India unleashes its military on Pakistan after a terror attack stoked the feud between the nuclear rivals

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Getty
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday unleashed the country’s military against rival Pakistan in response to a terror attack by Muslim separatists that killed 44 on Thursday.
  • Modi said his country’s “blood boils” and gave his military a “free hand” to determine “the timing, place and nature of their response.”
  • India and Pakistan have been bitter rivals for years, and both countries have built nuclear arsenals to hold each other at bay.
  • Modi unleashing the military has been called an “abdication of political responsibility” that could lead to a “super dangerous” conflict between the nuclear rivals.

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Friday unleashed the country’s military against rival Pakistan in response to a terror attack by Muslim separatists that killed 44 on Thursday.

“I know there is deep anger, your blood boils looking at what has happened. At this moment, there are expectations and the feelings of a strong response which is quite natural,” Modi said in a speech mourning the police forces killed and those injured.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of training and arming militants and smuggling them across the border into the Indian region of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region on the countries’ shared border.

Following the terror attack, where an explosive-laden truck plowed into a bus carrying police forces, India said it had “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack. Pakistani-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed the attack, but Pakistan quickly denied any official involvement.

“Our neighbouring country thinks such terror attacks can weaken us, but their plans will not materialise,” said Modi of Pakistan.

“Security forces have been given permission to take decisions about the timing, place and nature of their response,”Modi continued.

Read more: India is warning Pakistan after a bloody attack in a hotly contested region on their border

Rajesh Rajagopalan, a professor of international politic at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, tweeted that Modi’s statement was an “abdication of political responsibility,” because he handed over control of the response to the military.

Christopher Clary, an international affairs expert and professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University of Albany, said that Modi unleashing the military had the potential to get out of control.

While Clary told Business Insider he didn’t interpret Modi’s words to mean he had authorised a major military action against Pakistan, cross-border conflicts happen frequently.

India and Pakistan have been bitter rivals for decades, but enjoyed a period of relative clam for the past few years. But recently, both Pakistan and India have grown in nationalist fervor, with online militias on Facebook and elsewhere lusting for blood and mocking each other’s militaries and nations.

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Also, with Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party facing elections later this year, the Indian leader may feel pressured to make a show of force.

If India engages in a cross-border strike as they appear set to, “it would be hard on Pakistan not to do something in retaliation. After a while, the back and forth can get super dangerous,” said Clary. “We don’t have that many countries with nuclear weapons that share a common border, so things can get pretty hairy.”

Additionally, the White House came down hard on Pakistan and urged them to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil.”