Most of us do not write for a living. Some who do, work with the words so long that words become their tool, their device for deception. They lose affection for words, the respect for words; for them words are weapon to control and rule over the world. They use them to manipulate the truth. But then, words are like guns. Guns don’t kill, people do. Words don’t deceive, people behind the pen do. Hyperbole is one such literary device which shoots in both the direction. War, or conflict, as they say, brings out the best and worst of us. It is true about our media as well.
Yesterday, there was a terror attack on a Military camp in Uri, Kashmir. As is the case with any conflict, it brought out the best and worst of us. Amid the din, with a numbing thought of eighteen caskets, wrapped in Tricolor, haunted most citizens. The government sat silent, except for perfunctory condemnation and assurance of definitive action. That was day one. People were too angry, too annoyed at the prolonged dithering on international policy especially with reference to a terror state right on our next door, a bankrupt nation, one-fifth the size of India, still propped up by the west as self-proclaimed guardian of Muslims across of world, irrespective of their nationality.
Writing anything against the public sentiment, overwhelmingly sad, furious and at the same time, frustrated was troublesome. That was day one. Day two, and the perverse play of politics came into play. Journalists began offering their advices ridiculing the possibility of military action. They weren’t worried much that most common citizens proposed non-military options. One Morning newspaper opened with the options to deal with terror coming from Pakistan. Hindustan Times proposed options available for India in the wake of this attack as below- (What Next? Read the HT Article )
Surgical Strike- Covert attack on Terrorist camps in Pak Occupied Kashmir. From readiness, from moral one-upmanship perspective, and to an extent, from technical feasibility perspective- this is a jingoist, but very difficult option. Further, in a country, where internal strife is causing so many death, and where US drones keep attacking with impunity, I don't think it will serve much purpose.
Hot Pursuit- Indian Forces going into Pakistan as retaliatory step. This was same as earlier one, only overt. The daily however, trashed its own proposition since unlike Myanmar opposing terror publicly, Pakistan has terror as official wing for aggressive diplomacy.
Diplomacy (Global)- Isolate Pakistan- HT clearly mentions this as attempt to isolate Pak globally by getting it declared as a terrorist nation. The option ignored our own role in this sanctions we propose others to impose on Pakistan. As we see, and have seen, Global powers are driven not by morality, rather by their own interests. It is hardly likely for them to their obedient stooge which allows them to trample on Pakistani sovereignty to pursue their design, whether it is about drone attacks or killing OBL. They are also going to see that the Pakistan envoy continues to enjoy hospitality and trade continues to flow through unilateral MFN between India and Pakistan. No one can support you in your fight which you yourself are unwilling to fight your own fight.
Bilateral talks- Engage Civilian leadership of Pakistan. However, the article junks this idea, which surely is outlandish, but, and read carefully, it places the onus of impossibility of this impossible idea on Indian Government. It says this goes against New Delhi’s stated line. Thus implying that had India government not tied itself in knots, by its own public posturing this would have been a plausible option. This has been stemming out of a naïve Hindu hope of some goodness in all evil. It is foolish to treat Pakistan’s civilian leadership as separate from Army establishment of Pakistan. This Good cop- Bad cop act is just the face and we see even Pakistan is not much keen on continuing with the façade. So, an AK-47 carrying terrorist, becomes a hero for Nawaz Sharif and he calls the person out to destroy India a hero and calls for black day on his killing. It is absurd to continue treating civilian leader as last hope for humanity. Democracy in Pakistan is a sham; it is feudal and as blood thirsty as the military. Their job is to maintain goodwill and get alms for the military.
Other options they propose is back channel with Pakistani army, which is trying to make friends with your potential murderer, and aggressive posturing- Army mobilization like Operation Parakram, which is as absurd as it sounds, and which constitutes nothing but posing as a peacock until you get tired of it.
Now, we have seen the options listed out here as only options available with Indian establishment against an enemy nation by a reputed daily. Barkha Dutt has almost gone on the lines of Digvijay Singh after 26/11. Malini Parthsarthy, another senior journalist is amused with the hullaballoo over 17 martyrs, since as per her, they join the army to die. Well, talking about what drives one’s career choices, one only wonders what drove these journalists to become journalists. Striving for truth or peddling the lies- they need to introspect. Slowly the machinery comes to action, a party releases statement linking attack with Kashmir, suggesting, India should begin talks with all stakeholders (which would of course, include those who felled these soldiers) on Kashmir. They are not wrong. The intent of terrorists is to get India talk of Kashmir and eventually leave it for them. Barkha had earlier written an article on Government’s effort to talk to terrorists within constitution, provocatively asking- If not for greater autonomy, then what is the talk for? She should know, talk is about negotiation, and it need not go necessarily in one direction. My answer to her would be- talks could also be for lesser autonomy. The autonomy to the degree currently given has yielded no result. So obviously, case is pretty strong to have a negotiation around reduction of autonomy. Vajpayee doctrine has failed, there is no point in keeping revisiting it merely because it had better sounding slogans. As time passes, the failures of past begin to appear less pathetic, that is the case of Vajpayee doctrine. If yesterday were so perfect, today won’t be in such a mess. So please stop pleading for good old days, since they seem good only because they are not there.
