War clouds are over, time for dialogue

 

Binoo Joshi

Mercifully, there was no sign of tanks  trampling farmlands  near borders between India and Pakistan . The war clouds  remained confined to the TV studios and temporary  displacement of  hundreds of families on the two sides of the Line of Control and International Border. The  LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir- the high prized and the most contested territory by the two nuclear powered neighbours – between India and Pakistan .

 

In spite of the loud chest thumping  following the Uri  terror attack sponsored and executed by Pakistan and subsequent  retaliatory surgical strike  by the Indian army in  Pakistani part of  Kashmir , cool heads seemed to have seen the merit that “ war would not settle anything.”. Yet another conflagration on borders would have brought death and destruction  as its natural consequence . That has not happened, and that should not have happened.

 

The turn of events  since  September 18th and then after  September 29th  Uri attack and the surgical strikes  respectively  has shown  to the civilian and military leadership of the two countries that  a massive majority  is against  noises of war, howsoever, appealing or righteous  they might appear to certain sections . It was this mood in the two nations , reflected by the responsible sections of society and media that  has  led to change in the discourse.  TV studios are not the parameters of the mood of the nations . Their war-mongering is not a sign of patriotism  but that of  scoring their own viewership rating. Perhaps, by now they would have known that the viewers  very frequently  shift to the responsible  presentations .

 

In such tense situations, when the political games occupy the centrestage ,  communication is the best means to  prove doomsayers wrong . The communication  level between India  and Pakistan did not break down. The trade and travel continued both through Wagah border and the cross- LoC points at Salambada and Chakan-Da- Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir – a  pleasant departure from the  politics  of war.

 

Had there been  a war , adding yet  another  chapter in the  violence filled history of the two countries , what would have been achieved . At the end of the day, the two countries would have  rushed to the negotiation table on their own- less likely-  nudged by others – most likely – to settle for  the status quo .  Pakistan  can not take this part of Kashmir from India.  India is in much  better position than it was in 1965 or 1971 . A  real time fact  is that the Indian army is having an overwhelming presence in Kashmir  and  it reserves the power to defeat any designs of the territorial aggression by Pakistan .   This is as much true as is the fact that it cannot take away Pakistan occupied territories  of Jammu and Kashmir , because if it comes to that  Pakistan would use its nuclear option, which it  to some extent rightly considers  can neutralize the conventional war superiority of India .  Any likelihood  of using nuclear option  in any of the parts of Jammu and Kashmir is  not only a  catastrophic proposition but also nullifies the theme of  Kashmir being “ jugular vein of Pakistan.”  It is indeed a fact that Pakistan has a  Full Spectrum Deterrence  in place , possibly in response to the Cold War Doctrine of India .

 

Now comes the question , can war end the roots of terrorism in Pakistan. Hardly  is the answer.  The Islamic jihadist  mindset is so deep rooted in Pakistan , that no war , speaking hyperbolically  lasting even for  a thousand years , can  erase that. The  limited or full scale war would only deepen  this mindset . And, to  even imagine , that   all those sick of home grown terrorism, would help India achieve  its objective , is a preposterous thought. Pakistanis are as nationalists and patriotic as Indians. In the eventuality of  a war, the terrorists would get  dignified as  heroes over there.

It is better that the two nations  pull up their diplomatic socks  and  get down to the dialogue .  Kashmir is not a distant land mass like East Pakistan  hundreds of miles apart from  once   Western Pakistan , where  it can be cut from India.  This reality needs to be accepted and India should  learn to honour the democracy in Kashmir . No other method would work. It would be a festering wound , troubling time and again.

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