty on imports from Pakistan, e.g. on cement, fresh fruits, mineral ores, etc. India has thus withdrawn from Pakistan the most-favoured nation status, which was itself anomalous because of being unilateral. Whereas diplomatic representatives of foreign countries, stationed in New Delhi, endorsed India’s response to the Pulwama episode as part of a wider fight against terrorism, the foreign secretary of Pakistan simply denied any Pakistani connection with the Pulwama onslaught. But the terrorist outfit, JEM, located in, and sponsored by, Pakistan, itself claimed that it had carried out the Pulwama attack, which also drew applause from other terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiyaba (LET). The suicide bomber at Pulwama himself affirmed that he was a JEM cadre, rendering absurd the Pakistani demand for an inquiry.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, long-time friends of Pakistan, declared solidarity with India on the Pulwama issue. Even China expressed deep sympathy for the families of Indians killed at Pulwama. Naturally, India had no hesitation to use the security clause of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Charter to revoke Pakistan’s most favoured trading nation status. Without any violation of the Indus Waters Treaty, India has decided to be less benign, and stop the flow of its own share of the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi to Pakistan. These waters will instead be diverted to J&K and Punjab. Pakistani authorities pointed out that they had no worry or concern about this Indian decision, because the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 permitted India to do so.
The criticism of the Congress Party and some journalists on the non-military (as also military) response of the government reflected the assertion of democratic rights, but also could be deemed to be deplorable because they appeared to encourage Pakistan to lampoon India’s post-Pulwama actions. Critics called the Indus Waters move a rhetorical attempt to cover up failures to preserve national security and win over the hearts and minds of Kashmiris. But the voter turnout in J&K parliamentary elections as also the readiness of the Kashmiri youth to join the security forces, not to speak of the dominance of anti-Indian sentiment in only a small part of J&K, negate such a criticism. The chief minister of the Indian state of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, called the Pulwama episode manufactured by Indian intelligence agencies—almost saying what the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan said about the Pulwama attack, while proscribing the terrorist agencies Jamat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).
Whereas opposition parties in India, as noted before, revelled in underplaying the Pulwama terrorist incident, the international repercussions of the incident were serious. Thus, on February 22, 2019, in Kolkata, Tomasz Kozlowski, the European Union (EU) ambassador to India, observed at a press conference addressed by him that the EU severely denounced the Pulwama attack on India’s CRPF, and the EU would extend all cooperation to India to cope with terrorism (going far beyond a mere expression of solidarity). The EU had already listed some agencies as terrorist, and a number of leaders as global terrorists, e.g. LET and its leader Hafiz Sayeed, JEM, Hizbul Mujahideen, Dawood Ibrahim, etc. The EU is one of the regional agencies of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to which India submitted evidence of Pakistan’s support for JEM in the Pulwama assault. In June 2018, the FATF put Pakistan on the grey list. India aims at putting Pakistan on the blacklist, so that Pakistan did not receive any foreign fund subsequently usable for aiding terrorist organisations. Some countries, e.g. the United Kingdom (UK) and France, requested the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to put the name of Masood Azhar, the JEM leader, on the list of global terrorists, although the EU was yet to do so. The EU’s counter-terror outfits were sharing information with Indian counterparts, although their cooperation was yet to reach the higher stage of sharing intelligence.
The FATF denounced the Pulwama assault and stressed that this could not take place without the flow of money. In June 2018, Pakistani statesmen promised to cooperate with the FATF in overcoming its deficiencies about curbing the finances supplied to terrorist agencies. But Pakistan was yet to carry out the ten-point action plan formulated by the FATF on this matter, although it took some positive steps. By way of a euphemistic denunciation of Pakistan, the FATF pointed out that Pakistan failed to comprehend the risks of funds coming to JEM, JUD, LET as also the Taliban cadres. Pakistan’s own National Counter Terrorism Agency (NCTA) has affirmed that as many as sixty-nine terror outfits have been proscribed. Among them are the JUD and FIF, banned in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident that created an international furore. However, it is not likely that, despite the ban, the government of Pakistan will be able to control a vast assembly of institutions built over the years by, for example, the JUD, i.e. hospitals, ambulance services, schools, seminaries, a publishing house, etc. Moreover, according to Pakistani official sources, the JUD and FIF have a sizeable number of paid workers and nearly 50,000 volunteers. Many of the proscribed organisations are situated in such places as Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan (where the significance of the authority of Islamabad is not always easily perceptible). In India, forty-one terrorist agencies have been outlawed. Pakistan rears nearly 50 per cent of these agencies, or, the agencies themselves, sometimes their leaders, are located in Pakistan. No wonder that in August 2019, the FATF placed Pakistan on the blacklist due to terror-funding.
International support for India on the Pulwama incident was so strong that even the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with fifty-seven member countries in four continents, was impelled to invite India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, to speak at the inaugural session of the OIC conference held on March 1-2, 2019 at Abu Dhabi. Swaraj, as a guest of honour at the Abu Dhabi conference, did not fail to refer to 185 million Muslims living in India, and reinforced the pluralist character of the Indian state and society.
Deplorably, leaders of opposition political parties in India continued to caricature the Pulwama massacre. One chief minister of an Indian state went so far as to declare on February 25, 2019 that, despite the availability of intelligence inputs, the government of Narendra Modi did not deliberately pre-empt the Pulwama attack, in order to use it for electioneering. This declaration was made on the same day when the J&K director general of police said that there was no evidence of diminution of terrorism sustained by Pakistan, and when a J&K Congress Party leader accused the separatists of trying to create communal hostilities by pelting stones on the people of Jammu. The Pakistan government bowed to international pressure as on February 22, 2019, its interior ministry disclosed that the government of Punjab province had acquired control over the administration of JEM headquarters located in a Bahawalpur seminary and mosque. Strangely, while the Indian media reported, perhaps enthusiastically, this government control over Masood Azhar’s habitat, the minister of information of Pakistan described the Indian reports as imaginary, while he depicted the Bahawalpur complex as a mere madrassa, having no connection with the suicide attack at Pulwama.
