The escalating tensions on the Kashmir border between India and Pakistan have given rise to fears of a major confrontation between the two nuclear powers, one that could very well draw other nations into the conflict and start World War 3. This week, the Indian military performed what they have called a “surgical strike” into Pakistan, attacking a militant stronghold just north of the Line of Control. Pakistan’s response has been one of geographical denial and may prove to be an answer to its ongoing saber-rattling with India, where both countries can save face without actually moving into all-out war.
The Wire reported this week that India and Pakistan seem to be “rearranging the threshold of conflict” in the seven-decade rivalry that has existed between the two nations, four times growing so heated as to break out into actual wars between the two Asian nations. What analysts are seeing seems to be an accommodation between the two nuclear powers, one in which they may engage in a type of proxy war without actually involving conflicts between the two nations that might ultimately start a cataclysmic clash of armies or, even worse, a series of events that would lead to World War 3.
The incident on the Kashmir border was just the latest between the two nations that recently erupted in growing unrest in India’s Kashmir region that culminated in a number of deaths, including that of the militant Burhan Wani. As was reported by the Inquisitr, India blamed Pakistan for agitating, as well as harboring and supplying, the militants. But it was the attack on the town of Uri in Indian Kashmir and the killing of 18 Indian troops that incensed the New Delhi government, producing not only allegations against Islamabad for supporting and instigating terrorist activities in the region but also entreaties to other countries before the United Nations to sanction Pakistan for their role in promoting terrorism in the Kashmir region.
According to the Hindustan Times, India announced that it had carried out “surgical strikes” against militant “launchpads” located along the Line of Control, which is the border established by treaty between India and Pakistan. The militant camps were attacked after being under surveillance for about a week, Indian military officials stated.
But as The Wire noted, Pakistani officials, when they brought reporters to the areas of attack, seemed to downplay the actions as simply occurring on the border. In fact, although Indian sources claimed to have gone 3-4 miles into Pakistan, in actuality, they were only a few hundred meters inside Pakistani territory. As further explained by The Wire, “The short distance is the reason why Pakistan could claim that what happened was nothing more than an unprovoked incursion of the sort that takes place all the time.”
At the same time, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, could look good to his constituency, having been elected to office on a strong anti-terrorist platform. Besides, he had promised that “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” according to The New Indian Express. The cross-border attack suggests his government is doing just that.
As the situation now stands, the military activity on each side of the border leaves both sides with political maneuverability. India, as mentioned, gets to present themselves as tough on terrorism. Pakistan, which has denied responsibility or involvement in the unrest and the terroristic attacks made inside India, gets to dismiss the attacks in its territory as a simple anti-terrorist operation on the borderline. The two nations, as The Wire so aptly phrased it, are “rearranging the threshold of conflict.”
They are doing so in a way where both countries can live with the political repercussions. Without resorting to a major military confrontation. Without opening the door to a potential World War 3.
And yet, it would take for one of the minor skirmishes between India and Pakistan to erupt into something far more catastrophic is a simple mistake, one that cannot be denied or dismissed.
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