. . . . . .  

This article was written for The Tribune Chandigarh. Its editor explained that in view of the prevailing anti-Pakistan hysteria in India, it would be impolitic to carry it in this Sunday’s issue.  



Any similarity between PM Narendra Modi’s pseudo-pacifism and Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha died on 26 February when Indian aircraft attacked Balakot within Pakistan’s territory.   

Any hopes PM Modi had of repeating Mrs Indira Gandhi’s success against Pakistan in December 1971 were buried a day later when twenty-one significant Indian political parties led by Congress’s Rahul & Sonia Gandhi issued a statement from the Lok Sabha library, complaining at the ‘blatant politicisation of sacrifices of armed forces by the ruling party.’  It was an unprecedented indictment, especially at a time when India was in the throes of hostility. Such a cavil cannot be dismissed easily. Twenty-one are twenty too many to be dismissed as seditious or pro-Pakistani.   

The Balakot misadventure by PM Modi – his Kargil – has shown that neither country is prepared to vapourise the other. What did go up in smoke was PM Modi’s ambition to obtain a landslide in next May’s general elections.

Veteran observers of Pak-Indian relations still remember India’s diplomatic blitzkrieg in the summer of 1971 against Pakistan that preceded Mrs Gandhi’s midwifery of Bangladesh. Some of the 73,908 POWs and 16,413 CUPCs (civilians under protective custody not covered by the Geneva Convention) are still alive. They recall India’s unctuous hospitality spread over two years of captivity.  A living generation of Pakistan’s leadership has experienced India's efforts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, to have it declared a terrorist state.

PM Modi’s government thought (mistakenly) that Balakot would be a test of a green PM Imran Khan. Imran offered the Katarpur corridor; it was considered a ploy. He proposed that ‘peace should be given a chance’; it was dismissed as a guileless gambit. He asked for actionable evidence regarding the Paluma attack in February; he was suspected of playing for time. Now that he has unilaterally released an IAF pilot downed by a Pakistani aircraft, he is derided for buckling under international pressure.  

Despite these blandishments, India remains obdurate. It keeps its forces on high alert and has its Persian-wheel press trudge relentlessly in worn circles, grinding anti-Pakistan propaganda. One example: a prominent Indian paper quoted ‘a senior official who didn’t want to named’ as saying that a ‘US made F-16 was shot down by the Russian made MiG-21’.  The report continued: ‘India is expected to provide evidence of having shot down the Pakistani fighter in the next few days, a second senior official in the government said, on condition of anonymity.’ Secrecy? Anonymity? If an F-16 fell in one’s backyard, who would not want his neighbour to see it?

Our common neighbour – China - has maintained a stand that is both consistent and principled. During his visit to China in February 1972, US president Richard Nixon told Premier Zhou Enlai: ‘It is the right of every nation in the subcontinent to survive and develop.  This right should be recognised and protected, and if one country should be allowed to gobble up another, it would be a very unsafe world.’ Premier Zhou Enlai’s responded: ‘It would be another question if the people of that country rise up themselves to change the government. It is quite another if the foreign troops invade a country. That cannot be allowed. This is a very important principle.’

This week, the Chinese Foreign ministry week reiterated its inflexible canon: ‘China believes that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected. We oppose any practices that violate the UN Charter and the norms of international law.’ These are not platitudes. They are (in Dr Samuel Johnson’s words) the ‘result of human wisdom acting upon human experience.’

Dr Johnson never witnessed war; M. K. Gandhi did, then wrote: ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.’ Only sanity allows us citizens of two nuclear powers to still have eyes to read these words.






