Blood on the border and the following babel

The language emerging out of tension at the India-Pakistan border signifies chaos of our times

akash

Akash Deep Ashok | January 16, 2013



Ever since India accused Pakistan of killing two Indian soldiers on January 6, beheading one of them, at the Line of Control, the tension and the war of words between two countries have only gone north. In the latest, India has raised Pakistan's continuing support to terror groups at the United Nations, seeking international action against the state sponsors of terror. India named Pakistan terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa as major security threats to South East Asian countries.

However, last week’s sad turn of events at the border was complicated more by the political babel that followed than anything else. The intensity of the matter can be gauged from the very fact that it angered prime minister Manmohan Singh — famous by now the world over for his saintly composure and sepulchral demureness — enough to make him speak.

Only days ago, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, one of the few politicians who at least tried and burned her hands in making an effort to speak with the protesters of Delhi gangrape, said and quickly denied and in doing that maybe impishly hinted that the PM was late in addressing the nation (following the massive outrage over the gangrape) at least by a week. However, this time the PM was bursting with machismo, sort of Danny Trejo’s Machete avatar, and was provoked enough to speak. Singh made a statement on the matter, warning Pakistan, that it “cannot be business as usual”.

Speaking after the 65th Army Day celebrations, he said those responsible for killing and mutilating Indian soldiers should be brought to book. “What happened at the Line of Control is unacceptable,” said Singh. (As if he had a choice in the matter!) The PM having said that — and mind that it is big deal— it is largely business as usual now.

The Indian Army chief, General Bikram Singh, expected to be haughty and straightforward, chose to be more political than even politicians in his polemic. “We reserve the right to retaliate at a time of our choosing,” he said.

While what he said can mean a thousand things, for a military chief speaking this kind of language must be the result of years of hobnobbing with the political masters. However, as the general was still trying to wriggle out of his lingual labyrinth, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid — who so famously talked about “there will be blood” as law minister when he was challenged by Arvind Kejriwal in his constituency Farukkhabad — doused even the sparks that General Singh had managed to cause. “The decision about how we proceed and what pace in what manner is obviously a decision that is taken by the government,” Khurshid said.

Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj reacted on the incident as if she were on steroids. Talking in a language more suited to a tribal militia leader, she said, “If his (the soldier’s) head could not be brought back (from Pakistan), we should get at least 10 heads from their side.” She was talking to reporters after visiting the slain soldier’s family along with party president Nitin Gadkari and leader Rajnath Singh.

While there is no doubt that the turn of events at the border is sad, equally sad is the language being used by our leadership. This is a language that doesn’t soothe, heal or cure anything, anyone. This is not even a language, which Orwell says, is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. At best, this is the language of confusion and chaos — voices from the Tower of Babel.

 

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