Can India Afford A War?

EditorialCan India Afford A War?

‘This world, as we know it, can change in a blink of an eye.’ The past few decades have witnessed several such events (read World Wars, Cuban Missile Crisis, Korea conflict etc) that conformed to this quote. Tensions between nations escalated to such an extent that the world witnessed in distress as chances of full-scale nuclear war loomed. Thankfully, India has never had a situation that endangered world peace, until now. India and Pakistan are at a verge of potential war, maybe even a nuclear war. What happened that we are now facing this danger? Are we really looking at a full-blown war? Can India afford a war?


Tensions between India and Pakistan have always been at a high, now more than ever. And this has happened in a matter of just 2 weeks. On 14 February, an SUV laden with 350+ Kg explosives rammed into a bus of CRPF convoy in Pulwama, J&K. This ghastly terrorist attack martyred 44 Jawans and left several injured. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terror outfit with an objective to liberate Kashmir from India, took the responsibility of the attack. Jaish, headed by Masood Azhar, is an organization that is functioning safely in the interiors of Pakistan through ISI and Pakistan Army’s support. This terror outfit is also responsible for carrying out the attack on Pathankot Air Base and in Uri in 2016.
The immediate response of the Indian Government was to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation status accorded to Pakistan. The duty on exports from Pakistan was raised to 200%. India also summoned envoys of 25 nations to apprise them of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack and the safe haven it gives to terror outfit. India has also decided to divert its share of water from the Indus Water Treaty. However, the biggest chapter in this story was written by the Indian Air force on 26 February.
12 Mirage 2000 jets, in a pre-emptive Non-Military strike, bombed the camps of Jaish in Balakot, Muzzafarnagar and Chakoti in Pakistan. Acting on confirmed intelligence reports that Jaish-e-Mohammad was planning more attacks like Pulwama across India, the IAF bombed their major camps. This was not a military strike as it was an attack on the terrorist camps however Pakistan vowed revenge. This unfolded another chapter, bringing us closer to the war.
The next day, skirmishes across the LOC increased like never before. Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement. Such were the tensions that Pakistan scrambled its F-16 Fighter jets across Loc. Responding to this development, the IAF through its Mig-21s led the charge of retaliation. A Mig led by pilot Abhinandan Varthaman shot down an F-16. However, in the process, he crashed in POK and was captured by the Pakistani army. He was first found by a mob that beat him black and blue but was later rescued by the Pakistani Army. Their Army later released videos of the captured pilot drawing flak from media and the Indian government.
The Geneva Convention 1949 of the UN dictates that if a soldier is not returned within 7 days, the country can officially declare war. And within hours of his capture, the entire world’s eye was on the Indian subcontinent as the potential of a massive Indian retaliation loomed. However, heeding to the Geneva Convention, Pakistan PM Imran Khan declared today that they’ll release Abhinandan as a ‘peace gesture’. While this has brought down the tensions between the two nations for a period of time, one cannot say how long this period will last. The potential of war exists like before.


In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, social media was divided between 3 camps. One camp demanded a war as they thought that this was the final straw and that Pakistan needs to pay for its crimes. The other camp demanded that this situation is dealt through channels of talk for peace. They opined that war is not the solution and that peace between the two nations is the way forward. The third camp sought a middle ground. They didn’t blow the horn of war but they advocated that an effective retaliation is necessary. They said that their ‘war’ is not against Pakistan but those terror camps that have carried out attacks against India for years now and a means forward to put an end to this is of utmost importance.
Should we go for war? Simply put, the answer is No. A war between the two nations is never the solution. India’s fight is not with Pakistan’s army per se. It is with those Fidayeen and Mujahideens to whom Pakistan provides a safe haven. Moreover, neither country can afford the costs of war. India might still survive the perils of war and its human and financial costs. Pakistan won’t. And losing our brave men for a fight that can be completely avoided sounds a futile notion. The war against Pakistan has to be fought but not on the borders.
Are talks for peace a solution? While the call for war on social media is an insane notion, equally if not more ridiculous is the idea of peace talks. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi have all initiated dialogues and soft diplomacy with the Pakistani government. But each of their talks and visit has been followed by a terrorist attack claiming hundreds of lives. However, it can’t be ruled out that peace talks are not a solution. But that poses another question? Who do we initiate the talks with? The Pakistani Government which has always been a play toy of Pakistan’s army and has absolutely no say in the country’s working? Or should we talk to their Army and ISI, which has their motto as ‘Bleed India by a 1000 cuts’? Or with those men in Jaish and Lashkar camps?
Has India really come to that where we’ll have to beg those, whose agenda is to kill Indians, for peace? Our government certainly won’t do that. Will our Media and peace warriors take the charge and engage in dialogue with these hate-mongers? Will they walk the talk?
Moreover, the media and sections of intelligentsia cite the examples of Germany and France, US and Japan as benchmarks for peace dialogues. But only a person unaware of the dynamics of the Indo-Pak relations will cite such examples. For one, none of those countries harboured and funded terrorists to wage proxy wars against the other.
Yes, we want peace and not pieces but how? With the channels of talk having been rendered fruitless, is retaliation against the real perpetrators a way out?
This government certainly thinks so. Surgical Strikes in 2016 and Balakot airstrikes in2019 have given an idea of the channels of response that shall be followed now. Moreover, there exist other ways as well to compel Pakistan to choke out these Fidayeens. India has already initiated the process of isolation of Pakistan at the global stage. Several diplomatic measures have been adopted to counter this menace.US has withdrawn its aid to Pakistan as a result of their hand in world terrorism. France, UK, Russia have initiated the process in Security Council to get Jaish-e Mohammad banned.

Having said this, we as responsible citizens can only stand united in the face of such dark times while our Army and Government do what it deems is best for India’s security interests. Our army too doesn’t want a war. But what shall a soldier do when he watches his brothers succumb to cowardly acts of terror time and again? A line has to be drawn. And it has to be drawn today. War or not, India needs to find a solution to this menace, and put an end to this for good.

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