The Modi government appeared to be determined to scale up the fight against terrorists, potential terrorists. According to unofficial sources, as revealed in national television channels, the Indian Air Force was ready to launch a counter-strike against Pakistan in 2008 but was disallowed by prime minister Manmohan Singh’s government. In his Rajasthan speech, Modi stressed that New Delhi’s battle was against terrorists, and not against Kashmiris, who themselves suffered a lot from terrorist depredations. Modi also blamed his predecessors for not doing enough to satisfy the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
The Modi government took a wise decision to leave it to the Indian armed forces to plan a comprehensive response to the Pulwama killings, which might send a telling message to Pakistan and compel it to assess thoroughly the feasibility of repeating a Pulwama-type massacre. This response became visible on February 26, 2019 as the Indian Air Force precisely attacked a JEM training camp at Balakote, deep inside Pakistani territory, sparing military establishments and civilian areas, but killing a sizeable number of trainers, commanders and other terrorists. No word of praise was sufficient for the courage and valour of the Indian Air Force, but, obviously, without the political will and directives of the New Delhi government, the Air Force could not have launched such a risky strike. This is where the president of the Congress Party lacked a minimum of political courtesy; while he praised the Indian Air Force, he failed to laud the New Delhi government. Naturally, political leaders of different parties praised Indian airmen for the Balakote air strike.
Pakistan, expectedly, repeated its well-practised art of denial. Pakistan has always believed and lived in denial, i.e. of cross-border terrorism against India . Similarly, it has denied any successful Indian air strike at Balakote and put out its own version: Pakistani Air Force intercepted Indian Air Force planes, which sped away dumping their bombs in a remote place without inhabitants. Pakistan also dragged Indian elections into Balakote affair. Pakistan was a founder member of the OIC, which revealed its true colour, unlike in the post-Pulwama situation, and denounced the Indian onslaught at Balakote. But, in the hurry to deny the Indian attack at Balakote, Pakistan committed a mistake. Its director general of Inter-Services Press Relations revealed the Indian air strike even before India announced it, adding that the Indian aircraft, while trying to flee due to Pakistan’s counterattack, released their bombs, which fell near Balakote. Actually, Balakote was situated in a mountainous area with dense jungles. At any rate, the heads of diplomatic missions in New Delhi were satisfied with the prompt and systematic briefing by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
The Pulwama-Balakote affairs raise extremely important questions: Whether escalation is avoidable, and in case of escalation, whether the Indian armed forces have been properly equipped and prepared for it. In a separate encounter after Balakote, an Indian pilot was in temporary Pakistani custody, and a pilot of the Pakistan Air Force became a casualty. The combat itself, however limited, could have escalated and harmed the interests of both the adversaries. There were some weak signs of escalation as, for a few hours, some airports were closed to civil traffic, and, on February 27, publicity was given to the finance minister’s statement that India could match the capability of the United States for using special forces to kidnap Osama bin Laden. This was hardly acceptable at a moment when the government did not exhibit the capacity to brief the media in time, thereby enabling Pakistan to succeed in rumour mongering. As to the capacity of the local police for collection of intelligence, the less said, the better. Public transport depots or markets were left to the mercy of militants, who made ample use of the weakness of the local intelligence agencies. Even the largest paramilitary unit, the CRPF, under the command of the central government, does not have the arms and training of the Indian Army, even though it has to discharge a large number of tasks: aiding the local police forces in J&K and India’s North East, maintenance of law and order, and performance of counterinsurgency duties. Even the armed forces, with a budgetary outlay of 1.44 per cent of the GDP for 2019-20, may not have sufficient retaliatory capability in case of full-scale escalation by Pakistan. One should add that, since 1962, this is the lowest budgetary outlay. The fact that the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force are not members of the Cabinet Committee on Security may be a very important explanation for the lack of proper planning and acquisition of modern equipment by the defence forces, apart from inadequate budgetary support. The example of the Indian Air Force having thirty squadrons instead of the forty-two squadrons, required and sanctioned, confirms the lack of coordination between civil officers in the defence ministry, the political leaders and the armed forces. The Indian Army and the Navy can also provide instances, like the Air Force, with regard to gaps in their requirements.
The brief post-Balakote air encounter (mentioned before) illustrated Pakistan’s habit of making inaccurate or untrue statements. On the day following the date of Balakote air strike by India, i.e. on February 27, 2019, the prime minister of Pakistan said in a televised address that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) demonstrated that they could go inside India and attack, just as India could intrude inside Pakistan, and the PAF shot down two Indian MiG combat aircraft, and two Indian pilots were in Pakistani custody. The Pakistan Army later retracted and pointed out that only one Indian pilot was in their custody. India’s external affairs ministry statement came a little earlier than the Pakistani prime minister’s address. It noted that India successfully counteracted Pakistani Air Force attacks on Indian military installations, although one Indian pilot went missing at the time of the encounter, which witnessed the loss of an Indian MiG 21. An F-16 combat aircraft of Pakistan was shot down by India. An Indian Wing Commander (the son of a retired Air Marshal) was captured by Pakistanis but later released in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The Pakistani prime minister’s television address (mentioned before) was almost a model of self-righteousness. He said that neither India nor Pakistan (both with nuclear arms) should create a situation in which a miscalculation could lead to a war with unpredictable consequences. He further argued that all wars, the First World War, the Second World War, and even the war on terrorism commenced due to miscalculation of the costs of war to humanity. After such noble observations, the prime minister of Pakistan reiterated the view of all Pakistani spokespersons that India and Pakistan should talk. But this is in total contravention of the Indian stand that talks and terror cannot go together.
On February 27, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and (for the second time) China advised India and Pakistan to observe restraint, and curb further military action. The United States, significantly, demanded that Pakistan must take proper action against terror outfits operating from its territory. At Zhejiang in China on February 27, the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China issued a joint communiqué, which denounced all forms of terrorism, and recommended that the relevant UNSC resolutions on terrorism should be implemented, and that, in accordance with the UN Charter, a Global Counter Terrorism Strategy should be fully operative.
