The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has flared repeatedly during Modi’s time in office – were carefully chosen. So too was the bomber, 22-year-old Kashmiri, Adil Ahmad Dar, a young local man Indian media say was harassed and humiliated by Indian security forces during an earlier upsurge of violence in 2016.

“If Modi acts too rashly, there could also be very serious consequences, up to and including war with Pakistan involving a nuclear exchange.”

Above all, the suicide bombing was intended to undercut Modi’s claim to have successfully deterred Pakistani-based groups – and their alleged handlers in the Pakistani state – from carrying out such attacks in India. Soon after 14 February attack, militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) – a group widely thought to be based in Pakistan and sponsored by elements within the Pakistani state – claimed responsibility. Yet Modi’s claim of deterrence stems back to the dramatic punitive cross-border raids conducted by Indian special forces in late September 2016, which destroyed a number of camps in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and killed an unknown number of militants.

Please click here to read the full “Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure” article at The Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Deputy Director (Research), Professor Ian Hall.