The Pathankot terror attack was a strategic attempt by Pakistani military establishment to derail the India-Pakistan diplomatic dialogue and it has succeeded in doing so.
According to a recent report published by the South Asia Democratic Forum, a think tank dedicated to the study of South Asian integration and the challenges faced by the region, the immediate objective of the Pathankot attack was to inflict considerable damage to the air logistics of the Indian armed forces.
However, its strategic objective was to derail the India-Pakistan diplomatic dialogue, while avoiding any sanctions for their blatant disregard of international law and openly supporting terrorism.
The report also concluded that the evidence of the involvement of the Pakistani military establishment in the Pathankot attack and its collusion with Jihadist terror outfits is overwhelming.
At SADF’s latest summit in June 2016, the European and Indian authorities identified terrorism as one of the major areas of common concern while also condemning the recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris.
Recalling the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, they also called for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice. Leaders called for decisive and united actions to be taken against ISIL (Da’esh), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul-Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network and other internationally active terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
The report also said that Indian authorities should not abandon talks with Pakistan and should avoid a diplomatic gridlock. SADF strongly believes that the Europe Union should build on its firm condemnation of cross-border terrorism – and in particular the Pathankot attack – and on this basis to promote a dialogue between the parties that will foster peace, cooperation and democracy in South Asia.
SADF’s further reported that Pakistan considers cross-border terrorism the most cost–effective option to increase its leverage in India and Afghanistan. The use of non-state state actors by Pakistan as proxies to keep the conflict with India alive dates back to the formation of the independent Pakistani state and continues to this day.
Pakistan’s support has been instrumental in spreading terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in Punjab and North-eastern Indian states through military, logistical and financial means. In Jammu and Kashmir, however, Pakistan goes further as it openly pledges moral and political support to the Kashmiri jihadists, calling it a “Kashmiri freedom struggle”, said the report.
The initial reactions of the Pakistani Government to the Pathankot attack were very encouraging and indicated that Pakistan was finally taking responsibility in dealing with such incidents but unfortunately, Pakistan’s civilian government finally succumbed to the pressure tactics of the military and returned to its old rhetoric, aimed at concealing the JeM’s involvement in the incident.
The report, however, pointed out that avoiding a dialogue with Pakistan will not make India more secure, to the contrary, it will deny New Delhi, the opportunity of establishing contacts and exercising leverage with the liberal sections of the Pakistani establishment.
A dialogue with Pakistan will also enhance the capacity of India to exercise the dual process of communicating terror threats, and at the same time offer incentives to the Pakistan leadership to cooperate in anti-terror activities.
A diplomatic freeze on the other hand will further delay and impede the peace process, which is the primary objective of the Jihadis.