They are an echo of each other, the voices of the ruling parties of India…..
Former US President Barack Obama’s hunting down top terrorist Osama Bin Laden and announcing the happy news through cinematic language on CNN was the only achievement that won him the White House for the second time.
More recently Indian Premier Narendra Modi’s airstrike in Pakistan and his foreign secretary’s claim that Indian Air Force destroyed a terrorist camp, again through cinematic language on NDTV seemed to be the Bollywood version of Hollywood, but with a difference. Obama substantiated his achievement with evidence that included photos and footage but Modi has yet to prove his claim in any manner.
Former US President George W. Bush, in cinematic language on CNN, had claimed that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). On that he invaded Iraq and destroyed the country. He, too, failed to offer any evidence of Iraq’s WMD. Now it’s been proven that the Iraq attack was based on a bunch of lies. No one could try Bush for war-crimes in Iraq because he like some others is above the law in the rule of the jungle.
Narendra Modi has already tried the Bush tactic by claiming that Pakistan is harboring and using terrorists to create unrest in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has assured objective investigation into the claim and offered dialogue to resolve the dispute in Kashmir according to the will of Kashmiris as directed by the United Nations long ago. Imran Khan appears more focused on reforming the economy and political culture of the country than creating new conflicts. His words of peace and his act of handing over the arrested Indian pilot to India are clear signals of policy paradigm shift.
The arch rivalry between India and Pakistan has produced nothing so far but poverty and failure to offer good governance. And war is no picnic; some of the poorest people on this earth live in India and Pakistan. After the Second World War, war torn Germany immediately started to rebuild itself as a welfare state. Just a couple of years later India and Pakistan started their journey as independent nations but have failed so far to build anything even remotely close to a welfare state. Since 1947 the conflict over Kashmir is being used as an excuse for every sort of failure and it’s been the most-used basis to provoke ultra-nationalism and religious hatred, keeping politics hot and spicy.
But now social media is making it possible for unheard voices to be heard and noticed for the first time. While mainstream media is running one-sided campaigns provoking bursts of violent sentiments, sensible people on both sides of the border are actively campaigning on social media against any war or mis-adventurism (#SayNoToWar). When Indian Pilot Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan, the people in Pakistan started #Release Abhinandan. Imran Khan listened to voices of reason, followed the stream of public opinion and released the Indian pilot immediately.
Listening to people’s voice is the key to contemporary political and policy-making success. But there are still a few “democratic dictators” in and around South Asia trying to copy the Bush doctrine of telling a lie, using it for witch hunt and clinging onto power. Such madness is fast losing its appeal. People in South Asia are now more vocally interested in substantial commitments from their government that will benefit common-men. The World Bank has rightly observed that business possibilities between India and Pakistan remain unutilized due to superficial barriers.
The collective harm done to the region by human rights abuses in Indian-controlled Kashmir and terrorism is quite visible. These need to be resolved through dialogue and vigilance. Contemporary South Asians believe in conflict resolution and ‘War for Votes’ will not work anymore. The de-escalation in recent tensions between India and Pakistan is a clear indication of people’s collective desire for peace and prosperity.