Passing Bite Society

Playing by the enemy’s rules

Paying tribute to the CRPF soldiers who lost their lives in Pulwama terror attack. Photo: PTI  

I’m guessing Masood Azhar is currently a very happy bunny. At the moment the man is probably feeling like someone who has won three jackpots at the same time. If Azhar had written down a wishlist of things he wanted out of the Pulwama attack, his tick marks have gone far below and beyond his list and he has summoned a slave for a new ball-point pen, because this operation is a gift that will clearly keep giving. I suspect Azhar doesn’t drink, but if he did, he’d be breaking out his best bubbly to go with the three kinds of biryani his favourite wife has just made.

There is an old and basic axiom that applies to both sport and war and it is this: don’t play the game your opponent wants you to play, or, don’t let your enemy dictate how you fight the battle; force the other side to play your game, fight the enemy in such a way that he doesn’t enjoy the battle. In the wake of the Pulwama attack, all sorts of people across India seem to have forgotten this simple principle.

What did Azhar want when planning this operation? He wanted to create anger and outrage of the kind where ordinary Kashmiris would be attacked by their fellow Indians. Check. Accomplished on a big scale. He wanted to give a fillip to all the brainless warmongers in India and Pakistan in order to increase tensions and raise the chances of a conflagration between the two countries. Check. Azhar knows the worst outcome for people like him would be pincering by two sensible governments in Delhi and Islamabad working together; conversely, the best result would be to have two cynical leaders using jingoism and war-braying for their own ends; well, he’s neutralised the compromised Imran Khan and just provided extra fuel to the faltering engines of Narendra Modi’s agenda just as elections approach, so wahaan bhi mithai baanto, hand out sweets for that too. If Modi and Amit Shah now manage to snaffle the elections, the mithai distribution in Bhawalpur, where Azhar has his headquarters, will double — business will be good for the next however many years.

Gets the jackpot

On top of all this basic bonanza, Azhar has won extra jackpots as well. We now have Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh, not among the brightest cricketers who’ve worn the India cap, loudly proclaiming that India should not only boycott playing Pakistan in the forthcoming World Cup but cut off sporting ties altogether. The one theory Bhajji and the Prince of Bengal have put out is that in the forthcoming World Cup, India can afford to give Pakistan a walk-over in the group games and still get to the knockout stage. Nice. What neither has laid out is what happens if pesky Pakistan also gets into the knockouts and meets India in the semi-finals or finals. Do we play them? Or does Virat Kohli show them rude gestures and give them another walk-over? Is Prime Minister Imran ‘Imm the Dim’ Khan going to burst into tears as he lifts Pakistan’s second World Cup because those nasty, nasty Indians didn’t play their matches? Or is he going to have to take tranquilisers to stop chortling madly?

Part of the huge soft power we have is that Pakistanis can see that our cricket grows from strength to strength while they can’t even play international matches at home. Not playing them on the world stage would make us look silly and churlish. Our soft power punches big and deep every time a Bollywood film is a hit in Pakistan. Shut these things down and we become more like them, closer to being a sad, depressed, ingrown toenail of a failed state. Therefore, let’s remember: every time some clown TV anchor in military fatigues calls for a war that he will not fight, every time some Facebook stormtrooper demands spectacular retribution, every time some crazy parivarted academic calls for the executions of the people from the minority community, Azhar feels like he has middled the ball and hit a sixer.

Of course, we need to respond to Pulwama but we need to do what the terrorists don’t want. So, every time the people who rule us keep quiet about attacks on innocent Kashmiris while counting their projected votes, imagine Azhar. Imagine Azhar with his salwars hiked up, hand splayed on lower stomach region, rocking to the beat of the ‘Jingostan’ track from Gully Boy, not dancing because the song is critical of jingoism, but dancing to the fact that we, in India, are following his plan and becoming more and more like Pakistan.

Ruchir Joshi is a writer, filmmaker and columnist.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 4:38:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/playing-by-the-enemys-rules/article26341633.ece

Next Story