(Photo: ANI)
(Photo: ANI)

Opinion | Resolving India-Pakistan crisis calls for robust diplomacy

New Delhi will have to increase pressure on Islamabad to hand over anti-India elements

Namaskar, I read your article, felt a little disappointed. The idea of revenge in the frenzy of war will give immediate satisfaction, but not a permanent solution. Manmohan Singh did not take revenge, but Kashmir became peaceful to a large extent. If the terror attacks did not stop even after that, then will Islamabad be attacked? The surgical strike is not the solution, it is the problem. But in this age, it’s blasphemous to say so."

This message was sent to me by a friend after reading my quick comment on the recent air strike by the Indian Air Force. “Finally we have learnt to avenge the death of our sons" was the title of this article. I feel that self-defence is our right and, when dialogue doesn’t succeed, then there is nothing wrong in taking up arms. In fact, leaders from more than 50 countries expressed the same sentiment.

The world has changed rapidly in the last few years. The emerging equations have changed the old limitations of diplomatic courtesy. Twenty-five years ago, who would have thought that China will be looking the US in the eye, that the North Korean leader will be shaking hands with the US President, and that the Russian army will be conducting joint drills with the Pakistanis? Why should India continue to follow old dictums?

No matter what claims Pakistan makes, it cannot be denied that with the air strikes on 26 February, and the way Pakistan’s planes were forced to withdraw, India made it clear that we will not back off. The Pakistani regime committed another mistake by making viral the photos of a bloodied and wounded Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The whole country was consumed by a wave of anger and the ruling regime was also not left untouched by this sentiment.

India made it clear that Varthaman should be returned immediately. Clearly, the backdoor efforts for peace were in full swing. Be it Pakistan’s ally China or the self-declared custodian of the world the US, the conflict between two nuclear states that are large emerging markets was not considered in the best interests of the world economy. To defuse the tension, US President Donald Trump announced that some good news was about to come from India and Pakistan. He also said that there is hope of resolving the decades-old dispute between the two countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan who was already offering talks did announce the release of Varthaman. But we need to remember that in the excitement of his coming back we should not stray from our original goal. All of this started with the Pulwama terror attack. Masood Azhar, the architect of the Pulwama massacre, is still safe under the protection of the Pakistani army. The US has declared a huge reward on Hafiz Saeed, but he is roaming free in Pakistan. India will have to increase pressure on Pakistan to hand over Dawood Ibrahim, Saeed, Azhar, and other anti-India elements.

History is witness to the fact that incomplete battles have proved fatal to the winners. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have definitely considered this fact. That is why in the first public speech after PM Khan’s announcement, PM Modi said that the pilot project was completed. It is quite clear that New Delhi is ready to take this conflict to its conclusion. Past experience shows that Pakistan does not change its colours, even in defeat.

Even after the 1971 war, when Pakistan was divided into two, it did not stop spreading terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir. Pakistani generals knew that they can’t win a straight fight with India. So, they chalked out a strategy of inflicting a thousand cuts on us. It is necessary here that India, along with the rest of the world, frees Islamabad from the clutches of Rawalpindi. The military establishment in Rawalpindi has not let democracy take root in Pakistan. Pakistan’s prime minister was announcing the release of Varthaman when the Pakistan army started firing at the Line of Control.

If you look at the history of the past 70 years, our neighbour has always opted for a strategy of two steps forward and one step back. Four wars and innumerable terror attacks are testimony to this. In 1999, when Nawaz Sharif was pledging friendship between the two countries with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his army chief Pervez Musharraf was preparing for the Kargil War.

Now, the time has come to stop this forever. India has this time retaliated in a befitting manner. Now is the time for robust diplomacy. We must remember that the final outcome of the two world wars were not take on the battleground, but on the chessboard of diplomacy. Obviously, one more war between both the countries is not the solution. The virtual warriors on social media should keep this in mind.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. His Twitter handle is @shekarkahin

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