Hold your missiles!

I am aware that I am opening myself to a lot of argument and criticism, but frankly, this blog is bigger than I am. It demands my truth, and I provide it, because I believe in the values I am living here. So, if I must take some risks to live it, so be it.

I ask of you that you hear me out with patience. You have nothing to lose, because we have no functional options anyway.

There is a lot of anger in India right now, and many in Mumbai are furious. Some have decided that Pakistan has a hand in the blasts and think enough is enough, and India should attack Pakistan and defeat it once and for all.

Let me say at this point, that this is premature. We have no proof.

However, many people asked me in frustrated anger, “what do we do then?” and I had commented “I have no clue why people can’t see any options between inaction and war – are we really so incapable of creative and effective jobs?”

And people wanted to know “like what?”, so I write this post that had been playing in my mind for a long time.

It is hurt, anger speaking. None of the ground realities have changed. India and Pakistan are still nuclear armed countries, and Pakistan is still enough of a nut case that we can’t even think of a limited war with them playing nuclear wildcard.

Those who are okay with nuclear bombing Pakistan totally should think about the prevailing winds and where the nuclear fallout will drift. Thank you.

We have our forces as our safety net if Pakistan attacks. They shouldn’t be our first plan, because then there is no fallback, and using them as a first plan is guaranteed failure one way or the other. We can destroy Pakistan as a country, but whoever is left alive will have a renewed hatred of India and not even marginal pretense at law. Is that what we want? No, thank you.

The real reason we shouldn’t attack Pakistan is that the biggest problem we have with Pakistan is its Army. They have been using us as a bogey to scare people into remaining together at best and manipulate for fun and profit more likely. The minute we attack Pakistan, that lie gets credibility, and we get our next generation of jihadis. Back to square one. Many people have spoken about the rest of the reasons of the bad idea, and I leave it to you to find them if it matters. I’ll move on to the things less said.

The other idea I want to kill is the idea that doing nothing is non-violence. Doing nothing is inaction, not non-violence. Doing nothing about violence is violence. I count our current responses as inaction, because they create no change, and we know going in, that they will create no change. To expect only talks to somehow get everyone feeling so fuzzy pink that they set aside decades of agenda is naive. Particularly since not setting it aside has no consequences whatsoever as long as they don’t run out of filing space for dossiers. Why would they? Frankly, I wouldn’t drop something I was doing as a strategic advantage if I could get away with not dropping it. And they can get away with it, because they have *shudder* nukes. It is a fact. There currently is no way around it. Their ass is covered. What’s more, they have the insanity to kill themselves to kill us. We don’t. Whether that is good or bad is irrelevant. It is what is.

It is the mark of stupidity to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. If we are using ideas proven not to work, we can at least quit the melodrama of surprise if they don’t work.

So, if this won’t work, and that won’t work, what next? Something else. We have too narrow a view on this problem. Too rigid, too full of paths worn bare. We need new ideas. New ideas that will be effective in shaking the grip of terrorism. New ideas that will not depend on a war we know is a bad idea. We need geniuses, not warriors.

Using the metaphor of a person, we need to be present with our whole selves, not just defensive facades. If I am authentic, I evoke authenticity in you. We need to move away from the idea of a conflict if we don’t want a conflict. It is no use pointing fingers at who did what. Ground reality is that neither country has bought a new flat on another continent. We are neighbors, we need to figure out functional interactions. Regardless of who is at fault, if we are not happy with what is happening, we have full right to create something that will make us happier. In fact, it is our duty – be it the parent country Pakistan broke off from, a neighboring country, regional interests, whatever.

The objective is to do stuff that changes the dynamics between our countries for the better – non-negotiable. Ideally doesn’t include weapons at all. Terrorism is a war of the mind. We will need to fight it with genius ideas, not weapons. The more the diversity in our interventions, the more likely we will be in succeeding. And no, this ideally shouldn’t be about dominating at all, because like I wrote in the previous article, when we defeat someone, he’s planning revenge before back hits floor. Not what we want.

Also, our actions should be our own, not angry retaliations and reactions. Slap for slap only causes confused rage. There is enough confusion between the two countries already.

So, without further ado, I am sharing some ideas that come to mind. I hope you will add your own.

