No Lasting 'Vijay' or peace

On December 13 we observed the 13th anniversary of the terror attack on the Indian Parliament, and reaffirmed our resolve to fight terrorism. On December 16 we shall celebrate the 43rd Vijay Diwas to commemorate the military victory over Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

These two events in our 67-year history as a free nation show us that neither the battle to defeat terror nor the unending hostility from Pakistan is over. That we are fighting an asymmetrical war which shows no signs of ebbing is a legacy of partition. Just last week, terrorists strutted across the heavily patrolled border and gunned down our soldiers in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir to thwart the assembly elections. They killed our soldiers but not the resolve of voters who arrived at polling booths to cast their votes. But we also saw funerals of our police and military personnel who died in protecting those valuable freedoms.

Schoolgirls take part in the ‘Shobha Yatra’, as a part of Vijay Diwas celebrations in Karad, Maharashtra, on Sunday. Vijay Diwas is celebrated in December every year  to commemorate the victory of Indian armed forces over the Pakistani armed force  in Dhaka in 1971. Pic/PTI
Schoolgirls take part in the ‘Shobha Yatra’, as a part of Vijay Diwas celebrations in Karad, Maharashtra, on Sunday. Vijay Diwas is celebrated in December every year  to commemorate the victory of Indian armed forces over the Pakistani armed force  in Dhaka in 1971. Pic/PTI

A final ‘Vijay’ (victory) it seems is never within reach. That is because there is no permanent peace that followed the supposed end of our wars.

On Vijay Diwas, we celebrate a military achievement where General A A K Niazi with his 90,000 troops surrendered to the Indian army and Mukti Bahini in Dhaka in 1971. But we often forget that the enemy has internalised the humiliation, the ignominy of losing almost half their land. They struck back, unsuccessfully in Kargil, and in an asymmetrical jehadi war that has bled us.

Last week General Pervez Musharraf told a Pakistani channel that he launched the Kargil operation as a ‘tit-for-tat’ for the 1971 war. That he lost that war as an army chief, and that it was a shame that he brought upon his country is something he glossed over. As did the journalist who interviewed him. Musharraf who is currently being tried for treason is, like his mentor General Zia-ul Haq, the creator of terrorist mercenaries, whose primary goal is to bleed India.

December 25 marks the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of the First World War. A young soldier Adolf Hitler thought that truce was dishonourable, and the rest is history. Similarly there are Pakistani generals who take it upon themselves to restore the honour lost in the battlefields of East Pakistan.

Yet many of us in the administration and outside have blinkers on. We imagine that the forces created by the generals can be controlled by the Pakistani administration. Or that after the bloodied nose in East Pakistan and Kargil, the war is over and lasting peace achieved — whereas not even an uneasy truce is in place. The borders are hot and the aggressor is still baying for blood.

Wars are over only when the adversary believes he is defeated and cannot attack again in any manner. President Obama actually thought that withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan would end America’s wars. Osama bin Laden is dead and most of Al-Qaeda’s top leadership is decimated. But is America at peace? Or in a state of non-war? John McCain reminded President Obama that wars don’t end because you declare them over… “Because the President of the United States declares a conflict over does mean that in the eyes of the enemy it is over. Conflicts end when the enemy is defeated.”

America finds itself drawn into conflicts around the world, from the war to stop the ISIS in its tracks, to returning to Iraq, to droning terrorists in Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It is a never-ending military operation against the ‘bad guys’ who have not called a halt to conflict.

Similarly, India is in its own ‘Forever War’, to borrow the title of Dexter Filkins’ book. The three declared wars with Pakistan, one undeclared ‘conflict’ and decades of asymmetrical war in the form of jehadi warriors, should have taught India the bitter lesson that it is futile to imagine that Pakistan Army has altered its thinking or ended its style of functioning vis-a-vis India.

Every newly elected government in Delhi begins with the delusionary belief that it will be able to chart out a path of peace with Pakistan. This month as we commemorate the victory in Dhaka and the sacrifices of those who died while protecting our Parliament, we also celebrate the birthday of the man who embarked on peace with Pakistan Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He undertook the Lahore Bus Yatra and was betrayed by the man who is now again Prime Minister of Pakistan. Let that small fact not be overlooked by the current ruling dispensation in India.

Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash

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