During the screening of the biopic on Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which released on September 30th of this year, we were made to stand up for the National Anthem. It made me wonder was it just a normal screening or was it the result of sudden attitudinal obsessions with anti Pakistan sentiments post the Pathankot and the Uri Terrorist attacks. Speculative news reporting is leading us to a dead end. Whether there is going to be a war, whether Pakistan will be isolated, whether Pakistan will be declared a terrorist state are all conjectural stands. News stories and reporting these days are skewed towards sensationalism and amidst all this the Pakistani establishment remains shamelessly impervious to the pressures by international political order, boasting of its nuclear strength etc.
Pakistan our traditional adversary can be handled only through diplomatic pressures. Indian institutional mechanisms need to be restructured, remodelled, and reequipped in this era of asymmetric threats and changing battlefields. The digital platform is flooded with memes telling India what it should and should not so. British Prime Minister Thatcher had once said by giving publicity to troublemakers through the media we are making them more powerful. The war game in realpolitick is really dirty. It seems like actor Fawad Khan and singer Ali Zafar either wear a uniform with Pakistani state insignia on their shoulder badges or they are one of those unshaven Lashkar–e Toiba’s chief operatives and not artists. At least this is what the media is trying to tell us, or project them as.
Indian diplomacy went haywire back in 1947, when Jawaharlal Nehru who had no idea about military strategy, war games and diplomatic policies was made the first prime minister of a newly independent and partitioned India. Diplomacy essentially is a process by which a state negotiates with another, putting national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity on top of the agenda. Let’s take a look at the cultural isolation and “Aman ki Asha” (Desire for peace) moves which India has crafted time and again to improve its ties with Pakistan. Budge not says the Pakistani devil, budge says the Indian Angel. The situation our current leaders are in is no less than that of Launcelot gobo, Shakespeare comic character who could not decide on what he wanted to do with life. Does India lack curiosity that questions or may question Pakistani motives? Can we declare war on a nation just on the basis of intuition and instinct?
The Indian establishment needs to articulate its diplomatic policies in such a manner that the impacts of these are felt globally. Pathankot and Uri have acted as catalysts yet again and yet again the matter will fade away given the short shelf life of news stories today. On 2nd October India celebrated the birth anniversary of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, who all his life advocated non violence and here we are issuing alerts in several parts of India fearing more Pathankot’s and Uri’s. Is it intelligence failure? Was the timing of the Uri attack in favour of the attackers? Again conjectures. The larger question is can non violent principles be used as tools to settle territorial disputes with Pakistan? Will the K issue always remain the bone of contention or will there be an end of history a Fukuyama like complacency.
India and Pakistan’s strategic and military footprints are getting larger and larger every day. With the dragon raising its head now, and the United States using India in South Asia as a strategic partner, as a counterweight to the dragon, geopolitics is getting murkier than it already is. Will no first use policy by India stop Pakistan from going nuclear? All the above conjectural statements remain open to subjective interpretation, but in my view strong measures do not mean or refer to violent measures. International pressure through organisations such as the United Nations which was put in place to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war are already in place. India’s plan of action must be crystal. We cannot have the “Aman ki Asha” (Desire for Peace) if the grenade and bomb “tamasha” (drama) carries on endlessly.
The need of the hour is to keep the defence forces motivated else political inadequacy will weaken the spirits of our soldiers. Ethnic nationalism such as the Balochistan issue, the baloch identity assertiveness is already making news apart from the K question. Time is ripe but India’s on and off bumbling diplomatic, political and strategic policy towards Pakistan needs to be checked by men in uniform. They need to be included in the strategic decision making process. We cannot simply move our forces and pull them back at the whims and fancies of our ministers. This has a direct bearing on our national exchequer too. India cannot trust any other nation too because the rule of the game in geopolitics is that the “Might is always Right”
*Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote, MA MPHIL (International Relations,Development Communications)