25 October, 2020

A Thousand Year Rattle

India-Pakistan war-talk is now done by the armies, backed by a jingoistic media

Border Tactic
A Pakistani Ranger and a BSF jawan do their warlike routine at Wagah
Photograph by AP
A Thousand Year Rattle

If there was a slur today in Pakistan, besides being called a liberal, it is to suggest engagement with India or appearing as weak. Actually, liberalism is also termed as being pro-India. Incidentally, the situation on the other side of the border echoes this perception. While political governments have remained fairly restrained on both sides, the war narrative has acquired hype. Both India and Pakistan have used their fourth arm—the media—to inspire their common man to want a confrontation.

Actually, bilateral tension tends to increase every time both states are at a similar confidence level and there is reduced clarity regarding thresholds—will the adversary blink or you? In many ways, the times are a reminder of an almost similar uncertainty during the 1980s. There were several events spaced out through the decade that kept tension high and fear of war alive. Then, it started off with the rumour of an Indian plan to attack Pakistan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories, just like Israel had bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in June 1981....



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