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Age Debate: To talk or not to talk

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Nov 3, 2016, 1:52 am IST
Updated : Nov 12, 2016, 12:41 pm IST

India-Pakistan relations are at their peacetime worst.

Sandeep Dikshit
 Sandeep Dikshit

India-Pakistan relations are at their peacetime worst. There is an air of great suspicion, the people at least on our side of the border have been whipped into becoming bloodthirsty or have to appear to be so, and on the Pakistan side, the Army and ISI is now having a field day with their government left with no options but to follow them. While the surgical strike kind of attacks were a regular feature in the past too, some retired generals may say otherwise, the Pakistani response to them was more subdued since there was no public outcry and public humiliation.

This time since our government combined cheap votes with their version of cheap “nationalism” that begins and ends with Pakistan (what a piteous condition for India, ready to take on the world to reduce their patriotic pride to fighting with a failed state), it has made it impossible for the Pakistan state to refrain from daily attacks on our borders.

But in this entire “you kill one, I kill 10” kind of situation, both nations are binding themselves to the impossible task of taking a step back. The Pakistan Army could not be happier. It prospers when arms are bought, when no one questions the generals as they are defending against India and the ISI turns a beloved institution as it is countering “evil India”. It weakens the civilian government and its minority voice that peace above everything is essential for Pakistan. On our side, a government unable to perform on any serious front finds its tag of a “helpless government” overtaken by masculinity it borrows from the Army by becoming the sheer announcer (the commentator gets credit for the centuries scored). So the will to turn back to peace is even more difficult, since peace brings other issues to question — hunger, Kashmir, poverty, price rise, etc. Unfortunately, this also neither weakens Pakistan nor solves the Kashmir question.

India needs to counter the aggression of the Pakistan Army and its quasi-soldiers, the terrorists. Now there is the added advantage that it soothes the fragile ego of the un-proud Indian, who has been told to either look back 10,000 years or to a damaged neighbour, to avoid shame and humiliation of a frighteningly evil caste system, of an increasingly and criminally unequal society, of massive unemployment adding to the size and number of an increasingly out-of-hand lumpen mass, of failed dreams of 15 lakhs, of a job within a year, of a rape free and abuse-free womanhood, of equal rights and dignity for all, of zero inflation and a stomach full of food and a mind high with pride and dignity, of deliverance from a corrupt and non-performing government, to a land of opportunities and welfare. Now that the ego has been soothed, a continuous feed on pulp patriotism that neither defeats the enemy nor solves our mutual and singular problems is not sustainable for any longer period.

Talking, ultimately, is the only way in which India and Pakistan can proceed from here, and for that relative peace on the border and a reboot of our mindset, from a bullet into a Pakistani every day to glorify the successors of the Vedic texts, to peace necessary for getting on with the real business of work in our nation, and giving our soldiers rest from constant bombarding and war is required.

One day we will have to start talking, and the sooner the better. If you respect the soldiers, then give them peace. They risk their lives to defend our nation, not to risk them for our cheap “nationalist entertainment” or to bring votes for a sagging government.

Sandeep Dikshit is Congress spokesperson

$We’ll have to talk, sooner the better

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It has been almost 30 months since Narendra Modi took charge as India’s 18th Prime Minister and, departing from the traditional script, and as a landmark first step, offered New Delhi’s hand of friendship to all leaders in the neighbourhood by inviting them over for his swearing-in ceremony.

This surprise outreach was intended to allay regional fears that Mr Modi’s rise to power would herald a new hawkish Indian foreign policy, and his willingness to engage with neighbours, specially Pakistan, early in his tenure, and was most definitely a departure from the hard line he adopted during the 2014 general election campaign.

Since May 2014, India has had a topsy-turvy, on again-off-again journey and engagement with its neighbours, most notably with Pakistan. The Modi-led NDA administration has faced a myriad of emotions and accusations, ranging from bonhomie and hosannas to charges of passivity and inaction in the face of repeated provocation, terror and militant strikes and from across the border in the name of achieving self-determination for all Kashmiris.

Last month’s “surgical strike” on so-called terror hideouts in PoK, has most definitely ensured that relations between India and Pakistan are at their lowest point in almost a decade. Many an Indian believes the country has remained passive for too long in the face of repeated terror attacks by groups assisted and sheltered by the Pakistan Army and its equally powerful intelligence service. Some are happy that the intense public pressure and scrutiny may have influenced Mr Modi to go ahead with both a strike and to go public to secure political support. India’s decision, however, to go dramatically public on the strike through the Army, is a break with the past.

The demand for giving Pakistan a “bloody nose” has been met and achieved, so now what is and should be the next step Does India offer the olive branch for talks with Pakistan to bring down political and military temperatures Our party thinks not, as can be seen from the statements of its leaders, with most calling for retaliation against the terrorist state of Pakistan, and identifying and isolating it as such.

India’s position has hardened towards Pakistan. Scheduled foreign secretary-level and national security adviser-level talks have been cancelled; there is a distinct chill between Mr Modi and Nawaz Sharif at multilateral events; cross-border firing is at its peak over the last six months to a year.

The government’s foreign policy was meant to generate inward investment, business, and technology for domestic growth and development, but this task has been both difficult and complex, specially with Pakistan and China. This hard line approach has not yielded dividends expected by New Delhi. Pakistan has only demonstrated a renewed will to counter all forms of terrorism on its soil, and extend support to those terror groups that are anti-India in thought and action.

Governments need to think “outside the box”. And Mr Modi’s foreign policy towards Pakistan or other neighbours is a step towards that direction. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee tried to talk to Pakistan, but that time too Pakistan took a war route which we known as the Kargil war. Nothing stops them; first it was the Pathankot airbase attack then Uri attack and now regular cross-border fires clearly shows that Pakistan doesn’t want peace talks.

Given this situation and Pakistan’s track record, an offensive track is required, and it’s not the right time to talk with them.

Aditya Jha is a Delhi BJP leader

$Offensive is needed, not dialogue time

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