It is interesting what some of the Indian media have to say about the latest Pakistani attack on Indian soldiers across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch area resulting in the killing of five of them. “Don’t Get Mired in Anti-Pak Jingoism” warned The Economic Times ( August 9). “The Government” said the paper “should go ahead with the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, never mind the jingoistic rhetoric inside Parliament and on television.”
The Asian Age ( August 9) believed that “it is not the right time for PM – Sharif talks”, suggesting that “Dr Singh needs to find a way to avoid the meeting and instead, find ways to engage at a lower level”. At the same time the paper said “it might be in the fitness of things if the government gave some sign of understanding to the sense of injury among the people on the beheading of Indian soldiers in January and the killing of give jawans earlier this week.” The paper congratulated the Opposition for saying “the whole country stood with the government on the Pakistan question”.
Hindustan Times ( August 9 said: “To be very realistic, India’s best bet is to talk to them and at least gauge what measures can be taken to avert such incidents in the future.” If we are to believe the Defence Ministry, the Army is not given freedom to react the best way it can and one wonders how the Army will futurely react to Pak terrorism.
Swapan Das Gupta, writing in The Times of India (August 11) pointed out that “just too long India has been clutching at straws, trying its best to strengthen the ‘good’ Pakistani vis-à-vis the ‘bad’ guys in the seminaries and cantonments”. He emphasised that Pakistan has detected ‘openings’ in “a week and fractured government in Delhi” and added: “It is too late in the day to inject cement into the spine of the present Indian dispensation. The Government seems a passing show.” Dasgupta has not said it openly but from what he has said, one gets the impression that as a “long-term strategy” India must work towards dismembering Pakistan further without the least sense of guilt, “by means fair or foul”. It must be further divided by giving, for example, not just moral support to the Baluchis, but arms equipment and training to take on their evil bosses in Islamabad. And much the same effort must be made to separate Sindh from Pakistan and there is no need to be apologetic, about it. If Pakistani ‘terrorists’ (another name for armed units in civil clothes) can attempt to fund uprising in Kashmir, India should be free to pay back in the same coin. Baba Ramdev reflected public opinion fully when he said as quoted in Hindustan Times (August 11) that the Centre must adopt “an eye-for-an-eye approach” and kill at least 50 Pakistani soldiers for the five killed in Poonch.
Several columnists writing in The New Sunday Express (August 11 ) also had strong views to express. Thus, Saroj Gaur, a former Allahabad University Professor and a Rights activist advised the External Affairs Minister “to have a hard look at the statement of 40 former Indian military and civilian leaders that calls for a radical shift in India policy. Among the signatories are two former Army Chiefs, an Air Force Chief, two heads of RAW, a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, a Director General of BSF, two Foreign Secretaries and two Home Secretaries, whose knowledge can hardly be questioned. Noting that “short of waging a war, there are many options that India can explore” Saroj Gaur said India “could execute more aggressive retaliation against infiltration across the Line of Control.”
The paper’s editor-in-chief Prabhu Chawla damned the UPA government for lacking long term perspective and for shrinking their horizon for a global overview to becoming mere camp followers of the US take on international diplomacy”. Chawla said that “When Pakistan-based terrorists and ISI henchmen murder Indians, our rulers disturbingly don’t even catch a cold… Our diplomats are busy playing golf and smoking cigars in Nepal, a playground for extremists from China and Pakistan.” It is clear that the public anger is rising steadily and one shouldn’t be surprised if in a public display of distrust the public demands the resignation of the UPA government and fresh elections.