Considering that there have been three wars between India and Pakistan –four, if the ‘Kargil war’ is counted – it is not unimaginable that they will go to war again, sooner or later. Fears of nuclear bombs notwithstanding, both countries must stay prepared for war. Even if everyone wishes to avoid war, the very fact of this always-alert, heavily armed, eyeball-to-eyeball hostility is like a minefield that will blow up at the first wrong step. The need, therefore, is of calm, not hot tempers but cool, a government and a media (for the media increasingly sets the mood, the tone, whether on TV or print or internet) that even if it is bracing for war doesn’t let it show, which at least keeps up the appearance of being interested in peace and thus can lull the enemy into a false sense of security.
Any defence or military ‘expert’ who has read the elementary 5th century BC text attributed to the ‘master’ Sun Tzu, The Art of War, will know and be convinced by the advantage of the ‘surprise element’ in any battle. But from the bunch of defence experts and retired army officers that appear on Indian news channels, it would appear that open baying of blood and chest-thumping from the mountain tops has supplanted Sun Tzu’s ideas as completely as Darwin’s supplanted the Book of Genesis. But appearances can be deceptive, and as even the watchers of the Indian news channels know, what is being shown on them is a populist brand of theatre, the positions all posturing and the emotions all melodrama. Indians, even those who call for the annihilation of Pakistan with all sincerity and boiling blood, must be aware that theirs is an impotent rage, the buttons of the atomic bomb nowhere near their thumbs, the strategic plans they suggest to army chiefs and cabinet ministers like English lessons to an Indian buffalo. TV debates and Facebook posts allow them to let off steam, and therefore we should not mind them or read dire omens of impending war in them. What we must guard against and be wary of is letting the idea that war can be a solution enter our own heads.
Only sanity and the voice of reason can prevent war. Instead of making a hullabaloo over the warmongering on Indian TV and from Indian netizens, we should ignore it, pay no heed to it, and thus save ourselves from working up a storm of our own. No one is going to war, relax. This is what we must keep saying, to ourselves and to others. That’s the sanest way to deal with this nonsense.