The joint session of Parliament may well be seen as an expression of national unity, and ever since the joint session called in March 2012 to consider the situation arising out of the USA shooting up the Pakistani checkpost at Salala in November 2011, it has become the means of choice for Parliament to consider any changes in the national security environment. The session could be interpreted as the movement of the country on an escalatory trajectory, one which is to be seen in the All-Parties Conference called by the Prime Minister, which allowed the bringing-on board of the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament, even if the leaders themselves were not members. One step was lacking, that of a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, to which the service chiefs would be invited.
However, while both the APC and the joint session saw attention devoted to the Kashmir crisis, it also saw some digging deeper, particularly the role of those organisations which India accuses of being behind the attacks. The present attack, on an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri on September 18, is not the only accusation India hurls. There is the attack on an airbase in Pathankot on January 16 this year, and preceding that, the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.
The Indian narrative is that these attacks were carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jamaat ud-Dawa or the Jaish-e-Muhammad, which are jihadi terrorist organisations, whose heads should be handed over to it. Specifically, India wants Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of the Lashkar and the Jamaat, and Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish. Maulana Azhar shot to fame because of his role in the hijacking (he was freed from an Indian jail in exchange for the passengers, founding the Jaish after that), back in December 2006.
India has good reason to want these men. However, they are not being handed over. The reason given is that India has not provided the necessary evidence. India may not have the evidence, or may simply want to show (to itself more than anybody else) that it is powerful enough to have them handed over. India is the inheritor of the Raj state tradition, which could act arbitrarily on the excuse of law and order. Another reason is that it would be damaging to Pakistans prestige. This assumes that Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Azhar somehow perform, or have performed, services valuable enough to the Pakistani state that they merit such protection.
If true, the support for the likes of Maulana Azhar and Hafiz Saeed is a reflection of the inability of the Pakistani establishment to unloosen the grip of the Indian occupation from Kashmir. It also shows the risks of people committed to the Afghan jihad, turning to a nationalist liberation struggle. It may well have become a redundant approach after the movement which followed the extrajudicial killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who was an indigenous Kashmiri, and whose death sparked off an entirely indigenous movement.
India, caught wrong-footed, had to claim that the movement was orchestrated by Pakistan, and either had to threaten a war scare, or be ready to give up territory. There is a debate within Held Kashmir about whether to obtain independence or to join Pakistan. There is no one really arguing to remain within the Indian Union. The government in Delhi needs to accept that, but it is still trying to hold on to territory. It has signaled to the world that it is willing to go to nuclear war rather than give up Kashmir.
To an extent it is right, for giving it up might well signal the start of the break-up of India. Already, there are a number of insurgencies all over India. So far, none has succeeded. However, if the Kashmiri movement is successful, this would change, and thus begin the break-up of the Indian Union. However, it must not be forgotten that this was the argument trotted out against the creation of Pakistan, and its creation did not result in any fragmentation of India.
India has trotted out the claim that Kashmiri liberation is terrorism, and that Pakistan, being behind it, should be declared a terrorist state by the USA. The USA might be growing closer to India, but cannot want India to go to war with another nuclear power. It would like the Kashmir issue resolved on Indian terms. However, the Kashmiri people are not going to allow this. Even the calls for independence should be seen as reflecting Kashmiri resolve if Pakistan was somehow to be browbeaten into abandoning its support for the Kashmir cause: with the accession option closed, it would become a purely independence movement.
India would prefer going to war with Pakistan. The surgical strike claim might be seen as another Fall Weiss (Case White), which Hitlerine Germany implemented when it wanted to invade Poland in 1939. Fall Weiss had Poland invading Germany first. Germany went to the extent of having itself invaded by its own soldiers dressed in Polish uniforms, and attacking a radio station, from which an anti-German message was broadcast. That would be like the attack on the brigade headquarters in Uri, followed by a surgical strike on Pakistani territory. The major difference being that Germanys invasion of Poland was genuine, the Indian surgical strike was not. The German invasion was the first demonstration of the blitzkrieg, on which the surgical strike idea is based, as it involved the use of massive bombing. If the blitzkrieg had been on Indian lines, the German armed forces would have satisfied themselves with heavy cannonades. One major flaw in the Indian narrative has been the absence of corpses. In the spurious invasion of Germany, there were even Polish and German corpses provided, of concentration camp prisoners drugged, killed and brought to the scene. For a world already teetering on the brink of war, which had already seen the Germany-UK compromise over Czechoslovakia the year before, then the Germany-USSR no-war pact that summer, not to mention constant German accusations of Polish ethnic cleansing of Germans over preceding months, it was enough, and World War Two began.
At present, apart from India and Pakistan, the USA and Russia are manoeuvring around each other over Ukraine, and nuclear war is being predicted. It should not be forgotten that a Pak-India nuclear exchange might cause another world war, a nuclear one this time. Two things need to be kept before them by everyone: starting a nuclear war just to feed the BJP frenzy is insane; starting one because of lies is not just insane but dishonest.
Whether or not there are non-state actors used by the Pakistani state is not a debate that should be taking place at this particular time. That is not a debate that should be ducked, but the time for that would be when the threat of war no longer hangs over Pakistan. The unstated assumption, that those accused by India should be handed over to it, involves a surrender as abhorrent as any kneejerk defence of any element jeopardising the peace.