Both India and Pakistan need to exercise restraint, but we also need to lay down a threshold which says — this far and no more, says Colonel (retired) Jaibans Singh
The nation is just about coming to grips with the brutal gang rape in New Delhi and now its collective sensibility has been assaulted by the equally brutal killing of two of its brave soldiers, Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh, while they were patrolling the Line of Control at Mendhar, Jammu and Kashmir, well within their own territory and jurisdiction.
While there exists no doubt about this sordid incident being the handiwork of the beasts who pass off as soldiers in the Pakistan Army, the government of Pakistan would like us to believe that somebody from Mars or something came down to commit this crime against humanity.
The entire government, from Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Salman Bashir, have brazenly denied the involvement of their soldiers in the whole dastardly affair.
As the nation grieves over this mindless death of its soldiers, there is a need to reflect on the situation.
India has undoubtedly sent a strong protest, but would that be sufficient? Should we express our horror for a few days and get back to business as usual mode or, should we get to grips with this clear indicator of a confrontational mindset that continues to prevail in the neighbouring nation?
Brutality of this nature is not new to Pakistan, especially the Pakistan Army. The world is well aware of the manner in which Captain Saurabh Kalia and five brave Indian soldiers were taken captive by the Pakistan Army during the Kargil war in 1999 and subjected to the most horrendous form of torture over 22 days from May 15 to June 7, 1999.
Their mutilated bodies were handed over to India with a single bullet in the temple indicating a cold bloodied murder. What is more horrifying is that Pakistani leaders still go about making crude, insensitive remarks on this issue.
There are other instances of such sadistic behaviour by the Pakistani soldiers and jihadi terrorists, who have a free run of the country. Atrocities are routinely reported from across the nation, especially in areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. It seems that, in its cult of violence, Pakistan has reserved a special place for India and Indians.
Having established Pakistan’s proclivity to resort to barbarism at the drop of a hat, we need to look at the options available to India. To name and shame Pakistan as suggested by some eminent leaders is a good idea. However, not much would come of it because Pakistan is already named and shamed in the international community as the global epicentre of terrorism and violence.
The country does not seem to be unduly worried by the ignominy, as it feels secure due to the fact that it holds strategic relevance to the two biggest world powers — the United States and China — and as such it can get away with murder.
One would not be quite off the mark by suggesting that had a similar incident taken place against the United States or China, by now, at least the local area from where this brutality had emanated would have been destroyed with air and artillery fire.
India is also a big regional power and an emerging global power, if it resorts to a localised military response, the world would not be in a situation to complain given the magnitude of inhumanity in what Pakistan has done.
Public outcry has emerged as a potent force in recent times. For India, the loss of its two brave soldiers in this manner, is an issue as grave as the gang rape that led to massive nationwide protests.
The brutality and inhumanity in both incidents is of a comparable level. The public, therefore, needs to express its anger against Pakistan on the streets. People to people contact and initiatives like the ongoing South Asia Free Media Association meetings and other ‘Aman Ki Asha’ type of programmes need to be given a serious re-look in the light of these developments.
India needs to reject the double standards that are prevalent in Pakistan’s attitude.
There is also a need to put a lid on all talk of lowering the security threshold in Jammu and Kashmir. It is not the sole responsibility of the Indian Army to cry hoarse about the enhanced threat levels that are prevalent in the state. It is there for all to see.
It should never be forgotten that those who are guarding our frontiers are good human beings and honourable soldiers, if they are denigrated while performing their duty they do feel bad and to suggest that their morale and efficiency is not adversely affected by negative talk would be a fallacy.
The bottom line, therefore, is that the time for India to flex its muscles in tune with its global and regional status has arrived.
Agreed both India and Pakistan need to exercise restraint, but we also need to lay down a threshold which says — this far and no more. If the whole matter culminates with some meetings and a few well guarded words, mostly spoken by our ministry of external affairs, then no message would have been sent to the Pakistani Army and such intransigence will keep happening.
This is the time for the ministry of defence to be heard more than the MEA.
It is for the government to decide what is to be done, but firm decisive action is definitely called for.
The response also needs to be timely.