Not the Pakistani but the Indian leadership need to explain to its people the whys and the wherefores of the Uri attack. So far there is an element of inconsistency in what they have been saying about the incident ever since its happening.
Even before the last shot was heard Home Minister Rajnath Singh was on twitter branding Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ and the Indian media had unleashed war hysteria. But then a kind of realisation began to dawn that perhaps more had been bitten than could be chewed.
And Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on the scene. Addressing his party rally at Kozhikode, Kerala, he threatened to “isolate” Pakistan internationally, but stopped short of issuing threats of war – to the obvious disappointment of jingoistic sections of Indian polity, which included some in uniform who talked of setting in motion their brainchild “Cold Start” doctrine.
If that was not enough to what some interpret as a ‘climb-down’ on the part of Narendra Modi, he then asked his generals, to stop talking of war. ‘The Indian forces will not talk, but act’, he ordered in his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme.
Given the art of double-speak Narendra Modi is said to have mastered it would be hazardous to be taken in by such duplicitous, if not dubious, remarks. But the ground realities about the Uri episode must have forced the Indian government to think before it speaks – and think it must, asking of itself:
Will someone from nine million Kashmiri Muslims not respond in the same coin to the incessant reign of terror unleashed by India’s occupational forces for 77 days.
From day one the people of Kashmir haven’t accepted Indian rule, and it is no surprise that their third generation is up in revolt against it. Unless the Indian establishment decides to withdraw the occupying forces and revokes the set of draconian laws more such Uris cannot be ruled out.
Over time, accentuated as it had been by excessive cruelty perpetrated by the occupying forces, the simmering discontent and peaceful protests were bound to culminate in open revolt, and that has happened. More Uris cannot be ruled out.
Therefore, the challenge confronting Prime Minister Modi is how to deal with the post-Uri conundrum. India can think of carrying out surgical strikes against the so-called terrorist hideouts in Azad Kashmir, or it may launch a foray by crossing the Line of Control.
But any such ‘Cold Start’ would be responded with full force by Pakistan all along the spectrum, a promise made by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.
Consider, it’s not going to be limited or area-specific. If at all, it comes to be a war between the two nuclear neighbours it wouldn’t be then a no-holds-barred total war, even ‘skidding’ into nuclear holocaust, as feared by South Asia specialist Stephen P Cohen.
Pakistan is on record having warned the world that should India cross the border it would be nuked by purpose-built tactical nuclear weapons. And given nuclear as part of weaponry on both sides the war between Pakistan and India will not throw up any victor; both sides would be the end-losers.
Not only there would be enormous loss of human life, their economies would be damaged beyond repair. The two neighbours would return to the dark ages. So should New Delhi opt for war or peace the ball is in its court.
We are not overtly optimistic about the post-Uri conundrum being tackled through talks, but we do detect a bit of reluctance on the part of Prime Minister Modi to be pushed to the brink by the warmongers in his party and a section of Indian media.
Instead of jumping the gun the Indian government needs to conduct a thorough investigation into the Uri attack. So far there is no plausible proof that the attackers came from across the border.
And if it concludes it is the work of Kashmir freedom-fighters then it needs to think along the lines how to handle them, not forgetting the universal phenomenon that repressive rulers are resisted and overthrown by the oppressed.
To begin with, India should lift the curfew, release the protestors, and then revoke the draconian laws and cut down on its military presence. Having done this it should then revive bilateral talks with Pakistan in the presence of Kashmiris.