Pakistan’s Restrained Self-Defence is a Wake-up Call to an International Community That Continues to Ignore Kashmir

Two jets down 

This morning, in broad daylight, Pakistan downed two Indian fighter jets which had breached Pakistani airspace. One of the jets landed in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and one landed in Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir province.

 

Subsequent to the downing of the jets, an Indian pilot was taken into custody by Pakistani soldiers.

Why it happened in a specific sense

According to Pakistan armed forces spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, today’s action taken in the morning light, was a necessary and non-lethal effort which demonstrates that Pakistan will never tolerate any illegal infringements of its air space as was witnessed today and moreover as occurred during yesterday’s attempted but ultimately failed Indian aerial assault on Pakistani territory.

Speaking at a press conference Major General Ghafoor further elaborated on the situation as follows:

“Pakistan’s armed forces have capability, will, resolve and nation’s support. But because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won’t take any military targets.

Secondly we decided that there be no loss of life or collateral damage in our engaging of targets.

Our planes locked targets, then in open air we carried out strikes. We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don’t want escalation. We don’t want to go towards war”.

Why it happened in a wider sense 

Although the Kashmir crisis has burnt since 1947 and has been rapidly escalating into a major human rights crisis since 1989 in particular, the international community has come to ignore the Kashmir crisis more so than just about any other lingering conflict on the planet. By contrast, the Israel-Palestine conflict, wars against Daesh terrorism in the Arab world and even elements of the ongoing civil conflicts in Myanmar, tend to receive far more international attention.

As a result, India has been able to act with impunity against the people of occupied Kashmir, while India’s narrative which blames Pakistan for inciting a resistance to occupation that has in reality been incited by India’s own policies in occupied Kashmir – is rarely challenged outside of Pakistan.

The reason this reality has come about is because of the fact that in today’s age of modern warfare, there is little chance that a conventional war between India and Pakistan would directly impact the security of any other nation. In this sense, the vastness of the wider south Asian space has given the wider world a convenient excuse to ignore the crisis, with the noble exception of Turkey.

As such, whilst China refuses Indian calls to scapegoat Pakistan and label local groups as “international terrorist groups”, China nevertheless does not want to risk a further deterioration of its relations with India by taking a firm stance on the Kashmir issue. For the United States that in recent years has pivoted closer to India and further away from Pakistan, Washington seeks to balance its rhetorical support of the Indian narrative against a desire not to totally alienate a Pakistani state that even Donald Trump now realises is required to secure any lasting and meaningful peace process in Afghanistan. Finally, whilst Russia tries to maintain its strong Cold War bond with India whilst also availing itself of opportunities that a Pakistani partnership presents, Russia tends to say as little as possible while at times, an historic pro-India basis is still detectable.

As such, when Pakistan is faced with a large Indian neighbour that seems unchecked in its arrogance and its willingness to use military force in order to engender domestic political gain for the ruling BJP, there is no choice for Pakistan but to demonstrate its material capacity for self-defence.

This is why Pakistan did not attack India under the cover of night, but instead used its military power to actively punish Indian jets that had violated Pakistani airspace with utter impunity. Pakistan wants the world to see the situation for what it is. Beyond this, the only way to break this cycle is for India to realise that bullying a geographically smaller but still nuclear armed neighbour, is totally unacceptable and that moreover, the root cause of all hostility between India and Pakistan is the fact that New Delhi refuses to grant Kashmiris their UN mandated plebiscite on political self-determination.

A wake up call for the rest of the world 

Almost every country in the world has issued a statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict at one time or another. Similarly, the US continues to criticise the Chinese and Russian military superpowers. China makes very firm statements criticising the US when it violates China’s maritime rights in the South China Sea, Iran and Israel constantly criticise one another, Russia constantly criticises the military policies of the United States – and yet this same international community continues to fall silent on the Kashmir issue, in spite of the fact that Kashmir’s crisis is the sole cause of tensions between nuclear neighbours in south Asia.

In this sense, the wider world ought to listen to the following statement, also given at this morning’s press conference by Major General Asif Ghafoor:

“The state, government, armed forces and people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate and follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan”.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also addressed both India and the wider world in a dignified call for de-escalation. He stated:

We know how the families of those killed in Pulwama incident must have felt. We have been the victims of war for decades. I have been to hospitals visiting survivors of bomb attacks, the ones who are left behind, who are maimed and left crippled. We know what war means. Since the beginning we have asked India to share actionable evidence with us. It is nowhere in the interest of Pakistan for it to be used as a base for militancy.

But I had a hunch that India would escalate, and that is why in my earlier speech I had stated that if India plays war games, we will retaliate. We waited, and today we took action. It was our plan to not cause any collateral damage, and not to cause any casualties. We simply wanted to show capability.

Two Indian MiGs crossed Pakistan’s borders, and we shot them down. I also want to state that the pilot is with us.

I want to now address India and say let sanity prevail. Let’s think sensibly. All wars in the world have been started on miscalculations on the time and the human cost of war. This was the same with the First World War, with the Second World War, the war on terror, the Vietnam War. The history of the world shows us wars have always been miscalculation.

I ask India; with our weapons capability…. on both sides, can we afford a miscalculation? It will neither be in my control or Modi’s. The hurt that has been caused due to the Pulwama attack, we want to come to the table and talk about terrorism that affects us both. We are ready. Let better sense prevail.

Conclusion 

Both India, its traditional partners and other major members of the international community must think with a cool head on Pakistan’s offer. Pakistan’s doors to dialogue continue to remain open, but likewise, Pakistan will always respond robustly to any acts of provocation committed by any of its neighbours. If the world truly cares about peace, the international community must tackle this matter at its root. This is to say, the international community that for decades has ignored Kashmir, must cease to do so.

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