Now that India has the upper hand, stop beating the war drums


Any further escalation of tension with Pakistan can only be interpreted as being meant to further the ruling party’s electoral prospects in the forthcoming elections. Such a partisan goal does not merit risking a costly war.

Modi and the BJP have secured enough talking points. It is no use for the Opposition to cry that Modi is taking political advantage of the military action. This is but natural. Nor does it work when they say that it was our brave soldiers who carried out the action. Our brave soldiers could have taken similar action in 1999-2001, after the Kandahar hijack and the attack on Parliament, or in 2008, in the wake of the November 26 attack on Mumbai. The political leadership of the time failed to take the decision to take similar or bolder action against Pakistan then. If Modi took the risk of staging a raid inside Pak territory and pulled it off, it is only natural that he would take credit for it and that the BJP would try and milk it to the fullest in the forthcoming elections.

Warmongering and triumphalism are distasteful, no doubt. But it was distasteful after Indira Gandhi-led India’s victory in 1971 over Pakistan, as well. It remains a fact of political life, nevertheless. Modi has to be criticised for his actual failings, and there is a long list of these, not for an act of sound judgment and leadership in the face of threat and aggression against the nation.

The Pulwama attack is the handiwork of a Jaish-e-Mohammad recruit from Kashmir. The rise in the number of terror recruits among Kashmiri youth is the result of horribly wrong policy in Kashmir. It has been a policy of using force to crush not just separatism but all political dissent, alienating the people. The BJP and its student and youth outfits have been hounding Kashmiris across India, wherever they are, pursuing higher studies or plying their wares in manifest evidence of their desire to integrate with the rest of India outside Kashmir. This approach of treating Kashmir as land, rather than as its people, must be criticised, and reversed. As must the other bread and butter issues on which the government found itself on the backfoot before the Pulwama attack happened.

India has secured the upper hand after the Pulwama terror attack. Its gains can be listed. One, India has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and demonstrated that it is prepared for offensive action against Pakistan inside Pak territory. Two, India has struck a terror training camp belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, the same terror outfit that claimed the Pulwama attack, and degraded its capability. Three, the international community has, by and large, recognised India as a victim of aggression, refrained from condemning the attack inside Pak territory and called upon Pakistan to curb the terrorist outfits operating within its territory. If the joint US-UK-French move to list JeM as a terror outfit and add Masood Azhar to the UN sanctions list succeeds — China would need to abstain on the motion and not veto it — that would be a further diplomatic point in India’s favour and against Pakistan.

For Pakistan, there is no gainsaying the reality that its nuclear arsenal has been exposed as less than a shield against a conventional attack. Its airspace has been breached and Indian planes reached Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, dropped their bombs and got back without Pakistan doing anything about it. In retaliation, they attacked some targets in the close vicinity of the Line of Control. Their major gain is that an Indian fighter plane was shot down, allowing them to capture and hold its pilot.

It has sufficient material to save face, claiming that the Indian attack was beaten back before it could do any damage, and demonstrating its ability to defend its territory by shooting down an Indian plane and capturing its pilot.

Pakistan has no reason to escalate matters into actual war. Since India has secured the upper hand, it also has no real reason to escalate matters further. The only reason to keep the war drums booming would be for the ruling party to ride the wave of nationalist fervour war throws up. That would be partisan gain at the nation’s expense.

If Pakistan stages further attacks through its forces or through its non-state agents, the terrorists, India would have cause to act. Short of that, India should cool passions and not let a Pak pantomime of parity with India lead to full-fledged war.


Source link

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.