India and Pakistan, please stop before it is too late …

Published: January 23, 2013

It is a confrontation triggered by Indian violations and Pakistan's reactions. So both sides are playing some role. PHOTO: AFP

With the pressure being built up in India about the Line of Control situation, it has brought to the fore the question of how we Pakistanis respond to it.

Do we aggressively answer back in the press and other media?

Is it better to continue to quietly urge a resolution through discussions?

Or is it an option to just ignore the furor and let everything settle?

The stakes are extremely high, simply because this is a nuclear region and any error can lead to huge unintended consequences. Just to paint a scenario in the future of such a cataclysmic error…

——————————————————

Imagine a few months from now a Pakistani and an Indian are sitting together in the Bay area, around Silicon Valley in US. They are in their early 40s, have seven figure salaries, lovely children and great houses. They are avidly involved in their social lives and have great friends. From the outside you would be envious of their lives, but, the truth is that they are distraught and bereft of hope.

How could they do it, they keep asking each other?

How could they destroy our homelands?

But unfortunately, that is what has happened.

In a nuclear conflagration triggered by frenzy about LoC violations, everything from Balochistan to Assam (including Bangladesh) is now suffering from nuclear fallout. The region will be dangerous for decades due to radiation. No access, relatives and friends dead or missing, starvation prevalent and the world economy is itself , in recession – after all almost one in five people lived in this region.

——————————————————–

Hard to imagine?

Well ask someone in October 1962, around the time of the Cuban crisis or those who remember the last face-off in 2001 between Pakistan and India. I vividly remember a drive along the border for almost a 100km to Narowal, when everything had been evacuated. A desolate drive never to be repeated in a lifetime, I hope.

But the lesson is, it can happen and brinkmanship is hardly the required behaviour.

So, to the present line of control situation!

Pervez Musharraf spoke on the issue recently.

“Beheading a soldier is inexcusable. However, knowing the Pakistan Army, I can say for sure it is not in our culture to do something like that. It’s a court martial offence,” said Musharraf. “The politicians and media in India are being hysterical about it,” he added.

I am not an expert to comment on his assertions, but the report by The Hindu on the LoC - which has investigated the actual story – rationalises the events. According to that investigation, it is a confrontation triggered by Indian violations and Pakistan’s reactions. Thus, both sides have played a role leading to this fight.

It is time to sit down and talk it over. We don’t want two countries with nuclear arms to go to war. Both sides can preserve their self-respect and yet have a rational discussion.

Simla in our collective history is a great example of even handed negotiations. However, I guess I live in an ideal world.

What we have going on today, is a barrage from the media in India. Maybe commerce is playing a role and ratings are the reason for this furor – whatever it is, this then drives and motivates politicians. You get hunger strikes and the extreme point of view takes over. One politician gets up in the Parliament and demands 10 heads to be sent back in compensation.

Is this  for real?

Are you really asking for murder to be sanctioned now?

And then the Pakistan media will want 10 heads back!

We could play tit for tat for the rest of the year.  So much for Aman ki Asha!

Oh, for some responsible people who will show maturity!

So why is better sense not prevailing? Maybe it is filters of a thousand years of history and the partition; regardless, sense should prevail because both parties don’t have options left.

Till now, Pakistanis have been cooler in their reactions. The media here has also not taken as much notice, perhaps because Tahirul Qadri, the Supreme Court and rental power case have taken prime importance. This quiet handling should continue and more discussions should occur sooner than later.

The LoC mechanism to sort skirmishes has already been activated. If that does not work, then the Foreign Secretaries or even Foreign Ministers should meet.

More headlines, alarmist columns or beating the drum is not the answer.

Exhibiting maturity and dignity is.

Read more by Sarfaraz here or follow him on Twitter @sarehman

Sarfaraz Rehman

Sarfaraz Rehman

The author has worked with large scale organizations like Unilever, Pepsi and Engro Foods in his 28 year career. He has now started an education initiative and writes on various subjects. He tweets as @sarehman

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Amer

    I am so glad that there are sane voices are yours in Pakistan. I hope we hear at least a few voices like yours on the other side of the border otherwise we can’t wish for peace all by ourselves. Recommend

  • Vikas

    We have no interest in fighting you guys(Pakistan).Recommend

  • Pragmatist

    As much as I truly hate war, does anybody seriously believe that there could be normalcy without a decisive and bloody war? I don’t think so. For lasting peace, one nation has to be thoroughly defeated – without taking prisoners.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Sir, I understand your concern, but you are not considering the mature track record that India has and are going by comments of individuals and not the GoI. Never has India threatened nuclear war, which can only result if Pakistan escalates an ongoing conflict by using nuclear weapons against India; hence, it is advisable to avoid being coy about representing facts the way they are – we have a no first-use policy that we will stick to under all circumstances. Recommend

  • GrimmJow

    Although most of the examples cited by the author are irrelevant or false, I completely agree that maintaining peace is in the best interest of both the countries.

