India and Pakistan are on the path of collision. It seems that all is set for another war between the two neighbours. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressing the army jawans near Line of Actual Control (LOC) in Kupwara district on Wednesday asked soldiers to be ready for a deceive battle with Pakistan. He also asked them to be ready for sacrificing their lives for the nation. The tone and tenor of Prime Minister’s speech suggested that the dove of Indian politics had also turned into a hawk. It also indicated that there was no scope for initiating another peace initiative with the neighbouring country for resolution of all outstanding issues between the two. Talking war is not statesmanlike but talking peace yes.
More than one million Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been facing each other eye ball to eye ball for past five months. Backed by all logistic support including warplanes, tanks and missile batteries they have been in war ready situation. Death traps have been laid along more than six hundred kilometers border and the dividing line in Kashmir. The share markets of the two countries tell a horrifying tale about the impact of war like situation on their respective economies. The longest stand off, in the history of the two nations has adversely affected the common man in the two countries. The pinch of the war hysteria is being felt by millions of Indians living much below the poverty line. Seen dispassionately fall-out of the confrontation between the two countries has been more devastating than three wars fought by the two countries in the past.
People living on the borders and near the LoC have been paying heavily for the longest ever battle ready situation. In fact planting of thousands of lands mines along the borders has brought agricultural activity to a halt in these areas and rendered thousands of people jobless. People living along the LoC in Jammu area are the worst hit. Thousands of families have been displaced and forced to take shelter in refugee camps. The question that haunts common people is that why can not the military stand off end and give place to fresh peace initiatives in order to settle disputes.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars after British departed from the South Asian region and nearly went for the fourth one in 1999. There has been no victor and vanquished in these wars. Seen in retrospect these wars have brought only death and destruction to the two countries. During 1971 war ten thousands Indian soldiers were killed. No doubt Pakistan was dismembered and another country was born but the question arises what was net gain to India. In clear terms it can be said that India gained nothing out of this war.
The war in no way helped in resolving the differences between the two countries. Another war would mean yet another phase of death and destruction for the ordinary citizens of the two impoverished nations. There is need to understand that diplomacy is more powerful than exchanging of cannons and missiles. Country need not be swept away by misplaced patriotism.
Mr. Sajjad Haider is the editor-in-chief of the daily Kashmir Observer.