The growing suggestion that India could repeat a Myanmar in Pakistan if the latter does not crack down on terror groups it has patronized, prompted Pakistan on Wednesday to react bellicosely, warning against any such “misadventure” inside its territory.
Pakistan is not Myanmar, and India should not think of repeating such an exercise inside Pakistani territory,” said Pakistan interior minister Nisar Ali Khan, a day after Indian para-commandos neutralized up to 50 northeastern militants, pre-empting another assault after the one on June 4 in which 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra were killed.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore had on Wednesday celebrated Indian Army’s operation in Myanmar as a message to its neighbours who harbour terrorists.
Rathore’s statement, echoed by several of his ministerial colleagues on Wednesday, suggested that such incisions by inimical forces on India’s western borders, or a strong provocation like the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, could witness similar action by the Indian Army.
Indian commandos smashed two insurgent camps inside Myanmar territory. Myanmar was told about the cross-border raid when it was half way through.
The unusual toughness by India was seen as an application of the doctrine of pre-emption that the US has invoked to strike at terror threats, real as well as potential, in diverse locations outside its territory and without being hindered by issues of jurisdiction.
Suggestions by Indian government functionaries that India could launch cross-border strikes against terrorists harboured also by other neighbours seemed to have touched a raw nerve in Pakistan which suffered a huge humiliation when US commandos stormed Osama bin Laden’s hideout in the garrison town of Abbotabad without keeping Islamabad in the loop.
Its unease was indicated by Khan. Stressing that those who harbour “bad intentions” towards Pakistan should open their eyes and ears, the interior minster said, “Pakistani Army is fully capable of responding to any adventurism.”
Violations from across the LoC and provocative statements from Indian ministers have become routine, interior minister Nisar said, adding, “Pakistan won’t be affected by statements issued by Indian ministers every other day… India should know that Pakistan wants peace but would never accept its dominance. India should stop day-dreaming about it.”
Rathore exulted on Tuesday after Indian Army declared its successful operation against an “imminent “terror threat and stressed its determination to resort to similar actions to secure the country, citizens and the Army. Rathore said, “We will strike at a place and time of our choosing.” Earlier, he had tweeted with #56inchrocks: “A salute to Indian Army for ManipurRevenge strike. Massive political will displayed by our strong PM.”
Importantly, the ratcheting up of the rhetoric on Pakistan did not seem to be going down well with the government leadership and there are indications that the government may ask for it to be wound down. Sources said although the Modi government had responded to provocations from Pakistan by using disproportionate force, it does not want to create an impression that it is spoiling for a confrontation. “Myanmar operation had become an imperative after they killed 30 of our soldiers. But we are not going to pick fights unless they are imposed on us,” said a senior government source.
He also said the leadership is fully aware that Pakistan is different from Myanmar. For one, Pakistan’s army directly supports terror groups, which is not the case in Myanmar. Second, as a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan will have to be treated differently.
Nonetheless, Islamabad’s feeling of insecurity has certainly heightened, not merely by the kind of operation mounted by India, but by the “chest-thumping” that has followed.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz, also objected to Prime Minister Modi describing Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India as a “nuisance” during his recent visit to Dhaka.
A statement by the Pakistani foreign office said, “With reference to Mr Modi’s allegations against Pakistan at Dhaka University, the spokesperson underlined that while Pakistan believes in peaceful co-existence and maintaining good neighbourly relations with India, characterization of bilateral relations by Prime Minister Modi as ‘nuisance’ is unfortunate.”
Modi’s statement was significant, because it effectively downgraded the threat posed by Pakistan-sponsored terrorism to India, a signal that New Delhi now feels more confident about dealing with a threat that almost felt too big to handle few years ago.
To this, Aziz demanded the international community and United Nations take note of Modi’s statement in Bangladesh. Aziz, while briefing the Pakistan senate, said such statements raise doubts over India’s sincerity to establish good relations with Pakistan.