They are still around, very much so. The hounds of war, that almost took over during the first three days of the week, seeking blood and vengeance. Yes, on both sides of the border and across the cease-fire line, where the Indian and Pakistan Armies have for decades stood guard, eye-ball to eye ball, literally; the Uri Fidayeen incident in the valley, just five km short of the cease-fire line, suddenly seemed to have unleashed the forces of war, or warlike responses. Not that any effective reining in looks to be on the cards but stay as you were including, of course, letting the valley be consumed by the ill winds blowing across its length and breadth for nearly two months.
If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose to unburden himself of his predictable frustration over Kashmir,jo ined, not unpredictably, by the Pak Army Chief, the other Sharif (Gen. Rasheel), claiming Kashmir as his own and there you had the dispensation in New Delhi choosing not to put an end to the macabre play enacted in every nook and cranny of the valley.
Indeed to go by the initial Indian reaction, it was all fire and brimstone, all the way. The nuke too came in for a mention though from the Pakistani side first, the Indian area specialists jumping in to promptly put the record straight arguing India had acquired its nuke long before Pakistan with ability to deliver it too.
The plight of the valley and its inhabitants got lost as the two sides, India and Pakistan, did some muscle flexing, at home and in lands afar. The Indian Defence Minister looked all set for a fitting reply, promising that no in intruder would "be permitted" into the country from "this minute" onwards.; his colleague from the parent organization, the RSS, Mr. Ram Madhav commended the policy of a Pakistani jaw for a single Indian tooth. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has, of course, has had his say already and it is a very harsh one indeed.
The tragedy once again unfolded itself in the UN General Assembly were Nawaz Sharif played his country's Kashmir song, with an unimpressed India, citing its own version of the "truth", the whole thing very much of a piece with the Japanese classic Rashomon with each side preferring its own version of the truth as it sees it. Moments of high-strung nationalism, of patriotic fervor were far too ominously on display and indeed no questions would have been asked had you in the meantime chosen to dig a bomb shelter of your own.
The media, never loath to muddy the waters further, jumped into the fray and none as tellingly as the Ambani-owned ETV network. Another chose to march to Pakistan: Ab ki baar seema paar. Retired Generals, long mothballed as much as the usual TV culprits, vociferously clamoured for a military response, to call the Pakistani nuclear buff or that gem of a thought let's become like Israel. And that one from a so-called defence analyst and a Pakistan expert at that, India needs to take overt and covert action, use drones ,mount surgical strikes, declare war, nuclear war.
Obviously all these men and women were deeply upset by the Uri attack – and what better place to vent your spleen than the TV studios or social media. Restraint was a word that appeared to have been excised from the dictionary. What's very interesting is that channels such as Times Now, India Today,CNN-18 and N ews X spoke as if they were privy to the government's thinking on the response to Uri. Exclusive details of the govern men t "thought processes" were put on offer and very often delivered with great authority.
By the third day of the incident they declared that ten terrorist "infiltrators" had been killed by India even with the government yet to say a word about it. The channels obviously knew more than the government .Thank God the war cries appear to have subsided somewhat since, although you can never be sure what the saffron chefs will have a-cooking at their ongoing national council meeting at Kozhikode in Kerala.
Pakistan-bashing will, of course, be high on the list there, beginning with Modi's many peace overtures to Nawaz Sharif including the Indian Prime Minister dropping by at Lahore for a wedding in the Sharif family,his readiness to overlook the after affects of the Pathankot incident and evidently the Pakistani leader's inability to deliver on any of the promises. Be that as it may, I suppose I am stating the obvious when I say the world has learnt to live with the never-ending Indo-Pak diatribe, some seven decades old and rarely losing its seasonal intensity.
But that is not to suggest that the two counties ,even as they continue to play out their seasonal games of war and peace, Jammu and Kashmir should somehow be held hostages to their fads. The ongoing crisis in that State is essentially the result of the two neighbouring countries refusing to come to terms.
There's no point in saying that there's no dispute; equally there is no doubt that sooner rather than later India and Pakistan will have to work out a modus vivendi for Kashmir and Kashmiris. Why should the Kashmiris be made the sacrificial goats, as it were, in the two big neighbours claims to the entity answering to the name Kashmir? Should the valley live in terror not just of terrorists but of the Indian security forces as well.? How many months more must they be forced to live like prisoners in their homes ? How many more need to be killed or maimed or blinded for the Gods of peace and prosperity to be propitiated?
Tough questions to answer, given the backdrop of the ascendancy of right-wing forces both in India and Pakistan. If the BJP's hands are tied down by the RSS doctrine of Hindu Rashtra and cultural nationalism, Pakistan is in the grip of extreme right wing Islamic forces.
The Kashmiri Muslim I have known was never an extremist. He was, and presume still is, the middle of the road individual, devoted to his faith and family. Never a hardliner, although some would question that now. Think of it, though, that you don't win the hearts and minds of people through the barrel of pellet guns. Pellets punch holes and holes in that number are not easy to heal.