‘Why have people given up any hope of friendship and brotherhood between the two neighbouring countries – India and Pakistan? Why have they stopped dreaming? Impossible things can happen and do happen if all stakeholders work coherently together and make them happen. Thankfully, mad dreamers do exist in this world; otherwise, there would be no electricity and light bulb, planes and space crafts, mobile phones and the internet, underwater tunnels and sky bridges, and delicate organ transplants and cures for diseases.
The recent car-bomb terrorist act in Pulwama (Kashmir, INDIA) has deeply pained a broad Indian community, including the exiled, uprooted Kashmiri Pandit community, which has been a hapless direct victim of the militancy in Kashmir. The recent terrorist attack in Kashmir, which killed over 45 Indian security (CRPF) personnel and injured many more, and the distasteful support that it received thereafter from some Kashmiri Muslims in the valley, has continued to rub salt into the deep wounds of Kashmiri Pandits, whilst also attracting a significant angry reaction and protests from many Indians – on the social media, press, candlelight vigils and demonstrations on the streets.
One must be naive if one did not expect any kind of reaction – verbal or otherwise – from any normal peace-loving person in India – against this recent barbaric act of terrorism and the sickly support that it subsequently received from some Kashmiri Muslims – in the valley and the students studying in other parts of India. Following the people’s reaction to the supporters of the terrorist act, the irresponsible role that some sections of the Indian media and the human rights’ activists played speaks volumes about the state the country is currently in. Human rights’ activists usually keep mum when people are killed in terrorist attacks; they are quite selective in their voice. It seems Indians enjoy too much of freedom and some strange kind of entitlement that they can do and say anything without being accountable towards their country. On the other end of the spectrum, following the Pulwama tragedy, the Indian television has been abuzz with numerous jingoistic debates every day. As such, everyday many skirmishes do take place in the subcontinent but, thankfully, most of them are fought mainly on television or on the social media, and by the usual players. TRP ratings are important for television business.
Questions to answer
Before moving further, it is important to answer the following two questions:
- Is there a signed agreement between militants and security forces in Kashmir that militants will not use RDX explosives or car-bombs in their attacks on the security forces, which the militants broke?
- Has Pakistan ever signed an agreement with India that it will not support the militancy in Kashmir, which it broke?
The answer to both above questions is a big NO. Then why has the recent car-bomb attack been seen in India as something extraordinary? More questions:
- Aren’t the security forces expected to put in place all necessary measures of deterrence against car-bomb attacks?
- Wasn’t it a classic case of security lapse?
The answer to both these questions is a big YES.
Whose responsibility was to manage mobile check posts? Did they not allow for such a scenario in their Risk and Hazard Management Plans? The fact that it really happened indicates something was amiss. Either their Safety Management Plans were inadequate or it was a result of human error and/or wilful negligence. Was anyone compromised by the enemy?
People must never belittle or try to politicise and disrespect the fallen soldiers by offering just lip sympathies. They were victims of negligence by the people who were supposed to look after their safe transport. Plain and simple! The soldiers always deserve much better.
The ground reality is that the Indian security forces have been fighting militants – born and raised in several countries – for the last 30 years in Kashmir. Security forces are well trained, competent and experienced in the guerrilla warfare that is being fought in Kashmir; as such, they are expected to be prepared and ready to fight off the Pulwama type terrorist attacks. Security forces are also not unfamiliar with the situation in Kashmir. But in this case, there has been a major security lapse, which cost so many soldiers their lives. Someone let them down. It was a security breach. They will surely learn from this tragedy and introduce further checks and additional measures necessary to prevent any recurrences.
All parties and individual players playing the Kashmir game – neighbouring countries, local politicians, militants, security forces and government – are just playing their regular respective roles. They are all doing just what they are known to do. Wisdom requires one to deal with delicate and potentially volatile situations with vision, patience, pragmatism and positive emotions, and in doing so, focus energies mainly on strengthening the defence structures, becoming stronger and capable of thwarting potential terrors attacks with greater effectiveness and deterrence.
On Indian social media, many people have been crying for strong punitive actions against Pakistan and terrorists. Angry social media users are free to fight their own wars against militants but must be prepared to face the repercussions – both from the Indian security personnel and the country’s law & order. They must also be ready to experience what soldiers experience every moment of their active lives on duty and be prepared to die in the call of duty. But if they wish the Indian army fights Pakistan while they sit and enjoy infinite civil liberty and social freedom in the comfort of their homes, then they possess a shameful thinking.
