Pathankot terror attack strikes at heart of PM Modi’s Pakistan peacemaking

The attack, the second in Punjab in just months, is likely to lead to sharp attacks on Prime Minister’s outreach to Pakistan from the opposition.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: January 2, 2016 11:07 am
PM Narendra Modi with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif PM Narendra Modi with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Exactly a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic Christmas day visit to Lahore, his high-stakes bid to make peace with Pakistan is facing trial by fire. Today’s pre-dawn attack on the Pathankot air base, raises questions about just how serious Islamabad is, about reining-in anti-India terrorism—the cornerstone of the peace process.

The attack, the second in Punjab in just months, is likely to lead to sharp attacks on Prime Minister’s outreach to Pakistan from the opposition. He will then have to choose between weathering the storm, or calling off the dialogue. Little detail is available about the attack so far, but Indian officials allege the assault was carried out by Pakistani cadre of the Jaish-e-Muhammad.

Should credible evidence of this claim emerge, New Delhi is likely to demand action against the perpetrators. The chances Islamabad will do so, though, are low. Today’s attack bear the marks of past Jaish operations: like, the December 2001 attack on Parliament House, where the attackers hijacked an official car, hoping it would be allowed into the complex.

Indian intelligence officers believe the group, entered India along the banks of the Beas, which cuts across the fencing on the Pakistan border, on January 31- just hours after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the two countries “cannot live as enemies”.

Maulana Masood Azhar, the head of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, has close links to Pakistan’s intelligence services. Even though the organisation is proscribed by the United Nations, as well Australia, Canada, India, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US and the UN, Azhar operates openly, from a sprawling seminary in Bahawalpur. He has never been prosecuted for the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814 to Kandahar, carried out to ensure his release from jail. New Delhi has been hopeful that the terrorism-focussed dialogue between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant-General Nasir Janjua, has the army’s backing.

The attack, though, raises the question of whether Pakistan’s armed forces in fact support the dialogue process, or are seeking to subvert it. Pakistan’s Generals, the scholar C Christine Fair has pithily noted, see India as an ideological, not solely military, problem: “to acquiesce [to India] is tantamount not only to defeating the Pakistan Army, but also, fundamentally, to eroding the legitimacy of the Pakistani state”.

From an Indian optic, two steps would make clear Pakistan’s military has, indeed committed to a new strategic vision. The first would be legal action against the perpetrators of violence against India and the second, the dismantling of the military infrastructure of terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.

There’s some evidence that Pakistan has, indeed acted prodded along by the United States. Ever since 2003, the violence in Kashmir has declined steadily-and, notwithstanding commentary in the media, official statistics demonstrate it stayed in line with the low levels seen in recent years through 2015.

Even violence levels, which showed an uptick through 2013 and 2014, showed a marginal decline. Moreover, since 26/11, there hasn’t been a single major terrorist attack outside Jammu and Kashmir that has traced back to Pakistan and interrogations of arrested terrorists has shown the ISI is keeping a tight leash on some jihadist groups acting against India.

There is evidence to just the contrary, too, though: the Lashkar’s attack in Gurdaspur could, for example, have claimed hundreds of lives had landmines been planted on a railway line.

In discussions with Indian interlocutors, Pakistan has said it hopes, in the long term, to defang organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad by bringing them into political life. Prime Minister Modi has decided to take the chance on this post-dated cheque—and now has to decide if it’s actually worth more than the paper it is written on.

