There is every likelihood that the barbaric murder of two Indian ~jawans~ by the Pakistani Army would go unpunished. This is due to the weak-kneed Indian response to the savagery of the Pak soldiers. Yes, the Foreign Office did summon the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi, Salman Bashir, to lodge a `strong protest.’
That protest would have helped assuage somewhat the Indian anger had there been any expression of regret and display of remorse from the Pakistani side. Instead, what we got from Islamabad was a rude denial, suggesting that this country was indulging in false propaganda. This should be unacceptable. If you believe the professional deniers of Islamabad, the two Indian solders killed themselves and then mutilated their bodies, one of them even chopping his own head off. Such utter nonsense normally should diminish anyone decent and humane, but then our western neighours are different. Telling lies with a straight face comes naturally to them. When a child is beaten it is natural for him to cry. But our Pakistani friends are so heartless they do not want the child to cry under any circumstances. The point is that India must not take the Pak denial lying down. After all, more than the killing of the two ~jawans~, it is the manner of their killing that has shaken the conscience of the people. The morale of the people, and not just of the Indian Army, has been badly shaken. How can anyone, in this day and age, mutilate and decapitate a fellow human being? The country needs to know. As we said in this space on Thursday, we are not war-mongers. Far from it. But we are realists, pragmatists. Having seen every goodwill measure being spurned, having seen an overt show of bonhomie being accompanied by a covert act of hostility — Kargil and then 26/11 — let us try and learn from our bitter experience. The fact is that the Pakistani leopard is unlikely to change its anti-India spots. The ~Saadha Lahore~ nostalgia ought not to inform the conduct of our relations with our western neighbour. Pakistan not only denied the killing of the two Indian soldiers, but, most crudely, sought third party intervention in the bilateral ties by suggesting that the UN military observers investigate the heinous incident. No, sir. India believes its armed forces when they report the incident to their superiors. Unlike some self-styled peaceniks in the media who treat the words of a friendly cabinet minister as gospel truth but insist on prefixing `alleged’ when it comes to reporting details of the incident as provided by the defence ministry, we find no reason to suspect our own armed forces. And in them we trust that they will soon take commensurate action to send out a message to the Rawalpindi G.H.Q. that there are costs attached to barbaric behaviour. Let us not escalate tensions. All right. But let us also not turn the other cheek to the cowards who have no concern for truth and no compunction in beheading a fellow human being.