The attack on Wagah was not an attack on India. It was not an attack on Pakistan’s religious or sectarian minorities, nor on liberal politicians or journalists who speak against religious fundamentalists. It was an attack on patriotic Pakistanis, who were visiting the Wagah border for the flag lowering ceremony, in which they must have matched the Indian visitors on the other side in shouting slogans praising their country and abusing the other.
Jundullah has said the blast was in response to the Pakistani Army’s military operation against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan near the eastern border, in North Waziristan and other tribal areas. However, another group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, has said that it was them who did the attack, and they would soon release videos proving their claim. Their motive they said was the same: revenge for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Pakistani military’s exercise to neutralise the TTP, which is an anti-Pakistan militant force.
For India, the writing is on the wall
Regardless of who did carried out the suicide blast, it is clear the blast was intended to target Pakistan and Pakistanis, not India. And yet, the message for India is clear. Pakistan’s militants, suicide bombers aren’t even under the control of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, can strike at India’s doorstep.
The exact location of the Wagah border suicide attack - just a few hundred metres from the border with India pic.twitter.com/doSHLrFu4m
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) November 2, 2014
Few in India believe the the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, were carried out by autonomous militants without the knowledge of the Pakistani deep state. The 26/11 attacks were carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group Pakistan allows to flourish under the pseudonym Jamat-ud-Dawa. Pakistan’s reluctance to bring the 26/11 perpetrators to justice gives India legitimate reasons to distrust the narrative about Pakistan itself being the biggest victim of terrorism.
Yet, even a cursory look at the activities of the Tehreek-e-Taliban will tell you that the group is out against the Pakistani state and the Pakistani army. Pakistanis keep making the point to India that Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism. While Indians could respond that Pakistan itself let the genie out of the bottle, that won’t change the threat India possibly faces from all kinds of militants in Pakistan. The writing is on the wall: Pakistan's turmoil with is also India's problem.
What should India do?
In such circumstances, should India behave coldly with Pakistan, giving grist to the mill of the Pakistani right-wing? Or should India be attempting rapprochement with Islamabad, in order to have Rawalpindi, the Pakistani Army headquarters, concentrate on finishing the Taliban and other such monsters?
By cutting off dialogue with Pakistani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led Pakistan to again start whining about Kashmir internationally. This can only motivate more militants to look at India. Indeed, we recently saw an Al Qaeda spokesperson releasing a video saying they are looking at India.
Even if talking to Pakistan does not yield quick results, and talks are interrupted by such events as 26/11, engagement is the only way India can make Pakistan and Pakistanis change their outlook towards India. A horrific suicide attack 500 metres from the Indian border is a grim reminder that engaging Pakistan is not only necessary but urgent. Prime Minister Modi should do so merely because it would in India’s national interest.
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