Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Suicide Attacks on Iranian and Indian Security Forces: Fate of Pakistan in the Balance

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Suicide Attacks on Iranian and Indian Security Forces: Fate of Pakistan in the Balance

Two fateful suicide attacks last week, which were carried out in two different countries – one on elite Iranian security personnel near the border with Pakistan, which has killed 27 service members and injured 13 others, and the other one carried out on 14 February on Indian security forces in Indian administered Kashmir, which killed more than 40 security personnel, have caused anger and pain among the people and Governments of both Iran, the Islamic Republic and India. Timing of these attacks is mysteriously coordinated with the visit of Saudi Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman to the region – India and Pakistan. Also, tension simmering in Middle East between two major powerful countries i.e. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Islamic Republic over sphere of control in the region has triggered warnings and threats directed to one another over ‘middling’ in each other’s internal affairs – singling out Iranian support to Houthi militia in Yemen, who have been firing missile on the cities of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since last four years and threatens Saudi interests in Yemen, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’ support to armed groups fighting in Syria against the interests of Iran. Most notably, Iran sees Pakistan as vehicle to furthering and implementing Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s design and interests at the door step of Iran, which could easily be infiltrated because Iranian provinces bordering Pakistan (Sistan and Baluchistan) are primarily Sunni dwellers, who ‘harbor grudges against Iran’s central Government’ citing deliberate deprivation and marginalization by mainly Shia Government there, hence paving ways for manipulation and infiltration by elements hostile to Iran’s central Government. Pakistan military and security establishment have been allowing for and fostering hardline religious fanatics to form and train in that country, which are then used by the establishment as proxies in Afghanistan and India to cause havoc and weaken central Government holds over the country by staging guerrilla type attacks on Government installations and security and defense personnel.  Pakistan Government continues to defy international pressure and its neighboring countries’ concern and blatantly allow these militant groups to cause killings and destructions in Afghanistan for the last more than seventeen years now. Emboldened by lack of response in kind for its actions which include meddling and support for terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan military establishment has either knowingly or unknowingly allowed these militant groups it harbors, to carry out suicide attacks on Iran and India soil, which has put fate of the country in the balance. Recent rescue package of billions of dollars offered by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan is seen by Iran as yet another softening of position of Pakistan to control and rein in activities of these militant groups. Iran, the Islamic Republic, has been bearing grudges against Pakistan for not being able to control militant groups active inside Pakistan since last two decades now.
India has been victim of terrorist attacks, which it blames on Pakistan for years owing to strain relations the two countries have due to Kashmir issue and historical grudges dating back to the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971, which changed South-East Asia’s geographical demarcation by separating West Bengal province from Pakistan and giving birth to an independent country called Bangladesh. In all the three wars fought with India, Pakistan has suffered humiliating defeats at the hand of Indian military, which compelled Pakistan to opt for other ways to ‘settle scores with India’, and these ways include formation of militant groups around religious slogans and to use them as proxies in ‘enemy state’ in the form of guerrilla warfare. Pakistani military establishment had enjoyed free hands to experiment guerrilla type warfare in Afghanistan during the 1980s decade when ex-USSR had invaded Afghanistan. Supported by Western nations including the United States of America and NATO member countries, Pakistan military and intelligence organizations had successfully put in practice the art of war ‘behind the enemy lines’. These tactics have showed clear results in favor of Pakistani agenda for long-run benefits – including its ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan where it supported a waning insurgency and rekindled it to a ‘force to reckon with’ – the Taliban. But as the laws of nature govern the flow of things, fate will not be always at Pakistani side. They have gaffed and committed blunder by daring attacks inside Iran, the Islamic Republic, and Indian administered Kashmir. Both India and Iran enjoy far more leverages – in term of military power, prowess and economic stability. It is ironic to see Pakistan misadventure inside Iran, the country which helped Pakistan in 1948 by mobilizing its army in favor of Pakistan federal Government to bring a renegade province – Baluchistan – into the folds of federation of Pakistan.
Now, what are the responses of these two countries against Pakistan will be seen in the event Pakistan does not act immediately to bring the militant groups identified by both Iran and India, to justice. The options for military surgical strikes by Indian army inside Pakistan could not be ruled out. Opinion in India is in favor of military intervention against militant groups harbored inside Pakistan. But a military intervention could trigger response in kind from Pakistani military, which will not be feasible because India is stronger and has lots of leverage both in conventional and nuclear capabilities. In the event of attack by Indian army, it is obvious Pakistanis will resort to nuclear warfare because; 1) they understand they would not be able to stand Indian conventional warfare; and 2) they believe Pakistan will have little to lose in case it engages in nuclear war with India because the country is in the bottom of pyramid for economic, social and political stability – but on the other hand, India enjoys strong political, economic and military system. By dragging India into a prolong war, Pakistan might believe they can bring India to her knees, which would result in loss of economic growth…etc. But according to independent military observers, Indian army has already taken care of all scenarios. The addition of S400 anti-missile batteries in the army along with numerous other defensive caps, India has effectively constructed a formidable defense system, which can thwart any Pakistani misadventure. Same is true with Iran, the Islamic Republic where the Government and the army there have lots of leverage over Pakistani military strength. Iran enjoys support inside Pakistan through the Shia political and social organizations, where Shia population constitutes a considerable percentage of the total population of the country. It remains to be seen what course India and Iran adopt to ‘respond in kind’ to the two suicide attacks, it is advisable for Pakistan to stop making more enemies around her, which already encircled the country – India, Afghanistan and Iran, the Islamic Republic – and begin to crack down on terrorist outfits it harbors since last four decades to re-establish friendly and cordial relations with her neighbors by respecting national sovereignty, independence and peaceful existence.   

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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