Since early this year, India-Pakistan relations have quick-marched to a point of near-freeze, and Islamabad has done what it could to ensure that result. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Christmas Day surprise drop-by visit to greet Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday in Lahore was followed within days by a terrorist assault from Pakistan on our Air Force base at Pathankot — and Pakis-tan’s refusal, in effect, to allow Indian investigators to examine Pakistani suspects in reciprocation of New Delhi allowing ISI personnel to study the scene of the crime at the sensitive base — the message was writ large.
The Pakistan Army desired to quash the faintest prospect of India-Pakistan conversations re-commencing on any issue at all — not just terrorism and Kashmir, even the latter on which Islamabad harps all the time. To drive the point home, Pakistan kept sending infiltrators into Kashmir Valley in record numbers this year, finding the Indian response against them flat-footed. This build-up of terrorist assets in the Valley was to preposition its evil-doers to take advantage of any situation, and that opportunity came following the spontaneous public protests after the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The Pakistani terrorists are now spreading daily mayhem in the Valley.
A sensible and practical Indian riposte has to be two-pronged — to hit the ideology of Pakistan where it hurts and to calm Kashmiri fears and assuage aggrieved and bitter feelings. Questioning Pakistan’s moral integrity — as a country that gloats over terrorist strikes and extols terrorists — as Mr Modi did on Independence Day is valid. Reiteration of our rights over Gilgit, Baltistan and PoK was also overdue. The sustained violation of human rights in Balochistan has been raised by India before, but not by a PM from the Red Fort.
The likely effects of this can be debated. Nevertheless, a question needs to be asked: Did Balochistan ever accede to Pakistan or did Muhammad Ali Jinnah just grab Kalat, which sits on the mouth of the proposed Gwadar Port being built with Chinese assistance for strategic reasons in March 1948? The Pakistanis got hyperactive on India in 2014 when the Chinese promised to pump in $46 billion for infrastructure and the US promised to hand Islamabad the golden key to Afghanistan. At the moment, the Americans are holding back, though. Their troops moghul in Afghanistan — Gen. John Nicholson — urged India to supply defence hardware to Kabul. The US has also withheld $300 million aid to Islamabad. It is time to probe Pakistan all round.