The war hysteria whipped up by the Modi government in the backdrop of the Pulwama incident manifested its ugly face in the wee hours on Tuesday when the Indian Air Force planes crossed the LOC and had to retreat dropping their payloads after being challenged by Pakistani planes. The act was repeated on Wednesday costing India downing of two of its intruding planes and capture of a pilot.

The Indian actions constituted naked aggression against Pakistan justifying an appropriate response by her. The civilian and military leadership decided to give a befitting reply to India and the entire political leadership and people of Pakistan expressed their unqualified support. The improvidence shown by the Modi government has created a situation which if escalates will lead to disastrous consequences in regards to peace and security in the region.

Pakistani fighter planes by shooting down the Indian aircraft using the right to respond without crossing the LOC gave a loud and clear message to the Indian leadership that Pakistan was fully capable and ready to thwart any aggressive act against her. It also indicated to the word that in spite of the grave provocation it did not want an escalation in the tensions which could lead to war between the two nuclear nations.

It is noteworthy that Pakistan not only condemned the incident in the severest terms but also asked India to give credible evidence supporting her claims about Pakistani involvement, pledging to take the required action. After breaking out of hostilities Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address to the nation again presented an olive branch to India stressing the need for peaceful resolution of the issue. He was right on the money to point out that wars have their own momentum and once started were not easy to control by the warring sides. The military authorities, National Command Authority, and the entire political leadership while expressing impregnable resolve to thwart the Indian designs also reiterated the need for dialogue pointing out that wars did not bring a solution of the disputes rather they indicated failure of the policy. Pakistan in view of the burgeoning danger also launched a diplomatic offensive and reached out to the world community asking them to play their part in de-escalating the situation which also strengthened her credentials as a peace-loving nation.

It is pertinent to point out that even before the Pulwama attack Pakistan feared some sinister move by the Modi government in view of the ensuing Indian elections and had sounded a number if world capitals about it. Pakistan was vindicated when it happened. Pakistan believes that Modi is trying to exploit the incident for his electoral victory by fomenting anti-Pakistan feelings among the Indian voters. That claim gains strength from the statement of the chief of Indian extremist political party Maharashra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackery who called the Indian soldiers killed in the attack ‘political victims’ maintaining that truth would be revealed if the country’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was probed. On top of that 21 political parties of India including Congress have also held Modi responsible for the situation alleging that he was using the Pulwama tragedy for political gains.

Voices reiterating restraint by both India and Pakistan and de-escalating the situation have already started emerging from the world capitals urging the need for dialogue between the two countries and number of them are in contact with both the countries. US secretary of state has also spoken to foreign ministers of Pakistan and India asking them to end military confrontation and take measure for direct dialogue between them. The US Secretary-General has also expressed grave concern over the snow-balling situation and offered to mediate between India and Pakistan if both were agreeable to the proposition.

In my view merely expressing concern and asking both the parties to initiate dialogue is not enough. It was the right time for the world community to adopt a pro-active approach in facilitating the dialogue. In fact, in view of the precarious situation that presents a great threat to the regional peace, it is incumbent upon the Secretary-General of the UN to exercise his powers under article 99 of the UN Charter asking the Security Council to intervene to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn. However, it is also imperative to remove the root cause of the hostilities and enmity between India and Pakistan if the UN and the world community sincerely want lasting peace in this region.

The UN must form a commission to probe the Pulwama incident. The UN Human Rights Commission in its report has already corroborated the violation of human rights in the IHK by the Indian security forces. What India is doing in IHK is an affront to the conscience of the civilized world as well as the UN as a peacekeeping body. The world and the UN cannot remain oblivious.

India also must recognise the ultimate reality. It cannot keep the people of Kashmir subjugated forever. For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition. India needs to learn from history. Eighty years of fighting between the Dutch and Spain ended through the treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Germany and France ended the persistent confrontation between them spread over several decades which paved the way for the emergence of the European Union. Both the countries are now partners complimenting the economic development of each other as well as contributing to the economic and political strength of the EU. India, therefore, must abandon acting as a war-like state and keeping peace and tranquillity of the region a hostage to her improvident inclinations.

Modi government has indeed taken a very big risk in trying to reap political advantage in the ensuing general elections.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance