A trigger-happy India is whipping up war hysteria. Pakistan can ignore this at its own peril.
The situation is grave enough for this paper to write its first ever front page editorial. We do so to bring the alarming state of affairs into clear focus and cut through the haze generated by Indian jingoism, hyperbole and emotionally drenched rhetoric. A nuclear-armed India threatening violence on a nuclear-armed Pakistan; whichever way you look at it, this cannot end well for either party. And yet, the prospects of violence remain real. Indian belligerency, deliberate as it surely is, may in the end turn out to be nothing more than aggressive posturing aimed less at us and more at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own electorate. We hope this may be the case.
But hope is never a plan of action. Pakistan’s reaction to India’s dangerous brinkmanship has been restrained but firm. This is a good start. There is no need for Islamabad to indulge in a slanging match with India. The more that New Delhi threatens violence and spews venom at us through its proxies in the media and elsewhere, the more it resembles a state that is unable or unwilling to act maturely in face of pressure. For a nation of a billion people that pretends to carry weight on the global stage, this is shockingly infantile behaviour.
The consequences of violence between Pakistan and India are no secret. Indian strategists have over the years crafted fancy-titled doctrines aimed at convincing themselves they can punish Pakistan without feeling considerable pain themselves. The nuclear equation however has stunted all such doctrines. Pakistan’s deterrence capability is well-documented and firmly locked in place. Let us be very clear: if we did not have this nuclear shield over our heads, India would not have thought twice before embarking on a military adventure.
India may have lost soldiers in the Uri attack, and loss of life anywhere is to be mourned, but Kashmiris living under Indian occupation continue to suffer far worse than Indian troops ever have. New Delhi may froth at the mouth all it wants; it cannot wish away the fact that it is a brutal occupying power with the blood of Kashmiris on its hands.
So while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the correct line in his speech at the UN General Assembly, he must go a step further and face up to the prospects of an Indian military misadventure. He must categorically state that the Line of Control is a red line, which if crossed in any way, at any time will trigger an immediate and decisive retaliation. We do not want violence, but India must never forget that Pakistan is not Nepal or Bhutan.
This message must be delivered in one voice by the State and the citizens of Pakistan. There is a time to discuss the failings of our short-sighted policies and their negative consequences. This is not that time. Make no mistake: we are faced with clear and present danger from India. This threat must be met with resolute determination.
India needs to snap out of its self-propelled hysteria and act its size, if not its age.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2016.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune