Introspection Needed !

On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan denied his country's involvement in the Pulwama attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel. The attack was deadliest in the three decades of militancy. Khan also offered talks with terrorism as its initial focus, as always sought by New Delhi. And at the end of his speech he had a warning too: "should you attack us, we won't think about retaliation, we will retaliate". 

However, India has rejected Khan's defense, saying Jaish-e-Mohammad which accepted the responsibility for Pulwama attack is headquartered at Bhawalpora in Pakistan. India wants Islamabad to take action against the Jaish leader Masood Azhar. India also wants Azhar to be designated as the global terrorist but China has vetoed such designation at the United Nations. 

This has created a fraught situation. Khan's speech has done little to lower the tensions between the two countries. The situation remains as it is. Meanwhile, sensing the gravity of the situation, UN Secretary General has offered his good offices to help de-escalate the situation between the two countries, something that New Delhi is unlikely to accept. China too has called for restraint. The US president Donald Trump has termed the situation "horrible" but added that it would be"wonderful" if the two countries got along. 

But in New Delhi, the government seems in no mood to relent. The anger in the country about the heavy loss of  lives of the security personnel at Pulwama has created a situation whereby the government seems constrained to act. The government itself is guilty of fanning and playing to this mood. A section of television news media has gone berserk with their coverage of Pulwama and generated a mood for revenge among people with little thought where such a course of action would lead to. 

Here's hoping that the two countries pull back from the brink. As rightly said by Imran Khan, it is easy to start a war but it is beyond anybody's power to contain its fallout. War takes a life of its own. And it destroys the warring countries- that is, if one of them is not situated thousands of miles away like the US is. In case of India and Pakistan, a war between the two will consume both, with India with its large  economy having much more at stake than Pakistan has. 

This situation calls for "maximum restraint" as urged by the UN Secretary General. At the same time, the situation cannot be allowed to go on regardless. There certainly has to be introspection in New Delhi about the future, both near and long term. And this introspection needs to primarily confront the truth in Kashmir, the root cause of bloodshed in India and Pakistan.

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