Despite the Pakistani prime minister’s self-righteous pronouncements on de-escalation of tensions with India, in practice nothing notable appeared to have been done by his government. For instance, on February 28, 2019, the foreign minister of Pakistan stated that Masood Azhar (the founder of JEM in 1999 who helped Osama bin Laden escape from a hideout in Tora Bora and was responsible for seventeen terror attacks on Indians/Americans from April 2000 to February 2019 (and for the death of at least 162 persons) was so sick that he could not be arrested. Moreover, the Pakistani minister observed that Azhar’s arrest required incontrovertible evidence (which was not available) acceptable to the judiciary and the people of Pakistan. As to placing Azhar’s name on the list of international terrorists, the foreign minister of Pakistan demanded that if India had irrefutable evidence, it was welcome to produce it in course of a dialogue with Pakistan. Actually, Azhar, having a serious renal problem, was receiving frequent dialysis at Rawalpindi’s military hospital. At any rate, it was likely—if not certain—that Pakistan’s Deep State (the Army-ISI combine) could not allow Azhar, an accomplice in the use of terror as Pakistan’s foreign policy tool, to get arrested.
On February 28, 2019, Pakistan’s foreign minister discounted the chance of an India-Pakistan war because that would lead to a simultaneous suicide. Actually, this was a clue to the Pakistani mindset which preferred the safety of a nearly continuous sub-conventional war in India’s J&K. This caused enormous losses of men and materials to India, which, at least visibly, did not retaliate on a proper scale, except in 2016 and 2019, which seemed to have induced Pakistan to sing the song of peace. Meanwhile, Pakistan and its Indian agents appear to have vitally damaged the social fabric in J&K by encouraging the emergence of young suicide bombers, e.g. Fardeen Ahmed Khanday (aged 16) or Adil Ahmad Dar (aged 22). Fardeen died in January 2018 when he raided a CRPF camp. Adil died at Pulwama in February 2019.
Undoubtedly, the culture of fidayeen grows in a situation where there are experiences of inhuman violence since childhood – whoever may be the perpetrator. But India has failed to take any lesson from the United States which has completely overhauled its homeland security network to prevent any attack since 9/11. Even India’s intelligence machinery has not been adequately nurtured, and that is one reason why the Pulwama incident could occur. There is a view that one should not push too far against terrorists and potential militants because that may fuel the flames of Islamist terrorism. But this debate must not be allowed to degenerate into risky and counterproductive lenience.
The leniency may turn out to be especially harmful in a situation where leaders of opposition parties tend sometimes to undermine the prestige of the Indian armed forces, while challenging the authenticity of the Balakote strike. Many opposition parties, for example, have demanded that the country must be informed of the number of persons killed at Balakote, of the spots where bombs were hurled, and of whether they hit the targets. Such queries, apart from being unpatriotic, reinforce the Pakistani view about the Balakote strike being null. Pakistanis claim that India has been guilty of ecological terrorism, because Indian bombs have damaged a number of pine trees. Pakistan must be credited with changing Balakote landscape promptly for foreign newsmen by lining up tall uprooted pine trees in a reserved forest. The Indian military authorities said on March 1, 2019 that Satellite Aperture Radars (SARs) could pass through clouds and generate ground maps with high resolution capacity. The SAR pictures of Balakote attack, proving that the Indian airmen could destroy what they wanted to, had to wait for the government’s decision on whether release the evidence or not. But the Indian defence establishment candidly affirmed that it was not possible to make an accurate computation of the number of terrorists killed at Balakote, although, normally, there should be more than 300 terrorists inhabiting that particular JEM training centre. The SAR pictures clearly reveal the site before and after bombing. Therefore, it was not fair to challenge the authenticity of this evidence.
There are a number of political parties in India, as well as journalists, who appeared to be aggrieved by the Indian success at Balakote because of the political use of this success by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. True, a BJP stalwart, a former chief minister of Karnataka, linked the Balakote success to the probable victory of his party at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It is also true that some opposition party leaders, notably the chief minister of West Bengal, questioned the authenticity of the Balakote success. It is furthermore correct to affirm that the pre-Modi governments did not demonstrate the strength and determination to retaliate justly against Pakistani militant attacks. To call Modi’s foreign policy `muscular,’ as opposition political leaders do, cannot diminish its importance. Therefore, the present prime minister and his party colleagues have taken advantage of the situation, calling Opposition parties unpatriotic. This is too convenient a political weapon to be neglected by the ruling party in a Lok Sabha election year. The Opposition parties were so hurt that twenty-one of them issued a statement denouncing the use of Indian soldiers’ performance as a political shield by the ruling party. It must be added that these political leaders and some journalists have gone so far as to suggest that Baklakote strikes have achieved practically nothing, because the following day Pakistan hit back with an air attack. They praised Pakistan’s prime minister for his advocacy of talks and peace (despite a hint at his doublespeak), and recommend that India should talk to Pakistan because India does not have the power to destroy the terror infrastructure of Pakistan. In all these ways, these critics of India’s ruling party put themselves on a par with Pakistani journalists who condemn the alleged triumphalism and warmongering of Indian television journalists, who may be rejoicing over the Indian success at Balakote. Keshari Nath Tripathi, the governor of West Bengal, compared these critics to snakes.
The Indian critics of the BJP are—perhaps unwarily—caught in a contradiction. On the one hand, they advocate talks with Pakistan even if Pakistan carries on acts of terror against India. On the other hand, they oppose participation in the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ meeting because this meeting every year adopts resolutions on J&K, calls India an occupying country, and, at the 2019 session in Abu Dhabi, India has been accused of barbarism and terrorism. But Pakistanis have not only been talking about India in the same fashion, they have also been engaged in acts of terror against India almost every day. One should not hesitate to try to use the OIC for changing the terrorist mindset of Pakistan. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi downplayed the resolution on J&K, saying that there was no difference from what was being done in previous meetings. But he stressed the importance of India’s presence as a guest of honour. The Crown Prince went much further and observed what should influence Pakistan. “The OIC has sent a very clear and positive sign to India ... that the OIC appreciates the relationship with India and looks forward to strengthening the relationship to a point where we can embrace India one day in the OIC.” He indirectly referred to Pakistan and added “I know we are not there yet for obvious reasons but what I can say is that having India as a guest of honour was a historic moment for the OIC.” It was definitely a historic moment for India, especially because the Crown Prince thwarted the Pakistani attempt to dissuade the UAE from inviting India to the OIC. Actually, the year 2019 is a landmark, because it marks the first steps to the recognition of religious rigidity causing Islamist extremism. The UAE was in fact celebrating 2019 as the `Year of Toleration.’ The Abu Dhabi Declaration proclaimed the OIC’s adoption of pluralism to cope with domestic radicalisation, and acceptance of a connection between terrorism and ideological militancy.
