On February 14, a Jaish-e-Mohammad militant drove a car packed with explosives into a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Kashmir, killing more than 40 personnel and triggering a potential crisis in the subcontinent. In the week that followed, the Indian government blamed the Pakistani state for backing the attack, pointing out that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar lives in the neighbouring country quite untroubled.
The Narendra Modi government has taken a belligerent stand, with the prime minister declaring, at one point, that the time for talks was over. The government also promised to isolate Pakistan internationally. This has proved to be complicated. Though the United States made a strong statement of support for India, China has ranged itself behind Pakistan, vetoing attempts to declare Azhar a “global terrorist”. In the aftermath of the attack, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited both Pakistan and India, pledging $20 billion in investments to one and support in the fight against “terrorism and extremism” to the other.
As the storm clouds gather, what are the options before India? In an email interview, Anatol Lieven, the author of several books including Pakistan: A Hard Country (2006), weighs in on the possibility of dialogue, the complications of engaging with Pakistan and the possible role of other foreign powers in defusing tensions.