PAKISTAN – INDIA CRISIS: Sorting facts and thinking straight

By Jay Tharappel

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By Jay Tharappel – Today’s border clashes between India & Pakistan near Sialkot resulted in the deaths of between 19-24 Indian soldiers, 8 Pakistani soldiers, and 4 Pakistani civilians, according to some reports.

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Pakistan also claimed they shot down two Indian aircraft in self-defense which crashed on both sides of the LOC, and have since released video footage of a captured IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was flying an MiG-21 for some reason (India has Sukhois, and yet they send a Soviet “antique”), which in turn India claims shot down a Pakistani plane but there’s no evidence of that. India’s other downed aircraft was an Mi-17 helicopter, killing 1 civilian, and 4 IAF personnel.

Yesterday the Indian media began talking up how much damage it had inflicted across the LOC, with anonymous government sources being repeated by the Indian media claiming the IAF took out “300 terrorists”, although the Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale would only go so far as to claim a “large number” were killed, whereas on the Pakistani side, they claimed they sustained “no casualties” at all.

In my view, India has in the past fought defensive and just wars against Pakistan, on three occasions to defend the territorial integrity of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) which acceded to India in 1947, and more famously to liberate Bangladesh in 1971, but to me it feels like this is the first time Pakistan is not acting like they’re itching for a fight.

On the Indian side, PM Narendra Modi is on the campaign trail saying that he “will not let the country bow down”, that he wants to “pay homage to India’s bravehearts”, and assured everyone that “the country is in safe hands”, whereas by contrast, Pakistani PM Imran Khan is saying, “let us open the corridor of negotiations and settle all outstanding issues”, “if India wants to hold a dialogue, we are ready”, “it is not in Pakistan’s interests to go to war”, and “let sanity prevail”.

Sure, first there was the Feb 14 suicide bombing killing 44 Indian soldiers in Pulwama J&K, carried out by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist organisation, which Imran Khan did not condemn in all likelihood because doing so is politically costly given the importance of Kashmir to Pakistan’s very identity almost, but the question is whether India’s actions are being motivated purely by a desire to neutralise the Kashmiri insurgency, or whether it’s “for the personal glorification of Narendra Modi”?

Those aren’t the words of Arundhati Roy by the way, that’s Rajiv Tyagi, a former pilot of the Indian Airforce whose article berating the Modi government for the way they’ve handled this is well worth the read (see link).

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