Raids signal that India won’t tolerate more attacks in Kashmir
September 29, 2016 - 6:51 p.m. EDT
The Wall Street Journal
India’s doctrine of “strategic restraint” toward Pakistan was tested again Wednesday, after the Indian Army responded to a Sept. 18 attack against an Indian base that killed 19 soldiers by conducting raids against terrorist facilities just inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Islamabad has addressed the incidents with its usual mix of bluster and denial, but if it means to prevent an escalation of violence it needs to shut down the terrorist groups it continues to support.
That should start with Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammed) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), two major jihadist groups that operate openly in Pakistan and are prime suspects in these attacks. Both groups are supported by its military despite being on United Nations lists of terrorist organizations. Last month the U.S. Defense Department blocked $300 million in reimbursements to Pakistan because of its continuing tolerance of the Haqqani Network that operates in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government insists it had nothing to do with the attack on Uri, as well as with a similar attack in Pathankot in January that killed another seven Indian soldiers. Pakistan’s military goes so far as to deny the raids took place and blamed India for an unprovoked artillery attack across the Line of Control that killed two Pakistani soldiers. Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif even accused India of staging the Uri attack and repeated past threats to use tactical nuclear weapons.
But as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in a speech on Sunday, so far this year the Indian Army has thwarted 17 attempts by terrorists to cross the border from Pakistan, killing 110 of them. These incursions often occur under the cover of Pakistani artillery fire. New Delhi also presented evidence Tuesday that the Uri attackers crossed the border from the Pakistani city of Muzaffarabad. Two guides who assisted the infiltrators have been detained.
Mr. Modi has consistently offered closer economic and diplomatic ties to Pakistan as long as it stops supporting terrorism. Pakistan’s democratic government has also long been threatened by the very jihadist groups it helped unleash, particularly the Taliban. And Pakistan increasingly risks becoming a pariah state. Even China, Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” as both countries put it, will have limited patience if Islamic extremism spreads into its Muslim-majority northwest.
Pakistan remains trapped by a national identity based on fomenting religious-based insurgencies in Kashmir. The country needs a new vision centered on improving the lives of its people, and there is no shortage of potentially willing hands, including Mr. Modi’s, to help it move in that direction. What’s needed is political courage in Islamabad, before the crisis in Kashmir escalates.