Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pulwama Attack: War or Peace?

On 14th of February this year, 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers were killed in Pulwama district of Kashmir by a native man supported by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan based terrorist organization. Since then Indian military has lost a total of 50 personnel in encounters with those behind this attack (based in Kashmir). A recent article by the Economics Times of India, US President Donal Trump has expressed grave concern about what this situation could lead to and expressed empathy towards Indian sentiment. 

Talking about Indian sentiment, what is it and is it what it should be? Anger towards Pakistan is understandable but is a war with Pakistan a right next step? It is true that Jaish-e-Mohammad is based out of Pakistan but is current Pakistani administration really behind this specific attack? Furthermore, should an average Pakistani family be punished for it? More importantly, war would probably also mean losing more Indian soldiers. In other words, more Indian families losing 
a dear one. No matter who wins the war, it is always the women and children who lose on both sides.

Instead of expecting the government to wage a war, this is a time to reflect on what would be good for the country grounded in the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation. If India was able to defeat the great British Empire through non-violence, can she not win over smaller powers using the same principles? Average Indians and Pakistanis are not looking for a war, they are looking for a prosperous future for their children. I have travelled to most Indian states including Kashmir and have never met one person who would prioritize war over peace in their calm mind. 

I am not saying those who planned and implemented this and other attacks should go unpunished. Those people should be brought to justice and I understand Indian military is doing that. However, holding anyone and everyone that may represent the religious/ethnic identity of the terrorists accountable is not right. The desire to punish all Kashmiris is not justified and the Supreme Court of India happens to agree with that. Prime Minister Modi also made a statement to that effect in a recent rally. 

Instead of asking for a war against Pakistan or attacking Kashmiris, this is a time for us to think about the families who have lost a son, a husband, a father, and a dear one. And think of those who have lost their comrades and are still doing their duty by risking their lives to protect sovereignty of the nation. If we truly empathize with their pain, we wouldn't push more soldiers towards war just because we who are in the comfort of our homes want a bloody revenge. Those who are responsible to defend the country will make a responsible decision. 

Those of us who are impacted by this horrific attack, please utilize this energy to facilitate collective healing starting from the families and colleagues of the fallen. Here are three actions I suggest we can take:

1) There are websites through which you can donate for the family members. We should try to understand what are the specific needs of those families, which family needs what resource. 
2) Understand the needs of CRPF as an organization and how can we advocate for them. Enroll to strengthen CRPF, if eligible.
3) Finally, spend some time to truly understand what could have led this man from a relatively well-to-do district of Kashmir to attack the 40 uniformed personnel who came from simple family backgrounds who had nothing against him. Is there more than what meets the eye? Do we really understand the complexity of the problem to be able to start talking about war and violence as the solution? 

Research, read, reflect and rely on those who are able to make informed decisions. Remember, we all have the opportunity to serve our motherland and we should focus on that especially in a moment like this. US President John F. Kennedy once said, 'ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country' and this is the time to think how can we help heal and strengthen our motherland rather inflicting more wounds on her! Together we are stronger and with peace we can go farther! 

For those who read Hindi, you can read a poem I wrote on this subject on my Hindi blog. 


It’s all about the roots! Our roots don’t pull us down, they enable us to grow farther away to explore the unknown skies! #roots #trees ...