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Analysis

Updated on: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 01:40 AM IST

Tit-for-tat is only option

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Is the current round of hostilities over? Yes and no. Yes because the cross-border aerial sorties are not expected, at least till Pakistani proxies perpetrate another savagery. No because Pakistan and its proxies in Kashmir assisted by the ISI-controlled jihadis will be rendered redundant if they were to shut down their business and become men of god overnight. Anti-India mayhem is the only vocation they know and will not quit till squelched by a superior force.

So, there you are. Pulwama and what followed in its train may have become the new normal for Indians. Because the unfinished business of Partition continues to bleed both the countries. India has not had peace since the creation of Pakistan.

And remember, Partition was justified on the ground that it would cause Hindus and Muslims to live in peace and harmony. Instead, we have had nothing but State-sponsored violence from the other side. Within a few months of the Partition, Pakistan attacked India, trying to siege control of Kashmir through force.

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Nehru’s failure left it divided, one-third with the aggressor and two-thirds with the rightful legal power. Since then we have fought wars in 1965, 1971, 1999, without getting anywhere near settling the issue. In 1971, we had the opportunity but Indira Gandhi fumbled.

With 95,000 PoWs, Pakistan was on its knees, but Indira Gandhi in the Shimla Summit got fooled by Zulfikar Bhutto who orally committed to treat the LoC in Kashmir as the legal international border but refused to put it in writing, pleading that he would be lynched upon landing in Lahore.

Indira Gandhi was taken in by this old fox who immediately went on to commit Pakistan to wage a thousand-year war. The blunders of Nehru were compounded by his daughter who lost on the negotiating table what our armed forces had won on the warfront. Indira Gandhi’s close aides, P N Haksar and P N Haksar have duly recorded the Surrender in Shimla in their autobiographies.

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The larger point is that India has been let down by its early leaders. Be it China or Pakistan our rulers have always played a weak hand even when the adversary had a much worse hand. Coming to the present, Modi is worthy of praise for abandoning the slap-on-the-other-cheek stance followed by his predecessors, including Vajpayee.

( Indeed, one of them, mercifully short-lived, felt proud that he had directed RAW not to have any human assets in Pakistan.) Do not forget the parliament terror attack occurred under Vajpayee’s watch. There couldn’t be a bigger provocation to give a fitting response. After duly mobilising troops, he was persuaded by the Americans to pull back on the empty commitment by Pervez Musharaff not to use Pak soil for launching terror attacks.

Again, an equally great provocation came when Manmohan Singh was in the saddle. 9/11 killed nearly two hundred people and destroyed property worth hundreds of crores. But Singh ably assisted by his brilliant Home Minister Chidambaram and Defence Minister Antony continued to sit on his hands. The point is that turning the other cheek before Pakistan does not earn its respect or even gratitude. No. It makes it more belligerent, more demanding.

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Happily, Modi belongs to a different school where pacifism is confined to not attack the other but when the other attacks to give a fitting reply. Pulwama was proof of this approach. Breaching Pak sovereignty was a bigger blow to it than whether thirty or 300 of jihadis were killed in the IAF raids.

Now having tried the soft approach but all in vain, no other was left to be tried. Yes, war can be a very deadly business, costing lives and huge financial loss for a growing economy. But it is still better than continuing to bleed at the hands of a perennially hostile neighbour.

Peacetime deaths over Kashmir too cannot be ignored, either. What option is then left for India? Cede Kashmir? Remember if Pakistani economy is down in the dumps, and could well collapse if it were to continue warring with its peaceful neighbour, that nation could disintegrate into various hostile parts.

When nations fight patience and fortitude can be great assets in its citizenry. Instead of asking idiotic questions with an eye on the impending elections, every Indian should unite in endorsing the tit-for-tat Pakistan policy of the Indian State — and not Modi’s or the BJP’s.

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Published on: Monday, March 04, 2019, 08:21 AM IST
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