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EDITORIAL: 1-15 January 2002

Jaw, Jaw is better than war, war

There is a war hysteria around. Apart from the usual belligerent ilk many sober minds too have been talking of the necessity of a punitive action across the borders. If statements of the government and the ruling party functionaries have any indication it seems the issue is not the military strike against the terrorist camps across the LoC but its timing alone is to be decided by the highest quarters. A top ruling party functionary has gone to the extent of threatening to wipe out the neighbouring country in case of a nuclear strike.

The terrorist attack of 13 December has been rightly condemned by governments and people all over the world. If the militants have a cause this is not the way to press it. In fact they are the worst enemies of their cause and no power in the world will readily acquiesce in such tactics.

India has already raised the stakes by taking several diplomatic moves and many others are said to be in the pipeline before a final decision is taken to go or not to go to war. These ‘diplomatic’ steps include suspension of the only land travel modes available to the ordinary people in the country. As a result the people-to-people contact between the two countries which flourished during recent years will come to an abrupt halt as ordinary people will not be able to afford the air travel mode. This will curtail the much needed popular and trade contacts which are necessary to normalise relations between the two countries since we have to live in this very geographical location and there is no way we can shift our country to another location of our liking.

It is strange that there was no discussion about who was finally accountable for the security lapse despite the fact that top functionaries of the present regime are on record that an attack on Parliament is imminent. Eventually it did take place while the ruling party’s magic lamp, POTO, was in operation. Instead of retrospection, a war is seen as a sure prescription to solve the secessionist insurgency in a part of our country. Even if we go to war, how and why it will remain limited the way we want. Once a decisive move is taken the matter will be out of control and the enemy will fight the way it suits him. A punitive action is sure to snowball into a full-blown war which will set back our economic and social progress by decades. We have still to recover from the effects of our Bangladesh adventure. While our neighbours in south and south east Asia have progressed by leaps and bounds we have been stagnant and the majority of our people are still deprived of the basic necessities of life like primary education, shelter and clean water. 

If it is posturing and diplomatic maneuvering to gain world public opinion’s sympathy, we must be extra careful because in the current charged atmosphere a little mistake can prove to be a killer especially when the loser is bound to resort to the unthinkable nuclear weapon which will bring about our mutual destruction. In our eagerness to spite our enemy we will be earning the curse of our coming generations which will continue to suffer from our mistakes for generations while a few may win a few petty political or electoral points. The nuclearisation of the Subcontinent thanks to the folly of the current rulers has been the worst thing to happen to our country and as a result our options today are pretty limited. There is a genuine fear that the vested interests may try to use the war as a convenient opportunity to intensify their authoritarian agenda.

Pakistan is now close to accept all our initial demands in the diplomatic demarche: arrest of the leadership of LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), stopping their activities and freezing their assets. We should not take it too far to make General Musharraf lose face. After all even if we went to war and won which is not very likely, negotiations will follow like every other power has done after every war. Dialogue is the only way to solve the current problem and all the pending issues between India and Pakistan. We have not been serious about dialogue otherwise three decades since Shimla should have been enough to hammer out solution for any problem on this earth. No excuse should be acceptable not to engage the adversary in dialogue. This applies not only to Pakistan but also to the people of Kashmir who feel betrayed by both India and Pakistan and yearn for real peace and security in the present hell which once was a paradise. In the current hysteria the trauma of the people of Kashmir has been totally forgotten. A sincere effort is overdue to win their hearts and minds with love and magnanimity and not with bullets and crackdowns.

An event that took place in the same Parliament house two weeks after the terrorist attack clearly points to our real festering sore. An employee of the Parliament secretariat was arrested offering top secrets to a Pakistani agent for a few thousand rupees. Earlier we have seen similar episodes where a hundred rupee note or a bottle of liquor were sufficient to induce our people to commit high treason. This is our real problem, Mr Advani. This corruptibility is the real problem. No high national interest is safe when our people are ready to sell us cheap. Fight this war or dharmayudh on war-footing and all our problems will vanish. Even LeT and Jaish militants do not sneak into India and move about our cities without taking advantage of our corruptibility. This is common knowledge in Kashmir but you are blissfully unaware. Hawala scandal, Fodder scam, Tehelka tapes and umpteen such infamies have time and again exposed this basic evil in our society but powers that be are more interested in shielding the criminals. If you are real deshbhakts, Vajpayeeji and Advaniji, fight this enemy, corruption, and all our basic problems will be solved automatically. Are you ready for this challenge?

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