    I don’t think an Indian or a Pakistani sitting back in US silicon valley would care much about the border situations back home. We should worry more about the people actually living in these 2 countries.

    Secondly, what does Musharraf know about his army culture when it has always been Pakistan who has always been the aggressor? What about 26/11, Ajmal Kasab was not a Pakistani? Has anything been done to punish those who planned the attacks sitting in Pakistan?

    About the Nuclear War – India has already declared long back of a ‘NO FIRST USE POLICY’, can Pakistan commit itself to these words? Who shall we see as aggressor if there happens to be a nuclear war?Recommend

  • i like what he’s having

    @Pragmatist:
    we can start with people like you. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    1) Don’t be so naive to think all skirmishes lead to war. No Army was talking of war. The Indian Army has most of the advantageous positions along the LoC and India need not cross the LoC to hurt Pakistan. It can just shoot down Pakistani soldiers sitting comfortably from high grounds that we have occupied in the many wars.

    2) Regarding Nuclear War. Its scary yes. There have been many studies in the West, in think tanks about how a Nuclear War might happen.

    a) Terror angle: Terrorists from Pakistan might cross over into India. India will hit back hard at Pakistan. It has to, if the casualty rate is high.

    b) Kargil like fiasco: Geniuses like Musharaff decide to pull a Kargil. India will defeat Pakistan, to avoid defeat a rogue or nutcase General might order a Nuclear strike and India will retaliate overwhelmingly. Mutually assured destruction(MAD) will come into play

    If you observe in both the scenarios the provocation is from Pakistan, either by state or non-state actors. Is India an angel? No.

    But, it will never provoke a nuclear war, as it has a stated No-First-Use Policy. I don’t see why India will start a conventional war, as it could have easily done the same in ’48,’65 and ’71. That means it craves for no Territory from Pakistan.

    If there is a nuclear war or any war, rest assured Pakistan has to be blamed. India need not resort to war (which is defined by crossing of the LoC or International Border) to hurt Pakistan. They can pick out Pakistani soldiers one by one from the heights and our shells can travel longer and do more harm than Pakistan’s. There’s the economic angle too. After 2014, Pakistan’s stock in the world market will go down as the US troops withdraw. Pakistan will lose the only leverage it has over the US.

    Why do you think the Pakistani Army backed off this time? It knows this well that India has better positions on the LoC. There is a chance of change of status quo only if there is war(That dangerous too now after 1998. Great going Pakistan). In case of skirmishes, India has overwhelming advantage.Recommend

  • Manju

    India and Pakistan, please stop before it is too late …
    Sir,
    With all due respect, India is the one for whom it will be too late if India somehow does not get Pakistan to stop being hysterical and start showing some signs of being a mature nation..
    As for Pakistan it is already too too late….. Pakistanis should have thought about this two and a half decades ago when in late 80s they supported the militancy in Kashmir. Now, its just that the dagger Pakistan waved against India has turned inwards. India survived it because of its size, democracy and constitution in early years which is basically Secular (& its additional economic strength now).
    Pakistan on the other hand is a Non-Secular Theocratic state with a Theocratic Constitution which is partly democratic, mostly Martial and pro-feudal setup which lost half its geography & population to a secession in 1971 (and bid farewell to the ‘Two nation’ Theory which ended up in ‘Three nation’ practical experiment) and is now bracing another popular secession demand (Balochistan) and if this was not enough, battling economic crises of the proportion of 15 trillion rupees of debt (according to a report of this very news publication dated few days back) and further radicalization which of Systemic proportion…..
    I still hope somehow the state of Pakistan improves, for India’s sake (Ironically enough!!)Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    A very balanced article on the subject because in any War there are no winners but only losers. Hope there are rational minds among the decision makers because once a certain threshold to provocation is crossed it becomes very difficult to rein in events that follow.Recommend

  • RASH

    The last line of this article ” Exhibiting maturity and dignity is.” was apt.

