I started my Monday morning with a giggle, and that is always a good way to start the day. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/03/pakistan-denies-indian-claims-it-used-us-f-16-jets-to-down-warplane) gives us ‘Pakistan denies Indian claims it used US F-16 jets to down warplane‘, the idea that the Indian government is crying over getting shot down Pakistani air (airspace violation), whilst India has bombing attacks in Pakistani (whether valid or not), does it matter how they got shot down? They merely were not good enough. It goes further, not one media outlet is giving us the goods on WHAT was shot down. Either they do not know, or India is extremely silent on what they lost. For the most I did not care, that is until I saw: “The US has said it is trying to find out whether Pakistan used US-built F-16 jets to down an Indian warplane, potentially in violation of trade agreements, as the standoff between the nuclear-armed Asian neighbours showed signs of easing“, so why buy a plane that you cannot use? I know that it is not that simple, we all get that. Yet when we are also treated to: “It is not clear what exactly these so-called “end-user agreements” restrict Pakistan from doing. “The US government does not comment on or confirm pending investigations of this nature,” the US embassy said.” From my point of view, they should have been aware of that before going into pending investigations. The entire setting of ‘It is not clear what exactly these so-called “end-user agreements” restrict Pakistan from doing‘, should the US embassy not have read those agreements before making any statement around an investigation? The fact that all the media hides behind ‘shot down two Indian jets‘ is equally an issue.
Now as for the entire usage of an F-16, I am surprised that Pakistan would accept such terms. It comes across like ‘warranty valid from purchase at the counter, till the exit door‘. Now, we can agree that Pakistan does not have a great track record on incidents, yet we know that there is an issue in Kashmir and India ‘started’ this by bombing a terrorist camp in Balakot Pakistan. I will not oppose that action, yet the humorous and silly statement by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, where he called it a “non-military pre-emptive action”, cannot be taken too seriously either. Let’s face it; the Mirage 2000 is a military vehicle, plain and simple.
Still there is a larger concern; it is the stage of conditional sales of war machines. It is not opposing their sale as it was a choice made. And most devices can be used for offense and defence. So as we set the stage where something can only be used for one purpose, we see a larger issue evolve. When a stage changes, does that invalidate the sale? That is behind it all, if the US had clear indications that their places might be used in defence on another plane, should those war machines be allowed to be sold?
We can accept that the sale is set to a governmental stage that machines are to be used for defensive abilities only, yet in the stage of provocation, when do we accept the usage to be defensive? Which parameter triggers the defence option to be valid, especially in light of disputed terrain?
The Indian Economic Times (at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/balakot-iaf-strike-involved-over-200-hours-of-planning/articleshow/68172274.cms) gives us: “involved over 200 hours of planning that began following intelligence inputs regarding a second suicide terror strike somewhere in India“. When we accept that fact and the fact that it was aimed at terrorists, as well as an intentional incursion into Pakistan, would all the options not have changed? The stage no matter how valid it is to go after the JeM is set, you see unless anyone can give clear evidence that the JeM is in Pakistan backed by the Pakistani government, India set themselves up by proceeding on an act of war. If the camp would have been in Kashmir that entire issue would have been less complicated. It is not what is likely to be the case, it is what we can prove is the case and that is a bigger issue here and from that point of view the entire escalation as witnessed is a loaded one and my $0.02 here is that the actions of the US embassy are merely complicating matters. Whilst their claim ‘It is not clear what exactly these so-called “end-user agreements” restrict Pakistan from doing‘, is extremely sloppy to say the least. And that is apart from the US Embassy relying on the application of ‘so-called’ and ‘restrictions’; it comes across as a double negative of something not yet looked at. So investigating that before we see the howling cries of ‘US demands to know if Pakistan used F-16 jet to shoot down Indian warplane over Kashmir‘, which is still less interesting than finding out what exactly had been shot down. You see it matters, because the news that a 1983 MiG 21 lost against a Chinese-designed JF-17 fighter jet (or optionally a General Dynamics F16) is not that interesting; they lost a plane that had been taken out of production in 1985, so big deal, perhaps the Indian pilot would have made it back if he had a little more up to date equipment (like the Fulcrum or the Raptor) at that point it becomes massively interesting, especially if it would have been done using a JF-17.
So whilst we can look at it from different angles, the entire ‘end-user agreement‘ angle is just too hilarious. As I state before, we get that there is a clear need for passages like that at times, yet what will the US do after selling the F16? Not sell any more? Let’s not forget that there are a few alternatives that are not sold in America, or by Americans, those players are happy to take up the slack of the US at that point. It would be so much simpler if India had never decided to bomb Pakistani soil, which is the real complication. It might have been essential, we cannot deny that option, but it was tactically flawed in more than one way. Even as we recognise that Pakistan has its own flaws as well (the mention of ‘Pakistan immediately downplayed the airstrikes, saying no infrastructure was hit.‘) is also an issue. So either is intentionally not acting, or it is openly making statements for the JeM, either version is a larger issue for Pakistan.
Even as I might oversimplify the issue, I recognise that the entire matter is loaded on a few fronts, and we get that something had to be done, and something was done. However to set the stage where larger players are all about an ‘end-user agreement‘, all whilst the terms were as stated by themselves unclear and unknown trivialises the matter, and that is one part that should not be allowed for.
The dispute is old, and the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/10537286) gives us: “before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947, Kashmir was hotly contested.” An issue that has been around for 72 years! Is it not time to talk to Kashmir about them becoming self-sufficient? As the BBC article gives us: “Many people in the territory do not want it to be governed by India, preferring instead either independence or union with Pakistan” is independence really that bad an idea? It seems ironic that a nation fighting to become independent from the UK (1947) is all about annexing a region that does not want to be with them.
I think that it is time that after 72 years of disputes and transitional violence from one side to the others, another solution should be found. And with the need to lower pressures, is independence of Kashmir not a valid option to consider?
We see the news in several ways by several players, yet only the BBC gives us what the locals want. They allegedly voiced: ‘independence or union with Pakistan‘, it is time to listen to the local population and educate or truly assist them in creating a long term future, mainly because all the present actions imply that there is no progress and there might never be progress. How debilitating is that for any local population?