Pakistan continued to play hide-and-seek in the matter of ban on JUD and FIF. As early as February 21, 2019, the prohibition was announced. But even the March 4 update of the National Counter Terrorism Authority displayed on its website that they were merely on the watch list. Therefore, on March 5, 2019, due to the post-Pulwama international pressure on Pakistan for controlling the terrorist agencies operating from its territory, Pakistan not only prohibited JUD and FIF but also detained 44 members of the JEM including Hamad Azhar and Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar. They were, respectively, the son and brother of the JEM chief, and their names appeared in the dossier on Pulwama submitted to Pakistan by India after the attack on Balakote. Rauf was twenty-four years old when, in 1999, he plotted the hijacking of the Indian Airlines IC-814 flight, which forced India to free Masood Azhar, the JEM chief. Rauf remains the JEM’s chief of operations.
Much more ominously for India, Pakistan started provoking tribal leaders in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to set up militant groups for attacking India. As early as 1947, within a few weeks of becoming independent, Pakistan adopted this tactic, and employed tribal groups, along with Pakistan’s regular troops, to invade India’s J&K. Actually, Pakistan has a long history of using non-regular soldiers against India as well as Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Deep State (the army-ISI combine) sustains for this purpose a minimum of forty-five and a maximum of forty-eight militant outfits. On February 27, 2019, the day of encounter between Pakistan’s F-16 and India’s MiG-21, Pakistani officials, including a brigadier, met Pashtun officials and elders in KPK, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), now merged with KPK. Pakistan’s preparations for raising a full-fledged tribal force to fight against India, in a future India-Pakistan war, appeared to be well planned. For, two years earlier, Pakistan seized the weapons of Betani and Marwat tribesmen in KPK’s Lakki Marwat district, because they had bloody battles with each other. Those weapons were now returned. Moreover, in 2008 and 2009, Pakistan raised some pro-Taliban militias in the tribal territory of Swat and FATA, although they were misleadingly called Defence Committees. Pakistan presumably also had the design to divert the attention of the Pashtun youth, away from the anti-Pakistan Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement (PTM) to anti-Indian activities and agencies. That many tribal people started enlisting their names with Pakistani authorities for fighting against India in a future India-Pakistan war must have gratified Pakistan.
On March 5, 2019, the defence minister of India pointed out that, after the government received reliable data on the place of origin of Pulwama and other attacks, i.e. the Balakote base of Pakistani terrorists, it decided to launch a strike. Moreover, there were trustworthy intelligence reports that Pakistan was planning new Pulwama-type attacks against India. After the release of the Indian wing commander on March 1, 2019, the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, called this a gesture for peace, but warned that any escalation by India in future might compel the Pakistani military, afraid of loss of control over the country, to initiate a reckless measure resulting in a catastrophe for both India and Pakistan. But India has changed its strategy, will not submit even to this refined nuclear blackmail, and retaliate in future with a variant of Balakote strike in case of a Pulwama-type attack. Imran Khan and his PTI are in a terribly difficult situation. They have mainstreamed jihadi outfits to oppose the Deep State, as also to use these outfits to win elections. When these outfits encounter devastating responses in course of conducting attacks, they concentrate on causing haemorrhage inside Pakistan. India must not fail to cash in on this Pakistani dilemma.
Since the opposition party leaders persisted in challenging the veracity of the Balakote strike, by sheer abuse, it was essential to go beyond counter abuse and present some hard data. The technical surveillance agency of the government, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), had information of about 300 mobile phones in operation on the Balakote site. On March 5, 2019, the home minister of India, Rajnath Singh mentioned this fact to have an approximate idea of the probable number of casualties. He proposed that the Opposition leaders could try to go to Pakistan in order to have a more accurate estimate, instead of politicising the achievement of the Indian armed forces. On the same day, the defence minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, observed that there was no need for any further discussion on the Balakote event, or to connect this event with the impending Lok Sabha elections. As for reaction to abuse by abuse, a West Bengal BJP leader criticised West Bengal’s chief minister for seeking evidence on the Balakote attack, and thereby being more sympathetic to Pakistan than to India. V.K. Singh, the minister of state for defence, satirised the Congress Party’s demand for the number of the deceased at Balakote by pointing out that the air strike was not to be compared to playing with marbles.As for the use of F-16 by Pakistan after the Balakote affair, India must be aware of the consequences of its inquiry from the U.S. State Department. It might not be enough to exhibit an AMRAAM missile allegedly used by the Pakistani F-16, and New Delhi must forewarn itself about queries which might be addressed by Pakistan about the Indian use of U.S.-made helicopters or howitzers in any conflict with Pakistan. If the details of the U.S.-India agreement are confidential, this might arouse further suspicions in the minds of the Indian/Pakistani public.
On March 6, 2019, the government in Islamabad confiscated two seminaries as well as the property of JUD and FIF banned under Pakistan’s National Action Plan. One reason could be that India threatened Pakistan with proper action against unprovoked attacks on India, especially shelling in civilian areas. Another reason could be that India was dispatching selected portions of the dossier (sent to Pakistan on the JEM Chief Masood Azhar) to various Indian missions abroad, so that the governments of the countries where the missions were located could be duly informed of the contents of the dossier for facilitation of a UN ban on Masood Azhar. Moreover, Islamabad might have considered the impact of the Pulwama massacre, i.e. the U.S. diplomatic support for India’s reaction to this massacre, as can be measured from the responses of U.S. legislators. As many as sixty-four members of the two Houses of Congress urged restraint upon India and Pakistan in individual statements, but a large number of them demanded that Pakistan should stop providing sanctuaries to terrorists and any assistance it was giving to them. In contrast, not a single U.S. legislator endorsed the Pakistani view of the J&K problem as being the fundamental reason behind terror attacks upon India.