    However, I think the author missed a key point, the key issue was the beheading a solider and mutilating bodies is a barbarian act. What compounded the matters was complete denial and rejection by Pakistan that baffled people on the other side of the border. It was the repeat of the same reaction India had seen from Pakistan’s post 26/11.

    While border skirmishes are not rare, beheading and taking the head of a soldier as a trophy transcends all levels of civility and that Pakistan’s outright denial was a what roused the emotions. Pakistan could have handled this with maturity by making sure an internal probe was ordered and ask India for more evidence which is what any responsible country should be doing anyway. That would have made Pakistan take a higher moral ground and perhaps diffuse the issue.

    But then, frankly, maturity is some thing that has been lacking in the India -Pak relationship for 65 years…. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Very sensible sentiments displayed.Recommend

  • akt

    Pakistan has to forget Kashmir for peace with India . This condition is not going to be fulfilled in a short period . In the Next 10 years The situation of pakistan will itself become very pathetic in realising her dream to snatch Kashmir from India .

    There is no need to use a sward to kill a mosquito .Recommend

  • Gratgy

    We don’t want to have a fight with you, infact we don’t want anything to do with youRecommend

  • faisal

    @Gratgy:
    Then there is no need to come on this blog and say so at all, just adopt complete disassociation. Recommend

  • Sudheer

    Well, Mr.Author, over all, it was a good little piece of writhing where no one (India or Pakistan) was “hurt”. But, I differ you on two things that you wrote. The first your taking The Hindu report as beckon of truth. I live in south and have been a regular reader of The Hindu right from my childhood. It had been a great newspaper known for its objectivity and extraordinarily honest, n’ fearless reportage for almost more than a century. But, Mr. N. Ram, the scion of the Kasturi familiy who inherited it, about three decades ago, made it a virtual mouthpiece of the communist party of India, just because of his personal friendship with pseudo-communist Sitaram Yechuri and his ilk, resulting in a huge loss of readership in the whole of the south. The irony is that, Mr. Ram himself is a billionaire and yet most of his so called friends still call themselves as ‘socialists’ and ‘anti-bourgeois’! But, that is entirely a different story. All I want to say is that, just don’t take the report of The Hindu as a gospel of truth. There was a time when I would have believed whatever The Hindu wrote, but not anymore.
    My second objection is none other than our dear good old Gen. Musharraf and his bravado on the Times Now channel. The “brave commando” who is shivering in his pants to return to his own country that he ruled with iron fist for almost a decade, sitting at his warm & comfortable house in London, was bragging and abusing India on the airwaves, but, obviously, is not ready to set foot on the soil of the country that he claims to love so much.
    But, I excuse this poor commando, as he knows very well that, the moment he lands anywhere in PakistanRecommend

  • Alexander

    So why do we have to argue with each other and say who is at fault? Lets look at how the world looks at two nations and why does the world call Pakistan a state that is on edge. I will not call it a failed state or rogue state because why punch on the wound.

    If the likes of the author do even care what the world says about Pakistan as a society, whom is he trying to convince that Pakistan is a society that is at par with india in any aspect?? Why should India treat a society that encourages beasts to butcher minorites and advocates hatred in school texts?Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Faisal
    Then there is no need to come on this blog and say so at all, just adopt complete disassociation.

    I said “We” meaning the majority of “1 Billion Indians”. I am describing the common mood prevalent in India. “I” or a few others who come here are hardly significant relative to the size of India. Recommend

  • gp65

    I do understand how you feel but your worry is based on not understanding the Indian mindset. HEre are few things you should consider:
    1. India has never started a war and never will.
    2. India has a No First Use Policy since 1999. You will not be able to find a single statement from either a government minister or someone from armed forces who directly or indirectly threatens the use of nuclear weapons.
    3. An overwhelming majority of Indians post 26/11 have been alienated by Pakistan and will remain so until they see that justice is done to the planners.
    4. By denying India its peace dividend in terms of reduced defence expense by the use of non-state actors, Pakistan has significantly undermined the peace constituency in India. Most Indians would like nothing better than disengaging with Pakistan (not war which is undesirable, nor peace which is unattainable without capitulation on KAshmir)
    5. Pakistan’s bluff that India will never react because it has nuclear weapons was called in 1999 and has now been reinforced. As a result, Pakistan is unlikely to needle India by trying to infiltrate terrorists.