Soldiers leave their families behind and fight the country’s enemies, braving all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable hardships. They remain prepared to lay down their lives so that civilians can live happily with their families. They stand guard while people sleep. Therefore, it is extremely irresponsible to imagine the soldiers dying for the country while people shout war cries on Facebook or in a television studio. So, if you genuinely want to make your country strong and invincible, then fight to erase all social divisions. Bring all Indians together and make them work for the country. Raise a civil army to fight off numerous internal enemies. Leave the external enemies to Indian army to tackle. They know their job. Don’t tell them what to do, and what not to do. They are much above in status and calibre than all of us civilians.
Angry negative emotions only sow negative seeds in nature, which manifest in hate and violence in the future. Negative reactions only help to widen the divide and escalate the degree of hatred between the communities. No one wins in the end.
India’s preemptive attack
After several days of speculation, early morning on 26 February 2019, India is understood to have taken a strong punitive action against the terrorists when a number of Indian fighter jets reportedly carried out a successful pre-emptive strike across the Line of Control (LoC) and destroyed a number of terrorist camps and their facilities, claiming to have killed about 350 militants in the process. [One would question why did not Indian Air Force carry out similar punitive actions against the militants and the perpetrators of terrorism in Kashmir in 1990, when about 300 Kashmiri Pandits were gunned down by the militants and, once again, post the Mumbai attacks.]
Within the next 24 hours of the Indian strike, Pakistan reportedly responded with its own aerial attack across the LoC into Kashmir, hitting some open ground areas in Kashmir, as a demonstration of its capability. However, when Pakistani planes were challenged by Indian fighter planes, Pakistan is believed to have lost two fighter planes, both crashing inside its own territory. One Indian plane was also shot down inside the Pakistani territory and its pilot captured by the Pakistan army.
BBC news footage, dated 27 Feb 2019, India demands Pakistan release pilot as Kashmir crisis intensifies (https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-47393454), quoted the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in a televised address, that the two sides could not afford a miscalculation “given the weapons we have“. He goes on to add:
“We should sit down and talk … If we let it happen, it will remain neither in my nor Narendra Modi’s control … Our action is just to let them know that just like they intruded into our territory, we are also capable of going into their territory …”
As such, there is nothing wrong with the above statement. Mr Khan has sounded very statesmanlike in making the public statement. Full credit goes to him, but he also has to appreciate and understand India’s continued frustration. And India must also understand his precarious position, as discussed here under.
It has always made so much sense to sit down and talk sincerely to resolve all bilateral issues, right from the beginning. But the fact is the past meetings between the two countries have not resolved anything substantial for India or any end to terrorism that keeps incessantly emanating from Pakistan’s territory. So the frustration on the Indian part has not escalated unreasonably over the past years. No wonder there is a war cry inside India. Only time will tell how things will unfold.
Hopefully, Pakistan takes this opportunity to introspect and extend a sincere hand towards India to jointly fight the menace of terrorism in the subcontinent.
Pakistan PM’s issues
Unlike India, no civilian government in Pakistan has been autonomous. With all its best intentions, for fostering peace and friendly relations with India, this current civilian government in Pakistan – headed by Mr Imran Khan – cannot do really much to punish the terrorist organisations that operate from Pakistan’s soil. He will never be able to rid his government of the toxic interference and influence of his country’s military and intelligence. He is actually caught up between the deep sea and the devil. If he resists those organisations, he potentially faces a military coup. On the other hand, if India pushes him too much, he does not have much room to manoeuvre, so he will be forced to react desperately.
India must understand that a civilian Prime Minister of Pakistan is not a very free person to be able to run his country, he has to appease many people whom he may not even like or respect. But without their blessings, he can’t function. He is in a very tight spot. So it is no use pushing him too much and expecting things that he can’t deliver. The world knows that Pakistan has been fighting itself – seemingly a constantly losing battle. Pakistan has been suffering much higher casualties than India due to terrorist attacks within the country.
