Avoiding Armageddon: World Needs to Play Its Role, Again
While media on both sides is busy doing its usual war-mongering, this article is a passionate call for peace by Murtaza Solangi and a request to global powers like China and US to play their role in de-escalation.
The future of 1.5 billion souls and consequently of the entire humanity hangs in the balance as the nuclear nations of India and Pakistan have started flexing muscles in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack on Indian security forces in Southern Kashmir on February 14.
Both countries have fought four regular wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 and small skirmishes besides continuing irregular proxy wars against each other since the end of the British colonial rule in August 1947.
The Pulwama attack has taken place at a time when India is a couple of months away from going to polls where ultra right Modi government was not too comfortable going into polls as indicated by losses in 5 states with Congress and its allies on a steady rise. The attack has taken place at a time when the anti-India sentiment and alienation blended with Islamic extremism is at all time high in the youth of the alienated part of Kashmir in almost 7 decades.
The attack has taken place at a time when a bunch of political novices led by Imran Khan, a former cricketer turned politician, supported by the military establishment of Pakistan, is at the helm of affairs with two mainstream political parties, PPP and PML-N pushed to the wall and media muzzled on the national landscape. The fact that the economy of Pakistan is in shambles and the relations with neighbouring Iran and Afghanistan too are at all time low, doesn’t help either.
The media in both countries, especially the TV Idiot Box, keeps spewing hate and beating war drums. Both countries armed to the teeth with huge stockpiles of nukes make it problematic.
The fact that Pakistani military establishment has historically raised, nurtured and supported militant proxies both to suppress political dissent at home and use them in the neighbouring countries as instrument of foreign policy is an open secret. The fact that JeM, officially banned in 2002, continued its public activities besides building its facilities, claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack just hours after the attack – an audio of its founder Masood Azhar is available on the Internet asking for 50 volunteers to be suicide attackers and mentions Pulwama by name – doesn’t help the innocent posture adopted by Pakistan government. The silence of Imran Khan for almost a week after the attack and not condemning the Pulwama attack and lack of words of sympathy and condolence even when he broke the silence doesn’t help Pakistan.
The jury is out about the aiders and abettors of the Pulwama attack but in the end it helps jingoism and the political economy of war and hate in both countries.
While the world at large, including the UN Security Council, condemning the terror attack carried out on the Valentine’s Day has calmed the nerves somehow in India, the voices of revenge and military action against Pakistan are still ringing loud in its media. The situation is still tense as India continues suppressing dissent in their administered part of Kashmir by arresting people in hundreds and bringing in fresh troops in the valley in thousands.
The media in both countries, especially the TV Idiot Box, keeps spewing hate and beating war drums. Both countries armed to the teeth with huge stockpiles of nukes make it problematic. A false alarm, an accident and a mistake anywhere can get the things spiraled out of control. Countries like the US and China who can influence both India and Pakistan have a big responsibility to avert the Armageddon.
With jingoistic, warmongering, ultra-nationalistic voices reaching crescendo calling every rational and peace loving voice as unpatriotic, averting Armageddon, promoting peace and regional connectivity is saving over 1.5 billion souls and the future generations. There is nothing holier than avoiding the war. Everybody should play their part. I am raising my voice for peace and so should you.
Murtaza Solangi is one of Pakistan’s top journalists, and former Director General of Radio Pakistan. He can be reached [email protected]