How would you like to be citizen of a country where the army holds such a vice grip on affairs of the state that they export terror, breed ‘snakes’ in their backyard (Hillary Clinton’s words), preside insensitive over slaughter of thousands of fellow citizens, including school children, and – when caught with their pants down – pretend as if nothing happened?
Tuesday, 26th Feb 2019, was another red-letter day in the history of India’s western neighbour where their much-venerated army’s shenanigans came home to roost. In a pre-dawn, calibrated ‘non-military preemptive action’, the Indian Air Force (IAF) launched a multi-aircraft airstrike on terror camps near Balakot in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). Some twitterati smartly coined the phrase “now the Bal is in your Kot” (not mine, but an apt play of words).
Well, indeed the ball is in Pak’s court. This is the first air strike on non-military targets after 1971 Indo-Pak War that cleaved Pakistan in two and liberated Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).
For a country that led its citizens up the garden path with India-baiting, this must surely be a moment from ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’. Noted strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney tweeted this grim reminder earlier today:
Air strikes should never be taken lightly in military affairs. They signal a certain national will and appetite – however unpleasant – for escalation. By any yardstick of diplomacy, this is a tight slap on the enemy’s face, delivered with a sharp crack. Only those who have been at the receiving end of an international ‘tamacha‘ would know. I am sure Pakistani establishment feels the pain; having been at the receiving end of many such misadventures their ill-advised military leaders inflicted upon the country repeatedly since 1948.
For example, remember the PAF Atlantique that ventured too close and was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 in 1999? Or Kargil War where they refused to take back the bodies of their own soldiers; whom Indian Army then laid to rest as per Islamic rites? The same army, sipping finest scotch whisky and leading privileged lives in the hill town of Abbottabad, must have spilt their morning coffee all over Persian carpets in their living rooms when they woke up to US Navy Seals taking out Osama Bin Laden from right under their JeMmed-up noses.
What goes around, comes around. It’s a fact of life. It is the eternal cycle of Dharma which keeps churning out more devils for Pakistan as it continues down this ignoble path.
Look at the irony. India has a lady Raksha Mantri today. Indian women serve with pride in all three services. Our diminutive External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj stands tall with world leaders, with suave and substance. We have had lady PMs and Presidents, stellar Generals who kept their adrenalin in check. Our defence forces do not dictate foreign policy, however compelled they may feel at times. There’s a thriving democracy at work here that survives any maelstrom of hate and bigotry that crosswinds of elections may may blow in. Indians head the world’s biggest conglomerates and occupy the highest seats of intellectual discourse.
Look at yourselves, my dear Pakistani citizens. What have you done to yourselves?
A song from Pink Floyd’s last album ‘Division Bell’ comes to mind:
“From morning to night
I played out of sight
Didn’t recognise what i’d become
No more than a lie, I barely survive
In a word, overrun”
Beware. You are becoming synonymous with terror and violence, especially against women and those who oppose the ruling coterie of Generals and moneybags. India is thriving, warts & all, racing to occupy a seat at the high table of world leaders. See the writing on the wall? Is low-cost war your perpetual answer? We still agree “mehenga roye ek baar, sasta roye baar baar”, don’t we? Then why are you pelting down this path?
Did repeated subterfuge and proxy wars get you what would’ve come out of more informed investments in building lives, livelihoods, not bombs or IEDs? Think about it.
Years ago, a young lady (later, my wife) took her tiny, pugnacious Lhasa Apso ‘Bobby’ for a walk to US Club at Land’s End, Colaba. Sprawled on the greens next to the navy’s golf club was a huge, bush coat German Shepherd belonging to veteran industrialist and one of India’s finest – Ratan Tata. Let’s call the big canine Nano for now, even though he was actually the size of a Jaguar, err…Land Rover. Bobby made a desperate attempt to intimidate Nano, continuously barking and sniping at the giant Alsatian’s heels. Nano didn’t bat an eyelid & kept snoozing.
When Ratan Tata walked in after his round of golf, he was quite amused at young Bobby’s gusto. He called him ‘quite a fellow’, and patted him.
Nano agreed and let out a deep throated ‘RRRUUFF’ that reverberated through the open grounds of US Club. Bobby, of course, was blown away by the downwash of that roar and had to seek comfort under Madhuri’s heels.
Fellow Pakistani citizens, maybe your Generals and the family jewels that stand exposed today, can hide behind long cloaks from Arabia. But not for too long. And last we checked, Trump ain’t giving any more either.
Game’s up, buddy. Our pilots smoke Charms, drink Rum and wear their aircraft on their sleeves. They can hold their own against the best in the world – many Red Flag exercises have proven that beyond doubt. Our army & navy are waiting to taste first blood. They never sleep.
Step back. Peace is what the subcontinent needs most. We can send your Premier’s middle stump, or whatever’s left of it, careening across the world stage; no big deal. We want peace, economic development of our people; dialogue in place of guns; cross-border trade & bonhomie in place of cross-border terror.
We didn’t start the fire. Now you douse it.
©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2019. All rights reserved. Views are personal. I am always rooting for peace & harmony.
Cover photo: ‘Just another successful strike mission. Thanks for remembering my ilk‘ – Art by MR Anand, a veteran IAF test pilot. You can find his works here.