Shakespeare’s, everlastingly recurrent tragedy, Macbeth opens with these lines uttered by the omniscient witches:
“fair is foul and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air.”
The rest of the play proceeds as the protagonist Macbeth overthrows his king, and subsequent blood-soaked events unfold, ending in total chaos.
Performed for the first in 1606, England, the underlying depths of the play can still be found resonating with human events and contemporary history.
February 14th shocked the Indian nation as a retaliatory youth rammed 100 kilos of TNT into the CRPF bus, resulting in 44 deaths. The Indian narrative which began with grievance over the attack was soon channelled into wrongly bullying its neighbour, Pakistan, into misplaced submission, which itself has been fighting a door-to-door war with militants and has paid the insurmountable human and economic cost.
As international and domestic politics are not so distinguished from each other, therefore, neither any single event that occurs is in a vacuum, nor does it have no consequences.
BJP government, led by Narendra Modi, has been adrift in hard waters since its scam of Raphael fighter planes with France came out. The incumbent Indian government has been swept by corruption allegations of humongous size, all of which are not fabrications of sheer opposition but supported by facts as well. Moreover, India has turned up the violence scale in Kashmir quite a few notches since 2014, i.e. the start of BJP’s term.
As the Pulwama tragedy gained momentum, its direction was swiftly steered away from condemnation of terrorism and introspection of Indian ruthlessness in Kashmir to blatantly calling Pakistan a terrorist harbouring and sponsoring state, in literally no time. The hashtags on Twitter suddenly quadrupled, so-called peace-loving Bollywood stars showed their lust for human blood, and no voice of reason seemed to prevail.
Internet, cellphones and television; it took the Indian prime minister these three items to hold the whole Indian nation hostage to his greed and hunger for winning the 2019 elections and securing a consecutive term. It is a fact that politics and security go together. But when these two are blended with a dosage of jingoistic nationalism: the outcome is utter madness and disregard for humanity. These are the notions that the Indo-Pak subcontinent has been dealing with since February 14th.
Grief of Pulwama was transformed into hatred for Muslims, which was coupled with anti-Pakistan and ultra-nationalist Hindu supremacy thought. Consequently, Indian leadership sent the UN Charter down the drain when it intruded into the Pakistani airspace and gleefully proclaimed targeting JeM hideouts on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan’s much needed and befitting response, although a day late but resonant of sound strategy and concern, echoed around the world that: Pakistan was not a state to be trifled with and trampled upon.
United States’ response, which has become the trademark for authenticity in international politics, came “a day late and a dollar short”, where it advised both sides to show restraint and supported Indian aggression as a strong step in curbing terrorism.
PM Modi was successful in getting the Indian nation behind his “pied piper tune”. Too busy to bash their neighbour and too short-sighted to read between the lines. The Indian public and the mainstream intelligentsia as well was unable to understand the reason behind Pulwama but were quick enough to blame Pakistan.
This whole series, which is still unfolding as we talk about, is an ideal case of how a fascist leader, who, by using his demagoguery skills and sheer usage of propaganda has held a nation of 1.1 billion people hostage. But the ordeal does not end here. Real tragedy is that voices of reason and introspection are either being silenced, or they have joined the bandwagon of the blame-game.
But, from PM Modi’s forever prominent apprehensive attitude to Muslims both inside and outside India, which ironically constitutes as the largest minority in India; to constant war-hungry and battle drums of Indian media; to American biasedness in mitigating the imminent threat of could-have-been war. In this cacophony, the Pakistani leadership and its social media community displayed relative maturity. PM Imran Khan repeatedly reiterated the need for peace and adoption of a pragmatic approach. Pakistan army responded to military threats in an articulate and composed manner and, the social media users, who fought the opposing war-mongering campaigns with the replies and tweets of peace and love.
Pakistan and India are the fault-lines of international politics. It has been evident that the relationship between these two states has far-reaching effects on the global order of things. For instance, China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the next big thing, where China aims to connect three continents by reviving the old Silk route. It has established itself in Asia and is making its presence felt in Europe now.
The ongoing elections in India, which are the largest in history will give space to new realities. If the Indian side is sane enough, it will try to amend the mistake of electing Modi. If not, the dynamics of a new government can be different anyway. The almost-war serves as a clear warning of what can happen if this region does not resort to the peaceful settlement of issues. The first step of this solution is for both sides to come on the same page. It is imperative that India should accept Kashmir-issue as a real problem, rather than forcing its will upon the reluctant people. Terrorism does not know religion, and it certainly does not respect boundaries. Instead of blaming Pakistan, it should work towards rooting out this issue from the region.
Vyas Ali Rajput is studying Public Administration at National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.