Yet, statements can aggravate Indo-Pakistan relations, such as the one from home minister of India, Rajnath Singh, on March 9, in which he pointed out that during the past five years India carried out three cross border strikes against Pakistan. The post-Uri surgical strike of 2016 and the post-Pulwama strike of 2019were two attacks which could be easily counted. But, the third one by India was incomprehensible. Yet, Singh did not clarify it. Significantly, on March 9, 2019, the spokesperson of India’s ministry of external affairs clearly pointed out that gazette notifications, bereft of verifiable action, would not convince India of effective steps against home-grown terror outfits by Pakistan.
Nevertheless, for the sake of emphasis, what has already been noted, the post-Pulwama actions of India leave a lot to be desired. Indian decision makers rightly abandoned the stance of renunciation of force against Pakistan, maintaining the sanctity of the border (even if unilaterally), and demonstrated the capacity of Indian airmen to traverse hundreds of miles inside enemy territory to attack terrorist infrastructure. But they could not cover up their usual deficiencies: lack of modern weapons (hurting the morale of the Indian military), failure to upgrade the status of the Indian military in order to have a balanced relationship with the civilian bureaucrats, and, above all, the temptation to please media persons and their warlike postures, while fixing the time of responses to Pakistani militant moves. The government also did not succeed in restraining the Opposition parties from showering unjustified abuses on the ruling party.
There have been some exceptional television talk shows in Pakistan abjuring warmongering. Otherwise, a chorus of war cries have been common to both India and Pakistan in the post-Pulwama surroundings. This is almost a mockery because neither of the two countries has been able to pursue the goals of economic and social equality. This has resulted in further weakening of the already marginalised groups. This cannot but impede economic development as a whole and encourage the adoption of violence by the authorities to cope with legitimate protests.
Such circumstances may sometimes be responsible for drawing young men and women to terrorist agencies as over-ground workers or even as a grenadier (like in a Jammu bus stand). In the early years of the twenty-first century, the terror outfits started using minors in this manner, but soon gave up the tactic. Currently, the tactic seems to have been revived, and even women are being deployed as over-ground workers to carry foodstuff, and ammunition, to active militants. Indian security forces try to encourage these young groups to limit their participation. But terror outfits continue to use young men, including qualified persons. For example, Mudasir Ahmed Khan, a graduate trained at an industrial institute as an electrician, engaged in attacks at army or CRPF camps in January and February 2018, as also in planning the Pulwama attack in 2019. Since Mudasir joined the JEM in 2017, his progress may be deemed to be remarkable. These young persons can presumably collaborate with the Pakistan Army, so that at convenient moments, cover fire will be used to enable terrorists to move a few hundred metres into Indian territory, cause some damage, and get away. Visible development in J&K, e.g. the implementation of the mass rapid transport plan, may reduce the possibilities of such terrorist actions near the border. Nevertheless, Mudasir, the twenty-three-year-old electrician who arranged the van and explosives for the Pulwama massacre, was himself killed in an encounter with Indian security forces on March 11, 2019.
In Indian democracy, the Election Commission of India has to arrange a complex general election timetable for a large number of states and union territories. Yet, Opposition parties try to detect impropriety and unfair motivation in the timing of elections. For example, the general election of 2019 coincided with the Ramzan month. An Opposition party, the Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), which is also the ruling party in the state of West Bengal, criticised the ruling party in New Delhi for trying to dissuade Muslim voters from participating in the election. But Asaduddin Owaisi, the head of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), challenged this criticism, and pointed out that the Muslims would feel insulted by this comment of the TMC because they observe all their duties during Ramzan, and there was no reason why they could not perform their electoral duty. Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference president, unfairly related the Balakote air strike to the 2019 general election, claiming that the prime minister deliberately ordered the air strike to win the general election; Modi tried to demonstrate that his reappointment as the prime minister was essential to India’s survival. Abdullah went so far as to allege that Modi thus tried to cover up his deficiencies in all other fields. But Abdullah should not have underplayed the triumph of the Indian Air Force at Balakote. True, India used Israeli ammunition. But, unlike Israel, which confronts an organisation like Hamas, having no air defence system or air force, India had to contend with a powerful Pakistani Air Force. Therefore, while Israel deserves all the credit for instantaneous retaliation against any terror attack by Hamas, India’s success at Balakote, far away from the border, will be treated probably as an example to trainees in various military establishments acrossthe world.
In sharp contrast, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government did not take any action against Pakistan after it sponsored the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, killing 166 persons, and injuring many others. As a result, Pakistan did not feel deterred from such future aggressions. The Pulwama-Balakote affair, following the death of forty persons at Pulwama, certainly acted as a deterrent against Pakistan planning medium/large scale assaults against India. Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national, was arrested in the midst of the 26/11 massacre. But, just as Pakistan refused to take back dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers after any clash with India, it disowned Kasab despite incontrovertible proof provided by India about Kasab’s Pakistani nationality.
At the heart of deterrence is the acquisition of solid intelligence information. In this context, it is essential to refer to a confidential but most authoritative study (which the government could have released to the public in the national interest). The study, titled “Report on Pakistani Organised Subversion, Sabotage and Infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir,” by Surendra Nath, a chief of the J&K State’s counter-intelligence agency, provides a history of India’s counter-espionage actions against J&K’s terror mafias. Nath could suavely predict a proxy war or informal conflict launched by Pakistan against India, while centring on J&K. Nath could comprehend that the ceasefire in the First Kashmir War in January 1949 was only a prologue to Pakistani attempts to take over J&K by other means, e.g. by threats to law and order in the state by means of arousing Hindu-Muslim antagonisms, killing of leaders with nationalist orientation, or capture of authority through Pakistani agents in J&K. It is now time to follow up Nath’s report by a thorough investigation of how and whether New Delhi has been successful in planning and executing preventive measures to forestall future Pulwamas or Kargils.
