Pull Back From The Brink

India's military strike against Pakistan in response to Pulwama attack which killed more than 40 CRPF personnel and the Pakistani response to it has brought the region to the brink. New Delhi termed its attack on Pakistan as "non-military preventive strike on a major Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp".   In a statement released soon after the attack, Foreign Secretary said: “the Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism”.

But a day after Pakistan violated Indian airspace in Rajouri sector of J&K, dropping a few bombs. Pakistan also claimed to have shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistan Administered Kashmir and capturing two Indian pilots. India has said it has also shot down a Pakistani F-16 which fell in Pakistani territory. India has, however, only acknowledged the loss of one aircraft and its pilot.  Now should India choose to respond again, things could go up the escalatory ladder and culminate into a full-fledged war.  However, we can expect better sense to prevail. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again offered dialogue to India. He has again shown his readiness to probe the Pulwama attack and punish any Pakistan citizen who is proven to have played a role.

But while the two countries are at it, the situation in Kashmir that led to this escalation has been pushed into the background.  When on February 14, a Kashmiri suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into CRPF convoy, it was unlike any other incident of violence Kashmir had witnessed in the three decades of militancy.  But instead of going into the causes that have perpetuated the violence in Kashmir, New Delhi has chosen to overlook it. On the contrary, the Modi government chose to take control of the media narrative. Such has been the effective media management of the Modi regime that despite the Pulwama attack and subsequent events, the PM looks all the more stronger for it. And Congress looks weaker even in opposition. But this lack of public scrutiny of the government and its policies can be potentially dangerous for the country. It shows that a modern government can now so effectively manage and manipulate the discourse away from its shortcomings that it feels no need to even account for them. And the problem with this approach is that the people and the government start responding to a discourse that is not the reality, or may be just an incidental part of it. As a result the fundamental problem responsible for the violence the region continues to remain unaddressed indefinitely. So, basically nothing changes. True, it is not always easy for the governments to confront the truth but this is a pre-requisite if the goal is a durable solution. 


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