A WAKE-UP CALL

The incident at Pulwama is a wake up call for India. There, it lost 40 of its finest. Loss of life is always heartbreaking but the suicide attack in Pulwama, makes it absolutely intolerable. Clandestine attack on military personnel has been going on for years. Pulwama is not going to be the last. A decade ago the terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament. They could have eliminated the entire leadership of the Indian government. Luckily a quick thinking guard foiled the effort and the perpetrators were all killed. Then there was the Mumbai massacre. In between there have been incidents - too many to mention. Both the people and their government can take all the precautions they want. But this sort of hate filled incidents will continue to happen as long as their root cause is not destroyed.

Unfortunately the root of the cause is in Pakistan where neither the people nor their elected officials have any real power to do anything about it. The news report says "In a swift and precise airstrike following the Pulwama attack India bombed and destroyed Jaish - e - Mohammad's biggest training camp in Pakistan early Tuesday killing a very large number of terrorist trainers and senior commanders." The number of dead was reportedly 350. This sort of counterattack may help some Indians to beat their chests for taking adequate revenge but in the face of the real issue it is a very lame act.

Even if a group of senior commanders were killed they have still left behind junior ones who will fill their positions. Therefore the "swift and precise" attack is not a solution. In the past, civilian governments in Islamabad have tried to normalize relationships with India. President Asif Ali Zardari even said -"Democracies do not fight. They compromise with each other" and later visited a religious shrine in India. The Generals did not take the statement kindly. Nawaz Sharif wanted to improve relationships, came to India to the new prime minister's inauguration and hosted his counterpart in Lahore. Sharif had to be thrown out lock stock and barrel. By keeping the Kashmir issue on the forefront the military wants to remain relevant in Pakistan. The Kashmir uprising is the handiwork of the Pakistan military. It wants the Indian military's heavy hand in Kashmir so that India can get a bad name and the local people will remain disaffected. Their formula is working. India's military is not a pacifist force. It has to work according to its training.

Imran Khan did stretch his hand toward India at the time of his inauguration. He can only go to the extent the big boys want him to go. Any civilian overture - regardless how small or big - to India in the minds of the Generals is "excessive". Terrorism in India is the handcraft of the Pakistani military. India has enough fire power to inflict plenty of death and destruction inside Pakistan. But it would be a dangerous gamble. By killing someone - a brother or a son or a husband - one does nor gain support from the dead person's relatives. India's elected officials, bureaucrats, academics and public figures have to find out a way to reach out to the Pakistani public. Pakistanis feel the heavy hand of the military. But in fear they cannot take a stand and say "yes" to the military's demands.

Winning the hearts of the people of Pakistan and helping them to stand against an oppressive military is hard work. India's political and military leaders for the last 70 years have not given enough attention to this. They have taken an easy way out by buying more tools for fighting. In the face of a nuclear disaster these tools are all useless anyway. India's biggest asset in thwarting Pakistan's attack is its Muslim population. But their mistreatment, perceived and actual, by religious zealots does not go well with other Muslims as "Blood is thicker than water."The lynching of people in the name of protecting cows, closing of tanneries and slaughter houses by the Adityanath government without providing an alternative livelihood to the people affected, an atmosphere of mistrust are not things that an Indian can be proud of. But they are happening and Pulwama could be seen as a result of the nation's collective sin. As unpleasant as it may sound,the Indian people must understand that by beating Pakistan by stopping trade and travel etc., the people from both sides are not gaining anything. A destabilized Pakistan is a recipe for chaos that strengthens the hands of the terrorists. India needs to spend more money and manpower to strengthen democracy in Pakistan while holding on to its own.


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