This is easier said than done. After all, it may not be possible to influence the JEM even with the support of the Pakistan government, army and the ISI—assuming that all these agencies will cooperate with India to overcome the JEM, which, over decades, has become almost invincible with its internal and external contacts. Internally, the JEM has genuine influence over the urban youth in various cities of Punjab, e.g. Lahore. Therefore, the army cannot wipe out rebels in the same way in Punjab as in FATA by the use of heavy weapons and random slaughter. If it even tries this method, the entire people of Punjab may turn against the army, especially when members of the same family may be working in the army and the JEM. It is also not possible for the Pakistan government, the army and the ISI to counteract the JEM’s international influence. It secures money from Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani businessmen and the ISI. Its links with the ISI and the army cannot be dismantled, even if sections of them think of the country’s long-term interests and try to preserve the state from the octopus embrace of the JEM. Before and during the days of the Kosovan war, the JEM built extensive connections with Western intelligence agencies, which still survive, despite contrarian thoughts of some sections of the Pakistan government. The Pakistan government, even with the support of sections of the army and the ISI (who are anti-JEM), will not be able to control the suicide bombers of the JEM whom the U.S. army, in collaboration with the Afghan army, could not tame. So, one has to conceive the inconceivable if the JEM has to be controlled and future Pulwamas have to be averted. India, Pakistan, the United States and the international community have to come together to save Pakistan from its own creation, i.e. the JEM.
But, before India can even think of helping Pakistan, it must help itself, putting in proper shape its machinery of coping with terrorist offences (committed by Pakistanis and locals) in J&K. Terror-related offences are a completely new kind of offence, and could not have been remotely imagined by the traditional proponents of the law of evidence. The traditional approach is that for the sake of prevention of one innocent from being punished, even ten criminals can be allowed to go free. Unless this approach is adapted to coping with terrorist offences, ten innocents will suffer, and only one offender out of ten may be punished. Since trial of terrorists cannot be delinked from the existing criminal justice system, the latter has to be reformed, with the J&K High Court and the Supreme Court of India playing a leading part.
Protection of witnesses afraid of testifying against terrorists is an important part of this reform. For example, on February 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of India directed the J&K Government to transfer seven undertrials, all Pakistani terrorists, who created awe in the minds of local witnesses, to Tihar Jail in Delhi. A pro-Pakistan separatist leader, Yasin Malik, who tried to kill Indian Air Force officers in 1990, has not been tried and punished. So is another, Shaber Shah, accused of money-laundering for a decade, arrested in 2017, but not yet penalised. Apparently interminable trials are going on in cases of unlawful transfer of funds to terrorists. These examples can be multiplied. Even the law has not been properly drafted. The Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) of 2002 is sidetracked. Instead, according to the dictates of vote bank politics, the UPA II government even weakened the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. The number of paramilitary forces in J&K (BSF, CRPF, Central Industrial Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guard, Sashastra Seema Bal) is around 800,000. But they require training and equipment (e.g. bulletproof vests) for anti-insurgency operations.
Whereas the Opposition parties, especially the Congress Party, continued to harry the New Delhi Government on important matters, including military issues, the government produced incontrovertible evidence of success on some complex international problems eluding a solution for years. Take, for instance, the case of Masood Azhar. Before the resolution of the case at the UN in May 2019, it was repeatedly obstructed by China to keep Pakistan happy, and on one such occasion in March 2019, Congress president Rahul Gandhi declared that prime minister Modi was afraid of Xi Jinping, the president of China, because the latter could halt the branding of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN. Rahul forgot that he had kept silent in 2009, when the United Progressive Alliance government, with Manmohan Singh as the prime minister, had the same experience at the UN where China stopped the designation of Masood as a global terror-monger.
China had important reasons behind taking such a stand. It had to provide for safety of its growing Pakistani investments—especially in the face of attacks by Baloch freedom fighters—with the help of the Pakistan Army. Masood was close to the Pakistan Army and the ISI, and, therefore, China could not take the risk of alienating Pakistani security forces. Moreover, by its stand on Masood at the UN, China could purchase the silence of Pakistan on the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China’s prison camps, euphemistically called rehabilitation centres. Masood’s JEM leads terrorist actions in J&K, which are of advantage to China, because they weaken India militarily, and China cannot refrain from looking upon India as a competitor, which can be partially tamed by Pakistan’s hostility. China has long been using Pakistan to counterbalance India. It is, however, doubtful how far the listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist would help India. The Pakistan government can put him under preventive detention as long as international pressure seems to be visibly applied. Afterwards, it may be business as usual.
Perhaps some such calculation was behind the Chinese decision not to block the France-UK-U.S.-sponsored resolution at the UN Security Council to declare Masood as a global terrorist. The resolution was passed on May 1, 2019. The fifty-year-old son of a retired school headmaster in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur, Masood was arrested in February 1994 at Anantnag by chance. He had entered India through Bangladesh and was carrying a Portuguese passport. Indian army men arrested him when, along with Sajjad Afghani, he was travelling in an auto-rickshaw. His organisation was well-equipped, and, within ten months of his arrest, his release was demanded by some terrorists who kidnapped a few foreigners from Delhi. But the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police freed the foreigners. Masood was not released. Again, in July 1995, Al Faran kidnapped five foreigners in Kashmir, and demanded Masood’s release. Al Faran was the subsidiary of a terrorist outfit called Harkat-ul-Afasar. But this attempt to free Masood also failed. In 1999, when Masood was in Kot Balwal jail, a tunnel was dug to facilitate his escape, but Masood Azhar had such a big body that he was incapable of moving through the tunnel (while Sajjad Afghani was killed at that time). In 1999, an Indian Airlines plane (IC-814) was hijacked to Kandahar, although it was to move from Kathmandu to New Delhi. The government of India failed in negotiations with Masood’s associates, the hijackers, who demanded the release of three terrorists: Masood Azhar, Mustaq Ahmed Zargar and Omar Sheikh. The National Democratic Alliance government not only had to accept these demands but also asked the minister of external affairs, Jaswant Singh, to accompany the three terrorists by a special plane to Kandahar. Passengers of the hijacked plane were released. Masood Azhar was released by India on December 31, adding to his stature, which enabled the ISI to persuade the clergymen at Karachi’s Binori mosque to work under Masood’s leadership.
When the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) was born on January 31, 2000, Masood became a mentor of suicide bombers, and his JEM was responsible for a number of daring attacks on India, including the Pulwama massacre of 2019 and the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001. He has the reputation of carrying out reconnaissance of the target area so that the attack could be streamlined accordingly. Being declared a global terrorist by the UN, Masood will be subjected to severe restrictions on the supply of arms and money, as also on travel. Pakistan may be compelled, at any rate as a matter of temporary exhibition to foreign countries, to close down the JEM madrasas, seminaries, terror factories, etc. But who will inspect whether all the madrasas, etc. have been shut down, and for how long? After all, Pakistan has been adept in misleading the international community on such matters.
As late as mid-March 2019, i.e. nearly twenty years after the event, the Congress Party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala, referred disparagingly to the forced return of Masood Azhar and two other terrorists by an NDA government. Little could he foresee that by May 2019, India would succeed in convincing the UN Security Council to declare Masood Azhar a global terrorist. The principal Opposition party, the Congress, however, persisted in lampooning the NDA government. On May 22, 2019, Sam Pitroda, the Overseas Indian National Congress Chairman, challenged the number of dead as a result of the Balakote strike by the Indian Air Force. Similarly, the leader of another Opposition party, the Samajwadi Party, Ramgopal Jadav, looked upon the Pulwama massacre as a plot by the BJP to swell its votes in the April-May general election. BJP circles labelled such remarks by Opposition parties as supportive of the Pakistani stand, and as humiliating to the Indian Army. One wonders whether, partly, as a result of such Opposition moves, National Security Adviser A. K. Doval showered praise on the CRPF (the victim at Pulwama) for moving successfully from one combat area to another. Doval also admired Indian leaders for the capacity to decide what action should be taken against militants or their patrons. Even the chief of the Indian Navy did some sabre-rattling when he staged a relatively massive exercise by his men and ships/submarines, which might appear ominously to Pakistan as a prelude to blockading its ports (even though this was not the Indian intention). The situation in J&K did not show much improvement. On March 22, 2019, LET terrorists held two hostages, one of them a minor boy. Eventually, five terrorists were jailed, the adult hostage could be freed, but the minor one was killed. The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was prohibited on March 22 for close contacts with terrorists and secessionist groups. It was led by Yasin Malik who himself was in a Jammu jail, facing trials for many cases ranging from kidnapping to murder and ethnic expulsion spread over three decades. The JKLF, founded in 1970 by a Pakistani, came to prominence at the time of the Bangladesh liberation war, when it hijacked a Srinagar-Jammu Indian Airlines flight. The New Delhi government, in tune with the current situation, boycotted the function on the occasion of Pakistan National Day (March 23, 2019), although it was attended by many journalists, and political leaders (including separatist Hurriyat leaders).
Opposition parties continue to pay too much importance to the Pulwama-Balakote affair. In addition to a Congress party stalwart like Sam Pitroda, two leaders of the AIMIM criticised the New Delhi government over the Pulwama event. Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM chief, went so far as to question on March 24, 2019 at a public meeting whether India’s prime minister and home minister were having a deep sleep after eating beef biryani, and whether that was the reason why they could not detect the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack carrying 50 kg of RDX to Pulwama. On March 25, an MLA of AIMIM, Akbaruddin Owaisi, ridiculed Narendra Modi for calling himself a chowkidar, whereas he was a chaiwala before he became the prime minister. In a democracy, many things are permissible, and Akbaruddin demanded that Narendra Modi’s passport, Aadhaar card, and voter card should also carry the chowkidar designation. The BJP did not seem immediately to react to such comments by the two AIMIM leaders, who are also brothers. One can, therefore, question whether BJP leaders, including Narendra Modi, should have allowed Sam Pitroda to exercise his democratic right to make critical comments on the Pulwama-Balakote matter, and not engage in a slugfest. The government, of course, is right in probing whether a new technology was used by Pakistani handlers of the Pulwama bomber, i.e. a “virtual SIM” supplied by a U.S. service provider, that is linked to Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social networking sites.
In any discussion of the Pulwama-Balakote episode, there is a three-cornered debate between the Indian and Pakistani Governments, as also Opposition parties in India. Whereas the Indian Government sticks to the stand of incompatibility between terror and talks, and there is no evidence of Pakistan being in a mood to stop terrorist acts, the Pakistan government and the Indian Opposition parties continue to harp on the need for a dialogue between India and Pakistan for any successful move towards a permanent resolution of Indo-Pak tensions and the cessation of terrorist acts by Pakistan. But any meaningful dialogue presupposes a mindset that originates from a social culture that is conducive to the practice of reason and toleration of dissent with a view to reconciliation. But, since 1947, Pakistan has evolved in such a way as to preclude the emergence of such a society. There can be multiple explanations or interpretations of such an evolution, but there may be no disagreement among objective and impartial observers that the relative absence of a democratic culture, the domination of the military (visibly or invisibly) in nearly every sector, e.g. polity, economy, etc. and the emergence of a gun culture due to the proliferation of terror groups, mostly under government patronage, and the failure of the government to control some of its own creatures, which may even think of usurping state authority with at least partial support of the government and the Deep State—are not conducive to peaceful dialogue even within Pakistan—not to speak of a dialogue between Pakistan and India.
A few examples from recent history may suffice. Some years back, an enlightened provincial governor, Salman Taseer, was killed because he opposed the unfair application of the blasphemy law. The killer, being tried in the court, enjoyed the rare glory of a huge assembly of his supporters thronging the court premises, which included members of learned professions, e.g. lawyers. The judge, who punished the killer, had to leave his country for personal safety. In March 2019, a spokesman of legitimate rights of students was not only subjected to a false charge of blasphemy, but also lynched. In the same month, Khalid Hameed, the head of the English Department in a government college, was killed by a student who found his views on the value of religious tolerance, as expressed in a gathering, as un-Islamic, and, as he argued, he could not leave the matter to the court, because the judiciary had a tradition of freeing blasphemers. Women in Pakistan staged an unprecedented protest in March 2019 to promote, and more importantly, debate gender rights. Even feminists spoke in different voices reflecting their generations and political orientations. Male chauvinists carried on a social media campaign in favour of Mard March as against the Aurat March. But it invited more ridicule than respect. Nevertheless, what was really alarming was the unanimous resolution passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly stating that the women staged an un-Islamic march, coming under the influence of unknown forces interested in vitiating Pakistan’s social norms. One Assembly member even said that the government should regulate such marches, indicating that the agenda of legislators did not include peaceful movements and dialogue. If this is the internal situation of Pakistan, the advocacy of India-Pakistan talks to reduce tensions and prevent hostilities can be deemed to be worse than bunkum. A closed society like Pakistan cannot dream of a successful dialogue with an open society like India, where (unlike in Pakistan) pluralism prevails, and 185 million Muslims live without thinking of migration to Pakistan.
