Stop this brinkmanship!

INDIA HAS been steadily upping the ante vis-a-vis Pakistan ever since the dastardly terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. The latest is the diplomatic adventurism in recalling the Indian High Commissioner from Islamabad; an extreme gesture never resorted to since 1965. Meanwhile, large-scale troop movements by both countries along the Line of Control and international border have been reported. Heavy shelling across the LoC make it to the newspaper headlines almost everyday. Side by side, there is also an escalation in the war of words. Direct threats of war and retaliation are freely exchanged at the highest levels.

It is foolish to resort to diplomatic attrition and stretch it to a point of no return. War is no solution to terrorism. It is not a good security scenario if half-a-dozen armed desperados can push the neighbours to the brink of a war. The obvious risk about brinkmanship is that it can get out of hand at any moment. Even a major provocation like Kargil intrusion did not lead to India crossing the LoC and launching attacks on targets inside Pakistan. What is the pressing need to engage rhetoric on the same now?

Concern and anxiety are mounting both at home and in the international community. Thanks to its dangerous war mongering, India risks frittering away whatever diplomatic goodwill and sympathy it has been gaining from the international community over the question of terrorism. Far from restraining Pakistan from abetting terrorist acts in India, the international concern is already shifting to cautioning India against any military adventurism. It should be noted that India is yet to offer any conclusive proof that the terrorist groups operating from Pakistani soil continue to enjoy backing from the military regime in their terrorist acts in the post-September 11 scenario. India would only be playing into the hands of these autonomous groups if it escalates its tension with its neighbour to the point of war. If its war of nerves with Pakistan becomes a case of overkill the military regime would have no incentive to rein in the jihadis. More ominously, it would provide an excellent opportunity to the Americans to meddle in the subcontinental affairs in the name of cooling down the tempers. Only by normalising its relations with Pakistan can India hope to get the Musharraf regime to play any restraining role, which is very crucial in view of the present Afghan developments.

It is high time all the peace-loving forces in the country gear up on a war footing to bring the present brinkmanship to an end. India cannot fight a war for the simple reason that the people of the subcontinent cannot afford a nuclear holocaust. It is also high time that the Indian rulers stop giving out statements like “we are fully prepared”. They don’t have minimum capability to evacuate big cities like Delhi, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Jaipur or Chandigarh, which are vulnerable to nuclear attacks in the event of a war. The nation is also fully aware by now as to how the coffin-chors get ‘fully prepared’ in the name of war.

It is impossible not to arrive at the conclusion that the BJP is beating the war drums only to reap electoral harvests in UP and Punjab. The Congress complicity in the war games can also be attributed to the same reason. What recklessness on the part of these ruling class parties for the sake of narrow electoral gains!

The BJP also seems to be preparing for another communal war on the domestic front. The party is considering inclusion of Ram temple in its election manifesto in UP. The VHP leader is claiming that Vajpayee has promised to handover the acquired land for temple construction. The saffron hordes are soon to launch a campaign in this regard. The POTO is already in place to browbeat Muslims into submission. Needless to say, this would also a push the minorities to the brink and bring the communal situation to a boil. It is also time for forces of democracy, peace and communal amity to go on high alert.