By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
The act of retaliation to the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 49 members of armed forces have sacrificed their lives should be the last and final one to find an end to the lingering Kashmir problem as this attack must make every Indian feel “enough is enough.” Having suffered humiliating defeat in four direct wars that Pakistan has waged against India, Islamabad resorted to proxy war by breeding, harboring and pitting terrorists against India. It is high time that this proxy war is ended.
Every time India is attacked by Pak-bred terrorists, and when India complains about it, Pakistan demands proof of their involvement and their presence in Pakistan, while those terrorist organizations and their leaders themselves make their presence felt in Pakistan and claim responsibility for such attacks. But Pakistani rulers do not take cognizance of them or attempt to try the offenders in courts of law or hand them over to India. These terrorist leaders not only move freely in Pakistan, but also some of them enjoy official patronage.
Pakistan has become one of the safest harboring grounds for terrorist groups. Pakistan has not learnt a lesson from the universal shame it was subjected to when the US skillfully eliminated in an over-night tactical operation noted terrorist Osama bin Laden, who till then found a safe haven ever since he was hunted down by the US after the terrorist attack on its famous Twin Towers in New York. And that was the last major terrorist attack on the US.
Now India should take a vow to make the Pulwama terrorist attack be the last cowardly act that Pak-supported terrorists could indulge in. Such a direct action could be the fitting reply of India to Pakistan. An angry demand for a retaliatory action against Pakistan has been spontaneous reaction by people of all sections all over India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi aptly reflected their feeling and immediately announced that the Indian Armed forces have been given a free hand to take up whatever action they would feel like to avenge and pay a fitting tribute to the 49 soldiers who had become martyrs.
Another immediate action the Prime Minister has taken has been withdrawal of the “Most Favored Nation” status accorded to Pakistan and simultaneously raising duty on all Pak exports to India by 200 percent. The Indian defense forces on their part acted quickly, “hunted” for the culprits, located them in a Pulwama village and killed three of them in a fiercely fought encounter. The retaliatory bravery shown by Indian defense forces has been exemplary though four of them, including a Major, have become martyrs. The Center has also withdrawn the protective security cover given to the Kashmiri separatist leaders.
As a follow-up action, the Indian Air Force has exhibited its flying prowess and fire power by an air exercise in Pokhran on February 17. It is a fact that the defense might of India is four-fold higher than Pakistan’s capability though both the countries are nuclear powers. As an aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist act the United Nations and all major countries of the world, including the US, the UK, Russia, France, Japan, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia have expressed solidarity with India and condemned the support Pakistan has been extending to terrorists.
While retaliatory military action by India against Pakistan can be one option, there is an example that India can emulate the US – the tactical operation that Washington adopted through its Navy SEALS code-named as Operation Neptune Spear in which Osama Bin Laden was hunted out and killed giving Pakistan no chance to complain. If Gandhian principle of non-violence is to be adopted, India should seek cooperation of all the major nations to impose universally acceptable political, diplomatic, trade, economic and other types of sanctions and make Pakistan suffer an isolation. In any case for India there is no need to relent but sternly act against Pakistan’s continued misdeeds.
It is unfortunate that some countries like China and Saudi Arabia, which sympathize with India and condemn Pak-backed terrorist attacks, are materially and financially supporting Pakistan. As recently as on February 17, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during his visit to Pakistan, announced a huge financial help to that country. Similarly China has offered satellite monitoring support to Pakistan, which can directly watch India’s troop movement.
As a step to boost trade and commerce of Kashmiris and help them economically, India must also scrap the Article 35A and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, to boost economic activity in the Valley and create opportunities for all entrepreneurs to invest in Jammu and Kashmir for its economic growth and job creation. No one objects to governmental protection to Kashmiris’ interests through special status to the State, but they should be made to feel that they are part of the Indian mainstream. Unemployment is one big problem in Jammu and Kashmir. The idle and jobless youth are succumbing to the lure of terrorist groups, who are taking advantage of turning the youngsters to “pattarbajis,” or make them to take to terrorism. These youngsters must realize that they are Indians and should not throw stones at their own defense personnel, who are protecting them, their State, their country and its people as a whole.
The misguided youth, the separatists and the avarice Pakistani rulers should realize that Kashmir is constitutionally an integral part of India and any separatist demand is a closed chapter forever. Kashmiris are very much Indian citizens. No one has any claim and India has no need to answer to anyone on these issues.
Social, cultural, political, diplomatic, economic, trade and other types of isolation only make Pakistan realize that it should stop supporting terrorists, and make the country economically and socially viable.
Take the example of North Korea, with all its nuclear and missile strength, which gets support from China, feels isolated economically. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is now seeking the friendship of US President Donald Trump with a request to lift the US sanctions. Similarly, Pakistan, despite the support and patronage of a couple of countries it enjoys, it must be made to feel isolated through international sanctions. Such an isolation should work in the case of Pakistan also.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao