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Attack on Pathankot air force base

Updated Jan 04, 2016 03:32am


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The Indian Air Force Base is in Pathankot. —AFP/File
The Indian Air Force Base is in Pathankot. —AFP/File

WHILE Pakistan-India ties are necessarily about a great deal more than terrorism, the latter is perhaps the one threat that can derail the relationship yet again.

It is too early to know the facts about what transpired at an Indian air force base in Pathankot but already some challenges — and opportunities for broadening and deepening anti-terrorism efforts — can be identified.

Firstly, the Pakistani government has done the right thing in quickly and unequivocally condemning the terror attack and offering its cooperation to India.

Having suffered grievously from militant violence and having resolved to fight militancy in all its forms, Pakistan should rightly offer its support to any state confronting terror threats. It is a welcome change that Pakistan now officially and directly condemns terrorist attacks regionally and internationally and offers its assistance where necessary.

The years of ambivalence appear to have been left behind.

Yet, the challenges are formidable. The hostile reaction by much of the Indian media to the alleged involvement of Pakistanis in the attack even before the barest facts could be established underlines just how difficult peacemaking will be.

Courageously, however, the Indian government has appeared to resist media and hawkish pressure and declined to go into attack mode against Pakistan. It is all too easy to reap political capital in the midst of a major terrorist attack by targeting perceived external enemies.

The preferable approach — one that hopefully the Indian government will continue to adopt in the days ahead — would be to quickly establish the facts. If no involvement of Pakistani nationals is found, the information should be shared with the Indian public.

If Pakistani nationals are found to be involved in the attack, the information should be shared with Pakistani authorities as quickly as possible — and reciprocal steps should be taken here. To thwart the political motives of terrorists, a sensible, cooperative approach by both governments should be key.

Inside Pakistan, there needs to be some reflection. Has Pakistan’s inability to deal adequately with India’s concerns about the 2008 Mumbai attacks caused cynicism about Pakistani intentions and led to Indians being automatically suspicious of Pakistan whenever a terrorist attack occurs in their country?

If so, does that not harm Pakistan’s own interests? There is still too much defensiveness about the terrorism threat on the Pakistani side — perhaps less so in the political government, but certainly in the military-led security establishment.

There is no conceivable gain that Pakistan can make through terrorism when it comes to key disputes and issues with India. Not only is that abundantly clear outside the state apparatus, a generation of senior officials, both military and civilian, have publicly and privately acknowledged and accepted that.

If that is indeed the case, then Pakistan ought to lead confidently on the regional terrorist threat. No one — at least no one credible — can accuse the Pakistani state of not wanting to or failing to fight the banned TTP today. The day must come when the same can be said for all terror threats, internally, regionally and internationally.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2016

Comments (35) Closed

Robert Jan 04, 2016 02:28am

Your editorial rightfully justifies, without actually saying it, that an earlier agreement between Sharif and Modi at Ufa to discuss and resolve the most important issue-- terrorism-- first. Pakistan has to want peace and the prerequisite for that is a strong civilian government in that country.

Dan G Jan 04, 2016 02:39am

I hope the Indian and Paksitani governments work together and come to the bottom of whoever is responsible... and bring them to justice! That would not only be the best boost to peace between the 2 countries but also a fitting response to any terror group that is intent on causing trouble.

Prasad Jan 04, 2016 03:25am

Balanced article! As an Indian, I don't want to point fingers at Pakistan's government and I agree that if the culprits are found to be Pakistani nationals, then there should be joint effort to find and quickly prosecute the roots of this attack.

Let's not the terrorists win this time... let's continue the dialogue and economic cooperation...

Vijay Jan 04, 2016 04:21am

There are many on both sides who do not want the peace talks between India and Pakistan to proceed. More money can be made in conflict than in peace.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Jan 04, 2016 05:34am

I am impressed by the mature attitude showed by India & Pakistan. The press however, from both sides are speculating a lot without any substance. Now is the time to move on and work for the betterment of the people of the respective countries. Our people have suffered a lot for very long. give them food, education & roof on their head.

Prakash Jan 04, 2016 05:42am

Pakistan at least restrict activities of leaders of organizations it has banned or international organizations have raised concerns.

Light of the world Jan 04, 2016 06:02am

Extremely sad. What kind of people do this? It shows what forces are out there to ensure peace does not succeed. It will remain to be seen if the the two governments can rise above it and do what is right and stop these terrible people from yet again stopping the peace process.

Pattabhi Raman Jan 04, 2016 06:37am

This is a sensible editorial. If the peace process were to move forward seriously India should not go into an all out accusatory mode without sharing proof and Pakistan should not go into a denial mode regardless of what is presented. If the terrorists are confirmed to be from Pakistan we hope they are non state actors with no support from the establishment. Pakistan should not hesitate to accept the existence of non state actors and act vigorously to eliminate them. Otherwise, the peace process will become the cliche that goes "insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

M M AMIN(. Old Ravian ) Jan 04, 2016 06:39am

The Editorial observations are carefully balanced .Relations with India are a complicated matter ; while it takes time to connect,the danger of disconnect is immediate if there be any incident like the recent Pathankote one . You are right in this case the Indian govt .has not gone with the media . Well done sir .

aga khan Jan 04, 2016 08:29am

Well said.

