Pakistan is playing to a game plan

Pakistan is playing to a game plan

Imran Khan

Even as India’s border with China continues to bristle with tension, the situation along the Line of Control (LOC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, is deteriorating. Over the past week, Pakistan has engaged in heavy firing and shelling of Indian border posts, bunkers and also villages. Pakistani aggression was particularly lethal on Friday when it resulted in the death of five Indian security personnel and six civilians. Its ceasefire violations have soared this year. According to Indian Army officials, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire more than 4,000 times since January this year, the highest number in a year since the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in November 2003. Indian officials say that the escalation of Pakistani firing is aimed at deflecting attention away from its infiltration of militants across the LoC into India. In a couple of weeks, heavy snowfall will make mountain passes inaccessible. Pakistan appears to be pushing militants into India ahead of the winter months.

However, Pakistan seems to be acting as per a larger game plan as it is targeting India on multiple fronts. Last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi presented a ‘dossier’ of supposedly ‘irrefutable evidence’ of India allegedly sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Gilgit-Baltistan will be conferred with ‘provisional’ provincial status. Elections to the ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly’ were held on November 15, despite India’s objections to Pakistan’s illegal steps towards altering the status of the region. It is evident that Pakistan’s recent moves are aimed at playing up to China. Islamabad is signalling the priority it accords to protecting China’s interests and its willingness to act to protect Beijing’s interests. This is worrying, especially in the context of the current situation along the LAC with China. India has always had to factor in the possibility of a two-front war with Pakistan and China. Pakistan’s recent moves are significant as they reaffirm the possibility of Beijing and Islamabad coordinating their bellicosity from across the LAC and LoC, respectively.

Additionally, by stepping up aggression and provoking India to retaliate, Pakistan is seeking international attention. Is it back to playing its old game of destabilising the region to attract American attention and meddling? The incoming Joe Biden administration is expected to be more critical of the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the Kashmir issue. Pakistan’s recent moves seem aimed at getting Washington to pressure New Delhi. India should avoid falling into Pakistan’s trap. It must focus on initiating political measures to calm Kashmir.