04 December, 2020

Drawn Into Battle

Bharat-Pakistan padosi, saath saath rehna hai, Pyar karen ya vaar karen, dono ko hi sehna hai... Jo hum par guzri, bacchon ke sang na hone denge. Jang na hone denge." - Atal Behari Vajpayee's peom "Ab Jang Na Hone Denge", which he recited at Lahore.

Drawn Into Battle
That was in February during the 'historic' summit between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, when the two signed the Lahore Declaration. Three months later, the same Vajpayee had to give the go-ahead to the Indian forces to launch airstrikes on Pakistani intruders in Kargil - the first time fighter jets were being pressed into action since the '71 war.

Clearly, what's happening in Kargil is not a one-off. If anything, it represents a new phase of Pakistani military activism in Kashmir. The infiltration from Dras to Batalik and the setting up of near-permanent encampments follows two years of heavy shelling of the area. It signals that the Pakistanis have upped the ante. Deliberately, with much planning.

On its part, the Vajpayee government has been caught unawares. Kargil is a political and diplomatic setback for it. Vajpayee's ostensible legacy, the Lahore initiative, lies in tatters. The Pakistanis have brazenly occupied Indian territory in between photo-ops and handshakes. And in an election year, the bjp will be hard put to explain how the Pakistanis could...



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