After IAF air strikes on JeM terror camps in Pakistan, it's business as usual for US politicos while foreign policy wonks go all in

In Washington DC, it's business as usual in reaction to India's 3:30 am airstrikes on 26 February against terrorist training camps in Pakistan's Balakot which came in retaliation for the Pulwama attack on 14 February. The American capital's politicos busied themselves for multiple headline grabbing events that will unravel this week.

FP Staff February 27, 2019 05:34:13 IST
After IAF air strikes on JeM terror camps in Pakistan, it's business as usual for US politicos while foreign policy wonks go all in

In Washington DC, it's business as usual in reaction to India's 3:30 am airstrikes on 26 February against terrorist training camps in Pakistan's Balakot which came in retaliation for the Pulwama attack on 14 February. The American capital's politicos busied themselves for multiple headline grabbing domestic events that will unravel this week. An ANI update says India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj briefed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the airstrikes against Pakistan but there's no readout from either side yet.

After IAF air strikes on JeM terror camps in Pakistan its business as usual for US politicos while foreign policy wonks go all in

Pakistan claimed payload of IAF aircraft fell in open areas. Twitter/Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor

By the late evening hours of Tuesday in the US, India watchers among the local foreign policy wonks went neck deep into analysis mode.

Alyssa Ayres from the Council on Foreign Relations connects one thread of the muted response to the shift in White House communications culture itself. "Press briefings and backgrounders help signal USG diplomatic priorities and approaches. The Trump administration has scaled back WH press briefings and State dept press briefings. Others hv noted that DOD is way less transparent than in the past", she tweeted late Tuesday evening.

And then, Ayres speaks to a familiar pattern in the White House - the many directions a direct call from Trumpworld could go.

A detailed thread from Brookings' Tanvi Madan lays out the many dominos to factor while considering a US response. Madan says US will likely factor its own relation with India and China, its concerns with Pakistan, Afghanistan imperatives, military versus civilian targets and level of escalation before wading in. Also, reactions have been different since the Obama term, says Madan.

Long time Washingtonian Seema Sirohi says in a tweet that the quiet in the US capital shows "how well people see Pakistan as a hub of terrorists. And how they accept Indian retaliation as justified".

A video clip where Pakistan's Major General Asif Ghafoor elaborates on Pakistan's possible pushback has come in for closer scrutiny. Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor at The Economist says it amounts to "heavy-handed and clumsy nuclear signaling by Pakistan". "But it's intended to serve as reminder of risks of conventional escalation, either to deter further Indian strikes or, perhaps more likely, to backstop India's response to any forthcoming Pakistani counter-retaliation".

The Diplomat's Ankit Panda says the language is anything but "subtle" because NCA is in charge of the employment of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. "Pakistan appears caught with its pants down and needs to reestablish deterrence and disabuse Delhi of the notion that nuclear red-lines have either evaporated or shifted, contra some commentary already making the rounds in India", says Panda, on Twitter.

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