PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — Around 140 fighter jets and attack helicopters as well as a large range of missiles were used by the Indian Air Force in the firepower demonstration close to the border with Pakistan that came two days after the Pulwama attack in occupied Kashmir and was planned in advance.
According to reports, more than 44 Indian security personnel were killed in suicide bombing of the convoy– the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region for decades.
The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from Srinagar.
India claims to have “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan’s “direct” involvement but has not provided it.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate against the attack.
Pakistan denies any role in the attack reportedly claimed by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Talking to PKonweb on condition of anonymity, a senior defense analyst said, “It’s a false flag operation for sure as the cost benefit analysis strongly suggests that any such action is strictly detrimental to Pakistan at this point and time, and we are trying to revive our economy.”
Pakistan has been struggling to close the yawning gap in its fiscal situation.
On Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s historical first visit to Islamabad was rescheduled to Sunday February 17. The kingdom plans to invest more than $20 billion in the country, and jack up bilateral trade as well as sign a dozen of MoU’s which also includes cooperation in such spheres as media, youth, culture, sports, people-to-people diplomacy, etc.
It’s a mega strategic shift in Pak-Saudi historical relations, said another analyst who also considers the UAE, Iran and Malaysia interests in investing in Pakistan as another game-changer.
On Pulwama attack, the analyst pointed out that many young Kashmiri men have been radicalized in recent years. On Thursday, India’s main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018. Unofficial estimates are several times higher.
But political compulsions will drive Indian response and it will find receptive hearing due to ultra nationalism which BJP has been promoting for sometime, said the defense analysts.
Modi and his party BJP are trying to put the best foot forward ahead of the Lok Sabha polls 2019 but face strong headwinds.
This week, Congress’s UP-East General secretary Priyanka Gandhi carried out a road-show with Congress president Rahul Gandhi ahead of the general elections 2019.
Back in December, Suresh Cayyur, an Indian American professional with strong political connections, said that Modi and his party might look to play the same Hindutva card again in the general elections.
According to him, many political pundits opine that the BJP may not be able to win elections 2019 and may have to opt for a coalition government.
“This will seriously tie down the hands of the extremists and protagonists of Hindutva”, Cayyur added. In such a scenario, “BJP may have to resort to the Hindu-Muslim election card; albeit it may be the last resort for the revival of party politics”. “I see rough times ahead”, he added.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in Munich that he had spoken to various foreign ministers, including to the Russian foreign minister in Moscow, and told them that he had been fearful there would be some “misadventure” for political purposes prior to the election [in India].
Similarly, the minister said that around two months ago, Pakistani officials had briefed P-5 (US, China, Russia, UK and France) envoys in Islamabad that they feared something or the other taking place to “distract attention” from the Kashmir issue.
India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces. This has stoked the young and the women to join protests making it a local affair, said a Human Rights Report last year.