Is war the only answer for peace with our neighbours?

Was discussing this topic with a teenager – “war is the only answer for peace with our neighbours”.  Here are my thoughts on this topic.

Before we go into the answer one way or the other, let us see what the situation is on the ground for India and what the possible options are.  I wanted to start with two quotes from the first Prime Minister of India – Pandit Nehru that bring out the options we face.

In reply to first commander-in-chief of the Indian armed forces, General Sir Robert Lockhart, just after Independence when Lockhart presented a plan for growth of Indian Army, Pandit Nehru said:

“We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. You can scrap the army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs.”

Within a year, the strength of Army personnel had been reduced in half.

In the year 1963, after a terrible defeat at the hands of Chinese – after we had signed the Panchsheel peace pact – Nehru was to tell Rajya Sabha members:

“I remember many a time when our senior generals came to us, and wrote to the defence ministry saying that they wanted certain things… If we had had foresight, known exactly what would happen, we would have done something else… what India has learnt from the Chinese invasion is that in the world of today there is no place for weak nations… We have been living in an unreal world of our own creation.”

This second statement which described Nehru’s dejection very well underscored one major principle of war – You cannot practice peace when you are weak!

India has never attacked another country in its history, but has been attacked from time immemorial.  These wars have taken several forms.  What India faces now from Pakistan, and from the Bangladeshi illegal immigrants is an invasion.  The entire demography has changed in the North East.  Last month, there were terrible riots, between the local Bodos and illegal Bangladeshis, in Assam where hundreds were rendered homeless and killed.

The attacks in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Banglore have been orchestrated from across the border.  Kashmir has been made into an inferno because of short-sighted and extremist minds in ISI and the Pakistani Army.

We have to appreciate that we never fight Armies.. we fight the minds.  The minds create wars.  The Pakistani establishment of ISI and the Army is symptomatic of that mindset.

Pakistani Army has ruled over that country since independence.  No democratic government has ever completed a term in their history.  The Army needs reasons to survive and thrive.  Wars are a good way to usurp power.  That mindset is the one that creates wars.  Most of the wars were created because of their belief about the situation that Pakistan faced at that time and their assumption of where India was.  For example, Kargil was a brainwave that Musharraf had since long and at a particular time, he felt it was time – based on his assessment of how India would respond and also on his and the Army’s urgency to do away with Sharif.

When a war is thrust upon you, to sit and discuss whether you – at that point – want to fight or not, is foolhardy.  And truth of the matter is that we are in the midst of a under-the-radar and unconventional but a war nevertheless.  How we respond to it is upto us.

So, War – when thrust – is the ONLY answer.  And when not thrust – being ready for it .. is the best antedote for other’s war ambitions (as the China episode well demonstrated).

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