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Saying No to War

RIGHT after the Pulwama incident, Prime Minister of Pakistan immediately offered all kinds of assistance in investigation which was meted out with Indian air incursion. After India’s mishap in Balakot, releasing payloads to facilitate flimsy story of killing 350 terrorists by surgical strike, Pakistan had no other option but to retaliate resulting in air force crashes and border skirmishes. It was costly for India as it lost fighter planes and lives of pilot besides one pilot arrested alive. India, claiming itself biggest democracy, did not act as a mature state and had often been involved to achieve domestic political ends through means of combination of war and jingoism. The fact that both states possess nuclear stockpiles appears to be the concern of a few people in South Asia, unfortunately. Major portion of people on both sides was cheer-leading the war.
In the wake of Pulwama crisis and post-Pulwama episodes, the social media invaded with warmongering posts demanding, asking and encouraging the retaliation without knowing the corollaries of war in full potential which include potential of nuclear weapons. Besides, bulks of people in different segments of societies in both countries, especially youth, were found highly active in support of a war. Maybe, they are not well aware that escalation and de-escalation of crisis among hostile states also influenced by the behaviour of nations apart from the behaviour of deskbound leadership. Educational, social and intellectual gains so far of both countries could not lead to desirable results when it comes to measure the collective behaviour. This fact owes to another fact that states’ policies amidst societal developments and social construction are not effective enough to shape the anti-war behaviour of people. However, it may be effective when teaching the strategic calculations and war tactics.
Pulwama attack was immediately called out as an indigenous act. It was swiftly ascribed to the Kashmiri resistance, a strong and justified reaction of the freedom fighters to the roughshod and cruel campaign by the Indian military. It was the reaction to the series of inhuman measures undertaken by Indian state in form of maiming, gagging and strangling since the start of uprising in 1989 those who have reinvigorated the Kashmir resistance. Another generation has been grown up under the oppressed regime and attacker Adil Ahmed Dar belonged to the very same generation who witnessed the humiliation and harassment by Indian forces. So, for Kashmiris, war is more than a tool to salvation and they find it arduous to say it No.
Similarly, people in Pakistan and India from generations to generations have been witnessing hostility, animosity assorted with arms build-up and frequent missile tests. In such an environment, psychologically people’s minds and thoughts are infused with inquisitiveness about weapons’ operability, employment and deployment. Therefore, prospects of war provide people of both countries greater frisson to encourage their leadership to escalate tension to achieve the very objective of use of weapons. Apart from the responsibility of patriotism, people in both countries are more inclined to meet their psychological need of pleasure regardless of being on right or wrong side. Influenced by the social upbringing and familiarity with states’ intra rifts, people tend to pursue schadenfreude in war out of their animus for hostile states. Therefore, people in both countries also find hard to say No to war.
Undoubtedly, the people’s behaviour toward war is alarming, especially, when their governments have complete control of nuclear weapons. In long term, this can be proved drastic not only for entire region but also for the whole world. They have failed to realize that the burden of war almost completely shifted from armed forces to them being the object of military or military-political operations. After losing the millions of lives, people in Europe have learnt to say No to War. People in South Asia appear to be oblivious to the destructive episodes of 20th century. People should learn to say No to War. Not a single reason can be found to doubt that the primary and main victims of war will continue to be civilians. With the changing social and global dynamics, it has become clear that political settlement of wars will not be imposed unilaterally. The era of wars terminating in unconditional surrender does not seem to be return in foreseeable future. States should also figure out to change, influence and shape the behaviour of people from war, violence to anti-war, anti-violence and peace oriented.
— The writer is practising lawyer, based in Islamabad.