My last week’s column boldly insisted that there was not going to be a war between the two nuclear armed states. As of the latest, aggression has indeed taken place. The Indian army claims to have conducted surgical strikes into Pakistan controlled territory. Pakistan has denied this claim and has insisted that it was the usual cross border firings, this time including mortars. Regardless, 2 Pakistani army personnel have died. As a response, the Pakistan army conducted targeting firing and mortar shelling killing, as it claims, hordes of Indian army personnel. Both sides have rejoiced. Not just the laymen, mind you, but celebrities have used their media presence to proclaim their support for the killings. Cinemas are banning movies from across the border. SAARC gatherings have been postponed. The word ‘Dushman’ is common in the news lingo again, across the two countries. If this is not war, what is?

And yet, I would still insist that those hoping endlessly for a war between the two nations will be disappointed. War will not be happening because the motivation for the same is a faulted one. The only motivation behind the aggression from the Indian side seems to be based on inertia. Modi won the elections based on anti-Pakistan rhetoric. As he stepped into his official capacity, he insisted that he would adopt a strong position against Pakistan. His rule would be hardened as compared to the previous government. His government got much support for this stance so much so that the population at large ignored the bigotry Modi allowed to spread across the country. From having ultra-right parties act as moral brigades against those eating beef, to constantly harassing celebrities from across the border, to bullying journalists and intellectuals to conducting harrowing military operations against civilian populations. Modi’s time is an ugly one in the history of the country and in times to come, it would taint the progress the country achieved under the previous government.

Modi lives in his own house of glass founded on populist rhetoric. As is with such situations, he believes (and indeed rightly so) that he would have to keep the emotions running high if he is to maintain power. Sadly, he is not wrong. However, as I put in the article from last week, thankfully the decision makers are not addicted to the same. By decision makers, I speak of the bureaucrats in the respective foreign offices who have to, almost always, clean the mess left behind by emotional politicians and army representatives. As has been observed numerous times in the case of these two countries, the back door diplomacy manages to bring out peace in the most tumultuous times. Even as the worst is expected presently, there is no doubt that the diplomats have already started working towards finding a solution to ease the tensions. International pressure would help their cause and amplify their efforts. It is but a matter of time.

As claimed in last week’s column, India’s claim about Uri were and remain ludicrous. The only achievement that comes out of the claims is the shift of attention of the international community from the atrocities committed in Kashmir. This was obviously the main motivation behind the accusations. Dr. Maleeha Lodhi is in a difficult position right now and it is important that she handles this situation well. There can be no justifications to acts of terrorism and the Pakistani state too has come to firmly believe this. Unlike what is believed widely across India, Pakistan’s stance does not support terrorism or cross border infiltration. However, the state would not and must not allow any aggression towards its people either. It must now ignore the horrendous actions of the Indian military in occupied Kashmir. This leaves Dr. Lodhi in a unique position. She has to prove to the world at large that Pakistan is not a terrorist state as India has continued to claim. She has to condemn the Indian military for its aggression while staying defiant against them. And, most importantly, she needs snatch back the focus of the international audience to Kashmir where India continues to exploit hapless population mercilessly.

The two countries are acting like children but this is not new. The trend has been the same since the very beginning. It is up to the people in the countries to act maturely. Banning art forms or asking artists to refrain from working is not the way to go. The civil society must rise up and support state officials and diplomats who, it is hoped, are already working to ease the tensions. The laymen should do the same. There is no other way to this.