The jingoistic rhetoric and posturing by the Modi Government as well as sections of the media in the wake of the Indian Army’s recent Myanmar operation is extremely irresponsible and harmful to India’s interests as well as to peace in the Soth Asian neighbourhood.
The ambush that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers in Manipur is condemnable. It also underlines the failure of the Government at making headway with a political resolution to conflicts in the North East. The mysterious Myanmar operation clouded in jingoistic frenzy is no answer to the many conflicts in the region, and can in fact worsen the situation considerably.
The aggressive boasts made in the wake of the operation have damaged India’s relationship with Myanmar and the much-vaunted ‘Look East’ policy. Myanmar has denied that it was a cross-border attack at all. Insurgent groups have denied heavy losses on their side. It is unclear if what, if anything, has been gained by the action. But doubtless, the Government’s chest-thumping over the action has damaged peace in the region.
The manner in which spokespersons of the ruling party and sections of the media have used the action to bandy about threats of a ‘hot pursuit’ policy in the territory of Pakistan and China, is of extreme concern.
Defence Minister Manohar Parriker for instance has said that respect for the Army is waning because India has not fought a war in decades, and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has similarly observed that India has not fought a ‘serious’ war in decades, since Kargil was a mere one-sided skirmish. These remarks expose the fact that BJP leaders want to impose wars and Army ‘actions’ on India and its neighbours, for political gains, with no concern for the grievous human costs. India and Pakistan are both armed with nuclear weapons – such irresponsible war-mongering threatens the people of both countries with mutual destruction.
It must be remembered that the key to resolving conflicts in the North East and Kashmir lie in dialogue towards a political resolution. Towards this end, the first and most urgent requirement is to heed the calls of the citizens of these regions for scrapping of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and ensuring accountability and justice for all crimes against citizens by armed forces.