It is no secret that soon after Pakistani terrorists had attacked the Uri army camp war cries broke out in the Indian media backed by a full phalanx of leadership of the ruling party. While the electronic media may have taken the lead, the print media was not very far behind in supporting the idea of a ‘reprisal’ which, it was presumed, is one way of advocating a military response.
But almost as quickly the war cries were being countered by a contrary narrative in the print media that essentially warned against a military reprisal because it entails the likelihood of nuclear attack by the ‘rogue’, ‘dysfunctional’, ‘failed’, terror-loving western neighbour.
The Indian media stands sharply divided with the electronic media still overwhelmingly supporting a military response and the majority of print media advising against it. This must be making the Pakistanis happier than the feat of the four Lashkar fidayeen they had sent to Uri when they killed 17 Indian soldiers, most of them sleeping in tents.
The whole of Pakistan is lauding the ‘heroics’ of the four armed terrorists even when there is the usual denial about their Pakistani nationality. Unlike the Indian scene, the media in Pakistan, both electronic and print, is united against New Delhi in supporting everything what their state and ‘non-state actors’ do to continuously inflict pain on India.
The Indian public is aghast at what is happening. The calls for a telling response to Pakistan’s latest act of terror continue to be heard from many quarters, including the ruling BJP camp, but the Narendra Modi-led government seems to have rejected the idea of inflicting a physical blow on Pakistan.
The government’s favoured mode of reprisal at first was confined to starting a diplomatic war to ‘isolate’ Pakistan. We are reminded every day that the government will not rest till this mission is accomplished. It looked so simple that many must be wondering why it was never used earlier. It turned out that it was not an easy task for a variety of reasons the least of which is the geo-political advantage enjoyed by Pakistan which rules out its complete ‘isolation’ with its attendant ‘sanctions’.
‘Isolation’ had worked in Iran and some other countries because it was accompanied by sanctions that tumbled its economy and led to unrest among the people. Iran would not have agreed to scale down its nuclear programme if sanctions had no adverse effect on it. Pakistan does not have to worry much about ‘sanctions’ as long as it is backed by China. North Korea, another nation that irresponsibly flaunts its nuclear arsenal, is not exactly crippled by sanctions because China comes to its rescue.
The majority of Indians who have agonized over the Pakistani terror attacks do not believe that the diplomatic offensive, even if successful, will make Pakistan give up using terror as a key component of its India policy. A country as crazy as Pakistan (consider the way in which they keep threatening the use of their nukes against India) will continue to kill Indians, innocent civilians as well security personnel, in the pursuit of its illusions about grabbing Kashmir.
After ruling out a military response, the Modi government decided that strong rhetoric will do the trick. It did not. Finally, a third option which has two components has come to the fore. Words has gone round that India will withdraw its generosity in letting Pakistan use more water from the Indus rivers than was allotted to it in the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Economic squeeze is also to be applied but the volume of trade between India and Pakistan is too small to cause any discomfort to Pakistan.
The Indus Water Treaty move also looks uncertain. The idea of using it as a weapon against Pakistan will not work, it has been said. The only way in which India can use the IWT to prick Pakistan is by building up storage capacity and implementing electricity projects neither of which is a quick process. What it boils down to is the fact that while India’s alleged change of stance on IWT may excite a section of the public opinion, it may also attract adverse remarks internationally; India will not be happy to accept that.
Modi has appealed directly to the people of Pakistan, asking them to fight a ‘thousand year war’ against poverty and deprivation instead of waging a constant war against India. What he has failed to see is that the people of Pakistan will not listen to him, even if it is something in their interest, because hatred for India is in their genes. Modi’s counsel will only infuriate the Pakistanis.
A realistic assessment of the post-Uri situation will suggest that actually India has decided to ‘do nothing’, as has been the case all along since Pakistan unleashed its terror machine on India nearly three decades ago. The so-called ‘hawkish’ generals and commentators have said Pakistan will not change unless it realizes that it can receive as much pain as it inflicts by launching terror attacks on India.
India’s strong response to any Pakistani misdemeanour has to come just moments after a terror attack. Any time lost in ‘reviewing’ the situation and taking stock of the options amounts to missing the opportunity. There may be risks but a nation with any self-pride cannot taking blows after blows from its rogue neighbour nation forever. (Syndicate Features)