Damned if he does: Damned if he does not

Compared to Pulwama, Uri was child’s play. Decisive surgical strikes accomplished by Modi administration, giving a go by to past restrained/resilient practices seems so distant and a no brainier. Pulwama pales in comparison. Modi administration is on its last leg. He has portrayed himself to be a strong leader and that 56’ boast had its say in the voters’ preference in 2014. He mocked at the pusillanimity of the UPA regime in ‘talking and talking’. 2019 was sewn up for good even 6 months previously. Now it is not. Modi has a fight on his hands. The barbs and exchanges between his government and the opposition discloses the visceral divide. Mahagatbhandhan is not an elusive beast. It is in the realm of reality with Akhilesh Yadav of SP and Mayawati of BSP agreeing to put up a joint front in UP. The handholding exercise by opposition leaders Pan India is not mere optics anymore.

The international world order has pivoted beyond recognition. Leader of the Free World Donald J Trump has indulged in isolationism with an America First cry. He has pulled US out of Paris Climate Accord, NAFTA agreement. Iran Nuclear Deal, the Disarmament variant with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, executive orders to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan are in the works and in action, and most importantly Trump is desperate to pull out of NATO, which would be a huge blow, an institution standing firm after WWII.

Russia has serious economic problems on its lap. It is struggling to keep its citizens comfortable. Putin may have Trump dancing to his tunes but he surely is not the leader that a Czar of Soviet Union was. Europe has its cup of woes. Teresa May is deep in Brexit imbroglio. A hard Brexit is on the anvil and Britain itself is looking for support. Germany’s Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron of France are beleaguered with local convulsions on the immigration and economic fronts. Bibi Nethanyahu, Israel, now a good trustworthy friend of India, is facing elections.

That leaves China, seemingly quiet and firm on its growth path. No, not true. For the first time in over two decades its rate of growth is stressed and the Trade Deal woes with US are real. US companies like Apple have shown depleting returns in China and that impacts Chinese employment. And lack of freedom for its citizens has been a continuous pimple requiring close attention lest it breaks out to scar its face.

It is in such a scenario that Modi is required to take a call on Pulwama. Damned, if he does. Damned, if he dare not. No matter whichever way he goes, it would be a hot button issue during 2019 elections. The opposition would be unwilling to spare him for any slip up. They cannot, let’s accept.

“Nation’s Blood is boiling”- anguished Prime Minister Modi. Very true. We have too many caskets of our soldiers from the borders, not to forget 26/11 Mumbai Massacre, which remains unanswered. We have lost count. They have become numbers to mourn, candle vigils and strong resolutions and letters to the editors’. We are tired. They say, We are resilient, whoever ‘they’ is. Resilience, my foot. It has meant little to the sorrowing families and the nation.

Pakistan is a rogue nation. It is a terrorist State. Period. Pakistan will never reconcile itself to India and its growing presence in the world order. No matter we may be cussed among ourselves, our advance in every field is there for all to see. Yes, we deserved to be in a better station in our march over time. China has galloped while the elephant is stuttering. Yet Pakistan cannot digest our status. And China which views India as a ‘competitor’ as China Times recently worried, despite the fact Ruchir Sharma would say, “We are nowhere near competing but even the fact that we are in the race far behind irks China no end’. They would like us to fall off the radar. The rogue status of Pakistan is a welcome tool for China and they will exploit it as well as they can.

China has been a protector of Pak’s interest in the UN. Security Council Veto from China is a given, no matter our diplomatic efforts are strong, stubborn and persuasive. The other permanent members are in no state to come to our aid as yet, to isolate Pakistan with severe sanctions they deserve. Withdrawal of $2 Billion Most Favoured Nation status by India would be pocket money restored by China. Yes, we need to move the diplomacy rope with all our might. But that would be a total waste unless we take India’s Destiny in our own hands and deal with Pakistan directly.

For too long Pakistan has been proclaiming its nuclear hand would be a sure deterrent. Yes, India has taken No First Use line. It may lead to a conflagration and India would be unwilling. Yet, the time is now to call the bluff. Time for talk shall cease. We need to act. True, unlike Uri surprise, this time Pakistan would be ready and possibly well prepared and surgical strikes may be thwarted or there may be casualties on our side. And as Genl. Montgomery put it “ Underestimate even your weakest foe at your own peril’. We cannot afford to do that.

But Modi needs to know that India is ready. We the People have for too long been patient and resilient. At what cost to Mother India’s sons. The sacrifices have gone on long enough. We are ready for the supreme sacrifice now. The people. Not soldiers alone. Pakistani bluff needs to be called off and quick.

India may need to target the ‘terrorist camps’ which the world knows exists inside Pakistan. They are documented not in Intelligence Reports but in academic works. Or their intelligence units or nuclear establishments. The choice must be that of the forces, with the civilian government and We The People solidly behind. The words of US Secretary of State, Pompeo is encouraging. He has said “India deserves a break and we stand by them in this hour of crisis’.

We are ready. We can choose our time and place. But it would not be secret today for India Today is eager to ‘retaliate’ not ‘start’ the combat. Therein lays the truth of it all. We are paying back Pakistan in their own language. The only language a rogue nation understands. Pakistan is vulnerable. They have a wobbly and ill settled Imran Khan as the civilian head. Real power resides in the Army blinded by animosity to India’s well being. Pakistan faces pressure from all its borders and it will face a logistics nightmare and China for all its bombastic terminology is unlikely to intervene physically.

We therefore need to identify our target. The terrorists and their handlers. Plan and wound them double quick beyond repair. The world would be happy. Even the Islamic friends in Saudi Arabia and Arab Nations with their Wahabi hue causing them harm, are unlikely to go beyond word support.

We can trust our loyal soldiers and military might to deliver it. The terrorists need to be neutralised. Yes, there could be collateral damage. We may face retaliation as Pakistan may not take it lying down. But the world will not watch then. They would surely restrain the Pakis for they were the instigators and for how long. Yet, We The People must be ready. We shall Overcome.

Pakistan, no matter how rougish they are, is unlikely to press the Nuke button. They know and should know that there will no Pakistan, were that to happen. India will continue to exist even if a Hiroshima or Nagasaki take place, for we are a continent. God forbid.

The message we need to carry in our bosom and express it too is We The People are Ready. Words mean nothing. Easy to express. The ones who would face the moments of madness will not be us in the South. But we need to stand up. Our moral conviction and support system would mean a lot. Ought to.

Let us forget the elections. They come and go. India goes on forever. But body bags cannot keep coming. We are disgusted with the count. No more room for debates, discussions and conferences. Time for decisive action. We must stand united. No dissenting voices of any kind. We owe it to the brothers and sisters who have sacrificed their all at the borders. We owe it to Bharat Mata. She cannot keep losing her loving sons and daughters for no fault of ours except as a fact of history and geography.

This is not time for jingoistic calls. Agreed. Equally not time to be calm and resilient to indulge in Aman ki Ashas. It is time for ‘action’. Let us leave it to the armed forces to decide. And for the civilian Government to yield. Let us solidly stand behind them and support. Give them our all as they are giving their all for us. Least we can do is to pray and hope. We Shall Overcome. Jai Hind.

(About the Author: Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan is practicing Advocate in the Madras High Court)

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