PM Nawaz Sharif self goals at UN speech: Is India's strategic restraint against Pakistan working?
One of the most interesting things about the Uri assault is its timing. Had the terrorist strike on Indian Army's camp near LoC — in which 18 Indian soldiers were martyred and over 20 injured — not taken place bang in the middle of 71st UNGA, Nawaz Sharif's "concern" over "human rights violations in Kashmir" wouldn't have sounded so hypocritical as it did.
It stands to reason, therefore, that the Pakistan-sponsored Uri strike came at an inopportune time for Nawaz Sharif. On the face of it, this makes no sense. Why would Rawalpindi willfully weaken its case against India when it had a chance to corner New Delhi on a global platform over Kashmir?
The answer may lie in Narendra Modi government's response. In limiting itself to "diplomatic offensive", the Centre may have pre-empted a Pakistani move that was relying on a sharp counter-attack from India as a reaction to Uri. That would have handed Nawaz the chance to play the victim card at UN and, even more crucially, given army chief Raheel a chance to sign off on a high.
It does not matter whether or not Pakistan Army wins or loses battles against India. For a dysfunctional state whose raison d'être is anti-India hatred, any military reversal could later be revisioned and turned into a self-delusional propaganda of victory, as Pakistan Army has done so often in the past. What matters is the original Islamic State's "never ending battle" against what it calls 'Hindustan'.
"A war against India, whose outcome may be declared a victory even if the reality is otherwise, will not only be a fitting end to his (Raheel Sharif's) tenure but helpful in realising his future ambitions, whatever these be."
This, then, could partly explain why a disconcerted Nawaz gave India juicy full tosses which were duly hit out of the park. While addressing the UNGA, PM Nawaz said: "Confrontation should not be our destiny in South Asia, Pakistan wants peace with India. I have gone the extra mile to achieve this, repeatedly offering a dialogue to address all outstanding issues. But India has posed unacceptable preconditions to engage in a dialogue."
It is astonishing that Nawaz's speech-writers in Rawalpindi didn't think this through. Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted soon after: "PM Sharif at #UNGA says India poses unacceptable conditions to dialogue. India's only condition is an end to terrorism. This not acceptable?"
There were more gaffes.
"Burhan Wani," said Nawaz during the address, "the young leader murdered by Indian forces, has emerged as the symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada."
As far as self-inflicted wounds go, this would rank among the deepest. A Pakistan Prime Minister, while straining hard to convince the world from a UN platform that it "condemns terrorism in all its forms" in the same breath hailed the commander of a known terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujaheedin as a "hero". It may have been a not-so-subtle way of inciting more violence in Kashmir but in the process, Pakistan made its position a little more untenable before the global stage and pushed itself further into a corner.
MJ Akbar called it "self incrimination by Pakistan PM" while Vikas Swarup called it "glorifying a terrorist".