  • This will probably get me butchered by the Nationalists, but we shouldn’t hang Kasab. He is more useful paraded as a living monument to a great wrong. He dies, people forget, 26/11 fits under a nice carpet under some circular talking spokesman. Advantage: Keeping the pressure on for justice.
  • Instead, if we truly believe ISI had a hand in training Kasab, if we believe in Headley’s confession, then it is evident that with the ISI funding and retired generals running; retired is another way of saying transferred to classified department. Kasab should be declared a POW and treated according to the Geneva convention. Advantage: Putting the responsibility of the attack solidly where it belongs. Kasab is the soldier assigned to a job, not the one issuing the orders. Another advantage would be psychological. We see that some of the biggest problems leading to violence in Pakistan is the sense of abandonment among the jihadis who fell used and discarded. By acknowledging the relationship openly, we help acknowledgment of that ownership with the Pakistani Army. Hopefully, it leads to less violence at least in Pakistan, which indirectly helps us by allowing their leadership more control over their territory. Even if it doesn’t work like that, nothing is lost, for sure, and much is gained in terms of putting our cards on the table.
  • Pakistan is currently going through an educational crisis. We have infrastructure for distance learning. We should be offering that. Naturally, they will not be interested in our history and geography books, but there is a whole lot of science, maths, english programming and possibly further education that we can easily offer. This should ideally be extended to other educational programmes for children. We have some very good, fun stuff for kids. Important that we make sure we don’t include any content that will make them want to reject it. Which means, we shut up on history, geography, religion, or any kind of blame games. Advantage: This doesn’t need a single Indian to set foot on their soil. It offers a quick and effective way of getting skills of critical thinking among the population. If it fails, nothing is lost.
  • We already have some acceptance for their performers. We can continue that as long as we have declared Kasab POW – as in, not random civilian. Advantage: Pakistani viewership. Attitudes spread through role models. The more time spent on some soap opera, the less time spent on being brainwashed.
  • Pakistan’s problem with extremism is essentially a social experiment gone hideously out of control. The idea to mass manipulate thinking to unite the country in hatred for a common enemy and create an abundant supply of warriors has mutated into people becoming very susceptible to suggestions of hate and the warriors working for anyone who can give them something “wrong” to avenge. As such, social scientists should be engaged in designing and advising interventions that will help create transformations in society. This may mean advising on policy, designing of media, planning specific interventions… Pakistan should also be encouraged to use the services of someone they would trust (not our recommendations). There are many organizations of good standing with scientists who have devoted their lives to studying the dynamics among people. India has a few too. Social scientists with an understanding of unconscious processes and Appreciative Inquiry might be very useful in creating much needed psychological relief and transformation. Advantage: Reversing some of the damage of extremism damaging both countries. To be on the same footing, we might as well plan interventions for India for some of the social issues plaguing our society – female gendericide, dowry, caste system, corruption, depression, distrust, religious differences…. we have many things to heal too.
  • Encouraging filmmakers to make films that would create awareness and integration on any of many issues plaguing both countries – possibly making them tax free? Advantage: Greater market for our films, triggering new thought.
  • Develop intelligence capabilities – not new agencies which add yet another loop to the mis-coordination, but add to the efficiency of existing agencies. Troubleshoot intel failures, raise the bar. Get some serious pressure in there to show results. Advantage: Prevention. Always better than retaliation.
  • Develop ability to sabotage terrorist camps. How is a matter of the specialists, but it must be done.And it isn’t about politicians claiming their two minutes of glory by announcing that India has capabilities to for surgical strikes, etc. Covert operations. Advantage: It is a must. You can’t go to war, you don’t want to suffer attacks, you MUST find a way to sabotage terrorists and keep them off balance – if possible eliminate.
  •  Learn to use our leverage effectively. To be able to proactively counter threats, we are going to seriously need to learn how to manage the dialogue. Rhetoric and finger pointing must be replaced with meaningful and useful communication that is clear and delivers on what it says it will. Whether it is about need to reign in terrorists, or a collaborative effort for mutual gain. The message must be clear, and it must not be repeated ad nauseaum. If it gets ignored, follow on the plan B, and your next message gets received better. And state Plan Bs that you are willing to execute, not noisy threats. Advantage: Gets rid of the clutter, provides a clear picture and actionable failure points post which other options can be engaged.

These are some ideas. And I am just one brain. I think, we have enough people who are very creative who can come up with many, many more ideas that can bypass existing blocks to address existing agreed upon underlying problems. We should find a way to invite ideas.

Extremists exist in every society. What keeps them sane in most places is that they are outnumbered by people with more balanced (or opposite 😛 ) thought. This is not an impossible goal if we don’t insist on butting our heads against existing walls.

I accept that none of these ideas are an instant solution, but at least they have a fairly good chance of working, and will do no harm if they fail – which is more than what our current ideas are doing.

I’d like you to give this some thought too, and if you think of something ingenious – something that will invite change without forcing it…. add it to comments. If our government takes this seriously, we might as well have a start on a pool of ideas – some of which may be usefully tried out by entities other than our government.

Want to end with saying, be kind, okay? I’m trying to contribute to, not undermine our country’s objectives. Disagree, but try not to lynch me.

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About the Author

Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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