A recent terrorist attack in Kashmir could set the stage for a major conflict between India and Pakistan as India begins bombing Pakistani territory. As always, the root causes of these are being ignored by the media.
On February 14, India was rocked by a suicide-bombing which took place inside Jammu and Kashmir. The attack targeted a convoy of security personnel vehicles, killing at least 42 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers (as well as the bomber himself).
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based Islamist group called Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). JeM’s main goal is to steal Kashmir away from India and unite it with Pakistan, to ensure that Pakistan is ruled by Sharia law, and to drive Western forces out of Afghanistan. Its other eventual priority is to drive all Hindus and non-Muslims from the Indian subcontinent.
After India vowed a “jaw breaking response” to the attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan authorised his military to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India. In case it wasn’t clear, both of these volatile states currently sitting on the cusp of war possess nuclear weapons.
Apparently, despite this underlying nuclear catastrophe, someone thought it was a good idea for Indian fighter jets to beginpounding Pakistani territory just today, in order to take part in what India’s foreign ministry coined a “non-military pre-emptive action” against JeM. The recent incursion into Pakistani airspace forced the Pakistani air force to scramble to respond, which in turn led the Indian jets to “release [their] payload in haste while escaping.”
In the process, India claimed that it had killed a “very large number” of terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and jihadis. To be fair, India, for its part, had warned it was ready for war with Pakistan. It was also pushing for Pakistan to be included on a terror-watch blacklist, all the while threatening to weaponize the flow of water to Pakistan as a means of leverage conventional military means can’t buy.
After the raid, Pakistan has understandably asserted its right to self-defense. But self-defense of what – Pakistan’s sovereignty or self-defense of JeM? (If in fact, India was targeting JeM fighters). Actually, that was exactly what the Indian foreign ministry claimed was the rationale for the attacks – Pakistan’s inaction for combating its own homegrown terrorists. And this is where international law can get even murkier as it delves into the “unwilling and unable” justification for the use of force on a sovereign state. In India’s eyes, Islamabad is either unwilling or unable to combat the terrorist threat inside its borders (or perhaps this is just a PR stunt aimed at China’s expanding influence over Pakistan).
But, okay, fine – let’s accept the rationale of the terrorist threat. If we are going to ignite a powder keg that would begin with two-nuclear armed nations and eventually draw in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China, we should at least examine the context in which Pakistan and India are facing a serious threat of terrorism....
Most disturbing is the revelation that Saudi Arabia is also being rumoured to have nuclear weapons “on order” from Pakistan. If it isn’t bad enough that India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and are now potentially launching air strikes into each other’s territory, the idea that these apocalyptic weapons could one day end up in the hand of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country currently launching a genocidal war in Yemen and backing known jihadists right across the wider region, all the whilst constantly threatening war with Tehran, is nothing short of suicidal.
According to Israeli media, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) recent visit to Pakistan has essentially cemented Pakistan’s inclusion in anti-Iran Arab NATO. Will these countries rush to Pakistan’s aid as it is pummelled by Indian fighter jets? Or will diplomacy and cooler heads eventually prevail?