Home » india news » Collateral benefit? A JeM crackdown saved 5 people from #PathankotMess

Collateral benefit? A JeM crackdown saved 5 people from #PathankotMess

Abhishek Parashar | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:25 IST

The past month has been full of surprises for South Asia's foreign policy experts. The biggest was Narendra Modi's "impromptu" visit to Lahore.

It was a clear departure from the NDA regime's declared Pakistan Policy. Indeed, former foreign minister, and now a disgruntled leader of the BJP, Yashwant Sinha, was quick to acknowledge this volte-face.

Also read - Modi's Pakistan policy is unclear and confusing: Vivek Katju

Modi's stopover in Lahore was preceded by a meeting of the two National Security Advisors in Bangkok, which came as the first surprise.

This meeting was a deviation from the Ufa declaration, which had mandated that such interactions would take place either in New Delhi or Islamabad and focus exclusively on terrorism.

The former diplomat Vivek Katju saw the meeting as a weakening of India's stand. "India lost the ground it had gained in Ufa," he remarked.

The next surprise was the brief conversation between Modi and Sharif at the climate change summit in Paris. Then came Sushma Swaraj's participation in the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad which was deemed as an outcome of the Paris meeting.

The initiatives were widely acknowledged by the international community, and received largely well. But, domestically, the government was criticised for inconsistency in its Pakistan Policy.

Also read - #Pathankot shows Pak army disapproves of the peace process. Pay heed, Mr Modi

Just as Modi's "birthday diplomacy" had opened the door for resumption of talks between the foreign secretaries, terrorists struck the Pathankot air base. There is ample proof to trace the attack to Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is led by Maulana Masood Azhar.

The attack brought back the worst memories, if only briefly, of the Kargil intrusion that had followed Atal Bihari Vajpayee's historic bus trip to Lahore. Then too, it was Sharif who had welcomed Vajpayee at the Wagah border.

Facing fire for #Pathankot op, Ajit Doval can take some credit for Pakistan's action against the JeM

The Pathankot attack has put a big question mark on the credibility of many players in this diplomatic dance. Modi has being ridiculed by the hardliners, while Sharif is seen as a betrayer by many in his establishment.

In India, the NSA Ajit Doval's handling of the operation have come under the lens and intelligence agencies have been criticised for failing to anticipate the attack.

On the other side, the attack has strengthened the suspicion that Sharif has been unable to take the army on board his peace initiative. However, Sharif's decision to crack down on Jaish-e-Mohammed has proved a face-saver for all these stakeholders. It may even have saved the foreign secretary talks, at least for now.

Here's a look at who has benefited from Sharif's action against the JeM.

1) Narendra Modi

The prime minister had steeply climbed down from his tough stand on Pakistan at the risk of inviting the ire of the RSS as well as his detractors within the BJP such as Yashwant Sinha.

The Pathankot attack would have made it difficult to answer his critics, but Sharif's action against the JeM has given him some justification for engaging the Pakistani establishment.

2) Ajit Doval

The Pathankot attack was nothing less than an embarrassment for the NSA. Although he has built his reputation as an "operations man", his handling of the Pathankot episode was severely criticised.

Questions were especially raised over his decision to deploy the NSG when several army units were staying only minutes away. It was also asked of him why it had taken four days to flush out just half a dozen attackers.

Now, however, Doval can claim Pakistan's action against the alleged orchestrator of the attack as an achievement.

3) Nawaz Sharif

In his last State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama named Pakistan among countries where new terrorist outfits may find sanctuaries. The crackdown on the JeM came just a day after this indictment.

Sharif has always claimed that the Kargil operation was the handiwork of General Pervez Musharraf and that he was not part of the conspiracy. It's no secret that the Pakistani army controls that country's anti-terrorism and foreign policies.

Can Narendra Modi use Sharif's action against the JeM to justify engaging with Pakistan?

But action against the JeM has given Sharif a chance to change that. He has emerged as a leader who is genuinely interested in improving relations with India.

4) The Pakistani army

The absence of Gen Nasir Janjua, the army-backed NSA of Pakistan, at the Modi-Sharif meeting in Lahore was noted by many observers.

The Pathankot attack strengthened the doubts that the army is not on board this peace process. Indeed, the army has scuttled several such attempts in the past. But action against the JeM may change this perception for good.

5) Indian intelligence agencies

They have faced flak for failing to preempt the Pathankot attack. They have, in fact, faced such criticism after every such attack. Only this time, the proof gathered by the Indian intelligence agencies has resulted in action against the JeM.

More in Catch - Delaying #ForeignSec talks betrays India's lack of clarity on Pakistan

Pathankot Anti-Terror operation: Gaping holes & questions galore

The good & the bad of Pathankot operation: from a soldier's viewpoint

First published: 18 January 2016, 1:30 IST
Abhishek Parashar @abhishekiimc

Chief Sub-editor at Catch Hindi. He has been associated with Press Trust of India, Business Standard and The Economic Times.