By Arun Joshi
“While we were preparing to repay the debt of 20 billion dollars to the international institutions, then came Corona, but before that came Pulwama,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recalled while counting accomplishments of three years of his government at Jinnah Convocation Centre, Islamabad on Thursday evening.
This was moments before bombing at Kabul airport left scores dead and several others wounded in a grim reminder that Afghanistan’s situation is deteriorating and deteriorating very fast ever since the Taliban took control of the country with the active assistance of Pakistan.
And the moment, he uttered,” Pulwama,” the TV screen filled with the image of Imran Khan went blank for a few seconds. The mystery of that blankness only explained that there was something more than Imran Khan said but that was censored.
When the screen came alive, Imran Khan found himself fumbling and struggling for words to gain coherence. “ Pulwama “, yes “ Pulwama”, he said as if trying to pick up threads from where he had left. One could understand that Pulwama was weighing very heavily on his mind, and he counted the “ Indian air bombardment in Pakistan as disruptive as the coronavirus’ two waves in Pakistan.
Pulwama is a district in south Kashmir. It had shot into ignominious fame when a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad hit the explosive-laden van driven by him into the convoy of the CRPF killing at least 40 personnel. That was the highest number of Indian security forces killed in the Kashmir Valley in 30 years of militancy. It happened on February 14, 2019.
Why should Pakistan PM recall Pulwama if it had not hit hard his nation? That the Indian aerial surgical strikes of February 26, 2019, still shake Pakistan and its leadership leads only to one conclusion that Islamabad knows that the strikes were deadly and devastating. It has not come out of the shock as much as it has failed to recover the coronavirus.
Apart from that the international humiliation it suffered when the countries like the United States said, “India had all the right to take action to defend itself” against the terror attacks, knowing very well that the attacks had originated from Pakistan. Thereafter, the designation of the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the United Nations, despite persistent efforts by China and Pakistan to prevent it, landed Islamabad a pariah state in the civilized world. The international terror-funding watchdog Financial Action Task Force has kept Pakistan in the grey list.
Pakistan suffered more than what it had anticipated after the Pulwama terror attack that it engineered. The loss is hurting it even today – its international image is dented, its military lost the prestige that it had boasted of for long, and finally, it is now being viewed with greater suspicion in the eyes of the world for its pro-terrorism policies.
In a way on Thursday, PM Khan made a national confession that how his country was reeling from the shock of having lost many of its strategic assets- terrorists, terror-training camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, deep inside Pakistan. It is not just that it occurred to his mind to mention Pulwama, the subconsciousness penetrated into consciousness and became part of his narrative at the time when he was counting success stories of his rule. In political psychology certain things in the subconsciousness have the tendency to come back to the mind time and again.
Pulwama was not an ordinary incident, it shook the whole Indian nation and the menace of terrorism entered into the nation’s psyche. Almost within an hour after the attack, the suicide bomber Adil Dar trained and armed by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist outfit appeared in a pre-recorded video revealing his intentions of striking at the CRPF convoy as part of “ jihad”.
Now the times have changed, Pakistan knows that there are devastating consequences for any major terror attack on the Indian soil from its soil. PM Khan perhaps knew that terror outfits operating from Pakistan should desist from repeating Pulwama type-terror attacks because the consequence would be heavy for the country.
The bombing in Kabul on Thursday evening has made Pakistan’s position more vulnerable in the geo-political landscape because its spy agency ISI is benefactor of both the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan. Such attacks have brought spotlight not only on the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan but also on Pakistan, the epicenter of terrorism in South Asia.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.