Perilous posturing


After India’s refusal to allow a foreign ministers’ meeting in the US, a new level of jingoism has gripped Indian army. Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has once again threatened Pakistan saying another surgical strike will be carried out against it if there will be needed.Pakistan has responded to the boisterous statement with an equivalent grandstanding salvo. The leadership has asserted that threats by the Indian army about covertly infiltrating Pakistan cannot be tolerated, and though Pakistan is looking for peace, if India launched a surgical strike, nobody should expect restraint from Pakistan either.

This latest bout of warlike exchanges continues a dangerous trend, with tensions between the two neighbours rising and threatening to reach fever pitch. The latest statements have created more resentment between both states. Both countries and their leaderships need to realise that the implications of this macho swagger of the two contiguous, nuclear-armed states are catastrophic. Any small infraction threatens to become a full-scale war, as history informs us, and the consequence of any war between the two will be nothing short of apocalyptic. There is no option but to let cooler heads prevail and engage in negotiations.

The fact of our situation is that for peace to prevail, both countries will need to let go of grudges and stop fanning the flames of jingoistic grievances that contribute to escalating tensions. The two countries simply cannot afford a confrontation on a full-scale because as nuclear-armed states they both face mutually assured armaggedon. Differences of the two countries must be settled on the negotiating table and curbing cross border attacks is the first step towards normalizing conditions necessary for talks to reopen. Point scoring can only satiate the appetite for jingoism and provide a fleeting distraction from the hardships of real issues. This is not a path that is of interest to either Pakistan or India. A peaceful and prosperous South Asia is the only way that the people of Pakistan and India can break their shackles of poverty and achieve real relief from their present condition of despair. The governments of Pakistan and India spend huge budget on the defence sectors. If both states decrease their defence budget and divert a small chunk of this budget to the welfare of common man, it will change the whole fabric of society in both countries. Unless both countries resolve their outstanding issues, they will remain entangled in problems and cannot tackle other challenges. The fact that Pakistan and India are neighbouring states cannot be wished away. Wars never solve any problems but create more. No one can afford war in today’s world. What they need to do is to develop trade and commerce and promote people to people contacts. Both the countries should tone down their recent rhetoric and focus on the resolution of conflicting issues.