    Thus no Pakistani provocation means no Indian retaliation means no nuclear conflagration. Recommend

  • akt

    Both are nuclear armed country but the common people on the street do not know the difference between the two .Pakistan has merly fission while India has fussion technology too . So there is no use of being nucleare country so far as Pakistan is concerned . Her bomb is in fact a burden on its economy as it is useless even for detentae purpose . The day common Pakistani will realise the fact they will start to ask their streategic expert about the huge investment being done on security and maintanance of such a useless nuclear assessets . Atom bomb and Kashmir has destroyed the country in all aspects . Let the Quadry led party come in to the power , the people of Pakistan will get the reality of mirage they are being kept by different rulers and Mullah for the last 64 years .Recommend

  • http://dubai saleem

    Lets look at the dark side suppose India and pakistan do go to war , as Indian chief of state has stated, sushma swaraj and the BJP wants 10 ten heads for one. The shit sena and Rapist sangh wants war, what is the next scenario. As George Fernandes is quoted when he was Defence Minister said you will take out one city in first strike we will give a massive reply. Suppose it does goes neuclear. India knows Pakistan is a failed state, but after the war India will be failed also. The story of independence will be from 1947- 2014 after that back to old days of Mughals and British empire. This time it will be part of Chinese, British ,Americans and Russian protectorate.Recommend

  • Midhat

    Dear Indian commentators! Indian Media claimed LoC violation on January 6th. Though our media didnt beat the drum Pakistan had already reported a soldier killed as a result of cross border shooting two days prior. Hina Rabbani Khar offered a very matured approach to let Neutral UN probe investigate the matter, but that was also rejected by Indian authorities. Stop believing your bollywoodish News and investigate the matter rationally!

    @gp65: I have now made a mental note to not read any of your comments to save my self form utther disbleif at the level of maturity (read lack of it) people can display. You seem to live in a parallel universe where everything is Black and white. India is always the innocent child Recommend

  • Queen

    The two sides need to understand that war has never given anything positive to anyone. It is a misconception of the Indian armed forces and of the Indian media that by creating media hype, they will be able to assert their position in the region. It seems that skirmishes on the LoC are being carried out because India feels its position will become strategically imbalanced when Pakistan will get the main role in the Afghan peace process.
    It might be that the Indian media is trying to divert public’s attention from domestic issues like the Delhi case. No matter what the reason, there is a need to understand that loss of lives is taking place on the LoC. The loss of life of any human being be it Pakistani or Indian needs to be prevented at all cost.

    If India is keen on establishing peace that it should adopt sane attitude on this issue. Recommend

  • faisal

    Reminds me of the song by Noor Jahan ” jaa jaa may tujh say nahi boulooun, jaa jaa touhay naahi boulooun…” :)Recommend

  • http://Delhi DilliNiwasi

    @Alexander: You hit the nail.
    I respect & understand the author’s sentiments but he misses some important bottlenecks that are coming in the way of India-Pakistan harmony despite the fact that there are people on both sides who wish for harmony and for majority India to not interfere in any way in Pakistan’s matters and expect the same from Pakistan.

    What is coming in the way are-

    1) “Bravado’ generals of ‘commando’ types who have the itch to do something or the other.
    2) Majority of Pakistani people’s serious & ugly ill will towards people who do not share their religion.
    3) Pakistan on the cliff’s edge, already slipping into abyss from governance-gone-hay-ware (since few decades), economy so broken that it is not recoverable. Problems in a failing country (any country) will always spill into adjacent countries. There is no way to control.

    Until educated Pakistanis and majority of Pakistanis start moving (at ;least begin to move) in the right Direction on each of these tracks, they will not earn respect not only from India but from any other country. Peace and harmony will thus remain elusive.

    Nothing else matters.Recommend

  • huzaifa

    By doing two things India and Pakistan have most warmest of the relations:-
    1. India and Pakistan must resolve KASMIR ISSUE.
    2. India must drop the hedgemonic designs on his all neighbours.
    I just ask one simple question that if these two factors are not there then what other reason can be the root cause for creating trouble for Pakistan.

