The February war hysteria is back to haunt the people in India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed on Sunday that India preparing for another attack on Pakistan. Speaking with confidence and “responsibility”, Qureshi even gave a timeframe and said that it could happen between April 16 and 20. Qureshi said that a new mishap could be staged in Kashmir just like February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing of a CRPF convoy to ‘justify their [India’s] offensive against Pakistan and to increase diplomatic pressure against Islamabad.” He said that Pakistan has already briefed the United Nations Security Council’s P5 [permanent five member countries] over the issue and stated Pakistan’s apprehensions. India, however, has rejected the Pak foreign minister’s claim as “irresponsible and preposterous statement with a clear objective of whipping up war hysteria in the region”. “This public gimmick appears to be a call to Pakistan-based terrorists to undertake a terror attack in India,” said a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs. Whatever the truth, this, however, exposes the fragility of relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan have returned from the brink of a full-scale war in the wake of a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy by militants on Srinagar-Jammu highway on February 14 in which over 40 men of the force were killed. Government of India put the blame for the attack on directly on Pakistan and went for a retaliatory action on February 26 by sending Indian Air Force fighter planes into Pakistan territory and bombed what they called “terror” camps of Jais-e-Mohammad militant outfit (responsible for Pulwama attack) in Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtoonwa province. Some 12 Mirage-2000 jets with laser-guided bombs were used by Indian Air Force. The air strike happened around 3.30 am.
Pakistan responded with a broad- day light incursion by its air force, dropping bombs at an open space, shooting down two jet fighters and capturing pilot of one of the jets. As it looked that the situation could take a further ghastly turn, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan showed extra degree of maturity and statesmanship not only by calling off further military action but also by offering for dialogue and release of the captured pilot. This has to a large extent calmed down the atmosphere. Behind-the-scene international diplomacy too played a significant role in subsiding the hostility. America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE worked off-the-scene to stop the two countries from further escalation. The captured wing commander was released by Pakistan without any condition. That helped a lot in bringing cool in the otherwise hostile atmosphere. One had thought that the two countries would show more maturity and wisdom to address contentious issue by starting a dialogue process. But the latest allegations and counter-allegations bring forth the fact that the danger of war between India and Pakistan is still there. A small spark is enough to ignite a nuclear holocaust in the subcontinent. Few would dispute with the fact that most of the India-Pakistan animosity is due to internal political issues confronting the ruling parties in the two countries. India is presently at election mode. The priority before the incumbent government in India is the elections. “External threat” and “integrity and security of the nation” is the very fundamental plank of the Prime Minister NarendraModi and his party BJP in their election campaign. In this backdrop one can easily conclude that the latest claims and counter claims by the two countries appear to be made up of domestic compulsions. It is no less than a crime that ruling parties merely for political gains could plan for a war. Any war between India and Pakistan could be disastrous not only for the two countries but for the whole world. The ruling parties, both, in Islamabad and New Delhi, should not be allowed to run the risk of putting the whole world to the danger. The International community in general and the United Nations in particular should intervene and pressurize the two countries to resolve its dispute through dialogue to save the world from the impending catastrophe.