The Pakistani Dilemma

The year 2016 had a spicy opening, when the Pathankot attacks widely dented any notion of growing Indo-Pakistani diplomatic patch-up. It is...

The year 2016 had a spicy opening, when the Pathankot attacks widely dented any notion of growing Indo-Pakistani diplomatic patch-up. It is an undeniable fact that the public perception continues to be mostly negative in all facets of discussion concerning Pakistan. On 18th September, during the change of army staff at Uri, four heavily armed terrorists evaded security and opened fire on the army camps: the result was inevitable, known, and antagonistic to Indian nationalistic sentiments. Nineteen soldiers were killed. The penultimate day of September witnessed something atypical: surgical strikes were orchestrated by the 9 Para SF of the Indian Army, in what can be called a cross-border operation of an unprecedented scale. The heliborne attacks were devised to eliminate the terror "launch pads" on the opposite side of the Line of Control. This was, in the most elemental of terms, a direct response to the Pakistani provocation after months of strategic restraint.

Right after the Uri attacks, as if in a real-life movie playback, the anticipated blame-game started, with both sides lambasting the other over the tragic and condemnable attacks. Nawaz Sharif was prompt to escalate the issue to the United Nations General Assembly, highlighting the oppurtunist that he is, by incorporating statements and statistics taken out of context to try and belittle India in the international sphere. Nearly six and a half decades after independence, Pakistan remains India's biggest foreign policy challenge. Even China- Pakistan's closest and most-dependable all weather ally- has not taken an official stand, and neither a definite side, over the Uri outrage. A detailed analysis of such a reaction reveals a lot of undercurrents brewing below the surface: by refusing to take a stand, China has clearly adopted the wait-and-watch response for the Uri mishap, instead of getting embroiled into the raging controversy of the Indo-Pakistan flames. Of late, though, China has displayed a hint of fightback: blocking the Indian-led resolution to sanction Masood Azhar, a globally infamous terrorist.

Some hot-headed Indian commentators call for war and strikes on terrorist facilities in Pakistan deep within the nation. However, New Delhi must understand that undertaking such an action, filled with risk to the very brim, would explicitly invoke war between the two countries. Considering the contemporary reality where both the States are nuclear-capable (although there is a clear superiority for one), such a war cannot be won by either side: a perfect example of a scenario of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), in the words of John von Neumann. US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently voiced concerns over what she understands as the threat of "nuclear suicide bombers". Given the high level of distrust of the civilian government, and the wide admiration for the army among the Pakistani populace, the ground is favourable for coups. For most of Pakistan's history, military leaders have been at the helm of the government. Democratically elected civilian governments have been at best, weak. Such coups bring in bouts of instability, and there is a high probability of sensitive nuclear weapons and applications getting into the hands of radical extremists and jihadists the country has harboured for such a long period of time. Clinton pragmatically proposed that such a situation would be a threatening one, a catalytic event of unthinkable aftermath.

It would be worthwhile to note that the United Nations Security Council, vide its resolution 1373 (S/RES/1373) adopted right after the heinous attacks on the emblem of the globalized world trade in 2001, reaffirmed "... the principle established by the General Assembly in its declaration of October 1970 (resolution 2625 (XXV)) and reiterated by the Security Council in its resolution 1189 (1998) of 13 August 1998, namely that every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts...". Moreover, a careful look at other international obligations unfurls that under Charter VII of the United Nations, the State shall, "... refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists...". This is an unswerving pointer to Pakistan, and the similarities borne which deem necessary appropriate sanctions against Islamabad are many. Pakistan has, despite pressure from global powers, refused to bring to book such people as Hafiz Saaed- a terror sachem, and reviled as the founder of the dreaded terror network of Lashkar-e-Toiba. India's diplomatic blueprint to contain the Pakistani problem has worked to some extent: Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, despite being minnows, have boycotted the SAARC summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in early November: the resultant effectively being that the SAARC meet had be cancelled. This is also a brilliant example of non-combative strategies to handle a rogue nation: stepping up the heat diplomatically, if not militarily.

Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician and founder of the Tehreek-i-Insaaf party tried to justify the stand that the vast majority of the commonalty would prefer friendship over war, for war is no solution. This, if evaluated independently, is indeed a statement to take note of. However, what follows can be effectively looked upon with a cynical view: that the Uri attacks have led Modi and the entirety of India to blatantly accuse Pakistan without proper investigations. There are a few questions that I would present at this juncture. Is Pakistan not aware of the whereabouts of the most notorious of criminals roaming freely within its territory? Is Pakistan so incapable as to succumb to populism over doing what would be the right thing to do, keeping in minds its own interests in the long term? Has Pakistan not deliberately diverted foreign funding to counter the Taliban threat by the NATO-sponsored campaign in the Swat valley and the NWFP, to reinforce its defence lines against India? All of this boils down to one singular question of monumental significance: If Pakistan knows of all this, why is it not taking concrete action that looks both ethically, and morally, legitimate?

The Uri tensions have given way to certain ramifications that can be considered as denigratory. The Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) passed a resolution banning actors and technicians from the neighbouring country from working in India until normalcy returns. This was the MNS's rudimentary demand as well, a right wing saffronised party could only clamour for such hasty actions. What benefit would there be to ban such versatile celebrities of sufficient calibre as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or Fawad Khan? As the online magazine Quartz appropriately pointed out, Pakistani people who believe in humanity and aspire to be celebrities don't need Bollywood as their sole gateway to success. Bollywood is not a charity organization, and if it was, it would probably put the reknowned Pakistani charity-god, Abdul Sattar Edhi to shame. In more cases than one, these people are hardworking enough to be independent of political affiliation; and they are people too- but only strangled by the superficial colours of nationality, race, and religion. I strongly deplore such rampant moves of hate, and am of the firm conviction that my fellow brothers and sisters from all corners of India would undoubtedly sympathize with me over such decisions. India is a pluralistic society of unparalleled proportions, and as I frequently reiterate, its success lies in such a foundation of diversity.

As a rational Indian, and more importantly as people who believe in faith transcending all barriers of hate and partisanship, we would only ask for a proper solution to this otherwise spiralling conflict. In one of my previous articles, I had highlighted that war can never be stopped by war. The Kashmir Valley is reeling from a brutal onslaught of terrorism and suspension of democratic logistics. Curfews have curbed all freedoms, and every person of Kashmiri origin has been compelled to shame and suspicion. Islam, as people call, is a religion of peace; the Quran shares a lot of verses with the Holy Bible. Yet, rapacious religious leaders have deliberately misinterpreted the Holy Book of Islam and shown the wrong path to the youth. It is unquestionable that should children be exposed to such unprecedented levels of violence from a tender age, they would often try to avenge their horrific memories by turning to guns. It is the Government's responsibility to ensure that Kashmiris are rendered equal treatment by law agencies, and to think of them as members of our own family- instead of casting shadows of doubts on every Kashmiri native. Also, we as the people of India do shoulder an unconditional responsibility to ensure that prejudices must not creep into our thought process at any point of time, and we must take the solemn pledge to make our decisions not because we are unduly influenced by anyone, but because we understand the conflict at individual levels.

Jai Hind.  

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