As was expected, India has finally launched a military strike on Pakistan. The target of the strike was the alleged Jaish-e-Muhammad camp in Balakote in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This is first time after 1971 war that India has struck deep inside the Pakistan territory. New Delhi has termed the attack as "non-military pre-emptive strike on a major Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp". However, Pakistan in response has denied that India struck any camp saying Indian aircrafts fled immediately after the Pakistan airforce scrambled to confront them. Pakistan National Security Committee meeting which was chaired by the Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Islamabad will respond to the "Indian aggression" at a time and place of its own choosing. This has created a very dangerous environment. Should Pakistan choose to respond, it could escalate into a full-fledged war.
Both countries need to be reminded that the war between India and Pakistan is not an option even without a nuclear overhang. The neighbours have sufficient military strength to inflict a substantial damage on each other. And this damage could easily extend from military to economic targets. This will set back the economy in both the countries. More so, in case of India which now commands the world's 5th largest and the fastest growing economy. Besides, if the war goes on, it could lead to a prolonged state of disorder witnessed in Afghanistan and Syria. Such a situation could wreck both countries and again the damage would be disproportionately more for India and its growth story.
Such a situation calls for a restraint and a rational response focussed on the real problem at issue rather than what is electorally exigent in view of the upcoming general elections. The tragedy of the current discourse in India is that it is in thrall to a certain narrative of the situation than the facts on the ground. For example, as observed by many a noted thinkers in India, Kashmir as an issue is completely absent from this narrative. The BJP-led government's policies and actions in Kashmir that are primarily responsible for bringing the situation to the brink have hardly got any attention.
If anything, current fraught state of affairs should cause some reflection as to where the region is headed. A miscalculation by the either side could create havoc. It is therefore important for the neighbours to pull back from the brink and get back to dialogue and engagement. Other option is the ruin for both.
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