MODI’S ELECTION CAMPAIGN THROUGH PULWANA

My intent was to continue with Saudi Pak linkage. But the war frenzy by Modi can’t go unattended. Hence today’s topic. 

Election campaigns are a tough nut to crack. Especially when you seek votes in an
electorate of  hundreds of millions. The planners seek common denominators having the widest reach and response. The lowest hanging fruit seen over centuries is religion, ethnicity and/or
nationalism. The jury on results of five years of Modi’s rule is still out, but
BJP’s losses in many Provincial elections are a clear indicator that his
popularity has drastically decreased. Congress and its allies have gained
substantially. How to turn the tables? It is an undeniable fact that Modi is a
brilliant marketer and a world class manipulator. Hence his team made the
choice of going after the lowest hanging fruits. He chose two out of three time-tested
instigatory tools- religious sentiments and nationalist fervour.

Here is a recap of the event that has caused the present furor. A truck laden with
explosives rams into a Central Reserve Police Force convoy tragically killing
40 policemen. The incident happened in a remote location Pulwana in Indian
Occupied Kashmir. Pulwana is located south of Srinagar and northwest of
Anantnag. Two major population centres. It is about 150 kilometres from the
control line separating India and Pakistan and about a 6 to 8 hour journey by
road from the border. The attacking truck was of Indian make, driven by an
Indian held Kashmiri youth, laden with Indian origin explosives.

Where does Pakistan come in? A militant group calling itself Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility. This outfit led by Azhar Masood has a history of involvement in Indian Held Kashmir. However since the clampdown on terrorism in Pakistan by the Pakistan Army, the wings of most such groups have been clipped. Their capabilities are severely downgraded. Pakistan has endured and suffered scores of such forms of attacks by vehicles turned into deadly missiles during the heydays of terrorists. We had thousands of tragic deaths of civilians and armed forces personal by this mode of terror. It is sad and it is tragic, but countries don’t go to war over such incidents. They have to be investigated, evidence needs to be gathered, witnesses interviewed and only then certain directions are adopted to reach conclusions. No such thing happened in this incident. Within hours of the blast Indian officials and particularly electronic media were shouting hoarse blaming Pakistan for this incident.

In investigating any incident motive is an extremely important factor. Who would be the beneficiary for ratcheting up tensions between India and Pakistan at this stage of an election campaign? An investigation shall reveal why a convoy of 2500 Central Reserve Policemen was moving at one time despite intelligence tip off of such an attack as stated by some prominent leaders? Is it not a serious security lapse in an environment  hostile to Indian Forces? If the explosives came from Pakistan, how could an explosives laden vehicle travel such a long distance unchecked despite security blockades?

Prime Minister Modi has always portrayed himself in a Macho image intertwining it with his Hindu roots. Good luck to him, but this time in his attempt to benefit politically, he may have taken a wrong tangent. His aggressive posturing of wiping out Pakistan has been met with a firm and reasoned response by Prime Minister Imran. He has met his equal and some more in the form of New Pakistan with a new mindset and new thinking. The days of former Prime Minister Nawaz are gone. There is no running to Jandal to cry on his shoulders. There was no emotional outburst to play to the gallery. The political and military leadership were deliberate, composed and resolved conveying in a very matter of fact manner to Prime Minister Modi not to resort to adventurism. He should not be unmindful of the level of preparedness of Pak Army having veterans from the War on Terror. Such issues are best resolved sitting around a table through negotiations and dialogue.

Where
do we stand on the Kashmir issue today? It is important for all sides to reboot
their perceptions. The history of this conflict should be viewed in two
distinct segments. The first 65 years revolved around the issue of self
determination for the Kashmiris. It revolved around the implementation of the
UN resolution passed. The parties to the conflict were India and Pakistan. The
intensity varied various points in history. In the second segment spanning last
5 years this conflict has morphed into a indigenous struggle by the Kashmiris.
The new generation has owned this struggled and now it is a  popular uprising involving all Kashmiris of
all ages and sexes. The real difference is that  Kashmiris are willing to pay the price for
freedom. The Indian Establishment has seriously erred in dealing with this uprising.
They have embarked on the route of suppression at any cost through use of
force. They have pumped in manpower and resources entirely focussed on crushing
the will of the people.

They have overlooked the lessons to be learnt from recent history of late 20th
and 21st Century. The results emanating from attempts at achieving
military victory through use of force by two super powers. USSR’s failure
resulted in the breakup of this mighty empire. USA after 17 years of military
combat and spending trillions of dollars is finally adopting the course of
negotiations. How much blood of Kashmiris needs to be spilt and much economic
resources have to be squandered for Indian Establishment to accept the
inevitable? To sit around a table to discuss and resolve.

The reality is India and Pakistan are neighbours and have to co-exist. War
economies deprive our teeming millions living in poverty, whereas peaceful
relations will free resources for the down trodden. Over decades of my living
abroad I have had the privilege of friendships with all nationalities including
Indians. We get along very well. We respect each others’ beliefs and space and
enjoy common factors of culture, cuisine, language. It can happen in our
countries too. Unnecessary belligerence and rhetoric will lead to destruction. Saner
and thinking minds need to prevail.

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