'IBA hosts Jang Forum on 'Pakistan-India Conflict – What is Next?'

Pakistan-India Conflict – What is Next

March 4, 2019: IBA, Karachi hosted a Jang Forum on Pakistan-India Conflict – What is Next? at the main campus. The panelists for the forum included Defence Analyst, Mr. Ikram Sehgal, Retired Air Marshal, Mr. Riaz-ud-Din Shaikh and Associate Dean, Faculty of Business Administration IBA, and foreign policy analyst, Dr. Huma Baqai. During the discussion, the panelists shared their insights on the tension prevailing between the two countries, role of the international community and the prospects of war.

Dr. Baqai commented on the post-Pulwama attack situation stating that the condition is very critical because of the mobilization of weaponry on both sides of the border which makes the eruption of violence still a possibility. She noted that it is not an issue between India and Pakistan anymore, but is now a global issue associated with the peace process in Afghanistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the overall progress of the entire region. Dr. Baqai expressed her concern over the silence of the international community against the actions of India. "My question is how long the international community will play the role of fire brigade in this region. And it only intervenes at the time of nuclear weaponry tensions between the two states, it reduces the tension and then goes back and leave India alone which is not a recipe of peace," she mentioned.

The panelists further reflected on the significance of the past developments in India's current political context. Mr. Shaikh and Mr. Sehgal commented on how Prime Minister Modi needs to rely on such pre-election tactics to ensure success. Mr. Sehgal commented, "Before the incident, Modi had the support of the people, but during this process, and as a result of the maturity displayed by the government of Pakistan, the public opinion has turned in Pakistan's favour." Dr. Baqai noted, "Since India is in a pre-election mode, the defeat and humiliation that Modi faced at the hands of Pakistan was used by the Congress for political point scoring." She added that however, it does not mean that if Congress assumes power, it would not use the same tactics of hate and war to gain support just like the current Indian government.

Mr. Shaikh expressed his concern over the negligence of India in declining every possible mean of getting in touch with Pakistan for resolution of the conflict.

When asked about the positive outcomes for Pakistan from this situation, the panelists praised the act of maturity and tolerance displayed by Pakistan, and especially the decision of the Government of Pakistan to release the Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. Dr. Baqai stated that Pakistan gave India the face-saving in this issue and therefore, Pakistan has won the perception war in the eyes of the international civil society.

After a panel discussion on the issue, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. In response to a student's question about the impact of war on the economy, Dr. Baqai answered that it is a stated policy of India strangulate the economy of Pakistan so that it does not remain in the position to challenge India. It is to counter the idea of economic turnaround and prosperity in Pakistan, primarily, by sabotaging CPEC. Mr. Shaikh noted that the economy and the farmers of India are being equally affected by the situation due to a halt in the trade of perishable goods for example vegetables.

Reflecting on the consequence of war for the people in both the countries, Dr. Baqai said "What Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have been doing to India has consequences for the whole region including Pakistan, but the biggest consequence of it is for India itself because it is ruining its societal fabric, and democracy, constitutionalism and secularism in India is being compromised."

She added that the amount and the kind of weaponry that India has deployed on the Line of Control is alarming. Therefore, the next 45 days are the most critical where the armed forces and the security infrastructure should remain on red alert.

The session ended with remarks from the panellists on the narrative created by the Indian media. They noted that in this digital age, the narrative of social media is a counter narrative of what the Indian media is propagating. However, the "truth" is always the first casualty in a war and so it is in this case.