Once again, the systematic cycle of war and peace has war clouds gathering at the forefront. How do we know this for sure? Well, media on both sides of the borders is frothing at the mouth on the prospect of yet another twisted conflict.
Public opinion in both countries has like always, been shaped into vain hyper-patriotism and inclined to give the other a bloody nose. Add to that the fervor of independence days of the two countries fallen only recently and you get a perfect recipe for disaster.
The million-dollar question is, can any of the two nuclear equipped countries afford a war that will only lead to death and destruction on an inconceivably catastrophic scale? The simple answer should definitely No! How else could reason allow us to tread on a path so suicidal?
Is India ready for another war?
India has made some huge investments in the recent years to bolster its economy to an extent where now it presumably boasts of being the 10th biggest economy in the world, in terms of GDP.
To break the myth, its per capita GDP apparently rose from $670 in 2004 to $1100 in 2012, which is no means an achievement by any standards. Now, just for sake of comparison, Pakistan’s in the same period went up from $530 to $670, but that is beside the point. The real point to take home is it doesn’t need any telling that war is nothing but synonymous to massive destruction both in terms of infrastructure and wealth. And none of the countries are remotely able to afford it.
Why not? Because economies go bankrupt within days and inflation reaches levels, almost unimaginable in times of peace. Even the strongest economies take ages to recover from war roil. But when the warring countries are both nuclear states, it makes the range of cataclysm even more unpredictable.
Tune out the inciteful media remarks and distorted statements of patriotism; India would never try such an avoidable (mis) adventure. Especially not at the cost of zeroing all its economic achievement made in the last decade or so.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has more than hands full with problems of its own; from economic woes to terrorism to drone strikes and floods, the list is endless. Its army is already over stretched with internal commitments in the North Western region. The last thing it will ever need is a full-blown confrontation on the Eastern front too.
And so, without any gain saying, Pakistan is in a much worse position as compared to India at least as far as its economy is concerned. For a country relying on IMF bailouts, war is just not an option. Recent skirmishes on the border have brought the warmongers on both sides out of their holes and they are going into overdrive drumming up support for a full-fledged armed conflict.
One Indian MP called for beheading 50 Pakistanis in response to the 5 allegedly killed by Pakistan across the LoC. Similarly, some self-proclaimed ‘defence analysts’ in Pakistan are surely enjoying a field day with the ‘free’ news channels triggering the onset of their version of Ghazwa-e-Hind.
But where there are hawks, fortunately, there are doves too on both sides of the border. Indian Defence Minister AK Antony gave a clean chit to the Pakistan Army over their alleged violation of LoC. Similarly Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for the peace talks to be continued despite these incidents.
What is for sure is, with will and correct guidance; the two neighboring countries can embark on an everlasting journey of peace and betterment of the millions of people both sides of the borders. Some important initiatives will have to be taken and stuck to despite all odds and oppositions:
Waving white flags will only bring us good:
1. Complete overhaul of the curriculum getting rid of all hate-instilling material against the other country. Education is the single most important player in the quest for achieving peace. This will not only breed our future generations devoid of hate but will also deny breathing space to the existing hate mongers.
2. Strict and sincere peace accord between the two nations to be ensured. Armed forces of both countries to have strict orders of not violating the LoC. Any violations from either side to be dealt with full force of the law of its own country. This will act as the first step towards disarming the LoC.
3. Preceding point to lead to disarmament and significant reduction in defence budgets. The finances released this way to be invested in education, health and other development projects.
4. Mass media campaigns to remove mistrust amongst the masses for the other country. It will take at least a generation of incident free time to get rid of the mistrust that has been built over the years, but this process has to start now.
5. More and more opportunities to be provided to people from all walks of life to mingle up with their counterparts across the border; to let people find out that human race is peaceful and loving by default and that race, religion and geographical boundaries shouldn’t come between this natural instinct.
Let us keep our egos aside and give peace a real chance for once, not for anyone else but for our own people’s sake. And yes, together we can do it!