The question now – occupying considerable public debate and discussion in the aftermath of the Pathankot terrorist attack – is what should be India’s reaction and policy towards Pakistan now?
Quite a few from the Indian citizenry seem to be in favour of undertaking military action against Pakistan; while another quarter would like the peace initiative to grow.
So far as the peace initiative is concerned, one has to correlate the same to the scenario in Pakistan.
The scenario in Pakistan is that the Pakistan Army still holds and commands the uppermost power and that religion based hardliners otherwise have social dominance as reflected, say, by the fact of Islamic law holding sway. The matter of projecting India as a constant threat and enemy helps the Pakistan Army in maintaining its position and the social psyche in Pakistan allows its religion-based hardliners to lay down the rules for Pakistani cultural and social framework and milieu.
And towards helping maintain their dominance and sway, the Pakistan Army and its religious hardliners near invariably in its history have cooperated and that cooperation, as a sizeable centrepiece, has had – conventionally and traditionally – anti-India stance and projection.
Given the social psyche in Pakistan which enables and allows their army and their religion-based hardliners to dominate; the reality of the situation is that peace initiatives by India would not work unless and until the social psyche at large in Pakistan changes.
It would not be that the social psyche in Pakistan would be unaffected, in terms of its India-related thinking, by peace initiatives undertaken by India. BUT it is this very possibility, which ultimately – as a consequence of peace initiatives by India – would worsen the social psyche at large in Pakistan in relation to India.
Because whenever any peace initiative is undertaken by India; – that threatens the dominance straightaway of the Pakistan Army, resulting thereby in further terrorist attacks including that recently in Pathankot and such terrorist attacks, as a fallout, raises considerable calls for military action by India against Pakistan. But such calls immediately strengthen and enhance the projection of India as the biggest threat and enemy by the Pakistan Army and its other hardliners. The NET result being that the social psyche at large in Pakistan relating to India worsens rather than improves.
So in terms of taking any peace initiative, India needs to be circumspect.
The recent unexpected, hasty visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan – though well-intentioned – was not advisable.
And war is not a solution to the current problems between India and Pakistan.
To begin with, both have considerable nuclear arsenals. Any hostility between the two nations always runs the risk of escalation in terms of magnitude and spread and such escalation can never be said to be absolutely free of any possibility of nuclear strikes. Nuclear strikes being what they are, the risk can never be undertaken.
But even assuming that there would be no nuclear strikes between the two countries and even assuming that the Indian Army is able to overrun Pakistan; even then, everyone would agree – at least everyone with some degree of sense and sensibility – that Pakistan cannot be kept and run as a conquered territory by India. And the history of recent times – at least from the times that terrorism has reared its demonic head – would show that the aftermath of any war or hostility at any noticeable scale is no solution to ending terrorism. Rather, such hostilities only escalate terrorism based and related activities.
So the first and foremost requirement to deter further terrorist attacks is neither attacking Pakistan nor foisting peace initiatives on Pakistan; but to acquire the ability instead to neutralise and eliminate any terrorist attack as effectively, quickly and as manifestedly strongly as possible.
If we continue to handle terrorist attacks as we did in Mumbai or in Pathankot; terrorist attacks are bound to increase further as also when any peace initiative or any extra military engagement is foisted by India on Pakistan.
The Indian government has to work to overhaul drastically and thoroughly its machinery to counter terrorism and such overhauling requires – above all – giving the best of weapons, devices, training and motivation to our counter terrorist outfits and units.
By Sanjay Kumar Singh at indiaopines blogs
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