Wednesday, February 27, 2019
#PeaceNotWar - #Pakistan - #India - Editorial: War is no picnic, a conflict will have devastating consequences for the entire subcontinent
In the aftermath of the Pulwama incident, shrill lobbies on both sides of the border have started beating the drums of war. Particularly jarring are the armchair warriors of the media — especially on the Indian side — baying for the blood of the ‘other’.
There has also been a reprehensible effort to exploit the attack and work up anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim sentiments in India, predominantly by the storm troopers of Hindutva. But perhaps what is most worrisome is that ministers and members of the establishment on both sides are talking casually about war.
As saner minds in India and Pakistan have pointed out, “war is no picnic”, and a conflict will have devastating consequences for the entire subcontinent. Moreover, the Pulwama incident — gory as it was — was not a Mumbai-like militant attack targeting civilians. It was an indigenous reaction to India’s brutish tactics in held Kashmir, so laying the blame at Pakistan’s door will not make the core issue go away.
However, amidst the din of war, there are some sensible statements coming from the top leadership in Islamabad and Delhi. Over the weekend, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned an earlier conversation with Imran Khan in which he had made an offer to his counterpart to fight illiteracy and poverty together. Mr Khan replied favourably on Sunday, once again asking the Indian side to provide “actionable intelligence”, if it had any, of Pakistani involvement in the Pulwama episode.
In such a tense atmosphere, India should take up Pakistan’s offer to “give peace a chance” as the alternatives to constructive dialogue are confrontation and yet more hostility.
While the respective leaders have done the right thing by toning down rhetoric, it is time this had a trickle-down effect on ministers and senior government functionaries indulging in war talk.
As three former foreign secretaries of Pakistan have written in this paper, war in the nuclear age is a catastrophic proposition.
Previous Pakistan-India wars were different affairs; this time both belligerents have powerful nuclear arsenals, which should be enough of a deterrent to convince both security establishments and their political counterparts to prefer negotiations to the battlefield.
The fact is that both states need to introspect and consider what steps can be taken internally to promote peace in the subcontinent.
In India’s case, Hindutva ideologues have infiltrated all levels of the state machinery; this has resulted in an increasingly rigid attitude towards Pakistan. Moreover, the Indian military’s brutal tactics in occupied Kashmir have fired up Kashmiri resistance, with the region’s disillusioned youth convinced that only armed struggle against India will help them secure their rights. But it is also true that Pakistan can take steps to send positive signals across the border. Among these can be speeding up the legal process to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice.
After the human cost, the economy is the biggest casualty of war. This has been made amply clear by how the Indian and Pakistani stock markets have reacted to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) aggression inside Pakistani territory on Tuesday morning. According to reports, India’s Sensex plunged 500 points in opening deals and Nifty slipped below the 10,740 level. Indian brokers noted that market sentiments were down as domestic institutional investors initiated a fresh round of selling. Meanwhile here in Pakistan, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) slipped 1,491 points to the 37,330 level after closing at 38,821 the previous day.
The subcontinent is one of the poorest regions in the world. A 2018 World Bank report entitled Poverty and Shared Prosperity showed that India had over 170 million people living in poverty (with the poverty line being set at $1.90) in 2015, while Pakistan had 9.9 million. In such a situation, it is both irresponsible and callous of politicians, military personnel as well as media personalities to engage in war-mongering.
Not only does the militaristic jingoism that has been broadcast from television screen and twitter accounts lead to events like India’s recent violations which shook the economies of these impoverished countries, it also makes it harder for India and Pakistan to get out of the vicious arms race they have been embroiled in for years. The two states continue to spend billions every year in attempts to one-up each other in terms of military superiority, while millions of their citizens remain deprived of the basic amenities of life; including decent diets, potable water, education, healthcare, and shelter.
New Delhi in particular needs to realise that even though India has made massive economic strides in the past decade, not all Indian citizens have benefited from this. As such, it must seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute and the issue of cross border terrorism. These problems cannot be resolved while India and Pakistan are firing across the border at one another. However, this will not happen while Indian anchors and journalists are actively promoting illegal cross-border adventures and the cutting off of cultural and trade ties with Pakistan.
It is hoped that better sense prevails in the days to come, and the resources currently being wasted on bombs and bullets can be diverted towards making this a more prosperous subcontinent for all.
#PeaceNotWar #Balakot is the first time one nuclear power has used air strikes on another’s territory
Only twice have two nuclear powers indulged in violent conflict — the Soviet Union against China in 1969, and the India-Pakistan Kargil War in 1999.
Why Balakot is unparallelled
Revisiting Stability-Instability Paradox
Drazen Jorgic, Aditya Kalra
A downed Indian fighter pilot who was attacked by a mob and then paraded on video by Pakistan’s army has become a social media sensation and a hero in his homeland amid a spiraling crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
With Pakistani villagers and soldiers filming his capture and captivity on Wednesday in clips that have since gone viral on social media, the pilot identified by Islamabad as Indian Wing Commander Abhi Nandan has fast emerged as the human face of the dangerous flare-up between the arch-foes.
India has not confirmed the pilot’s identity. Indian media have given his name as Abhinandan Varthaman.The pilot and the Indian Air Force (IAF) are at the heart of the crisis between two countries who have conducted air strikes on each other’s territory in the last two days. The United States and China have appealed for restraint.
The airman’s treatment at the hands of Pakistani troops drew both condemnation and praise, while at his house in southern India supporters gathered to record messages of solidarity.In one video posted on social media, a Pakistani soldier ankle-deep in a stream of water in the disputed Kashmir region can be seen shielding the pilot from angry villagers and shouting “enough” as they pummel his bloodied face and strike blows against his limp body.In another video, posted on Twitter by Pakistan’s information ministry, the pilot is blindfolded and can be heard saying “I’ve got hurt and I would request some water”. He then reveals his name and rank before politely fending off questions from soldiers by saying: “I’m not supposed to tell you that.”
Later, in a video released by Pakistan’s military, the captured airman is shown without a blindfold, appearing more relaxed, thanking the Pakistani army and sipping tea.
“The officers of the Pakistani Army have looked after me well, they are thorough gentlemen,” he said.
India’s foreign ministry branded Pakistan’s videos as a “vulgar display” of an injured airman, saying they violated international humanitarian law and the Geneva convention.
“Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defense personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” it said in a statement.
Pakistan’s army spokesman Asif Ghafoor tweeted a photo of the airman and said he was “being treated as per norms of military ethics”. Pakistani tweeters said he had been shown exemplary hospitality.
After Pakistan’s government released a picture of the downed pilot, social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp were inundated with old videos and photos of him.By Wednesday evening, the two top trends on Twitter in India were about the pilot, with many Indians demanding his release under a #BringBackAbhinandan hashtag.
In one video shared on social media, purportedly from 2011, he is seen dining with the hosts of a popular Indian television food show. Asked about attributes important for a pilot, he says: “Bad attitude”. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.
Many posts concerned the pilot’s safety, and some expressed relief to see the later video of him clutching a cup of tea.
“I Salute Our Brave IAF Pilot,” said Twitter user Aarti, who changed her Twitter profile picture to one of his old mug shots.