“Pakistan condemns the terrorist incident in Pathankot, India, today, in which many precious lives have been lost. We extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families and wish the wounded speedy and full recovery. Building on the goodwill created during the recent high-level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region.” - Pakistan Foreign Office after the Pathankot airbase attack.
“Refuting the unfounded and pre-mature Indian allegation, Pakistani DGMO asked his counterpart to share any actionable intelligence.” - Pakistan Army spokesman after the Uri attack on Sunday.
“It is a blatant attempt on India's part to deflect attention from the fast deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation.” - Sartaj Aziz, the advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs after the Uri attack.
It’s been barely eight months and India was attacked by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists yet again on 18 September at the 12 Brigade headquarters of the Army in north Kashmir's Uri town after the daring attack on the Pathankot air base in January this year.
Pakistan, however, had a starkly different response to both the attacks. While it sympathised with India and declared its commitment to eradicate terrorism after the Pathankot attack, its change in stance immediately after the Uri attack on Sunday is palpable.
Aziz accused India of trying to divert attention from Kashmir and the Pakistani media went a step further and published an interesting hypothesis.
The News International report dwelled on the realms of phantasmagoria that the Uri terror attack was staged by India to create hatred between the Sikh and Muslim communities in Kashmir.
Although the Pakistani Joint investigation Team (JIT) which was probing the Pathankot terror attack admitted that the four terrorists who attacked the Pathankot Indian Air Force base were from Pakistan, the JIT later changed its stand to say that the Pathankot attack had been staged by India.
However, the initial reaction of our neighbour country should be noted. The accusation of staging the attack came three months after the Pathankot attack while in the case of the Uri attack, the outrageous theory emerged just a day after.
The reason for this unsympathetic response from our neighbour country might have been because it is moving gradually towards an army-dominated government. Time has moved forward, things have evolved (maybe for the worse), and probably time is running out fast for the tame Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan government.
While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured that his government will go to any lengths to uncover the alleged use of its soil in the 2 January attack as The Indian Express reported, he preferred to remain a mute spectator on the 18 September attack.
After the Pathankot air force base attack, Indian officials quoted in the report had said, "Sharif wants to get to the bottom of the attack but the question is whether the Pakistan Army-ISI combination will let him do what he intends to do?”
Let’s contrast the January response with Pakistan’s stand on the Uri attack.
The Pakistani Army spokesperson denounced India’s claims as “unfounded” and Aziz said that “Pakistan has noted with serious concern the recent spate of vitriolic and unsubstantiated statements emanating from Indian civil and military leadership in the aftermath of Sunday's attack.”
Sharif might have remained relatively silent on the terror attack but he did find time to write to the permanent members of the Security Council over the Kashmir issue.
The nature of Sharif's response fast indicate the shift from a civilian government to an army-influenced one in Pakistan as reported by The National Interest.
It reported that banners requesting the military’s takeover of the country were put all across Islamabad. While a direct coup in the current milieu is not likely to take place, the influence which the army can wield on the government is apparent from Pakistan’s history.
The report in The National Interest also said that the army controls “the domestic and external political and security landscape” and its political hyperactivity in the midst of a non responsive civilian government forms a positive image of it in front of the people.
The Foreign Policy Centre claims that the civilian government only seems to be “clutching at straws to retain an impression of its control over the population.”
After the failed coup attempt in Turkey, the debate about Pakistani army attempting a coup has reignited.
Further, the protests against Sharif after the Panama papers leak also suggest that the Pakistan Army continues to be the most powerful institution in the country, according to a report in Observer Research Foundation. It said that on 1 August, the Army took over Islamabad’s security “at the request of the government”.
As Sunil Raman writes in this Firstpost piece, “Pakistan’s civilian government was egged on by generals to take an aggressive stance towards protests in parts of Kashmir and spread anti-India venom across the globe. Tainted by the Panama Papers revelations that he and his family owned foreign bank accounts, Nawaz found that Kashmir would be a handy issue to divert their attention.”
The Pakistani Army is taking baby steps towards dominating the civilian government and the cold response to the Uri attack may be attributed to this.
Raman also writes that “Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has been very vocal in his support to protestors in the Kashmir Valley.”
Pakistan’s continued support to separatists in Kashmir in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death has threatened the bilateral relations between the two nations. Pakistan even declared a black day to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and declared Wani a "martyr".
There are other reasons which have pities both the countries against each other. Pakistan's constant interference in India's Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid and India's remarks on Balochistan have further strained the relations.
It started with China vetoing India’s bid to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN and described its stance as "fair and based on facts".
Soon after India applied for the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and secured US’ support, Pakistan has been launching drives to gather support for its own NSG membership. Aziz said that Pakistan was “making successful efforts” against New Delhi's bid.
With Pakistan actively participating in fuelling unrest in the Kashmir Vally, Modi raised the Balochistan issue and the alleged human rights violations by Pakistan during his Independence Day speech. This evidently irked the country and its army definitely needed something to divert global attention from them rather than leave the job to their spineless government. Uri is the first diversion, perhaps.