New Delhi: Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong message against terrorism – especially from across the border, Pakistan diplomats are working overtime to mount a counter. Some of them even suggest that Pakistan’s global isolation is a myth and that it is India that risks being isolated.
In a report published in Pakistan-based Dawn, an unnamed diplomat has been quoted as saying that India won’t risk a war with Pakistan as it would adversely affect its economy. “There will be no war. We have no intention of starting one and India also realises that a war at this stage will destroy its economy.” Interestingly, the Karachi Stock Exchange had plummeted last week after small investors dealing with ‘penny stocks’ began panic selling – reportedly due to military drills are being carried out in the country.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been on the rise since the attack on an army base in Uri (Jammu and Kashmir) on September 18. Four terrorists carrying grenades and food with Pakistani labels were gunned down, but 18 soldiers were martyred as well. India reacted sharply with PM Modi promising action against the perpetrators of the attack. In his monthly radio program on Sunday, he likened the Uri attack to the 1965 war and reposed faith in the Indian Army. “There is a lot of value to the anger that people of the country have. This is a symbol of the country’s awakening,” he said. “This anger is of the kind of ‘do something’… When 1965 war (with Pakistan) broke out and Lal Bahadur Shastri was leading the country, similar was the feeling, anger in the country. There was fever of nationalism. Everybody was keen to do something.”
Across the border though, India’s growing impatience with Pakistan’s inefficiency against – and support to – terrorism is being seen as a shift away from using diplomatic channels. “India is making a wrong example and it will hurt everybody,” a senior Pakistani diplomat was quoted as saying by local media. “If India continues on this path, it will end up isolating itself instead of Pakistan.”
On the ground though, Pakistan is bearing the brunt of international pressure. In fact, a senior Pakistani journalist – Zahid Hussein – had said on record that Pakistan’s foreign policy needs a re-look. At a seminar titled “Is Pakistan Isolated? Regional Challenges and Opportunities’ held back in June, he had said the country is lagging behind economically.
“The current government has made policies for economic development, but they are yet to be implemented because Pakistan’s foreign policy is driven by national security. Pakistan has been left far behind, even by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.” Another speaker in the seminar – historian and author Prof Anatol Lieven – had reminded the country that while support from China is a shot in the arm, it cannot be taken for granted. “The support (from China) must not be taken as carte blanche.”
Instead, developments in recent weeks point towards the opposite. While Pakistan has continued to bank on support from China , its relation with the US has nosedived. The White House has repeatedly urged Pakistan to crack down on terror networks operating from within its territory. Last week, two American lawmakers even introduced legislation in the US Congress aimed at designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. For the country and its diplomats though, the recent developments seem to not have had any impact on Pakistan’s global image.