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War off screen as West calls bluff
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

New Delhi: Everyone knew that India would never go to war against Pakistan as long as there were American soldiers on the Pakistani soil and as long as Islamabad's nuclear deterrent was intact. Not that the ruling party here is not interested in war, but the cost of a nuclear war and the displeasure of the newfound ally could be ignored only at New Delhi's peril. These two factors have kept us safe this far.

Yet Vajpayee, Advani and Fernandes kept the world on tenterhook for weeks on end with a daily dose of double-speak: there will be war; there will be no war… This went on even as Musharraf gave clear signals that he was serious in tackling the problem which threatened him as much as it threatens us. 

Umpteen visits, high level phone calls, public appeals, all failed to bring down the war temperature in Delhi where the warmongers' Team B, the very VHP and Bajrang Dal who perpetrated the gory pogroms of Gujarat, bayed for the eradication of Pakistan from the world map, day in and day out, and for a very good reason: war is an all-time saviour of all scoundrels at all times in history. 

With its popularity at its nadir as demonstrated by one state election after another, its credibility in tatters after the state-sponsored/condoned pogroms of Gujarat and with Sonia Gandhi clamouring in the wings to step in, war cries came in handy. In no time Gujarat was forgotten, opposition parties rallied behind the discredited rulers who presto became defenders and champions of the motherland. They dream of a "limited war," "a surgical strike" - a walkover into the Pakistani part of Kashmir, destroy the fedayeen camps there and return for high tea in Delhi Golf Club. 

But the general on the other side of the border refused to play ball. While he promised to address all the grievances and set about tackling the issues in earnest, he laced it with a bit of self-respect: counter-threats that the Azad Kashmir picnic will not be a walk-over. He demonstrated his intentions with a series of tests of already tested missiles and rockets and started withdrawing soldiers from the northern borders where they were fighting America's war on terror and, to Uncle Sam's chagrin, sent them to the south. Yet the BJP ilk only upped its belligerence while the whole world continued beseeching the difficult customers in Delhi.

Now White House patience ran out. While announcing that they will be dispatching the heavyweight Rumsfeld after the no-so-lightweight Armitage, they also leaked that preparations were under way in earnest to evacuate not only around 65,000 American soldiers and civilians in the two countries but even all the westerners there who, at the last count amounted to around a quarter of a million. 

Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and even the UN followed the Americans with advisories to their nationals and non-essential workers to leave the two countries as quickly as possible using any available means. In contrast, India's staunchest ally and "strategic partner," Russia, refrained from issuing such an advisory to its nationals in India and Pakistan. An exodus began and the Indian economy was hit even before a shot was fired.

The message was clear: go and fight to your heart’s fill. Destroy your people and save your thrones. Now the tone changed in Delhi. Super Hawk Fernandes said in Singapore that there is no immediate possibility of a war. Ambassador Mansingh complained in Washington that the warning was hasty and "unnecessary."

Thus was pricked the baloon of a war which was planned to prolong the dying BJP. If allowed to erupt, it will be a meaningless war, bereft of any noble meaning or great purpose, like the wars Saddam Husain unleashed on his neighbours which left his country penniless and world's pariah no. one. It'll be a terrible, terrible war such as not only the Subcontinent but even the world has not seen yet. A Pentagon official cited a classified report as saying that an all-out nuclear war between the two neighbours could kill as many as 12 million people and injure as many as six million. Let’s all get ready to be slaughtered so that the BJP may continue to rule… No price is too great to keep the RSS family of super-nationalists in power. Left all alone they would have destroyed many times over. Thank God there is an NDA to reign them within and a US to reign them without. Gujarat is a living example of what they can do with unfettered power.

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