Libertatem Magazine

Uri Attacks: Diplomatic Prospects and the Future

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It was a peaceful dawn on the 18th of the September in the beautiful valley of Uri, a place connected to the LOC with Pakistan, until when a group of 4 heavily armed men with AK 47s, Under Barrel Grenade Launchers, and Grenades (both Hand and Barrel launched) terrorist attacked the Head Quarters of the Army Brigade, causing the death of 19 Army Personnel. As the reports later revealed, all the attackers were gunned down in the response and combing operations between the attackers and Army. The terrorists crossed the LOC and then the secured fencing to reach out to the camp and were said to have complete knowledge about the areas to attack. The perpetrators of terror were armed with Pakistani standard Army issued weapons and this is deemed to be one of the worst attacks ever on the Indian Army, though the scenario of these attacks has became very common and several attacks of such nature have been carried out in the past one and a half years including the attack on the CRPF bus and Police Station, Pathankot Air Base Attack and the present one.

The attack has brought a bitter phase to already tensed international relations with Pakistan, with India trying to corner Pakistan in front of the international community, withdrawing from the G20 summit, deliberations over the Most Favored Nation Status to Pakistan and Indus Water Treaty are underway..

Being Non Offensive: Diplomatic Channels and Pressure

The scenario of the present day modern world is that every nation depends upon some or the other nations in relations to fix its needs whether trade related, monetary or any other kind. No nation lives or is likely to live in isolation, this phenomenon has reduced the need for an actual armed conflict to force a nation to do something, and it has come to an almost end with alternatives of diplomatic channels and pressure mounting techniques that are present. India, in its front has several of those ways and techniques, how well they are being used or can be used has been discussed below.

Diplomatic Blockade

Diplomacy is the best modern day remedy to compel somebody to act on the desired terms, and India has been doing this in an impeccable manner to block and isolate Pakistan, be it in the neighboring nations of the Sub-continent or the powers of the world at large, which it took to a whole new scale after the Uri attacks, the example of which are India along with Afghanistan and other nations boycotted the SAARC summit which was going to take place in Islamabad, Pakistan and Sushma Swaraj’s speech in UNGA deploring  the role of Pakistan in sponsoring and harboring terrorism.

In the recent pasts, Pakistan has witnessed failure in its foreign policy with only China to bring a sense of security to Pakistan., India has consistently tried to make relations with the nations in the sub-continent more peaceful, economical and co-operative, for example the $500 million investment in Iran’s Chabahar port however , is a factor in Pakistan’s isolation.

In the present UNGA when Pakistan’s P.M. Nawaz Sharif again raised the issue of Kashmir, and asked for intervention from the UN, it was met with almost no response. Indian foreign minister proved those allegations to be farce on one hand and on the other appealed directly to the international community that if nation states like Pakistan do not stop from harboring terrorists, the best way would be to isolate them.

The present times are the one which marks  a  low in terms of  foreign relations of Pakistan as U.S.A which once upon  a time used to provide several aids to Pakistan, has reportedly severally cut down the amounts of security aid, 73% percent to be exact [The Dawn, US security assistance to Pakistan declines by 73pc: report, 26/08/2016]; they refused to grant subsidy to Pakistan on purchase F-16 and also blocked $300 million aid from Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to the Pakistan Army. A recent bill has also been put forward in front of the House of Representatives in USA to declare Pakistan a terror sponsoring state [H.R.6069 – Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act,].

It can very well be made out that at the Pakistan is almost isolated in the international community, and the sub-continent.

The Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Water Treaty was signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan on the instance of the World Bank (the then International Bank of Reconstruction and Development) over the apprehensions of Pakistan that India might use those rivers to cause droughts or famines in Pakistan as their waters majorly accounted for use in irrigation purposes. India, under the agreement is allowed to use Beas, Ravi and Sutlej (the eastern rivers) and Pakistan was given Indus, Chenab and Jhelum (the western rivers), with a covenant that India can use 20% of the waters from the latter rivers for agricultural and other purposes.

Aftermath of the Uri attacks saw the government taking a decision that India would “exploit to the maximum” limit, the water of the western rivers which it is allowed to use via provisions of the treaty and also revoked the meeting of the Permanent Commission for Indus Waters (this is pertinent to note that the commission met every year before this even in times of all three wars after the treaty). This action has raised a lot of concerns for Pakistan because they have a serious implication as majority of its irrigation for agricultural purposes is provided by these rivers only.

Pakistan due to this has reached out to the World Bank, asking them to help and resolve the issue in hand,, They called for arbitration under Article IX of the Treaty which relates to dispute in interpretation or application of the treaty, which most likely is to turn to favor of India, as none of the steps still taken, amounts to violation of treaty and actions taken therefore are within the four walls of rights granted.

