- Vijay Simha
The 6 August, 2013 3 am deaths of at least five Indian soldiers on the Indian side of the LoC – apparently ambushed by Pakistani soldiers – are of course not the first such. It is a tragedy. It allows us a moment to look at a few realities in India about its northwestern neighbour.
1. No one knows what to do
If there is a single person in India with a plan that works, he or she is well hidden. Everybody has theories. Keep it stern. Keep it simple. Talk. Don't talk. War. No war. Trade. No trade. Total distrust. Partial distrust. Cricket. No cricket. Hard border. Soft border. They've tried everything and failed.
Seemingly profound statements in the aftermath of skirmish have meant nothing. For instance, Farooq Abdullah and Mulayam Singh Yadav seem to be convinced about what they say. Abdullah: A day will come when the Indian army will also go out of control. Yadav: China and Pakistan have always betrayed us. Never trust them.
But Abdullah and Yadav couldn't do much during their stints as Jammu & Kashmir chief minister and defence minister. New Delhi has been clueless, or craftily confused, about Pakistan from the times of Gandhi and Jinnah. We continue to be so.
2.It's too good a crisis to solve
The problems with Pakistan justify much of the expenses of the Indian defence forces. India is not good at winning in armed conflict. We lost to China. We didn't know about Kargil until it was too late and we had to go to partial war and use our air force.
Our only battlefield victories have been the creation of Bangladesh and the mini wars with Pakistan. But Pakistan allows us to spend heavily on defence. Many times, it later emerges, we are wrong or we are corrupt.
Pakistan also allows our polity to make grandiose plans. The careers of a few prime ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and IK Gujral, were significantly shaped by policy towards Pakistan. Word is that at least two of them thought they would end up with the Nobel Peace Prize.
The conflict generates funds. Millions, possibly billions, have already been raised and spent on the Pakistan tangle. It is a fecund crisis.
Image: Pakistani Rangers (L) and Indian Border Security Force personnel (R) shake hands during the flag off ceremony at India-Pakistan Wagah Border Post on July 9, 2013. (AFP)