Pak caught red-handed, again: Islamabad tests Modi govt’s terror threshold

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terrorist-Usman-KhanThe fresh infiltration of jihadis days after the Gurdaspur attack underlines Pakistan’s determination to keep probing the Modi government’s threshold for terrorism and test its capacity to devise effective responses to cross-border terror.

Terror crossings in J&K are usually well coordinated by Pakistan’s military and ISI. While the immediate provocation may range from wanting to scuttle the NSA talks to keeping jihadi clients like LeT happy or both, Pakistan’s role as a launch pad is in disputable.

Reports of Pakistan’s politically powerful army being at odds with PM Nawaz Sharif over pushing ties with India — evidenced by the Ufa statement’s terror focus — are hard to decipher given how goals can diverge and intertwine in a deep state where secret agencies act with little accountability. Despite rocky ties, Sharif has been in touch with Narendra Modi. While he may see the benefits of peace, he’d know that his instinct to curtail the army’s influence is risky. He won’t be unaware that his base, Punjab, is a major catchment for the anti-India Lashkar and Jaish.

The Pakistani army has a battle on its hands with the Taliban which sees it as a “heretical” force antithetical to the Taliban’s view of a religious state. Though indoctrinated on religious lines, the army may need to burnish its credentials supporting anti-India terror, having taken on the Taliban.

This leaves little choice for India but to develop options. For, underlying the Pakistani army’s shifting tactical considerations is the goal of curbing India’s rise as a regional powerhouse, an aim that’s well beyond claiming Kashmir as the unstates is essential for boosting the finished business of Partition.

Persisting with NSA talks marks a break with the past as confronting Pakistan with evidence on the two terror strikes can drive home the centrality of terrorism to bilateral ties.

The recent intrusions aren’t just about armaments and intelligence. They underscore the need to crack down on drugs and other illegal activities eroding security.

Sharing of intelligence by border capacity to repel terror with speedy tribals of those held for terrorism.Proactive measures can include pursuing all legal and diplomatic actions against terror masterminds, and possibly, specific officers of Pakistani agencies. Naming individuals helps build cases in domestic courts and international forums.

Limited use of force is more difficult, but an impression that this isn’t ruled out is useful in upsetting Pakistani assumptions that a military response will be deterred by nuclear weapons.