aving taken some bold yet highly controversial steps in Kashmir, it was the need of time for the Modi government to lie low and allow tempers to cool down. But, the reverse seems to be happening, if defence minister Rajnath Singh’s statements in relation to Pakistan in recent days are any indication. Every nation has its sense of pride and dignity to uphold. Provocations of any kind should be avoided from India’s side especially in the aftermath of major steps like changing the status of Kashmir from being a state to that of a Union Territory and abrogation of Article 370. Indians, no matter how nationalist they may have turned in recent times, have to recognize that this is not a nation capable for long drawn wars. All the wars that the citizens of this country have gone through were fought at far off locations such as Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan or Arunachal borders. No war near their home entrance has been witnessed by the average Indians in the past few centuries. The recent happenings in the nearby petroleum rich Middle East Moslem countries should act as eye openers for us. Rich and how, nations such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and even far off Libya stand mute and destroyed due to primarily one reason. The insistence of former popular leaders to turn their nation over to radical religious zealots created situations of civil wars. That attracted foreign forces to get involved. In those Arab countries, the Western powers showed their unquenchable thirst for petroleum, a natural resource. War eventually destroyed and dismantled civil society. Today, daughters of rich Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan families have been compelled to turn into sex workers in many other countries because they have lost everything else. All of those rich and powerful people thought nothing would touch them. They all assumed ‘bad times’ will befall only those labeled as ‘anti nationals’ by the rulers of the time. Unfortunately, the rich and the middle class became the biggest victims to torture, extortion and harassment in the form of losing their women as sex slaves. The poor joined the marauding forces as foot soldiers against the rich or got butchered in large numbers. We in India have to remember that this has been a repetitive scenario in most civilizations throughout history. India had been spared such ignominy and humiliation because of its ability to absorb and gobble up the ‘enemy’. Now the present day mind set is to acquire enemies where none exist. Once a society starts creating enemies out of nowhere, the goal post has to constantly keep changing to keep the pitch high. Today it may be followers of one religion. Tomorrow the scene may change. More than religious irritation, the average Hindoo is noticed to have terrible anger at the object of derision that is closer to home—people of another caste. Once the governance system abets and encourages hatred, in any form and against any one, to spill out on to the streets, the end of society is inevitably getting closer.
Returning to the situation in Kashmir, it is yet to settle down to peace. Thousands, as reported by many media, have been arrested and strict restrictions are continuing. This is time for the Centre to take cautious steps forward.
Rajnath Singh first stated that India may review its ‘no first use’ policy with regard to use of nuclear weapons against neighbours if a situation so arose. In return, the Pakistani military brass has held out the threat that if India declared a war, it would not hesitate to use nukes first. Both India and Pakistan had assured the international community when the two nations, simultaneously, joined the world’s nuclear club that they would avoid first use. In effect, with Rajnath’s statement, that old assurance is now dead and defunct. Both sides no more have such a commitment, meaning the security scenario in the geopolitical region is in for serious stock-taking. Especially if one considers the fact that Pakistan, per se, is controlled by a bunch of terror supporting hoodlums. The very basic concept of these terrorists is ‘Jihad’ meaning to die for their beliefs while destroying those who oppose them. Imagine a scenario where a nuclear armed Pakistan missile hurtles its way into the heart of Amdavad or Gandhinagar. That would not only be such a devastation and loss of innumerable innocent lives but a huge loss of face for India for centuries to come.
The comments by the Defence Minister may be seen in the backdrop that most big powers are already in the nuclear club even as the common endeavour is to progressively see the emergence of a nuclear-free world. UN’s efforts in this direction may not have been of much help but no country in the world would support any other country creating a nuclear flash point.
Rajnath Singh also went an extra mile by stating this past week that if Pakistan wanted a talk with India on Kashmir, it could be on the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, and not on Kashmir Valley which is now ‘an inalienable part of India’. India has never accepted the existence of PoK, Apart from that, claiming that the Kashmir valley is ‘now’ an inalienable part of India means it was not so earlier and the situation has been altered. While, undoubtedly, there would be many believers of ‘New India’ who would vehemently thrash this idea, the diplomatic and, more importantly, the economic fallout will show us the path for the future.
Those who know must be aware that even as it remains a disputed territory in diplomatic parlance; and occasionally India has made references to the allegations of human rights violations there. PoK being a Moslem province, its affinity is with Pakistan. This should lead people to think, those who want to create their Akhand Bharat that most territories, even if we could annex them, would turn out hostile. Holding on to lands where the people don’t want a foreign ruler would bleed the average Indian so very badly that we could turn our country into a ravaged nation.
Let no Indian forget that Pakistan inherited a chaotic political system part governed by elected representatives, part by the military generals but a great deal by mercenary jihadis steeped in acute religious fundamentalism. Generals can shoot through their hips but jihadis can kill for no reason whatsoever. When the whole world stayed away from supporting Pakistan for its pro terror image, Indian ministers will be well-advised to show restraint, rather than making a business out of provoking Pakistan. It was hurt by India’s latest actions in Kashmir, and it was also hurt by the failure of its attempt to raise the matter and draw support from the UN. Since a ‘terrorism’ angle is prominent vis-a-vis Kashmir, it was difficult for Pakistan to have its way with the world body.
In the end, however, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan finds himself in a difficult situation. He will have difficulty convincing the people that his government rose to the occasion. It had no way to win international support on Kashmir issue and will have to look within to find a way forward. Imran and his whole country has been pushed to the wall. This embarrassment for Imran Khan could only turn worse with the kind of statements that our ministers seem to be making. When India managed to have its way with Kashmir and the dust is yet to settle down, the first priority of the Modi government could have been to show patience and complete a work in progress in Kashmir.
A sense of nationalism may be driving Indians at present but when the real crunch comes, not from Pakistan but China which has been upset because its CPEC may be disturbed, we may crumble like a pack of cards. The terrible history of foreign business interests occupying and turning Indians into slaves may, quite possibly, get re-enacted if the people of this nation do not realize that they are truly not one and the same.