In one of the worst blows to the Indian Army in peacetime, on Sunday, four militants attacked the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. 18 soldiers have died in the attack. The Indian government blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack. Union home minister Rajnath Singh also went on to accuse Pakistan directly, calling it a “terrorist state”.

The reaction in Pakistan, one could say, was almost copybook. The attack made the front pages across newspapers with indignant commentary on India pointing a finger at Pakistan.

This edit in Dawn, for example, took care to point out that the Pakistan Army itself had taken to calling the attackers “terrorists”. The edit also goes on to advise the Pakistani state to undertake “a crackdown on all non-state actors allegedly involved in cross-border/LoC terrorism”.

However, it then veers of by taking issue with India blaming Pakistan for the attack:

India’s automatic blaming of Pakistan for major violence in that country is very much a part of the problem.

It then ends with a significant segue into Kashmir, connecting the attack with the turmoil in Kashmir, illustrating just how strong a hold this issue has on the Pakistani imagination.

Meanwhile, the death of 11-year-old Nasir Shafi, whose body was found riddled with pellets used by Indian security forces, has deepened the anger and instigated fresh protests in IHK over the weekend. The vicious and unending clampdown by Indian security forces in IHK ought to have pricked the world’s conscience, but the outside world has prioritised good relations with India over compassion for the oppressed people of Kashmir. Perhaps conscientious voices in India can help point out a fundamental truth about the Kashmir conflict: irrespective of what the Indian government thinks Pakistan has done or is doing, the Kashmir dispute is rooted in a people’s genuine rejection of control by the state of India. Denying that is a hallmark of generations of Indian leaders, but it is a truth that has not changed.

Indignation with India blaming Pakistan was repeated by the Express Tribune, which said, “Indian officials jump the gun, blame Pakistan”.

The News, just like the other newspapers, prominently pointed out that India had blamed Pakistan. It also ran the conspiracy theory that Uri was a “false flag operation” on its front page. A false flag operation is a covert attack carried out by an entity and blamed on another entity. In effect, this accused India of killing its own army men.

This feverish conspiracy theory was also, in fact, supported by none other than Pakistan’s defence minister – a statement that the Express Tribune ran on its front page too. Like for the 1971 Bangladesh War of Liberation, actual information on the Kashmir conflict is so scarce in Pakistan that such outlandish theories frequently achieve mainstream status.

The Urdu press followed the same drill. Jang said, “Bharat ne ek baar phir, baghair tehqiqaat ke, ilzam Pakistan par aayad kar diya” [Yet again India has, without conducting an investigation, blamed Pakistan.]

The Indian government, however, claims that its accusation have been made with proof. Press reports in India carried news that the Indian Army had recovered a mission plan annotated in Pashto which pointed to the involvement of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a terror group that recently started working under the Jaish-e-Mohammad's command.

Ahsan Butt, a political scientist at the George Mason University in the United States of America, pointed out that denying Pakistan's role in this attack lacked credibility:

I’m afraid, however, that “We had nothing to do with it, how dare you accuse us” is a statement lacking in credibility, and anyone making it looks silly. It lacks credibility because of (a) history, whereby Pakistan has supported violent insurgency in Kashmir for over two decades and tried plenty of times before that, (b) there being little evidence of changes in history’s trajectory, notwithstanding NAP/Zarb-e-Azb/#thankyouRaheelShareef hashtags