THE Pakistan Army’s brutal beheading of an Indian soldier and mutilation of the body of another, near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has evoked deep anger in India. But what should be India’s reaction?
Deccan Herald (January 10) said India “must not only robustly raise its concerns to the Pakistan government regarding its army’s unacceptable behaviour but also stress that such conduct will have its cost.” The paper said “Delhi must clarify that there are red lines which, if breached by Islamabad, India will act.” Pointing out that some hawks in India will suggest military action, the paper said “India must adopt a carefully calibrated approach to Pakistan’s barbarism at this point considering there are “several options short of military action that are available to India…. and it must explore these options first!
The New Indian Express ( January 10) warned that it is time the government realised that verbal protests will not be effective and took strong action.” Saying that Pakistan Army’s behaviour “is the result of the government’s soft pedalling” the paper said “India must not get involved in niceties”. “Confidence building measures cannot be one-sided… enough is enough. It is time to get tough with Pakistan” said the paper. Writing again on January 14 , the paper said the Pakistan establishment has tended to always take India for granted, since the country has followed a defensive defence policy rather than a retaliatory one. India, it said, never takes any action to stop such incidents. “A whole paradigm shift in the ‘soft’ approach is called for with India declaring at the policy, level that it will not hesitate to recover its lost territories if Pakistan persists in its aggressive design.”
The Times of India (January 10) was not for strong action. It said: “The need of the hour is clearly to go beyond the blame game, to explore ways and means to avoid such incidents in the future.” It suggested that “exchange visits by scholars and artistes, businessmen and pilgrims can help create…. an atmosphere that is conducive to the resolution of some of the less intractable issues bedevilling India and Pakistan and, in the bargain, expand the peace constituency in both countries.”
The Hindu (January 10) is another paper advocating a soft stand. Even acknowledging that Pakistan has “repeatedly violated and jeopardised” the land, its plea is that while “India has the right to make a strong diplomatic protest, it should ensure that the bad blood over this does not affect the progress, however meager, in other areas of bilateral relations.”
The same, cowardly soft approach is advocated by Economic Times (January 11) which said that though “the killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers is an utterly condemnatory act of savagery that flouts all conventions”, what is important at this juncture, therefore, is to first establish the facts and not yield to war-mongering calls for exacting a blood revenge. As the paper sees it “the wider need is to nudge Pakistan’s multiple power centres to understand that using terrorists as a tool of policy is bound to, as it has, consume Pakistan itself.”
Asian Age (January 10) dismissed Pakistan’s suggestion that the reported incidents should be investigated by the UN military observer. That, it said, is “propagandist and provocative” and the body exists only on paper. A reference to it, said the paper, “speaks of Pakistan’s continued mischief-making in Kashmir.”
DNA (January 9) said “What India should come up with is a strong political response at the local and global level” and “Manmohan Singh & Co must turn the heat on Pakistan’s political establishment.”
Hindustan Times (January 11) also seems against any strong reaction on India’s past – par for our cowardly course. According to it “India should continue to hold out the carrot of greater trade, a functional civil society model and more, to Pakistan, but it must also be prepared to wield a stick – albeit a controlled and proportionate stick.” According to the paper “India is much more powerful today and Pakistan is more enfeebled”. The Media – especially the English Media, has cowardice written all over its face. But at least some of our political commentators have had the courage to speak out.
Writing in The New Indian Express (January 13) its editor-in-chief Prabhu Chawla had some truthful things to say about some of our disgusting policy makers. Chawla dismissed “the vociferous silence of those who shout and scream at minor incidents, reflecting a mindset that allows the maiming of India’s pride.” He damned the “yuppies and puppies” who “behave like lambs when it comes to the beheading of jawans” and are afraid to teach Pakistan a lesson. His column has to be read word by word in order to understand the wretchedness of those petty men in power in Delhi.
MJ Akbar, writing in The Times of India (January 13) said the Pakistan Army can get away with anything, having “measured the Singh Government’s girth and discovered a circumference bloated with hot air” and knowing that “Delhi’s response has been a private and sometimes public campaign to reduce our forces on the border”. Cowards rule us.
But one has to read what Brahma Chellaney, professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi has to say to understand the sheer cowardice of our government. As he put it “New Delhi is staring at the bitter harvest of a decade-long policy seeking to appease a recalcitrant neighbour with unilateral concessions and gestures.” Chellaney said, writing in The Economic Times (January 10) that “being nice with a determined adversary in the hope that will change its behaviour is not strategy” and “with Singh dreaming of open borders with terror-exporting Pakistan, India’s Pakistan policy remains driven by hopes and gushy expectations, not statecraft.” Questioning all the presumptions about Indo-Pak relations as they are, Chellaney noted that “for more than two decades now, every Pakistani aggression against India—covert or overt – has been greeted with Indian inaction” and “Pakistani military establishment, in particular, has construed India’s overtures as signs of weakness.” Added Chellaney: “Today, India’s Pakistan policy is adrift because it is not backed by any goal-oriented strategy. It is past time for India to inject greater realism into its Pakistan policy.” One might as well ask: Isn’t it time for the public to rise up and demand the immediate dismissal of the UPA government? How many more insults have we to suffer at the hands of Pakistan before we finally give it a beating it deserves, even if it means fighting a war? We have become the laughing stock of the world!