Many cricket lovers around the globe will unarguably equate Balakot events with famous Golden Duck of Sachin Tendulkar delivered by Shoaib Akhtar in front of hugely packed Indian crowd in 1999. The silence in stadium was historically deafening.
That feat was nearly replicated in last few days when Pulwama suicide attack by Kashmiri freedom fighters resulted in an airstrike by India on Pakistani soil and then….. Abhinandan happened. India went in a shell, media frenzy gripped the minds and an unbelievable silence enveloped corridors of New Delhi….It was brutal, vicious, and timely precision of Pakistani response that had left Indian pride rattled and bruised.
If we dissect the events, the timelines are simple and seem a text book definition of Deja Vu. A tragic event on Indian soil, blaming Kashmiris and Pakistani state nexus, buildup of forces on border / LOC coupled with a nefarious media campaign. While Pakistan had suspected a repeat of history and had already whispered in many capitals of the world it wasn’t until Pulwama ripples resulted in an IAF airstrike on the green hills of Balakot in Pakistan that added spice to an already volatile narrative. Imran Khan, who had already in unequivocal terms had announced a “PAKISTAN WILL RETALIATE” strategy had to oblige, and he did obliged well. While Pakistan claimed 2 Indian fighters, capturing a pilot alive, locking Indian Brigade HQ where Army senior leadership was present and more recently detecting stealth mode of latest submarine by Pakistan Navy maritime vigil was enough to send lateral and vertical shivers in hierarchy of Indian military muscle. The whole assembly line of military advancement, throat rupturing media campaign and diplomatic assault evaporated clueless in thin air. This was practical manifestation of various Air Power Doctrines taught around the world, where a single strike can play on psyche of a nation.
While, many political, diplomatic and military operational details shall continue to surface in months and years to come, few stark facts are likely to remain same. It was widely believed that Indian aggression had a tacit approval from various power centers around the globe. The perception cemented when China and Saudia played a balancing act, UN Secretary General failed to attend a call from PM (strange !!! keeping in view that the call was related to a conflict between two nuclear capable states), only Turkey stood strong with Pakistan with luke warm responses from many other states. This could also be interpreted that many in world had some alignment with Indian narrative, didn’t approved of a full blown conflict however were comfortable with any skirmish along LOC only. This was a moment of truth for Pakistan, a decade of over the board friendly gestures by Zardari and Nawaz regimes with poor responses to Indian overtures had created the perception of another meekly statement by Pakistan confirming Indian hegemony.…this was a critical miscalculation done by Modi Sarkar. The NEW PAKISTAN was already in place and ready to radiate strength.
The above miscalculation was to have a domino effect on further debacles which were to follow. Indian media upped the war hysteria to a level unheard or seen ever before anywhere to the tune of getting mocked internationally. While it created dangerous fault lines in a more polarized India, Pakistan media stood united gelling the nation, a rare occurrence since last two decades. The confidence shown by Indian media in their armed forces and world support was built upon Modi’s RSS upbringing and policies churned out by Ajit Doval mindset. The trap was set for a failure and embarrassment of Titanic proportions. While two nations got glued to TV screens for Balakot airstrike updates where both medias were giving own versions, news of downing two Indian fighter jets by Pakistan was not less than a nuclear strike itself. While Pakistan went in to instant celebration mode, Indian media took strides from denial, to still confirmation statements, to reluctantly doubting and finally accepting when Abhinandan, the downed Indian fighter pilot was brought on media. The disbelief of Indian establishment, lack of clarity and a disarrayed narrative was visible for next few days on social, electronic and print media. Release of the pilot was another surprise Pakistan pulled on India winning world wide praise and applaud. Result, a sudden awakening of the world to harsh reality and resolve of Imran Khan’s statement. Within 24 hours a barrage of international mediators jumped from darkness of nowhere to limelight leaving India startled, confused and paralyzed to unexpected change in her fortunes. The catch 22 situation was too much to handle, backing off from LOC or crossing it had both domestic and international ramifications mostly tangent to Indian forecasted future discourse.
As the conflict still continues across LOC, mostly away from media eyes Modi’s sharp criticism domestically, international confirmations of Pakistan’s claims of damages caused is creating an impact on Indian establishment where it finds herself cornered. Olympic committee’s condemnation of Indian decision of refusing visa to Pakistan players, revoking her status to stage such tournaments was partly replicated by International Wrestling Foundation, International Cricket Council too. OIC special session boycotted by Pakistan due to invitation of Indian Foreign Minister as Guest of Honour was a huge embarrassment when session statement sharply criticized India of brutal policies in Kashmir and her behaviour in current conflict. US also strangely selected this time to revoke GSP status to India, may be signaling the world of diminishing shine of India. These add-ons to Balakot must have supplemented continuing agony of Modi’s India.
The Indian losses in a few weeks’ time were in virtual domain but much more damaging than any kinetic responses. The Indo-Pak 2019 conflict indicators in perceptions can be graphically portrayed as under
The biggest loss, Modi has caused India will be the impact on future perception of world powers on Indian role, capacity, capability and resolve to further Western policy of Contain China in Eurasian region. The professionalism of military and policy implementation has seriously come under a sharp review, while the notion of Rising and Shining India has been bruised badly. As world policy thinkers seriously question their bets on world’s largest arms importer, the fact must be well known in Indian establishment too, and raises another reality. Will current Indian government accept loosing the edge, will it succumb to Pakistan’s will, will it handover the battle to rising opposition cries of SAY NO TO WAR and RAFALE 3000 CRORE RUPEES STOLEN mantra….apparently it seems hard to digest…however Pakistan is ready to respond with her most potent weapon, war hardened armed forces, an intangible factor in essence.
Whatever the outcome of recent conflict in kinetic terms, Indian hegemony of virtual domain has been dented by Pakistan. The humongous, shining, rising, huge, and armed to teeth INDIAN SHIP, cruising in a sea of Bollywood war heroics, displaying full mast flag of Make In India emblem fluttering against the winds of change, propelled by MODI HUGS and momentum of its economy has been sunk at Balakot….and CAPTAIN MODI did it single handedly.