India creating war hysteria

February 18, 2019

Following Pulwama attack, New Delhi government and media is beating war drums again, this time deafeninglyas politically-charged and contradictory statements issued by Indian PM Narendra Modi and his senior cabinet ministers indicate. Modi has vowed ‘befitting reply’ to the ‘perpetrators of the heinous attack and their patrons’. What India forgets is, the latest attack comes amidst alarming spike in violence in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), especially since the killing of popular 22-year-old Kashmiri commander Burhan Wani in 2016. According to official statistics, more than 500 people were killed in 2018 in the IOK, the highest toll in a decade. Pakistan condemned the attack and rejected allegations that it was in any way responsible for it. In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the country has “always condemned heightened acts of violence” in Kashmir and that it will “strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations.” China also condemned the attack, saying it was “deeply shocked” by it. “We firmly oppose and strongly condemn all forms of terrorism. We hope relevant regional countries will cooperate to cope with the threat of terrorism and jointly uphold regional peace and stability,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Quite meaningfully, Kashmir’s top Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik also expressed sorrow over the attack and said the “people and leadership of Kashmir regret every killing that happens on its soil”. “As we witness killing of our loved ones and shoulder their coffins each day, we can feel and understand the pain and sense of loss that the family and friends of those who are killed go through,” read the joint statement. They asserted that the delay in the resolution of Kashmir dispute, denial to engage with the sentiments and aspirations of Kashmiris was ‘wreaking havoc in Kashmir’. The popular opinion in both India and Pakistan seems against any military adventure. Social media has been flooded with posts asking India to avoid ‘chest-thumping’ and ‘war rhetoric’. “Once again the usual chest thumping and war rhetoric by Indians on the Pulwama attack without understanding the structural, institutional and social causes of the Kashmir independence movement,” tweeted Anubhav Singh from India. “All the rhetoric of war in the Indian media would do no good, instead it is time for introspection for the Modi government and it must move towards finding a solution of Kashmir by engaging with real stakeholders namely Pakistan and Hurriyat,” tweeted Hassan Raza from Pakistan. With general elections approaching in India, Modi is expected to play his cards tactfully. Will war with Pakistan at this juncture help him retain the chair?