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  1. U
    Universal Truth
    Jan 2, 2016 at 3:06 pm
    Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
    Reply
    1. U
      Universal Truth
      Jan 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm
      Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
      Reply
      1. U
        Universal Truth
        Jan 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm
        Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
        Reply
        1. U
          Universal Truth
          Jan 2, 2016 at 4:54 pm
          Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
          Reply
          1. U
            Universal Truth
            Jan 2, 2016 at 4:54 pm
            Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
            Reply
            1. U
              Universal Truth
              Jan 3, 2016 at 12:57 am
              Anyone can explain me...... Indian media is saying that "senior police officer said he and his ociates were seized by five armed men wearing army uniforms (Times of India)" if it is so then why the terrorists from stan would not have killed these persons and just stole their official car. It is world's 8th wonder happening in India that terrorist captured Law enforcing Person and then released him to inform all law enforcing agencies then they issued a red alert in the state even then the attack happened. So very interesting terrorist who just killed IAF official and let the police official go.
              Reply
              1. K
                Kiran Krishna
                Jan 2, 2016 at 9:49 am
                and what exactly is that reply?
                Reply
                1. मनीष
                  Jan 2, 2016 at 7:03 am
                  For every terrorist attack by stanis in India, there were always Indian Muslims supporting them. The Army should Kill 100 Muslims for death of every Indian. India suffering due to stupidity of Mohan K. hi.
                  Reply
                  1. P
                    Pradeep
                    Jan 3, 2016 at 3:31 am
                    Good analysis Ramesh.
                    Reply
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                      TIHAEwale
                      Jan 2, 2016 at 7:18 am
                      Feku56 should know he should ot act like film star Rajkumar whose famous dialog was Hum aayenge jarror aayenge helicopter aapka dawat aap kaa magar waqt hamara
                      Reply
                      1. V
                        Virendra Sason
                        Jan 2, 2016 at 9:12 am
                        We salute the Indian army, Para Military forces and Punjab Police ! How ironic! India, stan will discuss the issue of terrorism but stani government do not have control over terroists. जैसे हम बंगलादेश से गेहूं खरीदेगें पर बंगलादेश गेहूं पैदा नहीं करता।
                        Reply
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                          AMIT PADHYE
                          Jan 2, 2016 at 7:17 am
                          I want to say something here... I understand that May be stan Government is not in complete control of these jehadi elements... But I feel that the Army men and innocent civilians pay the price for it.... Let India attack offcially deep into stan and see what happens ? some people will say that PAK may use small nuclar weapons...lets take this risk.... let see to what extent stan goes....Even if stan use 1 Nuclar weapon let India fight back with all nuclar force it has...lets see what happens...This is best time to attack stan.... Modi and Ajit doval in Power and Indian public want the same..... Only Modi can take such hard decisions.....we need to punish stan so much that they will be silent atleast for a decade....they need Bangladesh like Injections once a while.....
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                            Anil
                            Jan 2, 2016 at 7:09 am
                            Modi will have to answer. After all he was asking the same questions of the Congress government not so long ago. What was the tearing hurry to go to stan? What exactly had changed on the ground for him to take such an extraordinary step? It was an ill conceived stopover.
                            Reply
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                              Bhagwandas Gupta
                              Jan 4, 2016 at 9:49 am
                              KANTSHRI BARONIA IS VERY CORRECT IN HER COMMENTDO PAK PEACE IS NOT POSSIBLE AT EAST FOR COMING 20 YEARS.FOR REST OF THE PERIOD ONLY GOD KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN.EVERY INDIAN SHOULD KNOW THESE ARE STANI MUSLIMS AND THEY NEVER WANT TO LIVE WITH PEACE.
                              Reply
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                                Bhagwandas Gupta
                                Jan 4, 2016 at 9:42 am
                                This is really intolerable and very bad situation created by stan.All terrorists attack in Indian territory is induced by stan Army. stan Army is beyond control of Nawaz Sharif . Even i f P.M Modi ensures his weekly visit to N awaz Sharifs residence in stan ,stan is not going to stop terrorist attack in India.I t is as sure as death.
                                Reply
                                1. C
                                  CHANCHAL MAJUMDAR
                                  Jan 2, 2016 at 10:43 am
                                  STAN CLEARLY IS DICTATED BY JIHADIS! AND THE 'TOLERANCES' SHOWN TOWARDS THEM AFTER REPETED ATTACKS ARE NOT SEEN BY PERSONS WITH HEARTS FOR S AND RESIDING IN INDIA? THEN THE END IS NEAR FOR THEM!
                                  Reply
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                                    Dinesh Singh
                                    Jan 2, 2016 at 7:43 am
                                    Dont worry. Now you will see when Modi is going to flex his 56" chest. All terrorists will pee in their pants. And our brave Sushma will enter stan and bring in at least 10 heads. Just wait and watch.
                                    Reply
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                                      Dinesh Singh
                                      Jan 2, 2016 at 7:45 am
                                      We dont need Congressis. Our brave Modi, Doval and Sushma Swaraj are enough for entire stan. %6" ka seena hai bhai.
                                      Reply
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                                        din
                                        Jan 2, 2016 at 10:52 am
                                        At time like this Some media need to limit unnecessary debates and invite so called expert to giving out strategic information, so much of sensitive information are given out of national security, sites location and what are further plans etc. Opposition need to shut up and do not fuel to gain their political vendetta – this is not possible without politician’s involvement within India one can start guessing WHO is the upsetting party is – UNITY is great strangth
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                                          din
                                          Jan 2, 2016 at 11:11 am
                                          How brave and better are you than Modi, ever thought others within India can be behind it, How did they get in the country and where did they stay in day times with all the weapons will you be able to catcha train without going to staion or use tracks.
                                          Reply
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                                            din
                                            Jan 2, 2016 at 11:03 am
                                            What if later you find it was congress all along in this and other incidants?
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