By Mirza Wardah Beg:
According to the Indian government, elements from the Pakistani state were behind the attacks in Uri, where 17 soldiers were martyred. The anger which some people have currently is justified in a way. There might be children among them who lost their fathers and parents who lost their sons. It definitely has an emotional aspect, but we shouldn’t get carried away and forget the larger picture in front of us.
I decided to ask a few questions to six students from six prestigious universities in the country regarding the relations between India and Pakistan. Banaras Hindu University, University of Hyderabad, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and University of Jammu.
I decided to find the answers to the questions in my mind. It would have been easier to answer the questions if things were more apparent and if there was a bit more transparency in our representatives and governments. There’s no doubt in the fact that our voices matter. Who can deny the power of collective concern?
Q: Do you think the information given to us regarding the surgical strikes across the LoC is credible?
Sumit Buchasia (BHU): Some Indian politicians, whom I consider traitors are demanding the proof of the surgical strikes which happened recently. It was a surgical strike, not a marriage ceremony that a video could be presented. We don’t know the exact issue. Had we known the pain and sufferings of our army, we would have supported them. At times it is being shown how cruel our army is, but it is never shown why they chose to become cruel!
Faseeh Ahmad (UoH): The information, whether we receive it through the media or from an official source, can be from a jingoistic or nationalistic perspective.
Anzala Riyaz (AMU): According to me, the information is muddled up. With truth, there are fault lines too. Though without proof, I can neither give a verdict nor can I pass any judgement.
Nausheen Khan (DU): No. There’s a lot of gap between what we’re told and what is actually happening.
Gaurav Sharma (JMI): I think it is true because my maternal uncle is in the Indian Air Force. Everyone got a call from their office to report to the nearest camp when the incident took place. He also told me about the authenticity of the surgical strikes, when I asked him the same question.
Aditya Sharma (UoJ): I am from Jammu & Kashmir. Who else would know better? Religion is mostly brought into the picture to influence people into killing innocents.
Q: Let’s assume that the information on the surgical strikes is true. Do you think India’s surgical strikes were a good response?
Sumit Buchasia: Yes, it was the perfect answer. Or was a good answer, had no innocent person been killed. But there are no innocent people in Pakistan. Not because they are bad or Muslims, only because they are on the wrong side. They support their government after seeing their actions are working, which is not a healthy habit.
Faseeh Ahmad: I don’t support war. But if all the sources are true, and if India and Pakistan can manage something which happens just between the army men, without any harm to civilians and nature, I don’t expect India to be so patient.
Anzala Riyaz: When diplomatic delegations don’t work, actions do.
Nausheen Khan: Yes, if it indeed was true, the strike was a very balanced strategy. It did not upset the legitimate army of Pakistan while targeting immediate threats to India.
Gaurav Sharma: The strikes were necessary, but it was a late reply because we all know who was behind the Mumbai attacks, the 1999 plane hijack and many other unfortunate events. I am not saying that Pakistan is directly involved. But that country is a breeding ground for terrorism. For example, USA was looking for Osama in Afghanistan for almost a decade, but ultimately it was Pakistan who helped that terrorist.
Aditya Sharma: India destroyed terrorist base camps. Was the Pakistan government providing security across the border? Pakistan is a terrorist state. It was a strong step to eliminate terrorism.
Q: Mehbooba Mufti, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said that the attack at Uri was aimed at creating a “war-like situation“. After the terrorist attack at Baramulla on October 3, should India continue with the ‘war’?
Sumit Buchasia: If Pakistan surrenders and agrees to hand over all the terrorists to India, then India will not continue. But if they do not agree, the Indian government must take strict action.
Faseeh Ahmad: The ‘war-like’ situation has been going on in Kashmir for the last four months. Nearly 100 civilians have died, thousands have been injured and many have been blinded. So, I don’t understand what this new ‘war-like’ situation is. I don’t have faith in any philosophy which is silent about these deaths and tearful about the death of army men.
Anzala Riyaz: Dialogue should take place between the two nations.
Nausheen Khan: No, India shouldn’t. But shouldn’t Pakistan also stop the war? Think of it as two people. Mr. I and Mr. P. Mr. I has already tolerated past attacks on his property by Mr. P, without retaliating. Now, Mr. I has people telling him to retaliate constantly. Mr. P also gives multiple reasons for him to do so, by attacking Mr. I again and again. Mr. I decides that the only way in which Mr. P will understand is if he is attacked. India retaliates finally. There are many other factors that led Mr Modi to arrange that attack. Internal pressure could be one.