Harsh Jan 04, 2016 08:33am

Reactions from both Indian and Pakistani governments are showing that they are keen to pursue the relationship on the foundation set by Nawaz and Modi. Once the investigation is completed then both countries should work on it objectively regardless of the findings and who are found guilty.

nickymb Jan 04, 2016 09:21am

@Vijay, Rightly said.. Both Indian and Pakistani governments should understand this fact and work towards peace..

citizen Jan 04, 2016 10:07am

Great piece of editorial by Dawn! Kudos to you, Dawn

cc Jan 04, 2016 10:25am

Could you please reveal the identities of the interested parties “on both sides”, who are keen and capable of keeping the ongoing peace process at bay?!!! Reconciliation process between our countries is a dynamic one and, to begin with, what we are witnessing in India at the moment is, hardcore “Modi bhakts” have suddenly become peaceniks when he changed his strategy in dealing with Pakistan. Therefore, for the peace process to succeed similar transformation should brought in by Nawaz Sharif among anti-India elements across the border - Is he capable of doing that?

rabia Jan 04, 2016 11:27am

Pakistan condemn this heinous act of terror for spoiling the peace process between both nations. Instead of lamanting Pakistan with it like the Mumbai case where no involvement was found by Pakistan both nations must join hand in fighting this menace of terrorism for the security and safety of this region. We have been through the same epics like the one of budh bare airbase.

Feroz Jan 04, 2016 11:40am

Excellent analysis ! With available telephonic intercepts, tracking down the handlers is no more than childs play, from there reaching the masterminds is just a step away. This is a test whether will exists or merely an extension of the past game of duplicity and deceit.

AW Jan 04, 2016 12:02pm

Modi and Nawaz have created a bold and unprecedented momentum to normalize the relations between India and Pakistan which must be sustained at all costs. All those forces on both sides of the border who are against the normalization of relationship must be defeated by both nations with mutual resolve, determination and commitment. Eliminating cross border terrorism needs to be a collaborative and joint exercise between the two countries to be continued until the goals have been achieved. On our side of the border, we need to do a lot more for vigorous and speedy implementation of NAP to put our house in order.

Akram Jan 04, 2016 03:52pm

@Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali "The press however, from both sides are speculating a lot without any substance." What is the Pakistani press speculating without substance?

Sudhir Neyalasinger Jan 04, 2016 04:17pm

A very sensible editorial. Hope both the Indian and Pakistani governments act with restraint.

Atam Vetta Jan 04, 2016 04:23pm

Excellent advice. Both countries and especially Pakistan will benefit from removing the curse of terrorism. This, indeed, is the message of Xi Drafted Ufa agreement as well as from the USA. Peace & trade lead to prosperity, war to destruction and misery.

Hosur Jan 04, 2016 04:38pm

There is no surprise in the militants attacking the Air Force base at Pathankot.The ‘Non State' platers are not too happy in the restoration of normal ties between India and Pakistan. If ties are normal then the whole point of their fight becomes meaningless. PM Shri Narendra Modi's surprise visit to Lahore to greet Shri Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and bless the wedding in the family has been welcomed by citizens of both countries. From estrangement to engagement is indeed a significant sign of improvement. Derailing India -Pakistan talks will only encourage the ‘Non State’ players and embolden them further. Talks should be pursued .

ukumar Jan 04, 2016 05:17pm

It is a balance editorial

Ashutosh Mishra Jan 04, 2016 05:59pm

Most sensible and balanced response. That's how it should always be...

KAZIM REZA Jan 04, 2016 06:10pm

It is best of time if we don't provoke the situation for further down. Dawn has set its tune courageously for a positive direction.Not that I agree with every aspect of episodes that it set for the whole view.But the situation claims for a mature approach that the newspaper has met with boldness.I remember that while Pakistan & India were busy with some positive initiatives & Pakistan with Afghanistan jointly decided to move for economic benefits for their people , a terror attack on Indian part of Punjab was committed recently.Now after Modi' s historic steps were set in Pakistan this act replayed. Thanks dawn for taking best effort to keep peace and dialogue between the neighburs

Nawaz,Zubair Jan 04, 2016 08:42pm

It would be a great indicator of Indian goodwill if it prevails upon its friendly government in Afghanistan to hand over Mullah Fazlullah and his group to Pakistan. Many here do suspect that they are hiding in one of the scores of Indian Consulates across Afghanistan.

ashok Jan 04, 2016 10:27pm

Very balanced article. I appreciate both sides media and leaders trying to progress, keep cool but as you rightly point out, any proven perpetrators should be taken joint action from both sides

jitendraa singh Jan 04, 2016 11:51pm

Very balanced article..which has hit the bull's eye ,regarding what action should be taken by India and Pakistan.... post Pathankot attack .

Uzair Jan 05, 2016 12:06am

It was anticipated to appear terrorist attacks midst peace efforts , to jeoperdize everything . It is fathom that some forces would never want to see peace and tranquility between them . Now its a responsibility of both governments , to act mature , and try to avoid what history is repleted with - mud slinging each other for minute political gains , at the cost of bigger goal .

Riaz Jan 05, 2016 12:37am

brilliant piece. appreciatable

vrpatil Jan 05, 2016 01:12am

Those who are in the hangover of,false sense of bravado should listen to such sane voices for the sake of future generations.

samsonite Jan 05, 2016 09:43am

@Nawaz,Zubair : can you name one of the addresses of the so called consulates. Do you know that any consulate needs to be listed in Afghanistan's records and both the governments websites. Only then there will be recognition under Ggeneva convention. Now can you find the address of any of those consulates

Please do not live in a fantasy world.

Purushu Jan 05, 2016 10:56am

The right editorial from a responsible new paper. Keep it up


Ramkumar Jan 05, 2016 04:21pm

A very balanced editorial from Dawn and its much appreciated.

Vishwanath Bhagat Jan 05, 2016 09:55pm

Mature and Bold editorial.

There is no doubt that people of both sides want PEACE, it is only a handful of elements trying to sabotage. Sooner of later, the will of the people of both sides shall prevail.

Gus Jan 06, 2016 12:25am

well said .. lets see if both the Govt walks the talk.