Pak makes angry moves; India sulks, baulks

Not war, but India could have stopped the cross-border bus, or trade, or both, or even visas to Pakistani players coming here for the Hockey India League

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | January 11, 2013



Forty-eight hours after making a mutilated response to Pakistan sending back a jawan’s mutilated body, defence minister AK Antony is still busy taking guard (“right hand middle, umpire sir”) even as the bowler is halfway through his over (left-arm over, two bouncers on the trot, anyone?)

Antony, who on Wednesday had called the Pakistan army’s action “inhuman”, “highly provocative” and that India is “closely following the situation”, moved a step up the ladder on Friday, though the import remained the same. "We are closely monitoring the whole development and our entire border and Indian troops were on alert,” the PTI quoted Antony as saying.

To give him credit, Antony even introduced new words, implying his lexicon doesn’t begin and wind up with “closely monitoring/following” the situation. He said ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir were a matter of "serious concern", and that killing of the two soldiers was a "turning point".

Antony’s new-found zeal came on a day Pakistan summoned Indian high commissioner to Islamabad Sharad Sabharwal for a second time this week, to protest the death of a Pakistani soldier on the LoC on Thursday, and suspended 'Caravan-e-Aman' bus service between Rawalkot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Poonch sector in Jammu.

For the neighbours, the developments come a day after serial blasts left over 100 dead in Pakistani town of Quetta and doctors at a Ranchi medical institute left Indians with jaws hanging when they found a 2.5-kg bomb stitched inside the abdomen of a CRPF jawan, “surgically inserted by Maoists” after killing him three days earlier.

With the gaze planted firmly along the LoC, not many words were uttered by authorities of either country on these two incidents on Friday. But India came out the worse, and by miles, on the LoC front — stumped, bowled and beaten by Pakistan on both action and words front. While external affairs minister Salman Khurshid had on Thursday said India wants to give a “proportionate response” (though he did not care to divulge what that entails), on Friday his cabinet colleague Antony — besides being forever on the “monitoring” mode — said developing relationship between the two countries should not be disturbed.

Right intention, wrong moment to pop it.

While no one is advocating war, the least the defence minister of the country can do is make the right kind, and amount, of noises. If Messrs Antony, Khurshid and (home minister) Shinde cannot follow up their words appropriately, they should follow another line, like the one taken by Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who yesterday said Islamabad did not see the recent violations of LoC ceasefire derailing or setting back the peace process and downplayed the clashes.

If they can’t back up word with action (hint: again, not war, as seemingly being implied, if not advocated, by many; India could have stopped the cross-border bus, or trade, or both; or even stopped issuing visas to Pakistan players coming here to play the Hockey India League), they might as well help reduce the level of noise pollution. Instead, they can focus on the Maoist terror problem, which is more menacing than Pakistani crossfire any whichever way you look at it.

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