India Pakistan: Send a message: Pakistan’s weakest pressure points are financial rather than military


Following the Pulwama terror attack Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed he needed “actionable intelligence” on Jaish-e-Muhammed’s (JeM) role, despite the terror outfit itself claiming responsibility for the attack. Since then, the Pakistani Punjab government has moved to take control of the seminaries in Bahawalpur, thought to be JeM’s headquarters. But information minister Fawad Chaudhry claiming these are purely religious madrasas, with no connection to JeM, showed Islamabad up to its usual game of making token gestures whenever international heat is cranked up on it.

It does indicate an area of vulnerability, though, which is worth building upon if New Delhi is to inflict a high cost on Pakistan for harbouring terror safe havens. Military strikes are difficult at this point since the element of surprise is gone; moreover terror facilities such as Bahawalpur are likely to have been evacuated by now. But Pakistan is short of foreign currency; indeed its policy of nurturing terror creates chronic internal instability which prevents it from having a viable economy. Its token moves on Bahawalpur and the “ban” on JuD (a front for LeT) came because Pakistan needs an IMF bailout and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has grey-listed it for sponsoring terror.

Giving proof to Pakistan on terror activities from its soil has been proven to be pointless by now, but lobbying international agencies has had some success. The UN Security Council has, for the first time, condemned a terror strike in Kashmir and blamed JeM for it. New Delhi must strongly lobby international financial agencies such as IMF or FATF to blacklist Pakistan and deny it financial bailouts, till such time as it can roll up its terror infrastructure. This also serves US interests, as it would like to see a stable Afghanistan when it leaves. New Delhi and Washington should work closely together on this.

India can, in addition, work with the US, EU and other major powers to impose tough sanctions on Pakistan’s military-ISI elite which drives its security policies and much else in the country. Such sanctions would quickly bring Pakistan around, and the argument for them can be reinforced by putting the international community on notice that further terror outrages such as 26/11 or Pulwama will lead to an automatic military response from India, as India has the right to defend itself and domestic public opinion will not stand for anything less.


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