(third in a short series: here are parts one and two)
In “scary things that are happening that don’t involve Saudi Arabia or Iran,” Kashmiri militants have attacked an Indian air base in Pathankot:
A Kashmir-based militant coalition has said it carried out the deadly attack on an Indian air force base.
The United Jihad Council – a coalition of militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir – claimed its “national highway squad” was responsible.
The attack on the Pathankot airbase near the border with Pakistan is seen as an attempt to derail recent peace moves by Pakistan and India.
And derail them it very well might. While most of us Americans were opening presents and/or furiously trying to cook dinner for our relatives (not to put too fine a point on things) on Christmas Day, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was paying a “surprise” visit to Lahore to visit with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was celebrating his birthday. It was like a Festivus miracle, only on Christmas instead. This was seen as a sign of warming relations between the two nuclear-armed and often-hostile neighbors, and the trip was even seen (by me, right now) as a “Nixon goes to China” moment (Modi, an arch-Hindu nationalist who has been accused of overseeing a massacre of Muslims in 2002, back when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, is Nixon in this analogy). Foreign ministers from the two countries are (or maybe were) scheduled to meet in Islamabad on January 15 to build on the Modi-Sharif talks.
The Pathankot attack has reportedly left seven Indian security officers dead and another 22 wounded (five attackers have been killed, but there are apparently concerns that more attackers are still at large, and the base has still not been fully secured). In a rational world, attacks like this would be seen as evidence that India and Pakistan must work to improve relations. But this is not a rational world, and that Islamabad meeting is now in question, threatened by this UJC attack and an attack today against the Indian consulate in Mazar-i Sharif, Afghanistan (the perpetrator of that attack is still unknown, but it may very well be some group with ties to Kashmir and/or Pakistan). If Indian investigators find any sign that the UJC (assuming that it was the UJC) was helped by any element in the Pakistani security apparatus, then this nascent Modi-Sharif dialogue may go right out the window–even if Sharif himself had nothing to do with it, which is entirely within the realm of possibility.
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