NEW YORK, Mar 03 (APP):An article in the leading American newspaper has criticized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warning about further action against Pakistan after the failure of Tuesday’s strikes, and suggested focusing on settling the Kashmir dispute that spawns tensions between the two countries.
“Anxiety about the next fatal step, the cries of revenge and war, and the military escalations all will continue haunting India, Pakistan and the broader world as long as everyone insists on looking away from the issue driving the crisis: the long, bloody dispute over Kashmir,” Basharat Peer, a New York-based Kashmiri journalist wrote in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Sunday.
In this regard, he noted Modi’s statement on Thursday that the airstrikes on Pakistan were a hint of more to come: “Now the real one has to be done; it was practice earlier.”
“Those are words pregnant with catastrophe, the words of a strongman who can’t afford to be seen as having failed to subdue an enemy he loves to hate,” he added
Peer, who is on the staff of The New York Times, wrote that years of “structural violence and political repression” in Indian occupied Kashmir had driven the young Kashmiri young suicide bomber,
Adil Ahmad Dar, to hit a convoy of paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama, killing at least 40, that sets off the grave crisis between India and Pakistan.
“After the bombing, India’s hypernationalist television networks and social media warriors relentlessly screamed for revenge,” Peer wrote.
“A nationalist tide baying for the blood of Kashmiris rose across India. College students from Kashmir were attacked by mobs; fearful for their safety, more than 2,000 reportedly have returned home….,” according to the article.
Basharat Peer wrote:
“As strongman rulers tend to do, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, set to convert the nationalist surge into votes in an election that begins next month. He promised to avenge the tears. On Tuesday, India carried out airstrikes on a (alleged) militant camp in the Balakot area in northwestern Pakistan — the first time Indian warplanes had crossed the border since 1971.
“India’s top diplomats hailed the strikes in wickedly obtuse language as ‘pre-emptive nonmilitary strikes’ and the giddily compliant news media were told by official sources that more than 300 militants had been killed. Security analysts in India credited the airstrikes with destroying the illusion that nuclear deterrence can keep India from hitting terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan.
“But Mr Modi’s plan didn’t go as intended. Independent reporting showed that the Indian jets had hit some trees, a field — and not much else. The next morning, Pakistani fighter jets dropped some bombs inside Indian-controlled territory, which did no damage, restored Pakistan’s national pride and showed its willingness to escalate beyond Indian expectations.
“A dogfight between Pakistani and Indian jets ensued. An Indian plane was shot down in Pakistani territory and its pilot, Wing Cmdr. Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured. Pakistan released a video of the pilot: an athletic man with a luxurious mustache on his bruised, bloodied face. He was filmed drinking a cup of tea offered by his captors. A civil and graceful conversation followed between him and his interrogator.
“The Indian pilot’s capture seemed to deflate Mr Modi’s bluster; the prime minister and his colleagues stayed silent for a while. On Thursday, Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, announced his decision to release and return the pilot, following it up by offering peace talks.
“As fighter planes circled overhead and several thousand more Indian troops were sent to Kashmir, the sense of panic increased. In a renewed crackdown, hundreds have been arrested. But the necessary question is ignored: What led that young Kashmiri man, Adil Ahmad Dar, to become a suicide bomber who brought South Asia to the brink of war? The last suicide bombing in Kashmir — and the first — was 19 years ago.
“After dropping out of high school in a small village, he (Dar) had worked at a neighbour’s sawmill, and did other odd jobs to support his family. His father told a reporter that he often spoke about the day a group of policemen stopped him on the way back from school and made him circle their vehicle while rubbing his nose on the ground. “During mass protests in Kashmir in 2016, when Indian troops killed about 100 protesters and blinded several hundred, Mr Dar was shot in his leg. After he joined the militants in March 2018, his family told reporters, Indian troops raided their home, locked them inside and set it on fire.”