Hindu and Muslim extremists are two sides of the same coin
On social media, the BJP’s Internet army is euphoric over reports of the “surgical strike” and wants more. Despite Gen Ranbir Singh having declared an end to the limited operation, TV channels and social media have declared a total war
There is a dire need on the part of India and Pakistan to bring down the level of tension at the earliest. In case this fails to happen, things might go out of the hands of the generals and politicians. With every soldier or civilian who dies in border skirmishes, the temperature is bound to rise in both the countries, encouraging calls for revenge.
War hysteria has overtaken India mainly. Prime Minister Modi’s jingoistic statements as chief minister of Gujrat have come to haunt him now. Videos have surfaced showing Modi shouting at Manmohan Singh government for not giving Pakistan a befitting reply to the Mumbai terror attack.
“Why are you not marching into Pakistan instead of begging the world for support,” he harangued in one of the videos. Forgetting that they are in government now and need to be more restrained, important BJP leaders continue to bay for war. “A jaw for a tooth”, demanded the BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav. Another BJP leader claimed in a TV talk show that by next Independence Day the Indian flag would be flying over Islamabad. The poppycock reminds one of Hafiz Saeed’s exhortations regarding flying Pakistan’s flag on Delhi’s Red Fort. The Hindu and Muslim extremists are two sides of the same coin.
On social media, the BJP’s Internet army is euphoric over reports of the “surgical strike” and wants more. Despite Gen Ranbir Singh having declared an end to the limited operation, TV channels and social media have declared a total war.
While Pakistan has its share of extremists and India haters, they have never won elections to form a government. Opposition to India has in fact never been an issue in Pakistan’s elections. The BJP with its anti Pakistan agenda, on the other hand, has come to power in India for the third time. With the skirmishes on the LoC continuing there is a likelihood of chauvinism overtaking Pakistan also.
Media in both the countries is playing a major role in spreading hatred, the Indian media much more so than its Pakistani counterpart. In both cases this is because of the breakneck competition in TV ratings. The competition which goes on round the clock seven days a week is based on the edict that ends justify means.
Soon aft the Uri terrorist attack, the US abstained from naming Pakistan. Now it condemns the killings of the 20 Indian soldiers as a cross border attack. The US however does not condemn what India calls a surgical operation on the Pakistan side of the LoC
There is also competition between the armies. The ‘second largest army in the world’ will find it difficult to accept casualties if skirmishes are not brought to an early end. So will ‘the most battle hardened force in the world’.
Terrorist groups in Pakistan including al Qeda, IS and TTP stand to gain the most from increasing confrontation between the two neighbouring countries. Presently on the run on account of Operation Zarb-e-Azb they would be the happiest to find the bulk of Pakistan’s military assets transferred to the eastern border and the security agencies fully focused on Indian military activities. The shifting of the army’s attention would allow them to regroup and resume terrorist strikes with ferocity.
Traditionally networks like LeT have tried to create hatred against India by playing on the issue of water scarcity in Pakistan for which they have held India responsible. They have raised the specter of the country turning into a desert through Indian policies. The propaganda has helped them in the recruitment of volunteers. With talks of India revisiting the Indus Water Treaty, this provides enough grist to their rumour mills.
If not brought to an end the skirmishes on the LoC can lead to war. The war will be setback to the Indian economy. Narendra Modi’s government will fail to achieve it ambitious goals. But in view of the size of its economy and a more resilient business community, India will recover within a few years.
In the case of Pakistan the economy would be shattered. The funds reserved for social and economic development will have to be diverted to war activity. The plans of putting an end to load shedding and providing cheaper power would have to be abandoned. While thousands of internally displaced persons from tribal areas are yet to be rehabilitated and put to gainful employment, those made homeless due to war would pose an additional problem. By far the biggest setback to the economy would be the loss of confidence on the part of the investors. Foreign firms planning to invest would shelve their plans for a long time to come while many local businessmen will relocate capital to securer markets or invest in real estate in Dubai. The way investments stopped after the 1965 war, thus bringing the industrial development to a grinding halt, is well documented.
Pakistan’s exports are already on steady decline. In case of the war they will turn into a trickle. Loss of revenues will also hit the army’s budget.
Pakistan needs to note the change in the US over Uri attack and what Pakistan calls cross border firing by India.
Soon aft the Uri terrorist attack, the US abstained from naming Pakistan. Now it condemns the killings of the 20 Indian soldiers as a cross border attack. The US however does not condemn what India calls a surgical operation on the Pakistan side of the LoC despite it killed two Pakistani soldiers and injured nine. The US has also urged Islamabad to combat and delegitimise Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and their affiliates. Pakistan needs also to ponder over what US State Department said on Tursday, “Nuclear-capable states have the responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.” It also reminded India and Pakistan that nuclear capable states do not threaten to use atomic weapons in any conflict.
Pakistan complains that despite its army having fought the war against the terrorists for the entire world, the world has left Pakistan alone to face them. There is a need to do some soul searching why many countries, including Pakistan’s cold war era allies, do not trust its claims regarding having no favourites among terrorist networks.
Pakistan needs to continue its moral and political support for the Kashmiri people’s struggle for self-determination. It needs however to get rid of the terrorist networks sanctioned by the UN and a number of other friendly countries. This will help improve Pakistan’s image abroad and restore its credibility.