Expect Pakistan to discredit IAF strikes, demonise Narendra Modi; Islamabad has always been good with self-delusion

Pakistan’s responses after the Indian Air Force airstrikes on three terror camps is following a predictable pattern if an all-out war is not an option it will exercise. The aim would be to discredit India on all fronts.

The first phase was noticeable in the five-hour session of the Pakistan Parliament in Islamabad on Tuesday where several dozen members reiterated the nation’s integrity, sovereignty and unity in the face of the attack. This collective coming together was pretty much on the cards since letting off steam was mandated against a shrill backdrop of "Indian atrocities in Kashmir" and how even "Pulwama was an indigenous affair".

 Expect Pakistan to discredit IAF strikes, demonise Narendra Modi; Islamabad has always been good with self-delusion

File image of Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right) and defense minister Pervez Khattak (left). AP

At no stage did any member of the Pakistani legislature including the Opposition grasp the prickly pear and ask if there really were training camps being run under the protection of the authorities.

Even as the fury over the airstrikes spills on Pakistani streets and there are a few marches and morchas, the next step will be to up the demonising of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Already luridly painted as the villain of this piece, personal attacks will be integral to the strategy. And he is already being referred to as a mad man and the ‘worst’ leader in India these 70 years.

One will hear ad nauseum how Modi did all this just to garner the elections three months down the road.

As the Pakistan government seeks to embarrass India, its next step (starting already) will be to call upon the OIC member states to snub Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. Emissaries are probably already on their way to exert some kind of emotional pressure. Disinviting the guest of honour is not going to be easy to the summit scheduled for 1 and 2 March. But Pakistan’s rhetoric will certainly give it a shot.

As Pakistan clutches fragile straws and publicises every mildly cautionary comment as a vote against the Indian aerial action, the media will kick in. As early as Thursday, expect a convoy of local and international media to be taken to the site of the laser-guided bombings with ‘evidence’ that there was no camp ever and the only witnesses will be a few burnt trees and some shallow craters. This sanitation exercise should also be already underway with army squads doing the mopping up and setting the stage for the media battalion.

There is little choice, besides a crippling war, than to continue the global discrediting and use every such effort to appease its dented national ego. Self-delusion is the best bet and Pakistan is good at feeding folderol to its people. It did that in 1965, 1971 and during the 1999 Kargil War, and, is well on the way to convincing itself that its fighter aircraft successfully chased away the intruders and won the day.

This narrative will intensify and by the end of the week, it will have convinced itself that the Indians were roundly defeated, that the Indian pilots were so shaken by the arrival of the Pakistan Air Force that they jettisoned their payloads and ran for cover. This imagery is already central to news broadcasts and talk shows and we can expect it to continue.

One imagines Prime Minister Modi finds himself totally in control and is least bothered about the bad mouthing.

Pakistan always manages to find solace in such convenient scenarios and it might well be to India’s benefit to let them run with it. After all, India has achieved what it wanted and if letting Pakistan engage in gameplaying freezes an all-out conflict, it is a small price to pay.

The self-sell already projects India as a nation that is being isolated while Pakistan is increasingly being welcomed into the global bosom with a kiss and a hug. What measure is used to create this illusion is unexplained but it is part of the strategy to heal the bruising.

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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2019 22:44:27 IST