The Pulwama attack has brought out new fissures in the India-Pakistan relations. Just as the news about the gruesome killing of 44 paramilitary forces was unfolding in the hills of Kashmir, the Indian media in grip of ultranationalist sentiments, and throwing every ethics of reporting to the wind, not only accused Pakistan for conducting the ghastly act, but also demanded from the Indian government a matching and befitting response. Going overboard in their reaction the politicians, cutting across ideological lines, frothed similar anger. The only sensible voice in this chorus was of the former Chief Minister Jammu & Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah who reprimanded a young journalist for falling into the inadvertent blame game of accusing Pakistan without knowing the ground realities in Kashmir. He made some correct assessments of the Kashmir issue: One, the insurgency in Kashmir is indigenous and not entirely dependent on Pakistan. Two, India rather than talking with the Kashmiris is using force to quell dissent. Three, the guns will not unravel the Kashmir conundrum. As the cacophony of pushing Pakistan to the wall continued another fit of anger from the Indian policymakers hit the headline: India withdraw the Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan.

It has been a pattern. Any attack on Indian soil, whether in Kashmir or on the Indian parliament in Delhi, Pakistan is suspected for plotting the game. In another pattern, the international community too joins India on its ride of self-pity, in complete disregard to the international norms of justice that calls for the accused to be considered innocent unless proven guilty. Here Pakistan is not only blamed for carrying out the Pulwama attack, but the jury is also out on giving Pakistan the taste of its own medicine. The US Ambassador in Pakistan met with Pakistan foreign office personnel with advice to restrain the non-state actors from infiltrating into Kashmir. In yet another pattern, the video released on social media, allegedly by Jash-e-Muhammad, the outfit that has taken the responsibility for the attack, has been instantly accepted as the evidence of the last resort.

Ideally the self-confession video of a young boy surrounded by arms and heavy guns should have shaken India out of its slumber and seeing where its youth is heading. After all, when India claims Kashmir to be its “Atoot ang”, (the indispensable part) there is a muted claim of Kashmiris, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion, being the responsibility of the state of India. Will India ever understand that Kashmir is not merely the name of a territory and that territory is just a meaningless piece of land without citizens? There is a lesson for India to understand, if not from its own failed policies than from the failed policies of the US in Afghanistan. Let’s brave the fact that the aspirations, the dreams and the will of the indigenous population always win at the end of the day. Let’s face the reality that by throwing the Taliban induced insurgency in Afghanistan into Pakistan’s basket, the US could not for too long turn its eyes from the real issue of returning the ownership of Afghanistan to where it belongs. Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan and the resolution lies in understanding what the locals want from both the countries. But what has India chosen to do: Shut down the remaining doors of interaction with Pakistan. Adamancy or calculated move, this policy of focusing on isolating Pakistan rather than on the suffering of the Kashmiris that led to the Pulwama attack will backfire. The message received by Kashmiri freedom fighters is of a state still bent on using the muscular side of its brain instead of where the wisdom lies.

Of late South Asia has been in the grip of arms race and with this new episode, it might get fierce. Recently in October 2018, India has signed a deal with Russia to buy five S-400 missile systems worth US $ 5.4 billion, one of the largest deals in India. By the time this missile system is delivered in 2020, Pakistan might as well have developed a counter strategy to balance power against India. Already China has agreed to sell Pakistan 48 military grade drones. According to Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Pakistan’s Ababeel a Multiple Independently Targetable Vehicle is equipped to counter the Ballistic Missile Defence System of India. In a similar attempt to enhance its second strike capability India has launched its first domestically built nuclear-powered submarine. Pakistan has vowed to counter yet another India’s move.

In the perfect analogy of bullet versus butter, what would have been left for the development for the poor, which are in billions in India, after spending $ 12 billion into building Arihant, the nuclear power submarine. And Pakistan too, at the cusp of the balance of payment crisis, would also have to leave its own millions in the swamp of poverty to equal the power equation.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India and Pakistan each possess up to 150 nuclear weapons.

Sooner or later, there will be a solution to Kashmir with Pakistan on board. The moderate and liberal voices in India, from within and outside the government, have pressed Delhi to take the dialogue route with Pakistan. But India has been rejecting every Pakistan’s overture to interact. The Composite Dialogue offered the perfect methodology of incrementally reaching to contentious issues, but India stalled the process because it wanted to start with picking the raw sides first, that is terrorism.