If Pakistan is in the doldrums, it is bound to affect India. Its internal crisis has been precipitated by an order by its Supreme Court to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on corruption charges. Following mass protests in Islamabad led by the cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri who is known to be close to the army, there is also the nagging fear that the army is planning to oust the civilian leadership as it has done many times in the past. That the electorate is disenchanted with the political establishment is evident in the mass congregations in the Pakistani capital.
But, what does India do at this juncture? The Pakistan army continues to make aggressive noises, thus demonstrating little inclination to re-establish the peace process. India, on the other hand, outraged by the Pakistan army’s hostility, has toughened its stand. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also made it clear that “it cannot be business as usual with Pakistan”. As if on cue, India has put on hold the visa-on-arrival for senior citizens of Pakistan. Even bilateral trade between the countries has begun to flounder. The way things stand now, there is little scope for improvement in relations.
Though there is no immediate threat of war, one cannot rule out the possibility of heavy firing and shelling along the LoC. An angry Indian army will now choose the place and time for a befitting reply to Pakistan army’s unsoldierly conduct.
We know that an eye for an eye cannot be a solution in a civilised world, but unilateral peace offers by India can also be misconstrued as weakness.
The onus is now on Pakistan. It should put its house in order instead of needling its neighbour.