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Keep an eye on Pakistan | HT Editorial – editorials

Islamabad is up to its usual tricks — this time to win over Joe Biden

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Updated: Nov 17, 2020, 19:39 IST

An Indian Army soldier stands guard near Nastachun pass, also known as Sadhana pass, about 8 Km from the Line of Control, Kupwara, October 14, 2020
An Indian Army soldier stands guard near Nastachun pass, also known as Sadhana pass, about 8 Km from the Line of Control, Kupwara, October 14, 2020(AFP)

The timing of two events that occurred last week — an intense exchange of fire along the Line of Control (LoC) triggered by ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces and Pakistan’s release of a dossier with so-called evidence of terror allegedly sponsored by India — have led to specul-ation about the intentions of Pakistan’s leadership. It is speculated that both developments were part of Islamabad’s efforts to influence the incoming United States administration led by President-elect Joe Biden on the Kashmir issue and India-Pakistan relations. The artillery and small arms exchanges along LoC on November 13 killed nine people on the Indian side and retaliatory firing by the Indian side destroyed several bunkers and logistics facilities on the Pakistani side, putting further strain on the 2003 ceasefire. Just a day after the hostilities on LoC, Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership released the so-called “terror dossier” that claimed Indian intelligence operatives were engaged in terror activities directed against Islamabad.

The Donald Trump administration had imposed some of the harshest punishments on Pakistan for its support to terrorist groups, with security assistance worth billions of dollars suspended since 2018. Despite meetings between Mr Trump and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, there was no significant breakthrough in ties between the two countries. Perhaps, Pakistan now believes it can capitalise on its role in getting the Taliban to agree to peace talks with Washington to refashion its relationship with the US under the new administration. If that is the case, the developments on LoC and the “terror dossier” make sense from Islamabad’s perspective.

Still, these acts are in line with Pakistan’s real position on terror. Its unprovoked ceasefire violations along LoC are aimed at providing cover to terrorists, attempting to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir. The strain on the LoC truce has increased in recent years. Pakistan’s “terror dossier” found few takers in the world community, which has watched with concern as terrorist attacks and incidents in places, ranging from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Europe, were found to have some Pakistani connection. Pakistan’s latest gambit has come at a time when Mr Khan is grappling with pressing domestic issues, from severe economic problems to greater cohesion in efforts by the opposition aimed at unseating him. Mr Khan should focus on setting his own house in order instead of making futile attempts to stir the Kashmir pot.

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