Uri, Balochistan and Kashmir – Kuldip Nayar

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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif receives Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday, Dec 25, 2015. AFP
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif receives Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday, Dec 25, 2015. AFP

It is time for the politicians of India and Pakistan to introspect on their conduct. Even if they do not talk about war, their speeches and the body language is far from friendly. They appear to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. Why are they stoking the fires of hatred when people on both sides are surcharged?

KULDIP NAYAR

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]alochistan in Pakistan is like Kashmir, an integral part but still rebellious just as Kashmir is after almost 70 years of Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India. However, in India’s case, the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, gave an undertaking to hold a plebiscite as soon as things had settled in the valley. He could not fulfill the promise.

Nehru learnt that things would be reduced to slogans such as Gita versus Koran, and people would be so driven by religious sentiments that they would not be exercising their franchise. When the acclaimed leader Sheikh Abdullah joined the Union, he conceded the point that a popular verdict had been obtained and it amounted to a plebiscite and, with it, the accession was complete.

What happened in Uri is a symptom, not the disease. The disease is that the youth who are now leading a movement want a country of their own. In the same way, Baluchistan wants to secede from Pakistan and become an independent country. That, if granted, would be another Islamic country on our border. I told Kashmiri students during my recent visit to Srinagar at their invitation that the Lok Sabha would be in no mood to endorse anything such as what they wished for. They said it was “your problem how you bring about the change.”

Pakistan has now become relevant for the people in the valley because they too have changed their demand from autonomy to an Islamic independent country. The attack on Indian soldiers on the border is the culmination of that anger. Pakistan, too, has found the climate somewhat suited to it and has increased the number of infiltrators into the valley.

But this is not the first time that Pakistan has sent infiltrators into India. Nor will it be the last occasion. There have been several such instances, including the attacks on Parliament, Mumbai and Pathankot. After every such incident, a war-like cry was heard in the rest of the country to retaliate. So immense was the pressure this time on the government that it had to assure the public that “retaliation would take place at a place and time of our liking.”

But people want action on the ground even if it means a war. I recall what happened soon after the attacks on Parliament, Mumbai and Pathankot. Our reaction then was in the shape of stationing troops on the borders for almost one year or more. This time, the anger is deeper and wider. Yet the government is showing restraint, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that the perpetrators would not go unpunished.

However, we also know the limit to which the elected rulers can go in the two countries since both possess nuclear weapons. But what I fail to understand is why Islamabad had been reluctant to take action against terrorists who have been identified as living in Pakistan. Whatever it has done so far against terrorists, it is not on India’s request but on Washington’s word.

In India, except for a few warmongers, there is a realization that there is no option to peace. It is also time for the politicians of the two countries to introspect on their conduct. Even if they do not talk about war, their speeches and the body language is far from friendly. They appear to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. Why are they stoking the fires of hatred when people on both sides are surcharged?

France and Germany had fought for more than hundred years. Today they are the best of friends. Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said something similar when I asked him before Partition that Hindus and Muslims would jump at each other’s throats once the British had left. He said we would be the best of friends. I have no doubt that one day this would come about. Former Prime Ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh said many a time that destiny has thrown India and Pakistan together and they cannot but be good neighbors.

I admired the courage and commitment of people, however small in number, lighting candles at Karachi or taking out a procession at Lahore some years ago in memory of those who had died in the Mumbai attack. This is the time when India needs understanding. This is also the occasion when faith in good relations between India and Pakistan is tested. But at the same time, Pakistan should understand and appreciate India’s anger. Those who attacked Mumbai or Pathankot might be the Al-Qaida or the Taliban who are playing havoc in Pakistan as well.

These are the organizations which are helping, training and arming them. Why do such extremists remain beyond the pale of law? Even when some of them were “detained” after the attack on India’s Parliament, they were practically free to preach and spread poison. India suspects that those arrested after the Mumbai carnage would have the front door of their house shut while the back door would be open.

No world power, except Germany, has directly accused the Pakistan government for the attacks on Mumbai. Investigators believe that all attacks on India are linked to members of one terrorist group or the other in Pakistan. The evidence that India had provided in the past failed to prod Islamabad.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the recent Uri incident, was set up with fanfare in 2009 to assuage public anger over a similar series of failures leading up to 26/11. They were entrusted with cases but the result so far has been dismal. What the NIA will do in the present case is to be seen. The nation is waiting for retaliatory action.

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