There is sinister game of manufacturing the narrative happens. This has happened every time an attack happens from Pakistan. Debates will happen largely aimed at proving A) any one demanding visible action is a war-monger B) as a corollary to it, reject his or her plea for visible action, calling it war-mongering, and push for talks, more talks, people to people contact, exchange of art and culture. Essentially it is all a build up to prove everything a nonsensical demand of middle class, the non-public school citizens, and ensuring business as usual. The Industry flourish that way, interlocutors are appointed, money flows, until another attack. Hyperbole are used here. Hyperbole refers to the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical devise. However, it is not always used to build an argument. Sometimes it can be used to kill and demolish an argument. So the general demand of action on cowardly act of killing our citizen is converted into a hyperbole. It is pumped and pumped till it starts looking ridiculous, worthy of being dumped immediately. In a very interesting note by Christopher D. Johnson, he writes- “By pushing language beyond its ordinary limits, hyperbole devalues it, reducing speech to a shockheaded, arm-waving extremity from which no true, let alone clear, idea emerges.”
The clarity of thoughts of most normal citizens on Twitter is amazing. The asks were easily doable and will be extremely, demonstratively and definitively scathing for Pakistan as a retort. Here is what common people sought on Twitter from Government as visible action-
1. Declare Pakistan a rogue state. – Done. After frustratingly poetic condemning of Pakistan for terror acts, “Without naming it”, finally it has been done- Named and shamed.
2. Send Pak Envoy back, recall Indian Envoy- Why have diplomatic relations with Pakistan. It is an enemy nation, irrespective and not because of Uri Attack. Burhan Wani was sworn enemy of India state, wanted so break Kashmir, which we say is integral part of India, away from India, and make it a part of theocratic state. Pakistan blatantly and brazenly supported him and his kind.
3. Scrap Most Favored nation and End trade ties- We export around 3 Bn USD to Pak and import 0.6 Bn from Pakistan. Given the size of Indian economy, it hardly would matter, but coupled with two aforementioned points, will make the isolation complete. Post that when you go around the world, asking Us or Them, your words will make more sense. Close Wagah and Aman Setu. Maybe some Kashmiri apples will not reach Pakistani market, but let some apples rot to isolate our rotten apples. Then we can tell SAARC and other platforms we share, we will attend only if events are not in Pakistan soil. Make it a pariah for us. If we really consider soldiers as our brothers, how can we keep being civil to those who are not only killing our brothers, rather are quite proud and boisterous about it.
4. Clean internal conflict zones like JNU. Why not commemorating the martyrs by Government of India inside JNU, Jadavpur University and such places? Why not a parade commemorating the sacrifice of Uri at Lal Chowk? If we cannot manage that in our own territory, forget surgical strikes. If we are able to do this, we don’t need surgical strike.
The game of Journalistic industry is to keep it simmering. Ignore all these options, extend them to a hyperbole. Once it stops making sense owing to extreme interpretations, dump it; and present absurd options, which are impractical and eventually push the government into rejecting all of them. And thus, let the fun of track two diplomacy, and their own position of unchallenged thought-supremacy, continue. Using hyperbole, extremely practical suggestions are junked. I am an ordinary citizens- A small-time writer, the high priests of journalisms would say dismissively. But I observe, and I share it so the game is exposed, if not to all, to those who can take time to see the truth for themselves. It is high time someone did this, in however small way as possible. I can’t fight on border, I can’t possibly fight an election. But I can see, analytically and write. That I will. We need to be on our guards when we open the newspaper tomorrow. As George Orwell wrote- “But if thoughts corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts.” The cracks in the cabal is showing, but the cabal is still there. It controls the truth and I quote Orwell again- , “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed- if all records told the same tale-then the lie is passed into history and becomes truth.” Unfortunately in case of India, Party is the ecosystem of unhappy and scheming people whose established way of living as unchallenged, unquestioned feudal lords of public morality and public thoughts, who want to change the current government, whatever be the cost. Beware of their lies, lest it might become truth.