    INDIANS! just give a staright answer without rhetorics. Recommend

  • Nitish

    @huzaifa:
    I just ask one simple question that if these two factors are not there then what other reason can be the root cause for creating trouble for Pakistan.
    INDIANS! just give a staright answer without rhetorics

    Other and most prominent reason is religion.India is Hindu and Hindus dislike muslims and their religious practices to very core.I hope moderator will pass my comment since he asked the answer without rheotics.Recommend

  • Haris

    My earlier input disappeared. I agree with the writer. Nuclear war can happen.
    It does not have to willingly, but by error. In 1962 had the Russian sub commander not disobeyed, we had a war and that would have resulted in nukes. Also those dozens of bombers with armed bombs in the air for days on end. Anyone of those could have dropped a bomb and pop! It is dangerous brinkmanship. Ease the tension and then talk. Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Nitish

    @huzaifa:
    India is Hindu and Hindus dislike Muslims and their religious practices to very core.

    Brother Nitish, your condition is fast deteriorating. You badly need professional help. Remember,

    “When falls on man the anger of the gods, first from his mind they banish understanding.”
    - Lycurgus
    Recommend

  • akt

    The only solution lies in establishing economic relation between the two nation but in order to establish such relation Pakistan has to forget Kashmir and eradicate terrorists from her so called Pak land . It’s a fact that we both can’t afford war . But if the war imposed on us as happened in the past on the name of Kashmir , India will retaliate with conventional weapons to force Pakistan to use atom bomb first and if that happened then one can think about the Indian responce . Pak will be wiped out from the map . One should not be in any confusion ir doubt about Indian and Israeili resolve to safeguard their territorial integrity . Recommend

  • gp65

    @huzaifa: “By doing two things India and Pakistan have most warmest of the relations:-
    1. India and Pakistan must resolve KASMIR ISSUE.
    2. India must drop the hedgemonic designs on his all neighbours.
    I just ask one simple question that if these two factors are not there then what other reason can be the root cause for creating trouble for Pakistan.
    INDIANS! just give a staright answer without rhetorics.”

    india does not have hegemonistic designs on Pakistan or anyone else and has never started a war.
    No one disagrees that Kashmir problem should be ‘solved’. The disagreement lies in what the contours of such a solution would be.
    Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    My point in writing this was not to solve our long term problems. But to say that in the immediate we should stop the pressure building up, it serves no one. Neither side. Just makes the situation dangerous. Our 65 years problem are not to be resolved that easily. Some of the statements made show the high level of filters which are prevalent. so people think the way they think and long term resolution will be difficult.

    Will only add that historically, things are to be looked at differenty. Over 5 millennia Subcontinent history has been up and down and there is no reason to think otherwise for the future. In that context 65 years is a drop in the ocean. Economic up and down is a point in time. 20 year later things have been known to be reversed. As long as we survive physically -ie no nuking the place – one would love to visit the place in a 1000 years. Wonder if Kashmir, Delhi, Islamabad, Partition etc will be of any consequence ….looked at in that way, our problems are put in perspective.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    @Queen:

    There is peace when people want to have peace. This is not the case at present, Indians do not want peace and wil have no peace. The only reason that the Pakistan loly pop has not left the pad is due to the classic psyche of what happens if it does not leave the pad or falls into sea or does not explode when it lands an so on…India has provoked the situation several times to warrant a response from Pakistan military brass. OR is it all a spin which one reads about?

    Rex MnorRecommend

  • Sarfaraz

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/locked-in-un-files-15-years-of-bloodletting-at-loc/article4358199.ece

    An interesting article about the same subject, which shows the Pakistan reaction to a similar subject and the attempt to keep things low key in recent years..Recommend

  • Clear Black Bag

    65 years have been wasted on useless,non-result-oriented,time and money wasting peace talks between Pakistan and India on Kashmir issue but as usual India has been falsely and untruly claiming that Kashmir is India’s integral part.When India shall not accept Kashmir’s territory as a disputed territory then if you waste more 65 years or 6500 years on Kashmir issue there is nothing going to be changed or happened on Kashmir’s stance/standpoint.Recommend

  • wasim

    Please for the sake of God do not talk abt war, they both countries r poor, India is help media fire by deferring visa agreement signed on 8 Sept, 2012, suppose to be implemented on 15 Jan 2013 very help ful in relation building, particulars senior citizen and other visitors to India whose relation ship are living both side of boarder. pls write on this subject war is not soluation to such pit things. LOVE PEACE AND PROSPERITY FOR BOTH COUNTRIESRecommend