Shun War Cry
By Shivaji Sarkar
The dastardly attack on CRPF jawans in Pulwama has caused remorse and frenzy for revenge. There is shrill cry of teaching Pakistan a lesson. Many want a war. Indians are hurt and it’s a blow on the nation. Howsoever anyone wants, the solution is not easy. India has military preparedness but a war is expensive and just not in cash.
The sub-continent is passing through severe uncertainty as the neighbouring nations — Iran, Afghanistan, China are changing tack every now and then. It combines diplomacy, the changing situation in Afghanistan as the US is in a hurry to withdraw its troops, and Taliban’s muscle flexing. Plus, Russia and Iran are not shy of a deal with Taliban.
This apart, big money plays its role. It is just not nation States that are pouring funds but that they, including the US, are having trouble arranging it. India is just next to a troubled Western Asia, singed by the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
The ISIL war is being fought not for a “holy cause of jihad”. The terror is a complex mix of arms-drug peddlers, cyber frauds, human traffickers and other hegemonists. The motivators of school girls from Europe to West Asia rake in huge money bags for turning them as sex fodder for marauders. This generates illicit funds.
Will the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, where India has invested huge sums as also in diplomacy, as the US withdraws? It may be seen as yet another failure of the US after Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Syria. Since 2001, after spending billions of dollars, the US controls not even half of Afghanistan. The Afghan soldiers and civilian casualties are heavy.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are working out the face-saving for the US for its withdrawal. They are also pressurising Pakistan to help as also providing financial aid to boost its forex reserves touching low of $6 billion. Saudi Arabia is giving $32 billion to Islamabad. Conflict is rising in northern borders of Pakistan. Even Iran lost 28 soldiers in a blast on its borders with Pakistan on February 12. Frenzy is there too. Iran also vowed retribution.
The sub-continent is on a tinder box. A war is too complex. Astute diplomacy is needed to save India’s economic assistance and friends in Afghanistan and Iran. Taliban’s resurgence is a problem for Islamabad. It fears losing its might to it. Moreover, the tribal regions on Pakistan borders are on ferment with sub-nationalism. Slight change in equilibrium would cause major problems for India and other States in the region.
Pakistan government is not in full control. The diplomatic question is who do you fight? Pakistan? Or in case of a war also Taliban, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other riff-raff elements? The situation today is more complex than in 1971, when Bangladesh was created despite radicalisation even at that time. There are many non-State actors.
Today it is not an issue of an Islamic bomb or the Indian, but managing within the country and outside in multi-dimensions and directions. An aggressive diplomacy, lobbying, negotiations, and operations need huge investment as also manpower. The conflict with Pakistan costs three per cent of India’s GDP, according to Indian think-tank Strategic Foresight Group in 2004. India lost 3843 soldiers in 1971 and captured 93,000 soldiers. Almost a million persons were in India as refugees. It had bled the economy then. Various surcharges were levied. Even on each postal item a 5-paise special refugee surcharge had to be affixed.
The post-1971 war costs were higher. It had caused over 13 per cent inflation and severe unrest. The imposition of internal emergency was another fall-out. The proxy war since 1990 has claimed more casualties and economic cost, be it in Kashmir, Kargil conflict 1999, Parliament attack in 2001, Mumbai-attack 2008 or subsequent several other blasts and raids. Military and civilian casualties are more than it was in full-fledged wars in 1965 and 1971.
It is estimated that since December 2001 every year almost $600 million is spent to protect the western border. Pakistan spending is estimated to be a little less but it is higher in percentage terms for its GDP and geographical area. Carnegie Foundation has stated that even not fighting a war has a cost that is not less than an actual war. The Federation of Indian Chambers for Commerce and Industry (FICCI) estimated a huge business cost to the ongoing Indo-Pak conflict and that trade volume is small. In other words, denying MFN status to Pakistan would have little impact on its economy.
So what does Pakistan gain? A conflict with India, be it for General Zia-ul-Haq or General Parvez Musharraf, has led to huge economic gains in assistance from West Asia, the US and the West. The US despite the World Trade Tower attack considered Pakistan a strategic ally and gave Musharraf enormous aid. Even Donald Trump is doing it today. India-baiting is survival technique for the artificial State.
For India, apart from the financial and political cost there is human misery. Certain powers want the rogue State to survive as they have business, territorial and other interests. The women of the world suffer, not only in the West Asian war zones but even in Bangladesh and Europe as they are trafficked as “supporters of jihad” to be sex fodders. The youth pays for it by being drug addict.
If the world has to come out of the scourge of the menace, entire civilisation has to openly fight out the multi-fanged mafia spread across the world. It is easier said than done. The mafia has penetrated governments everywhere.
Chinese support to Jaish-e-Mohammed operator Masood Azhar is a testimony. The move is said to be to keep India under pressure. It is also said that saving Azhar is its insurance for checking terror by Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
India has to chart out the course. A war may not be easy but breaking the tentacles of those who lead us to war is a necessity. What it has done post-Pulwama of targeting all known terror elements in Kashmir should continue and spread to all kinds of peddlers, fraudsters and traffickers – arms, drug, cyber, human beings et al. India has to re-strategise and ensure global alliance to break the backbone of terror and its illicit funding.—INFA