The hysterical warmongering against Pakistan witnessed in the first half of January brought India and Pakistan dangerously close to another military conflict. While there was nothing unusual about the intermittent cross-border firing that had been going on for several weeks, the beheading of an Indian soldier by unknown forces along the so-called Line of Control was used as the occasion to whip up high-pitched hysteria against Pakistan by the top civil and military leaders here. For many days in a row, our people were subjected to non-stop venomous propaganda against Pakistan in the media. At the same time all sporting and cultural contacts were stopped, the process of visa liberalisation was held up, and other forms of interaction were also rolled back.
Then, just as suddenly as the warmongering began, it was turned down, but relations have not been allowed to revert to what they were before.
Over the many decades since Partition, the peoples of India and Pakistan have been repeatedly embroiled in war by the actions of their rulers. This has led to immense suffering on both sides. Even when they have not actually gone to war, they have been brought to the brink of war on several occasions. This war and brinkmanship has not solved a single problem, but on the contrary has generated a permanent state of tension and hostility. The peoples of our two countries must demand answers as to why time and again war hysteria is whipped up by the rulers, why our peoples are not allowed to live in peace and friendship as is their wish, and why the peace and security of this region is mortgaged time and again to the merchants of death and destruction.
It is important to understand that to get to the root of these repeated bouts of hostilities and warmongering, the question to be asked is not ‘who fired the first shot’, but whose interests do they serve. In the recent events, one thing that is very clear is that the loud jingoistic talk against Pakistan helped to divert the attention of people from the complete bankruptcy of the present Government which has repeatedly come under heavy attack in recent times. The anger of the people can only be expected to increase because of the deliberate policy of the Government to accelerate the capitalist and anti-people economic reforms in the coming months. The main opposition party, the BJP, which clearly has no solution to the problems of the people, also got a chance to display its “nationalist” credentials by calling loudly for revenge against Pakistan. War and jingoism have been used by the Indian ruling class several times to deal with a crisis arising from the discontent of the people.
The latest bout of warmongering against Pakistan should also be viewed in the general context of the imperialist geopolitics in this region. Everyone knows that the Indian ruling class has been very happy with the greatly increased US imperialist presence in the region through its occupation of Afghanistan, as well as with the relentless American bombing of Pakistan’s western frontier regions. The imperialist pressure on Pakistan has suited very well the desire of the Indian ruling class to increase its own clout in the region and to keep Pakistan down. The decision by the US imperialists now to reduce their direct military presence, and to involve Pakistan more closely in their efforts to set up a regime favourable to their interests in Afghanistan, is not liked by the Indian ruling class. The warmongering and threat to Pakistan’s eastern border, at a time when the Pakistan government is also caught up with its own deepening domestic crisis, is in keeping with the strategy of the Indian state to keep Pakistan tied down. The accusation that Pakistani forces were responsible for beheading the Indian soldier also helped to reinforce the myth that the Pakistani state is “terrorist”, or in the grip of terrorists.
In the last few months, the Indian state deliberately violated the agreement with Pakistan not to allow construction with the zone along the LOC, and began to build fortifications there. This in fact is a major reason for the increased cross-border firing in recent times.
All the evidence indicates that the Indian ruling class is once again playing with fire, by stoking the flames of war with Pakistan, in order to achieve its self-serving objectives. The Indian people must refuse to be manipulated and drawn into this kind of warmongering that is completely against our interests. The vast majority of the people of both our countries want to live in peace. It is the great wish of our peoples, who are inseparably linked by ties of history, geography and culture, that we be able to have mutually beneficial relations with each other. The warmongering by the rulers comes in the way of the interests of the peoples, and must be vigorously opposed.