If one were to either listen to the drivel that passes for discussion on Prime Time TV on the question of the recent killing of an Indian Army officer, Major Prafulla, and three jawans of the SIKH Regiment, one could well be forgiven for thinking that we are in the middle of a war with Pakistan. Added to this provocation was the utterly callous, disgraceful and uncivilized manner in which the Pakistan Government treated the mother and wife of the alleged spy, former naval officer, Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav after permitting them to meet him on “humanitarian” grounds. These have been grounds enough for hawks here to swoop down and publicly demand that Pakistan be taught a “lesson.” Politicians too, especially from the ruling coalition, have not held back either, with Mr. Subramanium Swamy leading the charge.
Fortunately for us, most of these individuals are ensconced either in climate controlled studios or in Lutyens Delhi, well protected by their personal security of Black Cat Commandos. One can also rest assured that those baying for Pakistani blood are certainly not going to volunteer to lead the next cross-border raid or assault. As a matter of fact, leave them aside, even their own kith and kin are unlikely to be anywhere in the vicinity of our forces, those whom they are so willing to put in harms’ way.
Undoubtedly, we have much to be angry with Pakistan about. It’s unabated, but wholly unsuccessful, attempts to drag us into the swamp where it wallows is certainly reason enough. Though at the end of the day its schizophrenic and delusional obsession with Jammu and Kashmir has been more damaging to its polity than anything we could have ever done, barring Bangladesh, and that too would not have occurred if they had not been more sensitive and humane in their dealings with their Bengali comrades.
It is true that Pakistan has provided moral and material support to the Kashmir insurgency. The jihadi elements based there continue to infiltrate terrorists to cause carnage in Jammu and Kashmir and even further afield. Their efforts have actually been just a drop in the ocean with an odd success here and there, resulting more from our own inept handling of our communal environment rather than because of their capability to cause us harm.
Unfortunately, successes by these terrorist elements have been used by our political leadership to divert attention from their own failures to initiate political, social and economic measures in the state. Such a step would have met the aspirations of the local population and resolved most of the issues that have been troubling us for the past three decades. This, despite the fact that politicians, dyed in all hues, have had ample opportunity to the take the initiative, but have neither displayed the strength of character nor the willingness to take things forward. At the end of the day, the fruits that the business of insurgency provides them are too lucrative to surrender.
That brings us to the ongoing situation at the LOC wherein as a tit- for- tat action, a Pakistan Army link patrol was ambushed by a Border Action Team in response to the attack on the Sikh Battalion. Pakistan suffered three killed and one wounded and on the Indian side, there was the death of one officer and three men. As a matter of fact, this was just a repeat of similar incidents, too innumerable to recount, that have dogged both our Armies ever since the First War of 1948. These actions have little strategic or tactical significance and are routinely carried out by both sides to gain moral and psychological ascendancy over the other side. There is little to cheer over these tragic events, no great leap forward or summit conquered.
One is, therefore, at a loss to understand what the hoopla is about or the reason for the display of excessive testosterone over the past few days among those who haunt our media channels. If the media is at all serious about its job, it should be questioning our political leadership as to why this unending tragedy has been perpetuated on our forces and people over decades. What have any of our great leaders done, over the years, to resolve this unfortunate state of affairs? How is it that despite agreeing to return 90,000 prisoners in 1971, we were unable to convince Pakistan to amicably resolve a 700 km border?
It is time to desist being fooled by the unholy exhortations of our leaders to mindless sacrifice, in which neither they nor their kin ever contribute. Instead, it is high time that we started to ask them uncomfortable and hard questions as to their motives for keeping hostilities on a perennial simmer.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).
Brigadier Deepak Sinha (Retd) has extensive experience in airborne special operations forces and counter insurgency operations. He is presently a consultant with Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, India