Line of Uncontrol

The shells that came in. Pic: Reuters

There is tension on the border again. For the past one week. India will not talk with Pakistan. Everybody knows this standoff won’t last. Cannot.

What is shocking, however, is the tone. Civilians have been killed, and nobody seems concerned about that. It is all about flexing muscles. The PM woke up from his slumber – and these days it includes giving automaton high-maintenance speeches at election rallies (his terrain) for assembly polls in Maharashtra – to get into I’m ok, you’re ok mode. “We have responded with courage to ceasefire violations,” he said, “Everything will be fine soon.”

How soon is soon, how fine is fine? Who is he talking to – the general junta, his party members, the armed forces, the opposition, Pakistan? This is what he should be telling those who are vulnerable.

I watched one TV debate and all I could hear was the anchor blabber about pulverizing Pakistan, as though the all of Pakistan and its government were sitting at the Line of Control.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said:

“India is a responsible state. It is never an aggressor. But at the same time, it has a paramount duty to defend its people and its territory. Our Armed Forces particularly the Army and the BSF in this case have only one option – that is to respond adequately and defend our territory and our people.”

It begs the question: Why did they not do so when the first incursion and shelling took place? How did it reach those civilian areas? We have not shied away from aggression, so we don’t need this halo effect now. The minister further added:

“If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, our forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable.”

What is the measure of affordability? We do know that Pakistan is a nuclear power and it has got aid and the ability to generate money. If it is about making it unaffordable in socio-political terms, then we are dealing with a nation that has suffered defeat a few times.

Some views suggest that Nawaz Sharif wants to divert attention from local issues; others suggest that Modi is using this to gain points for the polls.

Across the border, the Pakistan People’s Party has a court jester in the form of its patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto.

Last month he had said, “I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because it belongs to Pakistan”, provoking titters from Kashmiris. Now he says, “Another attack on LoC. Seems India adopting Israel model vs Pakistan. Modi must realise we can retaliate unlike his victims from Gujarat.”

Not only is this juvenile, it is vicious. This punk is using victims to further the cause of his adrenaline. Those displaced in the Gujarat riots are indeed in no position to respond simply because this is not a movie. Real lives are different. He might like to talk to those in Baluchistan, Waziristan and even Karachi. He is not in power, but if this is the only way forward for him then he has already lost it.

I have not read the Pakistani papers, but it is bound to be a blame game.

This has continued for too long – the rabble-rousing on TV and social media, the verbal duel between politicians, and the inability to protect our borders, which is how civilians get killed. Why don’t we examine that?

No leader or army person has a right to place the lives of innocents at risk to further their macho political machinations and greed. Jammu and Kashmir is barely getting back on its feet after the floods, crops, trees have been flattened and these people are talking about bulldozing. 

It might help a great deal if the media is told to shut up. We do not need opinions of ill-informed news anchors who drool over the possibility of war. The border areas are not your studio nor our living room.   I have been cynical about staged 'aman ki asha' projects, but if I had to choose between peace and war, it will be peace by a long shot. Whether it is with Pakistan or Timbuktu.

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