War Mongering Hysteria – South Asia


(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

War mongering hysteria is real in South Asia. Does it indicate gathering of war clouds on the South Asian horizon. On reflection, there is an ongoing proxy war for over three decades on President Zia assuming the mantle of leadership.

So, recent aggressive postures may be viewed is raising the bar of escalation. One miscalculation in such a surcharged atmosphere can escalate into a full scale war.

The President of Pakistan during the Independence day speech stated “Pakistan will continue supporting the Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, highlighted the day as a “memorable day as the spirit of independence in IHK is at its peak,” and the Independence Day to the “freedom of Kashmir”.

More emphatically, Abdul Basit, Pakistani High Commissioner to India, on India soil in New Delhi also expressed similar support in his speech  during its Independence Day celebration to Kashmir’s “freedom”. Unequivocally, he guaranteed full diplomatic, political and moral support to the people of the state.

Firing across the border in Poonch sector that injured one civilian has accompanied verbal threats.

Surely, they would have emboldened all non state actors in safe havens in Pakistan like the LeT, HM and others. Certainly, they would step up infiltration from across the border and indulge in terrorist acts. None should have any doubts on the above score besides pursuing diplomatic efforts to internationalize the issue.

Conjointly, Pakistani intent at escalation of crisis in Kashmir valley has been made both implicitly and explicitly clear.

India has also expressed strong and similar sentiments what with the unanimous resolution passed in the Parliament.

Naturally, Modi would certainly give a befitting reply from the ramparts of Red Fort, New Delhi. Would Indian High Commissioner also give a similar response during the Independence Day celebrations in Islamabad on 15 August.

Under the surface in the Kashmir valley, distrust and hatred that was simmering among the youth has burst out into the streets with stone pelting crowds aggressively making rounds.

A review of developments in the past in broad outline is vital to gain a balanced perspective in the current state alienation in the Valley.  Until 1971 and even thereafter, only few pro-Pakistan elements spread hatred and distrust by sustained propaganda behind closed doors. They belied Pakistani expectations of large scale turnout in support of their army invasion in 1965 and 1971 wars. It forced President Zia to formulate strategy of proxy war by exploiting the twin attributes of “treachery and intrigue” of Kashmiri Muslims to create an internal explosion.

Under President Zia’s sustained ‘proxy war’ strategy of ‘bleed Indian by thousand cuts”, attitudes changed slowly after early 1980s; but exploded by late 1980s resulting the exodus of Pandits.  Currently, there is strong evidence of broad spread of anti-Indian sentiment among the majority of Kashmiri Muslims.

Thirty years of suffering and sacrifices have reinforced the hatred towards India. Today, the majority sentiment is unfavorable; psychological alienation is complete. Political rhetoric cannot regain lost trust, confidence and loyalty of affected families.

Can it be reverted easily by confidence building measures as proposed by Sitaram Yechury the CPM leader?  By what CBMs?  Sitaram Yechury and his ilk are living in a fools paradise of make believe.

Can banning pellet guns reverse anti India sentiments? Can lifting AFSPA on selective basis in Srinagar and other towns is the solution? Surely, both measures or initiatives would only allow terrorist infiltrators, particularly LeT cadres to mingle with the crowds, to force others to follow their diktat and joint their marauding bands.

If pellet guns are withdrawn, then will the stone throwing youth step pelting stones on the police attempting to maintain law and order. Will the agitating crowds stop shouting anti India slogans carrying Pakistani and ISIS flags.

Unless the agitating stakeholder agrees to comply with peaceful norms of protests permissible in democracy, it is woefully unrealistic to expect sanity to prevail on the streets of towns of Soth Kashmir.

The bitter truth is simple. The crisis is borne out of politics of crooks (Azadi from India) particularly abetted by villains across the border; but not out of economics.  Social – religious extremism – has compounded the crisis proliferation.

Sitaram Yechuri and his ilk may claim to super par excellent political intellectuals, but are  senseless and bankrupt to deal with such a extraordinary complex situations. Someone should pour sense into them. Realpolitik is an enemy of all kinds of self-delusion. Civil conflicts are usually paralyzing, inconclusive and debilitating – No win situations.

At the same time, there is no need for delusional paronia to overtake decision makers. Absolutely, no need for the so called external or foreign affairs shenanigans to queer the pitch for holding talks with Pakistan or their separatist followers in the Valley.

The history – breadth and depth – of bilateral relations do not lend themselves to forging enduring and sustainable peace with what the Pakistan Army avowed or sworn posture of “1000-Jihad to seek revenge for their military humiliation of 1071 war. Add to it the larger context of radical Islamists upsurge – the Al Qaeda and its off springs like the ISIS, the Taliban etc.

In sum, the lesson is simple for India’s political leadership and parties of different hues and colors. Stop indulging in acrimonious debates that only exposes the internal political divide providing opportunities for Pakistan and its cronies.

United India stands to gain; divided India would certainly fail. First it is the valley. Next, the Islamist invasion would follow in other parts. Such was the harsh lesson of India’s past. Do not allow its repetition if one claims to be a true nationalist and patriot.