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Caution Advised

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The uptick in terror incidents in J&K is meant to, first, send a message to all concerned that despite the setbacks in the past the separatist cause will continue to be pursued. Up against a formidable security machinery, soft targets are being selected for attack. The other reason is that J&K is due for assembly elections and the attempt is to sabotage the process as much as possible. Unfortunately for the separatists, the NDA government is back and, given the circumstances, will be eager to pursue its agenda with even greater vigour to show it hasn’t become ‘weak’.

The Pakistani handlers of such elements need to be particularly careful about not aggravating India too much through such tactics. It would be dangerous to believe that PM Modi does not have the support to punish Pakistan as he has done in the past through numerous ways. Pakistan has suffered as a result, be it economically or diplomatically. Its internal problems have also intensified. Relations with western neighbours Afghanistan and Iran have continued to decline, even to the extent of cross-border attacks. This has forced its government to increase defence expenditure at a time when the economy relies almost entirely on IMF largesse. It has taken the begging bowl to the Gulf nations but found little success.

This has not happened by itself. It is the result of a focus on ensuring that Pakistan does not benefit in any way from India’s economy. Even the common socio-cultural heritage has been damped down till such time Pakistan mends its ways. The hope that the anti-Modi alliance will weaken this approach is a far-fetched one, because that would only harden the government’s resolve.

The Indian government has also over the years increased the ‘take back POK’ pitch. Politics in POK, too, has been brought around in support of this demand. This has unnerved the entrenched leadership on both sides of the border. The results of the Lok Sabha elections in the state have also highlighted the fluid situation. It is an opportune time to take advantage and, hopefully, the Modi Government will not be found wanting. Pakistan should be careful that, like Hamas, it does not trigger a catastrophic outcome through ill-considered action. Unlike Israel, India has many ways of doing it.