Thursday May 23, 2024

War is mad, isn’t Modi too?

By Aamir Ghauri
February 28, 2019

Many in the world are portraying India and Pakistan at the moment as two nuclear antagonists perilously close to mutual assured destruction. On Tuesday morning, India violated Pakistani airspace for the first time since 1971. Their Russian-made MiGs penetrated deep enough to drop the payload near Balakot in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa while in a retreat to avoid a dogfight with the Pakistani aviators. A few pine trees felled, a bit of dirt dug up but the Indian government, celebrities, public and media went into needless frenzy. Sweats were shared for a “reprobate” was effectively reprimanded. Well they thought that much.

Pakistan protested strongly but warned sternly that the aggression would be revenged. “We’ll pick time, place to hit back,” read newspaper headlines. That moment came within 24 hours. On Wednesday morning, Pakistan struck back. Not only Pakistan Air Force jets thundered over the Line of Control in Kashmir, they shot down chasing Indian planes. “In response to PAF strikes IAF crossed [the] LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircrafts fell AJ&K while [the] other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area”, tweeted Pakistani Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor.

Millions upon millions of Pakistanis on social networking platforms sizzled the whole day rebuking their Indian counterparts, the Bollywood celebs, the Indian who’s who for prematurely jumping with joy on the fakery coined by the Modi administration to ramp up its dwindling electoral projections. India had claimed of destroying a terror camp and some 250 terrorists training therein. Some dreams turnout to be uglier than nightmares.

Powerful capitals, who are now universally known for rewarding India despite its abysmally criminal record of human rights violations in Kashmir and against its own minorities, woke up to ask Pakistan and India to exercise restraint. Strange that they were admonishing Islamabad only a day earlier asking it “to put a stop to cross-border terrorism” or “to put an end to the activities of the terrorist groups established in its territory.”

Probably Washington DC, Paris, Bonn and Canberra found it hard to see their “powerful” South Asian proxy being slapped across the face by a smaller but nuclear-armed adversary. Images of the captured Wing Commander Abhinandan were enough for the Indian government to come crashing down from the high pole of psychedelic elation it was unnecessarily feeling for achieving something phantasmagoric only a day earlier.

Two substantial countries going to war has always been a dreamlike scenario for the runners of the western military industrial complex. Prospects of deals and contracts worth billions upon billion would make many a fool go mad. The spectre of a nuclear confrontation, however, is too serious a business to be left to New Delhi or Islamabad. So phones started ringing. Ministers began speaking to counterparts lecturing how wonderful is peace as an idea between two itchy neighbours.

Pakistani prime minister took to television again. Imran Khan is no philosopher. But in what he tried to convey to Narendra Modi in his brief adlibbed address -- that was thankfully edited before broadcast -- he sounded like the Greek philosopher Plato, who once famously said wars do not decide who is right, they only decide who is left. Imran told the ultra-rightist and fanatical zealot Indian prime minister to employ sense and sagacity rather than anger and misplaced acrimony to solve the outstanding issues. Fighting a fourth war does not make sense if the earlier three confrontations failed to settle problems. Imran urged Modi to walk away from belligerence and sit down to talk about issues needing solution. He even promised to punish the perceived culprits if India provided actionable intelligence. But would Modi listen when he madly wants to win another electoral term whatever the cost?

One may criticise PM Khan for being an administrative novice or a political upstart but his words – sense and sagacity -- reminded many of Jane Austin’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’. He may not be an astute politician or a statesman of note but he comes across as an honest human who earnestly desire peace and prosperity in the region. The difference between him and his Indian counterpart is stark. He is neither a killer of people nor has he allowed massacre of innocent humans. Modi had. During a court proceeding probing the Gujarat massacre of Indian Muslims in the summer of 2002, Sanjiv Bhatt, a senior Indian police officer told the Indian Supreme Court that he attended a meeting at which Modi allegedly said that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger – after the Godhra train tragedy killing 58 that his government tried to plaster over ISI-backed elements within India. Those allegations have since proven false and fabricated though Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.

But international websites are full of implicating evidence that Modi had spoken to his goons a night before the riots that saw around 2,000 Indians dead and told them “Muslims needed to be taught a lesson”. Government estimates put the number of dead at 1,000. Hundreds of girls and women were raped and killed. International rage was genuine against Modi to an extent that he was denied a diplomatic visa by the United States and his already granted visit visa was revoked as well.

Writing for the Guardian newspaper in Britain, Aditya Chakrabortty said in 2014; “Narendra Modi, a man with a massacre on his hand is not the reasonable choice for India.” Similar voices are being heard in India today. While millions may be following him madly, many millions also believe that Modi is more dangerous than a declared terrorist, a hardcore fanatic or a frenzied fanatic.

Only such a person would attempt to punish a state for the alleged felony of a group of individuals. Pakistani state or government did not attack India in Pulwama just like it was not involved in Uri or Mumbai. But madly wanting to emulate the post 9/11 United States, India thought it could cook up stories about Pakistan’s wrongdoing in Kashmir and elsewhere in India and attempt to punish it to please electoral audiences.

Dreaming about punishing Pakistan is one thing. Carrying out foolish plans is another. Pakistan is painstakingly setting its direction right. Mistakes it made for others have returned to haunt it with deadly effect. The best India could do is to mind its own business and leave Pakistan alone to correct course. The best that Indians could do for themselves is to get rid of the madman of Indian politics – Narendra Modi, before he attempts to push South Asia and adjoining regions into a nuclear winter.