Jayanta Kumar Ray is National Research Professor, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, and Honorary Professor, Institute of Foreign Policy Studies, University of Calcutta. His previous assignments include Chairman, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata; National Fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi; Centenary Professor of International Relations, and Founder-Director, Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Calcutta; Senior Research Associate, Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses, New Delhi; Senior Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; and Reader, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University. A brief sample of his publications may be noted: Cross-Border Terrorism: Focus on Pakistan (2016); India’s Foreign Relations, 1947-2007 (2011); India: In Search of Good Governance (2001); To Chase a Miracle: A Study of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh (1987); Administrators in a Mixed Polity (1981); Public Policy and Global Reality (1977); Portraits of Thai Politics (1972); Democracy and Nationalism on Trial: A Study of East Pakistan (1968); Security in the Missile Age (1967); and Transfer of Power in Indonesia 1942-49 (1967). He has co-authored and edited several books and has published important articles in national and international journals.
 The Statesman, February 20, 2019; The Statesman, February 22, 2019; The Statesman, July 25, 2019; and Republic television, July 24, 2019.
 Yogendra Kumar, “The Pulwama Syndrome,” The Statesman, February 21, 2019. Pakistan possesses small tactical nuclear weapons—about 125-150 gms: PTI report from Lahore, The Statesman, September 3, 2019.
 Reports of SNS & Agencies from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 17, 2019.
 The Statesman, February 22, 2019.
 Report from Agencies in Islamabad, The Statesman, February 22, 2019; and PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 23, 2019.
 Statesman News Service Report from Kolkata, The Statesman, February 23, 2019.
 PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 23, 2019.
 Ashok Tuteja, The Statesman, February 24, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from Kolkata, The Statesman, February 26, 2019.
 PTI report from Jammu, The Statesman, February 26, 2019.
 PTI report, The Statesman, 24 February 2019.
 PTI report from Tonk, Rajasthan, The Statesman, February 24, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 27, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 27, 2019; also see, Harsha Kakar, “A new India Asserts itself,” The Statesman, July 30, 2019.
 PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 28, 2019.
 P.K. Vasudeva, “Predictable Contingency,” The Statesman, February 28, 2019.
 PTI reports from Washington/London/Hanoi/Islamabad, and Statesman News Service/PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, February 28, 2019. Also see, PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 1, 2019.
 The Times of India, Kolkata, March 2, 2019; and PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 3, 2019.
 Prasenjit Chowdhury, “Kill and be Killed,” The Statesman, March 2, 2019.
 Statesman News Service reports, The Statesman, March 2 and 3, 2019; and Editorial, The Statesman, March 3, 2019.
 Report from Islamabad, The Times of India, March 2, 2019.
 Times News Network, The Times of India, March 2, 2019.
 Manini Chatterjee, “Let’s get real,” The Telegraph, March 4, 2019.
 Anita Joshua, “Delhi shrugs off jab, looks at OIC big picture,” The Telegraph, Calcutta, March 4, 2019.
 Statement by a former Chief of Kabul’s intelligence agency, Rahmatullah Nobil, Times News Network, The Times of India, March 4, 2019.
 Dawn, February 28, 2019.
 Aarti Tikoo Singh & Rohan Dua, The Times of India, March 6, 2019.
 PTI report from Chennai, The Statesman, March 6, 2019.
 Mohammed Ayoob, The Hindu, March 2, 2019.
 Vinod Saighal, “How Modi should read Imran Khan,” The Statesman, March 6, 2019.
 Statesman News Service reports from Kolkata, and Chennai, The Statesman, March 6, 2019.
 Report from Ranchi, The Statesman, March 6, 2019.
 Editorial, The Statesman, March 6, 2019.
 Reports of news agencies from Islamabad, The Statesman, March 7, 2019.
 Chidanand Rajghatta, The Times of India, March 7, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from Bengaluru, The Statesman, March 10, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 10, 2019.
 Devendra Saksena, “Parable of a conflict,” The Statesman, March 10, 2019.
 For a reference to a valuable UN Human Rights report on the issue, see Editorial, The Statesman, March 11, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from Jammu, and PTI report from Srinagar, The Statesman, March 11, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from Jammu, The Statesman, March 11, 2019.
 Ibid, March 12, 2019.
 Statesman News Service report from Hyderabad, The Statesman, March 12, 2019.
 Harsha Kakar, “Let’s not forget IAF’s triumph,” The Statesman, March 12, 2019.
 See Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement, PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 15, 2019.
 Prasenjit Chowdhury, “The Informal War,” The Statesman, March 15, 2019.
 Vinod Saihgal, “Are Pak Tanzeems too hot to handle?”, The Statesman, March 15, 2019. Also see, Harsha Kakar, “Pakistan in an election year,” The Statesman, January 29, 2019.
 G. Ramchandra Reddy, “To fight terrorism, let’s set our house in order,” The Statesman, March 17, 2019.
PTI report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 15, 2019.
 Harsha Kakar, “Expecting Chinese to help was Naive,” The Statesman, March 19, 2019.
 https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/masood-azhar-a-globalterrorist-what-it-means/articles how/69132485.com, pp. 1-19.
 PTI reports from Srinagar and New Delhi, Statesman News Service report from New Delhi, The Statesman, March 23, 2019; and editorials, The Statesman, March 20 and 24, 2019.
 PTI reports from Srinagar and Hyderabad, The Statesman, March 25 and 26, 2019; and Editorial, The Statesman, March 26, 2019.