If one takes a look at its history since 1947, and the statistics of terrorist acts inside Pakistan, one can realise its current precarious position. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_Pakistan_since_2001),
This country is relatively impoverished and globally isolated, for valid reasons though. That is why Mr Khan received the people’s mandate to lead the country. Like their Indian counterparts, Pakistanis are also sick and tired of nepotism and cronyism, due to a thriving feudal system, which have plagued the country. Like his Indian counterpart, Mr Khan is seemingly working very hard to bring some health and prosperity to his country. He also inherited numerous issues created by erstwhile governments in Pakistan, and their respective legacies.
The whole situation in Pakistan is currently very delicate. One would hope that it remains geographically intact and politically stable as one country; otherwise the whole subcontinent may be destined for a very dangerous future. Pakistan’s political instability and a growing religious extremism can potentially cost not only Pakistan but also India, and the world as a whole, heavily. So, the world must come together to help, encourage and coerce Pakistan in dealing with its religious extremists who have the potential to not only destroy their own country but cause immense harm beyond its borders.
The way forward
Why a certain thing has happened and how it can be prevented in the future? These are the questions that one must answer honestly. If war is the solution, then India must go for it till it achieves its logical conclusion. But before going for that, all heads must stay cool and consider all ramifications. Unless India is prepared to accept all possible consequences, India must not go for war. The same advice applies to Pakistan too.
In the author’s reasonable opinion, and all things considered, as the only sensible way forward, India and Pakistan, instead of fighting against each other, must join hands to fight together against their common enemies –terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and poor education, and gender discrimination. For this, Pakistan must change their total approach towards India – from seeing India as its foe and nemesis to seeing India as its friendly elder sibling. A serious change in heart is required in Pakistan.
The truth is the two neighbours can’t abandon each other. They were born from the same country – INDIA; they have essentially the same DNA. Between the two neighbours, one would wish that at least one of them (India) keeps its eyes open. Sadly, one can’t move the two neighbours away from each other. It is India’s destiny! They must learn to coexist peacefully for the sake of their peace-loving people. What other options do they have? The cost of another war may be way too high to wage it, as one learns from the history.
Can the two neighbours learn from Australia and New Zealand how to coexist peacefully as close and friendly neighbours; or from the US and Canada, or from the European countries? It will be a much better world when Indian and Pakistani professionals (teachers, engineers, doctors etc.) work in each other’s countries, and the armies of the two countries conduct joint war exercises to fight common wars against common enemies.
Nature made this world and we humans bred right from the time the first woman and the first man evolved on our unique planet. Since then, we humans have incessantly kept biologically producing more and more humans – albeit for various reasons. It is we humans who produce our children, God does not!
We humans also created religions – at different times – for various reasons too, God did not.
If you argue everything is created by God, then accept all kinds of people around you and their religious thoughts. Don’t hate and fight them off. If you do, you are fighting God. That can be construed as blasphemy! One can’t accept some and reject some, as per one’s personal choice and convenience. Either one must accept God’s Will and stay quiet, or one must take the responsibility and be accountable for everything that happens around us.
There are reasons why things have happened in the past and why they are happening now. One must visit the reasons before blaming and stereotyping others. It is useful that one introspects deeply. Let us all enrol in a school where we learn to introspect, contemplate and do everything possible to promote peace and humanity on this beautiful planet of ours. We have one earth, one sun, one moon and one God. So we are really ONE people, let us talk peace.
If the Indian community is deeply divided along the lines of caste, region, religion, socio-economic, it is no brainer that others can potentially – and surely will – exploit and deepen all such divisions for their personal gains. So why should we not erase the divisions? Why should we not glue and bind the people together? The solution is not a brainer either. But it will take a national will and a clear vision to do so.
Ideally, the Indian Prime Minister must be a superhuman, as it is not easy to lead this massive country of 1.36 billion, especially if so many people – at numerous levels – are constantly bent upon tearing it apart and undermining it, solely for benefiting politically and grabbing power. One can imagine how hard it must be for Mr Modi to do his job and to keep this country integrated and strong, particularly in the face of numerous undermining agencies lurking inside the country.
The people of India must earnestly fight to introduce one common Civil Code for all Indians, control the population rate immediately, fight poverty and poor education, gender discrimination, dowry, corruption, adulteration, pollution, environmental vandalism, cancer and mental illness. Prime Minister Modi cannot do all these things all by himself. The country must earnestly support him in all his honest endeavours towards serving his country.
Indian citizens must act as responsible civil soldiers and combat all those numerous internal issues that divide and seriously undermine the country.’ … Bill K Koul