Gold Silver Reports — Report on Pak govt-military friction may be all too real — India’s successful “surgical strikes“ against Pakistan appear to have aggravated tensions between the civilian leadership and military-intelligence alliance in Islamabad, encouraging the Nawaz Sharif government to try to resist its marginalisation by the army leadership, feel official sources here.
While the Pakistani government has dismissed as “fabrication“ a report in the Karachi daily `Dawn’ on the widening divide between the civilian leadership and the army-ISI nexus in the wake of India’s strikes, sources said it may not be without a basis.
India’s effective retaliation against the Uri terror attack has given an opening to the Pakistani PM to seek to reclaim the space he lost to the assertive and popular army chief General Raheel Sharif and to question Islamabad’s use of terrorism as a “low-cost option“ to hurt India and pursue its other strategic objectives.
“Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation has exposed the logic that terrorism as an option comes with no cost. They tried to project terrorist violence in J&K as freedom struggle, only to find Sharif speaking to an audience at the UN General Assembly , which had no heads of government and consisted of middle-rung and junior diplomats. The envoys they sent to lobby support in foreign capitals for the so-called freedom struggle failed miserably, with the one deployed in Paris not being able to meet anyone senior than the equivalent of a joint secretary-rank official in India,“ said an official source.
He also pointed out that while the Saarc meeting in Islamabad virtually stood scrapped after India decided to skip it, all members of the group still made it a point to come out with strong statements condemning crossborder terrorism.
The source also said that while Islamabad had showcased the first-ever joint military exercises with Russia to assert that it was not isolated, Moscow deflated the claim by condemning Pakistan and, more importantly, naming it.
The source also said even China, the “all-weather ally“ which has so far stood by Pakistan, has indicated that its support cannot be taken for granted forever.
India’s estimate is that Pakistan’s diplomatic forlornness may embolden a pushback by the Nawaz Sharif government against the growing dominance of the military leadership. Sharif started his current innings with the conviction, shaped by Pakistan’s defeat in Kargil in 1999, that an attempt to grab J&K was doomed to fail.
However, he lost the initiative to Army chief General Raheel Sharif, who emerged as a national hero after the Army’s successful operation, Zarb-e-Azb, against “bad“ terrorists. Sharif ‘s own position was weakened because of disclosures in the “Panama Papers“ that his family, including son and daughter, had secret funds stashed abroad.
Official sources here also feel that Pakistan’s failure to drum up diplomatic support and its isolation despite the declaration by India that it crossed the LoC to take out terror launch pads has expanded New Delhi’s manoeuvring space against its hostile neighbour.
“We have more latitude to pre-empt terror threats,“ said a source. However, he emphasised that India would not like to escalate matters and felt that Pakistan may not be keen on precipitating full-scale hostilities, an assessment which ties in with the estimate that a retaliation against the “surgical strike“ may come in the form of a big terror strike involving proxies.
They described the “surgical strike“ as a complete success which, along with the threat to take a hard look at the Indus Water Treaty , has introduced uncertainties in terms of what Pakistan should expect from India in response to terror strikes.
Sources also said the government is not going to be swayed by taunts of “whereis-the-evidence?“ because releasing the proof will increase the pressure on Pakistan to retaliate–a prospect that India is not keen on either.“This will also set a bad precedent, with each strike fuelling similar demands which can be met only at the cost of the effectiveness and success of future operations,“ said a source. — Neal Bhai Reports