Observers in the Indian security establishment are concerned the current operations being conducted by the Pakistan Army may lead to a Pashtun-versus-Punjabi ethnic conflict.
“The Pakistan Army is completely dominated by Punjabis. Common knowledge. The history of resentment of other ethnic groups of the domination of Punjabis over the Pakistan Army, and hence, over Pakistan is also fairly well known. Punjabis have been resented by Pashtuns, Mohajirs, even Balochis,” explains an Indian government security affairs expert.
“It’s similar to how subjugated ethnic groups feel about Han Chinese in Tibet and Xinjiang,” he adds.
“The problem is counter insurgency operations take time to show results ad our own experiences can show. And if the Pakistan Army remains as indiscriminate in its operations as it has been in the last couple of weeks, it could end up creating a divide in the Pakistani nation resulting in open conflict. This is something the Pakistan Army needs to be extremely careful about. Pakistan Army against Taliban could become Pashtun versus Punjabi,” says the officer.
“Naturally, the eventuality is worrisome for India. They might start fighting among themselves and somewhere down the line someone might consider it a good idea to attack us, to unite people against the traditional ‘Indian’ bogey. This is something we need to watch for, although God know what we could possibly do about it,” he shrugs.