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Now, the diplomatic battle

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PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi’s gambit to ensure his re-election by hostility and military action against Pakistan has badly backfired. Contrary to Indian calculations, Pakistan was not cowed by the BJP’s bullying. It gave a matching response to the bombs India hastily dropped across the Line of Control, but yet took precautions to avoid Indian casualties in its matching response. And, when Indian aircraft intruded again, it promptly downed two of them without any loss and took an Indian pilot prisoner.

From the outset of the exchanges, India’s authorities lied about the nature and impact of their first strike, claiming this destroyed a fictitious ‘terrorist camp’, and next day, after the loss of its own aircraft, falsely claimed to have shot down a Pakistani F-16.

In contrast, Pakistan did exactly what it said it would do; and said what it did, plainly and truthfully.

Most significant was the contrast between the belligerent and boastful threats of Prime Minister Modi, and Indian military and civilian leaders, and the sober appeal for restraint, the military caution and the magnanimity demonstrated by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan civil and military leadership.

The aftermath of the crisis offers an opportunity to advance the objective of peace in South Asia.

India has evidently decided against further military action. No doubt, it is now convinced that Pakistan would respond again. The inherent danger of escalation to a full-blown war between nuclear-armed adversaries has perhaps dawned on New Delhi. Deterrence has been operationally demonstrated; strategic stability has been restored.

Now, India’s bloodied BJP leadership will seek to retrieve........

© Dawn