India and Pakistan: Peace v/s war

Following the terrorist attack by militants from Pakistan on an Indian army base near the LOC (Line of Control) in Uri, Kashmir, the Government of Mauritius has issued a communiqué which reads as follows:

‘The Government of Mauritius strongly condemns the attack perpetrated against an Indian army base in Uri, Kashmir, on Sunday 18 September 2016 that caused the death of 17 Indian soldiers.

The Government of Mauritius expresses its deep sympathy to the Government of India and extends its profound condolences to the bereaved families of the victims of the dastardly act.

Mauritius stands in solidarity with the Government of India and with all those committed to the fight against terrorism.’

Several world leaders, including those of France, Russia, Germany, the UK and the US have similarly condemned the attack and expressed their commitment to the fight against terrorism.

A war like situation in Kashmir

The Chief Minister of Kashmir, Mrs Mehbooba Mufti, in a statement strongly condemning the attack said that Pakistan is bent upon creating a ‘war like situation in Kashmir’. India has made it clear to the international community that the recent protracted unrest in the Kashmir valley was instigated by Pakistan. A new tactic was to use children as human shields.

Further, the terrorist Burhan Wani whose death triggered the unrest was celebrated as a hero and martyr by the ‘architect of the 2008 attack in Mumbai’, Hafiz Saeed (vide MJ Akbar’s article mentioned below), who held a rally within five kilometers of the Indo-Pak border at the control point Wagah. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif also pitched in at that time to praise Burhan Wani and align with Hafiz Saeed, and India considered that as meddling in its internal affairs.

Undeterred and brazen, Nawaz Sharif taking the opportunity of the United Nations General Assembly, has tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue in his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the British PM Mrs Theresa May. He had also written to 22 of the leaders attending UNGA but according to Indian media, no reply has been forthcoming.

While the nation was burying its dead martyrs, totalling 19 (18 killed, 1 died in hospital from critical injuries sustained during the attack), the Indian government has decided to press for the diplomatic and economic isolation of Pakistan regionally and internationally. This is not going to be an easy affair, as mostly the West has been ambivalent in its responses to this conflict despite battling increasing terrorist attacks itself. Closer home, the Afghan envoy to India has supported India’s position that Pakistan must be boycotted by SAARC, to which they both belong. India has already decided to scale down its economic ties with Pakistan.

Enough is enough

It would be recalled that Indian PM Narendra Modi had invited the Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif for his inauguration, and the latter did come. Pursuing the soft diplomatic strategy initiated by the short-lived honeymoon of PM Vajpayee’s bus ride to Lahore in 1999, Modi even made a detour on his way back from Russia to drop in at Nawaz Sharif’s house in Pakistan. He has received criticism from the Congress Party for what they call his ‘dossier diplomacy’ vis-à-vis Pakistan, but there is no doubt that he has consistently tried to make personal contact with the Pakistan leadership and sought peace.

But this kind of overture may need to be reviewed, in light of Pakistan’s dilly-dallying whenever there is a terrorist attack emanating from its soil, such as the one that occurred at another Indian army base earlier this year in Pathankot. They keep asking for more and more ‘actionable intelligence’ despite all that is put at their disposal; no amount of dossiers submitted to them seems to suffice, clearly a delaying tactic. This time, it seems that they have crossed a critical limit, and the Indian Government has perhaps realized that enough is enough.

However, as noted Indian journalist MJ Akbar, also a Rajya Sabha MP, wrote in an article in a Special Anniversary Issue (40 years) of ‘India Today’ dated December 21, 2015, this conflict between Pakistan and India ‘began when Pakistan organized a terrorist invasion into the Kashmir valley in October 1947’. Commenting that ‘As an Indian Muslim , I would feel abandoned if the Indian state abandoned a part of Kashmir… it would be akin to deserting every Indian Muslim’, he goes on to observe that ‘Pakistan is turning into a “jelly state”, quivering with violence. With layers of ideological extremism now embedded in both the population and establishment… breeding a suicide-mission culture’. He concludes with a laconic if not lapidary ‘Pakistan started this war. It is up to Pakistan to end it’.

The indications are that Pakistan does not want to.

* * *

Local terrorism

The report of an attack on a lady cashier at the Super U supermarket in Belle Rose has caused shock in the population. It is akin to an act of terrorism locally by the abruptness of the aggression and the manner in which it took place. Unknown attackers barged in and seemed to be able to perpetrate their act without hindrance, warding off the attempt by security personnel to intervene and dragging the lady outside, bundling her in a car and driving off.

Have bouncers become the new ‘tapeurs’ in the country? They are legally employed and legal sanctions against them must be exemplary so that they know their limits. Perhaps it would be too much to expect a code of ethics from them, but their employers must be taken into the loop so as to put restrictions on their side activities. Otherwise this practice of hiring them to bump off people for whatever reason may spread and cause social havoc of which we already have enough.

TP Saran

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