jueves, 13 de octubre de 2016

India no removió tan quirúrgicamente las bases terroristas en Pakistán

Reversing roles

There is still more smoke than fire in heated exchanges, but for how long?
The Economist

Peering towards Pakistan

IF IT were not that India and Pakistan have been lobbing live mortar rounds at each other for the past few days, forcing the evacuation of thousands of villagers from border zones, or for the fact that both states are nuclear-armed, the latest jump in tension between the eternal rivals might seem silly. On September 29th India launched what an army spokesman called retaliatory “surgical strikes” against “terrorist launch-pads” in Pakistani-held territory. This followed an attack by Pakistan-based fighters two weeks earlier that had left 19 Indian soldiers dead and prompted angry Indian calls for revenge.

But in a reversal of typical roles the apparent victim, Pakistan, denied that any such deadly Indian raids had taken place; it dispatched reporters to the border to check for themselves—under strict supervision, naturally. This embarrassed India’s government, which had won thundering applause from local media when it announced the revenge attacks. One animated cartoon pictured a giant prime minister Narendra Modi flicking his mosquito-borne Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, into oblivion. But just when Indian sceptics began to wonder aloud whether their government was telling the truth, Pakistan sheepishly admitted that it had captured an Indian soldier on its side of the border, thus hinting that there had, after all, been some sort of incursion.

The eruption of tit-for-tat shelling across the line of control, as the frontier between Indian- and Pakistani-administered bits of the disputed territory of Kashmir is called, also suggested that something provocative had happened (an Indian soldier is pictured near the line of control during the recent tensions). But it was only after days of frenzied speculation that a whiff of fact could be discerned through the dense smoke. Citing eyewitnesses and anonymous officials, journalists in both Pakistan and India pieced together an account of what happened in the early morning of September 29th that made sense of the conflicting versions.

Instead of the resolute act of vengeance deep behind enemy lines described by Indian jingoists, it appears that small teams of Indian commandos had slipped across the line to strike at safe houses believed to be used by Islamist guerrillas. The number killed was estimated at a dozen or fewer, rather than the 38-50 initially claimed by India. None of those killed were Pakistani army personnel. And since the Pakistani government has no wish to inflame domestic opinion and so be forced to escalate matters, it preferred to pretend that nothing had happened.

Following the revelation that its “surgical strike” was perhaps less devastating than first advertised, India has also preferred to remain silent. But Mr Modi came to power in 2014 with promises to be tough on Pakistan. With important state elections looming in the coming months, it is useful for him to look warlike. Along highways in India’s biggest state, Uttar Pradesh, devotees have put up billboards featuring pictures of the prime minister, finger raised next to a silhouetted soldier, declaring: “We will strike with our gun, and our bullet, in our own time, but in your territory.”

The bellicose mood has prompted other kinds of posturing. Responding to calls to expel Pakistani actors who have gained big Indian audiences in recent years, an association of Bollywood producers declared they would hire no more enemy talent. An Indian satellite channel that gained top ratings by playing Pakistani serials has taken them off air. Officials of the Kabaddi World Cup, a traditional sport played on both sides of the border, have told the Pakistani team not to come.

Pakistan is not taking this lying down. Its censors have sharply restricted the showing of Indian films. Indian military pilots complain their radios are being interrupted by bursts of patriotic Pakistani songs. And in a town near the border Indian police captured and caged a pigeon, apparently dispatched from Pakistan, which carried a warning to Mr Modi taped to its leg: “Now each and every child is ready to fight.” The tenor of recent exchanges between the two countries is suggestive of playground conflict. Both may hope that it will not become more deadly.

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