Christophe Jaffrelot <jaffrelot12@gmail.com>,
Hussain Nadim <hnm87@gwmail.gwu.edu>,
Najam Sethi <najamsethi@gmail.com>,
salman abid <salmanabidpk@gmail.com>,
Ejaz Haider <ejazhaider26@gmail.com>,
Moeed Yusuf <moeedyusuf@gmail.com>,
Susan Loughhead <susan987@ymail.com>,
Afrasiab Khattak <khattakafrasiab@gmail.com>,
Rupert Stone <rupertnstone@googlemail.com>,
Dibyesh Anand <D.Anand@westminster.ac.uk>,
Happymon Jacob <happymon@gmail.com>,
Kama Maclean <kama.maclean@unsw.edu.au>,
Chris Moffat <c.moffat@qmul.ac.uk>,
Aamir Riaz TOTO <aamirriaz1966@gmail.com>,
khola cheema <kholacheema@gmail.com>,
jameel paul <jameelahmadpaul@gmail.com>,
Gauri Viswanathan <gv6@columbia.edu>,
Ahmad Rafay Alam <a.rafay.alam@gmail.com>,
aaleen mahum <aaleenmahum@gmail.com>,
jugnu mohsin <jugnumohsin@gmail.com>,
sarah suhail <sarah.suhail@gmail.com>,
Rosie Llewellyn Jones <rosieljai@clara.co.uk>,
qj <QJ@orient.com.pk>,
"Dr. Tariq Rahman" <tariq.rahman@bnu.edu.pk>,
Mohammad Waseem <waseem@lums.edu.pk>,
Ali Qasmi <ali.qasmi@lums.edu.pk>,
Ali Cheema <ali.cheema@cerp.org.pk>,
Nadeem Haque <nhaque_imf@yahoo.com>,
Ishtiaq Ahmed <billumian@gmail.com>,
Irfan Khwaja <kianwar06@yahoo.com>,
Murad Kamil Mumtaz <muradkmumtaz@gmail.com>,
"Nadhra S. N. Khan" <nadhra.shahbaz@lums.edu.pk>,
Rukhsana David <rukhsanad@gmail.com>,
Clement Theo <theo.clement@sciencespo-lyon.fr>,
chairperson political Science <chairperson.polsc@gcu.edu.pk>,
Afiya Zia <afiyaszia@yahoo.com>,
fauzia viqar <fviqar@gmail.com>,
salman raja <salmanr2002@hotmail.com>,
Jean-Marie Lafont <jmlafont@gmail.com>,
iqbal chawla <chawla_iqbal@yahoo.com>,
Ayesha Jalal <ayesha.jalal@tufts.edu>,
Tooba Syed <toobasayid@gmail.com>,
Aima Khosa <aima.khosa@gmail.com>,
S Akbar Zaidi <sakbarzaidi@gmail.com>,
Aziz Ahmad Khan <azizahmad_khan@yahoo.com>,
Waheed <waheed1638@gmail.com>,
Sadia Tasleem <sadia.tasleem@gmail.com>,
Fawad Chaudhry <fawad.chaudhry@gmail.com>,
Fahd Husain <fahd.husain1@gmail.com>,
Mehmal Sarfraz <mehmal.s@gmail.com>,
Samina Yasmeen <samina.yasmeen@uwa.edu.au>,
Khalid Zaheer <kzmawrid@gmail.com>,
Nadeem Paracha <nadeemfparacha@gmail.com>,
Sabahat Zakariya <sabahat2413@gmail.com>,
Tim Hitchens <tim.hitchens@wolfson.ox.ac.uk>,
Miftah Ismail <miftah.ismail@ismailindustries.com>,
Akeel Bilgrami <ab41@columbia.edu>,
Arkady Ostrovsky <arkadyostrovsky@economist.com>,
Saeed Shafqat <saeedshafqat@fccollege.edu.pk>,
Nermeen Shaikh <nermeen@gmail.com>,
"Aydin, Cemil" <caydin@email.unc.edu>,
Tahir Kamran <tahirkamran_gcu@yahoo.com>,
Ziyad Faisal <ziyadfaisal@gmail.com>,
Jamshed M Kazi <jamshed.kazi@unwomen.org>,
shaista aziz <shaista.obaidi@gmail.com>,
Aisha Sarwari <aisha.f.sarwari@gmail.com>,
Khalid Banuri <banuri.khalid@gmail.com>,
Savail Hussain <savail.hussain@gmail.com>,
Miles Taylor <miles.taylor@york.ac.uk>,
Shahnaz Aijazuddin <shahnazaijazuddin@gmail.com>,
Osama Siddique <dr.osamasiddique@gmail.com>,
Musharraf Ali Farooqi <musharraf.ali.farooqi@gmail.com>,
Faisal Bari <faisal.bari@ideaspak.org>,
Omer Adil <dromeradil@gmail.com>,
Raza Rumi <razarumi@gmail.com>,
Mujtaba Piracha <mmpiracha@gmail.com>,
Sajida Vandal <sajidavandal@gmail.com>,
Kamran Lashari <lashari_27@hotmail.com>,
Imrana Tiwana <itiwana@yahoo.com>,
Kei Miller <keimiller@gmail.com>,
John Zubrzycki <john.zubrzycki@gmail.com>,
Mosharraf Zaidi <mosharraf@gmail.com>,
Hina R Khar <hinakhar@gmail.com>,
Zeeshan Shahid <zeeshanshahid19@gmail.com>

02 March 2019
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