Talk is cheap. The social media has exploded with demands for war. When these noises were called out, the shallow souls backtracked saying it was an expression of anguish. The Internet warriors quickly branded anyone who pointed to the futility of war as a libtard (an abusive combination of liberals and bastards).
Let me begin with some caveats. One, I have no soft corner for of Pakistan. It’s a sad reflection of our times that one has to start with this preamble. Two, I grew up despising the failed state and loved it every time India won an international match against them. So much was the angst that I did not bother if India won the trophy so long as we bested our neighbours. That said, I have no soft corner for jingoists.
Who are these guys sitting thousands of kilometres away from battle zones to scream for war? Do they know about its futility? Are they or their children the ones going to battle it out? Do they understand what it is like when a soldier returns to the barracks after a vacation? Or of the husband who may or may not come home? Or of the child who grows up without the father by his side? Has the shouting brigade ever been drafted? If you ask “in that case, why have soldiers,” the answer is: if you want peace, you have to be prepared for war.
It’s not like you see in the movies…
This is not like what you see in the movies; a fascinating game. It is not even like what you read in the Mahabharata where people battle it out in the day, go to bed in the night and return next morning to continue with the war. Pakistan is a nuclear nation. What if a madcap, on the verge of losing the battle, presses the button? These clamourers are the exact same people who are vociferous on television studios sitting in its air-conditioned comfort, or noisy in the centrally air-conditioned drawing rooms, or scenting the evening breeze with hot samosa in street corners while doing adda. Do they even know how to play war games on their smartphones? What right have we to demand our soldiers go on a war when we stand back and quietly watch fights erupt on the street, when we keep our surrounding unclean and when the corrupt continue to steal? All those who want the army to wage war on their bidding, please join the military.
Isolate, ostracise and excommunicate
I would be the last guy to put up my hand for jingoism, but can the people who export goods to Pakistan stand up and be counted by stopping exports? And those who are now in China and who are rightfully outraged by the assault return to India as a mark of protest? Impose economic sanctions. Stop imports and exports. Let the prime minister use his enormous goodwill amongst the international community to do much the same by other countries. Isolate Pakistan and Pakistanis. No cricket, no business, no nothing. We don’t have to hate them, but we don’t have to do business with them. That is what will hurt. Isolate, ostracise and excommunicate.
There is a view that we should not ask questions. Like, how America did not ask its government post 9/11. Right, this is a moment of grave calamity. But once the mourning period is over, we have to get back to life and seek answers. Was this not a complete breakdown of security and of intelligence? What has lead to this situation that a citizen of a state wants to destroy it? How do we salvage the situation? Let’s ask the right people, not an Arundhati Roy or a Kavitha Krishnan. Only when we know who to ask and ask without fear or favour, we will move forward.
America brought its enemy to book. Recall 26/11, India’s greatest security lapse? Except hanging a foot-soldier, what have we done? Recall Jan 2016 when Pathankot happened. After we neutralised the attackers, we invited Pakistan to inspect the airbase over a cup of tea. Recall September 2016 when Uri erupted in what was till then the deadliest attack? Today when I Google for Uri, the first thing that comes up is the movie. Shame.
Both the government and the army know or should know what to do when. Until then, all of us, myself included, should merely SHUT UP. And in any case, with time, we might do just that.