Pakistani protesters burn an Indian flag during a protest in Peshawar on Tuesday, following the Indian strike launched on a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp at Balakot. Photo: AFP

Indian fighter planes violated Pakistani airspace and targeted the town of Balakot early on Tuesday, dangerously increasing tensions between the two nuclear powers.

According to New Delhi, the planes bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp, killing hundreds of militants. According to Pakistan’s version of events, its airspace was violated but it insists that no casualties were incurred and that the planes were quickly intercepted by the Pakistan Air Force and returned to India.

The two governments are conveying different narratives because they want their respective masses to believe that their country’s military is superior. They also want the masses to know that a war could be triggered by a moment of anger or a miscalculation. It would take only a few minutes for the two countries to destroy each other, but their governments still like to stir up jingoistic sentiments.

India was in shock after the Pulwama attack but violating a country’s airspace and penetrating deep inside it means it was trying to provoke Pakistan, trying to start a small-scale war. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is miscalculating the risks involved with these kinds of misadventures and perhaps it is time for the saner voices in India to come forward and stop this warmongering, or else we will see the destruction of both countries. On the other hand, Pakistan needs to think about why its narrative has not been accepted by any global power and why after the Pulwama attack many global players joined hands with India by asking Pakistan to remove banned outfits from its soil.

Whether or not Indian jets were able to kill any militants is irrelevant. The point is that they penetrated deep into Pakistani territory, reportedly traveling over the Neelum Valley and Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani side of Kashmir, to reach the town of Balakot, and managed to return unscathed. This means that it would have taken them at least 12 to 13 minutes, so it is not possible that the Pakistan Air Force could have been unaware of their presence. So why did Pakistan not try to bring down any of the Indian warplanes?

On the other hand, if India has destroyed Jaish-e-Mohammed assets, it should provide satellite images or other evidence so it can show the world that Pakistan is harboring militants who conduct terrorist attacks on Indian soil. The fact that it is election season has compelled New Delhi to exaggerate the damage it inflicted. After all, if India had killed 200 to 300  terrorists in the attack, the locals would be aware of it.

Whether or not Indian jets were able to kill any militants is irrelevant. The point is that they penetrated deep into Pakistani territory, reportedly traveling over the Neelum Valley and Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani side of Kashmir, to reach the town of Balakot, and managed to return unscathed

Pakistan has stated that it will not tolerate this violation of its airspace and that it will reciprocate with a strike against an unspecified target at an unspecified time. This means that both India and Pakistan will keep fighting proxy battles with each other, and more blood will be shed. This will eventually make the situation in Kashmir even worse, and ordinary Kashmiris will bear the brunt of it.

The masses on both the sides of the border are filled with hyper-nationalist emotions and want their armies to destroy each other. Very few among them realize that the previous wars fought between India and Pakistan only produced orphans and widows on both sides of the border and yielded nothing positive.

In this part of the world, killing each other in the name of religion and patriotism is a business. This business has produced millions of people in both countries who love violence and cherish war and hatred without understanding the complex nature and dynamics of the problems Pakistan and India are facing. War at any stage will only result in destruction and it will not solve any problems the two countries face. However, to distract the attention of the masses from the real issues, both countries keep playing with fire by promoting hatred against each other.

The Pakistani economy is in a shambolic state, but that does not mean its government will not react to aggression, and if that leads to further Indian strikes there is a very real possibility of war. In a world that is continuously learning to cherish the beauty of peace and the value of life, both India and Pakistan are brainwashing their masses to embrace hatred and love death and destruction. The love for war and death has been taught at the state level in both countries, and that is the reason that making the masses of both countries hate each other is the most profitable business in Pakistan and India.

Irrespective of whether India’s air-strike claims are true, the reality is that war is never the solution. Hatred gives birth to ignorance and ignorance leads to the stagnation of the whole society in the name of religion and patriotism. Stagnation is death. Right now, the two countries are threatening each other with dire consequences and are unable to understand that the hatred they have installed in the minds of their respective populations will take decades to vanish. Instead of making efforts to eliminate this hatred, both states have been busy promoting it for their own gain.

The two nuclear states are standing on the precipice of a disastrous nuclear war, and the world should intervene and play a role in normalizing the situation. Pakistan should protest this violation of its airspace through diplomatic channels, while India should also use diplomatic forums to present proof of the involvement of the Pakistani government in the Pulwama attack.

Pakistan recently initiated the Kartarpur Corridor and Narendra Modi is up for re-election this year, so it was not a suitable time for Pakistan to launch an attack through a non-state actor, as it would politically benefit the Indian prime minister. The non-state actors in Pakistan are definitely active and if the government is not able to get rid of them quickly it will only compound the problems they have created.

India needs to realize that peace comes at a very low cost but wars are very expensive, and once you start them, you cannot control the outcome. It is time for both New Delhi and Islamabad to sort their problems out through talks and stop promoting hatred toward each other in the name of religion and patriotism.

Famous American novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway said,”Never think that war, no matter how necessary, or how justified, is not a crime.” Both Islamabad and New Delhi should avoid punishing future generations and putting them at the risk of nuclear war for a crime they have not committed.

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