Gaurav Sharma: War is not the solution. It has a direct effect on the economy. Pakistan has nothing to lose, because their government doesn’t think about its people or development. On the other hand, India is one of the largest economies. All we need is a peaceful solution. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. But if war is necessary for our own safety and a prosperous future, then it is inevitable. We all know Pakistani military can’t do anything on its own. They have Chinese support right now and diplomatically we have USA, Russia, Israel and many others. They can’t attack us.
Aditya Sharma: No. War is not an option. Isolating Pakistan by halting every trade relation and deal, which could eventually result in the downfall of the Pakistani stock market, is the best option. As many Asian countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, support us, this policy will definitely work.
Q: As Pakistan is a bigger nuclear power than India, is it not risky to get into a war-like situation with Pakistan?
Sumit Buchasia: Nuclear power is not everything. Indian army is the second largest army in the world. Pakistan won’t be able to use nuclear weapons as it would affect itself and will make other nations stand on India’s side. Also, the Indian army has already won many wars against Pakistan.
Faseeh Ahmad: Even if it’s not risky, we should not get into a conflict as war, kills. Nuclear weapons have killed people and destroyed nature.
Anzala Riyaz: This issue is not a power game. Even if it is risky, should we leave the matter as it is?
Nausheen Khan: It is a risky thing to do. But can you just continue being bullied by someone all your life just because the bully is stronger?
Gaurav Sharma: India is also a nuclear power. It doesn’t matter how many nuclear weapons both countries possess, because a single nuclear bomb can cause mass destruction.
Aditya Sharma: Bigger doesn’t matter. Only one nuclear bomb is required to eliminate Pakistan out of the world map. The number doesn’t matter here. All that matters is who strikes first.
Q: Do you think media is playing a role in spreading hatred, on both sides of the border?
Sumit Buchasia: Yes. It is. Recently, Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi gave a statement that a war will result in losses for both countries, but India showed it in a different way. The Indian media said that Shahid Afridi was afraid of war and was begging for peace.
Faseeh Ahmad: Yes, too much. I don’t know much about Pakistan, but people among us like Arnab, who are screaming to send Fawad Khan back. What the hell is this? We saw his attitude towards Om Puri too. Where else is such jingoism being promoted in this way? The media has called Afridi a coward and Sehwag a hero. Where are we heading?
Anzala Riyaz: It is disturbing to see the same media which is expected to be unbiased, spreading such things. Even though the entire media is not taking part in it.
Nausheen Khan: Yes. What the Indian media says here, the Pakistani media says the same things there. At a time when the governments are reluctant to release factual information backed by proof, media fills the gap by playing with the common person’s mind and making people hate the other side.
Gaurav Sharma: Exactly. This is the reality. We, as citizens of both countries do not hate each other, but all this hatred is spread by the politicians and the media houses.
Aditya Sharma: Yes. The media is hypocritical. It works for money. It could have been the other way round. They could have spread love, but no. All they talk about is war.
Q: What’s your definition of nationalism?
Sumit Buchasia: A true nationalist is one who judges what is right and what is wrong, irrespective of the nation he lives in. One who supports his country when it’s wrong can never be a true nationalist. And yes, one who protests and is ready to take revenge when somebody harms his country is also a true nationalist.
Faseeh Ahmad: The “nation” is defined in a way that there exists hatred for “other” nations. From the time children are born, they are taught like that. According to me, nationalism is something which is used for the safety of the ruling class and in order to hide what they do to their communities. Weber describes it as a legitimate source of violence. So nationalism is a like a fog to hide all this violence. How else can someone easily justify the violence over Kashmir after identifying as an ‘Indian’.
Anzala Riyaz: Well, nationalism is a very intimate feeling of belonging to one’s nation. Even though different people have varying definitions of nationalism, it surely has nothing to do with cursing others.
Nausheen Khan: Even though in the current times, it might seem that spreading hatred is the new nationalism. I personally believe it to be very immature. According to me, one becomes a nationalist only by serving the country. One doesn’t become a nationalist by just enrolling in the army. Someone can be a nationalist by doing different things for the nation. Activities like combating poverty, helping the disabled, empowering the minority and even serving one’s old parents are part of serving the nation. The definition doesn’t always have to be negative.
Gaurav Sharma: The very idea of nationalism is not about how you hate your enemy. It’s about the welfare of our own country. See, India also did many wrong deeds with Pakistan, but that’s another topic.
Aditya Sharma: Stand by the country. That’s all.
It’s interesting to see the diversity of opinions that exist in the country regarding the current Indo-Pak relations. While some don’t want the Indian state to compromise in front of our neighbouring nation, others prefer a much softer approach as they believe that violence and war will not help anyone. British India was partitioned in 1947 into India and Pakistan. Sixty-nine years after the formation of the two nations, neither have been able to come out of its troubled past entirely. Warmth exists when art travels across borders. Yet, perhaps art isn’t powerful enough to overpower the hangover of partition.