India, Pakistan need to exercise restraint

India, Pakistan need to exercise restraint

Strange are the ways of politics! When the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to the world that special forces of the Indian Army had carried out pre-dawn “surgical strikes” on terrorists’ launch pads in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Sept. 28, it thought that it had pulled off a coup of sorts of positive public opinion.
The Modi government indeed proved to be super successful. For the next two days, the television rating point (TRP) of the Modi government crashed through the roof as Modi's bold and unprecedented move of acknowledging cross-border special operations by the Indian Army floored every person on the street and the opposition parties had no option but to salute the Modi government.
This was despite the fact that Pakistan had rubbished the Indian claims of “surgical strikes” within minutes and said the Modi government was trying to pass off a routine cross-border firing by the Indian troops as cross-border surgical strikes.
The average man on the streets in India was convinced that Pakistan was embarrassed and was sheepishly denying the Indian cross-border strikes for its own political reasons.
The Indian elite was even more convinced about the “masterly “ stoke by Modi as Pakistan was left with no locus standi to retaliate as it had denied (or had to for political reasons) the Indian claims. The euphoric mood in India was that a government has come for the first time in India which is bold enough to teach a lesson to Pakistan.
But almost a week after the Sept. 28 “surgical strikes” by India, the narrative has changed completely. Pakistan has succeeded in turning the tables on India by arranging foreign media trips to the Line of Control to “prove” that no “surgical strikes” had taken place. So much so that Indian opposition parties are now emboldened enough to demand from the Modi government whether the so-called surgical strikes really took place, and if so, the evidence thereof.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) initiated this no-confidence process and the principal opposition party, the Congress, carried it forward. Both parties demanded PM Modi to release the “evidence” (read video footage of the surgical strikes) to call Pakistan's bluff.
In less than a week the game has changed completely for the Modi government. It faces a litmus test. The emboldened opposition wants to know whether the so-called surgical strikes actually took place.
Understandably, it is the prerogative of the Indian government whether it releases the evidence or video footage of the Sept. 28 surgical strikes. Releasing this evidence can be counter productive in view of the country's long-term strategic interest as it would tantamount to giving to the enemy on a platter the longitudes and the latitudes of the secret military operation and much more.
After all, it is not without reason that the United States has till date not released the video footage of how Osama Bin Laden was killed by special American forces in Pakistan! Moreover, hadn't Pakistan maintained all along for years that Bin Laden was not on Pakistani soil?
Given this primer, now let us move to the big picture in India-Pakistan relations.
It's a fact that India-Pakistan relations were not as openly inimical now as they were after the terror attack on Indian parliament in 2001. The current standoff may degenerate into a full-scale war between the two nuclear armed neighbors if the situation is not handled properly.
This is the time when the two governments need to exercise maximum restraint. Not only the political leadership of the two sides has to exercise restraint but their celebrities too need to keep away from their penchant of passing incendiary remarks.
Three Indian ministers are guilty of breaching this formula. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar provoked Pakistan by comparing Pakistan's condition after the cross-border surgical strikes to that of an anesthetized patient. Home minister Rajnath Singh, when asked when the video footage of the surgical strikes would be made available, said cryptically “Wait and watch.” Another senior Cabinet minister Venkaiah Naidu likened Pakistan to a thief bitten by a scorpion who cannot cry out.
From the Pakistani side too very many incendiary remarks were made. The best example of such negative remarks was the averment of celebrity Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad, whose son is married to underworld don and globally designated terrorist, that Indians are cowards, with no army and Narendra Modi (the prime minister of India) is a “rotten egg.”
With these kinds of statements, the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbors are actually being pushed to an all-out war.
The need of the hour is to cool down the tempers from both sides. But the politicians and celebrities of the two nations are doing just the opposite. What a pity!
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view