The treaty was signed in goodwill and spirit of friendship as per the Preamble of the treaty, when no such treatment is returned from a party to the treaty the entire objective of the same can be questioned. But, a major implication to take note is that China has an effective control over the river Brahmaputra, which is crucial to India taking into consideration the North-East. The waters from Indus and the treaty can be used very well as a tool to mount pressure on Pakistan, but at the same time China which is a close associate to Pakistan, can do the same with Brahmaputra (China blocked a tributary of Brahmaputra on 2nd October, reasons provided are that it was done as a part for construction of Lalho hydro project.), is a thing of concern provided India does not have a treaty with China.

Trade and Most Favored Nation Status

The formal trade between India and Pakistan is an approximate of $2.61 billion; with almost double in informal trading i.e. trading which includes foreign countries, this is due to the reason that Pakistan has a relatively closed market and trade reactions with India.

Most Favored Nation is a trade treatment accorded to another trade partner country to make sure that trade would be non discriminatory. This is done under the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trades (GATT) whereby members of WTO agree that no discrimination would be done to other member countries. India has granted MFN status to Pakistan, Vietnam and Bangladesh. India granted MFN to Pakistan in 1996 but the reciprocal treatment for the same is still awaited. In midst of this situation, India is deliberating on whether to revoke the MFN status granted to Pakistan.

Revoking the status granted to Pakistan would not hurt Indian trade as much as compared to all of the Indian trade, as formal trade with Pakistan amounts for mere 0.4% of the total trade on top which not being granted MFN from them there are no beneficial import tariffs etc. On the other hand it is likely to cause trouble to Pakistan’s trade as from their side trade amounts to a 3.4% of the total trade, which is bound to go down when MFN status is revoked as then the tariffs would rise. Thus, MFN and reducing the trade can be used as yet another means to mount pressure on the other side of the border, specially taking into consideration the factor that it is not going to hurt much to the Indian side.

On the Offensive side? The Surgical Strikes

As the present government during its election campaigns, came down heavily upon the inaction of the previous government on its stand in responding to the terrorist activities within the country it was thought and expected that the present government would respond to such attacks, in terms of a counter attack or retaliation. During the immediate aftermath of the attack, the government condemned the attacks and did not took any immediate armed action, which make it a party to heavy criticism that it was going back on its instance.

On 29th September, the DGMO though came publicly that the Army had conducted a surgical strike on the terrorist launch pads, on the Pakistan occupied Kashmir, claiming that it had intelligence that those launch pads were going to be used to caused infiltration and that the operation caused heavy casualties to the terrorists and people helping them, which if read with statements from Pakistanis counterparts that 2 of its Army men were killed, from this it can be implied that the forces DGMO talked were indeed the members of the Pakistan’s Army.

Pakistan has refuted the claims that such incident happened and claims that all this was cross border firing and shelling, though at the first instance this seems unclear that why they are rejecting these strikes when they can use the same to call international attention, but that case is more likely to cause them harm than good as they would be bound to accept the presence of terrorists inside their borders, the actions from India have faced almost no criticism and all major powers, both internationally and nationally seem to be on the same page.

Moreover, India in the present case calls the actions a case of ‘pre-emptive defense’, a term which is very ambiguous in international law, and seeing the way U.S. has used the same as a defense of war on terrorism, there is hardly any nation that would criticize India for invoking it [Siddarth Varadhrajan, The Wire, Indian Surgical Strikes Against Terrorists in Pakistan: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, 29/09/2016]. The Indian DGMO partially settled the matter by saying that it was due to necessity and would not continue any further.

Though, the present instance was not the only case when surgical strikes have been used since the same had been done by previous governments in the past as well but what separates this from past events is that the government had been vocal and reached out to the public, which was well received and appreciated by the masses and boosted the confidence of both the Army and the masses. But, what needs to be taken into consideration is that the people may remember this as a precedent and in any such future events, voices may rise for similar actions.


After considering every aspect as to how India has reacted and can possibly react in  future events, it can be concluded that the doorways are multiple and each one of them is effective in its own nature to bring Pakistan to its knees, be it being able to corner Pakistan in the international community or mounting pressure in trade and water resource related aspects or with capability of being offensive in nature,  ultimately, it falls upon the government and the leadership to decide as to which path to take.


After the incidents that have occurred in Uri,  Pathankot and  other places, voices raised from certain corners that India should try to be more on the offensive side, but what one should always remind is that “ANY KIND OF WAR IS BAD AND ANY KIND OF PEACE IS GOOD” and all we shall strive for is peace.


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