India Pakistan: More hard options: India must work to make Pakistan an international pariah


It appears now that in dogfights subsequent to the IAF airstrike on Balakot, an Indian fighter was shot down across the LoC and its pilot captured. If this is the case, Pakistan must accord him full POW rights under the Geneva Convention. There are risks that must be confronted if India is to pursue the hard option of going after terror havens in Pakistan. The latter promised to “retaliate” and appears to have done so by entering Indian airspace.

In these fraught circumstances, it is imperative that the entire political class comes together and backs the government and armed forces. The government, too, must be restrained and not try to make political capital out of the situation, as that inherently invites opposition comebacks and rebuttals. Pakistan knows it cannot defeat India in direct conflict, but hopes to take advantage of India’s fractious polity at a time when the Lok Sabha election is coming up. Pakistan’s “retaliations” may also take the form of more terror strikes, which its establishment hopes will have a multiplier effect as right wing groups take their anger out on innocent citizens. If, however, the Indian political class can demonstrate that despite its hyper-partisan turn these days it stands united in its resolve against terror and doesn’t allow external agents to sow internal division, that in itself would be half the battle won.

Alongside it’s also time to pursue some diplomatic hard options against Pakistan, with the objective of turning it into an international pariah. Islamabad has said it will boycott the upcoming OIC meet if foreign minister Sushma Swaraj attends. Among other moves, India should use its superior financial heft to expel Pakistan from the upcoming ICC World Cup cricket tournament. Let Pakistan make a choice between what it wants to pursue: cricket or terror. The precedent India can cite is that of South Africa under apartheid, who other nations refused to play.

The astonishing thing is that while Pakistan routinely charges India with appalling human rights violations, its behaviour with its own minorities is far worse. The various disabilities under which minorities in Pakistan such as Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Balochis and Pashtuns have to labour – some of them legal and on the statute books – are comparable to or worse than those of blacks in apartheid South Africa. India can confront ICC with a stark choice: either India or Pakistan in international tournaments, till Pakistan plays ball on terror.


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