Editorial

Irresponsible rhetoric: On Pakistan leaders’ threats

India must resist the temptation to imitate Pakistan in its provocative tactics

Statements by senior functionaries of Pakistan including Prime Minister Imran Khan threatening war and violence against India and in Jammu and Kashmir are irresponsible, escalatory and dangerous. Mr. Khan has even spoken about the possibility of a nuclear war, albeit couched in language purportedly meant to be about the dangers of it, while a Minister went to the extent of announcing a time frame for starting a war. Several diplomats have called for jihad. Pakistan’s reputation as a reckless nuclear power is reinforced in all this, and its continuing support for Islamist terrorist outfits is not doing any good for the people of J&K. Pursuit of military parity with India has ruined Pakistan economically, though the compact of generals and clerics that controls it has flourished. These vested interests have placed Kashmir as central to Pakistan’s national identity that they understand as exclusive and Islamist. Now under fire for being ineffective in the face of India’s recent measures with regard to J&K, Mr. Khan and his allies are ratcheting up the rhetoric. The military that is in step with him, tested a surface-to-surface missile amid the tensions. Pakistan is trying to catch the world’s attention and assuage the perilous passions its state policies have created in its society.

Unlike Pakistan, India has set for itself high standards as a democratic secular polity and a responsible nuclear power. Its behaviour in all circumstances must live up to its reputation. New Delhi rules out mediation by any other country in its relations with Pakistan, on grounds that it is capable of resolving all issues bilaterally. Since 2014, India has also rejected any role for Pakistan on the question of J&K. Indian Ministers have been saying that the only point to be discussed with Pakistan is the return of parts of the region that is under its control currently. Simultaneously, New Delhi has also ruled out any talks with political leaders in J&K, separatists or mainstream. India has also indicated that it would be open to reviewing its ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine. India calculates, probably rightly, that global powers caught up in their own crises have no inclination to be involved in any India-Pakistan dispute. Indian leaders have expressed willingness to talk to Pakistan on the one hand, and on the other hand made menacing statements primarily meant to sustain nationalist passions back home. Ambiguity may be a good tactic in diplomacy at times, but this occasion warrants stated clarity that India does not seek conflict. Having disrupted the equilibrium in J&K, India must now work harder to restore it and reaching out to Pakistan may be well worth it. At any rate, the government functionaries must resist the temptation to match the Pakistan leadership in irresponsible rhetoric.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 1:08:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/irresponsible-rhetoric/article29316555.ece

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