Dec 9, 2008


A large number of people are suggesting use of military force against Pakistan, post the Mumbai terror strikes. Some people in some of the talk shows have suggested extreme steps including use of Nuclear weapons. While tempers are understandably running high amongst the populace, the government is also under tremendous pressure to be seen to act.

            Pakistan being a rogue state which has been called an international migraine recently by the former US secretary of state needs to be put in its place and forced to clean up its act. But even thinking seriously of military action would be nothing short of blasphemy. If anything it would put India, which has only just begun its long overdue march towards becoming an economic superpower behind by at least 25 years. To quote Thomas Friedman writing about economic development in China,

            “My belief after visiting China is that the change that has occurred there is in the best interest of the world and China. Once people get a taste for whatever you want to call it-economic independence, a better lifestyle, and a better life for their child or children-they grab on to that and don't want to give it up."

Any sort of war or prolonged political upheaval in East Asia or China "would have a  massive chilling effect on the investment there and on all the progress that has been made there," said Dell, who added that he believes the governments in that part of the world understand this very clearly.”……………….

He adds,

“When you are managing vital backroom operations for American Express or General Electric or Avis, or are responsible for tracing all the lost luggage on British Airways or Delta, you cannot take a month, a week, or even a day off for war without causing major disruptions for those companies. Once those companies have made a commitment to outsource business operations or research to India, they expect it to stay there. That is a major commitment. And if geopolitics causes a serious disruption, they will leave, and they will not come back very easily. When you lose this kind of service trade, you can lose it for good.”

Goes without saying, that the above applies equally to India as well. I am also reminded of what Rhett Butler had to say about wars in the classic novel ‘Gone with the Wind’, “No provocation can be extreme enough to justify wars.”

And what was sound logic in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries is sound logic in the twenty first as well. Wars should be considered a medieval, if not primitive method of resolving differences in today’s flat world.

Be that as it may, what is the choice with us to stop Pakistan from waging a proxy war against us, which continues to bleed us with a thousand cuts and more(Bhutto’s line?).The proxy war by Pakistan ostensibly to liberate Kashmir will continue to be waged, firstly to avenge its humiliating dismemberment in 1971 and secondly to stop India in its tracks towards rapid economic growth. Waging a war at this time would be playing into the hands not only of the terrorists, the perpetrators of the heinous Mumbai atrocities by getting the Pakistan Army off its back in NWFP, but also that of Pakistan, which would have achieved at least one of its aims, the latter.

However the circumstances that Pakistan finds itself in today is a whole lot different from those of a decade ago. It’s a rogue state in the eyes of the international community. And the only reason it is not being castigated by the global powers, in particular the USA, is their role in facilitating America’s war against Al Qaeda.

In such circumstances, it would only be prudent not to take the bull by its horns and use diplomacy to force Pakistan into a corner through international pressure. And that is precisely what seems to be happening.  Secondly, just the flexing of our military muscle can probably achieve a lot more than an actual war. Pakistan after all, being on the very brink of bankruptcy and on the mercy of the IMF is in no state to wage a war. And lastly, as many prominent people have suggested, we need to take some hard decisions, use the tax payer’s money prudently for a change, and improve our homeland security.

It is however not my endeavour to suggest that wars are obsolete, that we should never even think of waging a war of choice. To suggest so would obviously be naïve. However we ought to think ten times before contemplating war, because the price that we may have to pay for a war today would be twenty times greater than it would have been two decades ago.

God Bless us all. Jai Hind. 

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