Imran Khan and Narendra Modi Image Credit: AFP

What next? Will Pakistan retaliate or is it all over?

The ball is in Pakistan’s court now.

Pakistan tried to defuse the hype created after the early morning air strike by the Indian Air Force fighter jets on the alleged terrorist camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad – the banned outfit which claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers in Pulwama.

The good thing was that Pakistan showed some restraint and avoided head on collision with India. It is the first time that civilian and military leadership in Pakistan are on the same page. After a few tweets countering Indian claims, Pakistani leadership attended a marathon meeting of National Security Committee with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair. All top military brass and civilian leaders were in the meeting to decide the reaction.

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The course of action that Pakistan’s leadership decided to take was quite wise, though many called it a ‘cowardly approach’ as they wanted Pakistan to retaliate and respond to Indian attack immediately. Social media warriors should stop ‘cyber war’ and remain confined to the comfort of your home as real war is devastating for both countries and the ultimate victims will be people.

Pakistan’s Course of Action

Pakistan has already started to engage with global leadership on the issue. Pakistan leadership is alerting global leaders about the dangerous situation and is seeking intervention of world forums to defuse it.

Prime Minister Imran Khan summoned a crucial special meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) on Tuesday to check the readiness of the armed forces.

Instead of immediate retaliation, Pakistan adopted a diplomatic course to address the issue.

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The military and civilian leadership also wisely decided to call a joint session of the parliament to decide further courses of action by talking to politicians from all political parties.

At the same time, Pakistan also made clear that "Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing." This will probably be the last resort if India tries to venture into Pakistan's territory again.

Trade Impact

Bilateral trade worth more than $1billion between Indian and Pakistan has now come to a halt, giving a blow to both economies. 

Pakistan will suffer more economically because of the financial crunch. The potential investors which Imran Khan’s government has been trying to attract into the country, may now think twice before investing in Pakistan, thereby creating more financial issues.

Water war

India could further squeeze Pakistan by stopping river water supply to the country, when Pakistan is already facing acute water and power shortage. Reports suggest that India is planning to cut off some river water that flows downstream to Pakistan. This will add an extra source of conflict between two nuclear-armed neighbors that have repeatedly clashed in the past over the disputed Kashmir territory.

According to the Indus Treaty sought to legislate their water division: the waters of the rivers Sutlej, the Beas, and the Ravi were awarded to India; and the west Indus, the Jelum, and the Chenab to Pakistan.

People to People contact

Pakistan and India have stopped the bus service across the LoC (Line of Control) - the only contact between families living across the border. The bus and train service from Lahore to Amritsar have already been stopped completely, cutting off any people to people contact.