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War, perilous for Indian, Pakistan economies

War, perilous for Indian, Pakistan economies
Highlights

Tension between Pakistan and India has deescalated We should thank our stars for that But it must have come as huge disappointment for pseudo warriors in television studios who have been patiently waiting for a fullfledged war between the unequal neighbours More so is Arnab Ranjan Goswami of Republic TV, the sole ultra nationalist India has

Tension between Pakistan and India has de-escalated. We should thank our stars for that. But it must have come as huge disappointment for pseudo warriors in television studios who have been patiently waiting for a full-fledged war between the unequal neighbours. More so is Arnab Ranjan Goswami of Republic TV, the 'sole' ultra nationalist India has.

Going by the way he shouts, creates chaos and utters ultra jingoistic words in his 'television war room', people who watch his shows must be feeling more tension than our soldiers fighting invisible enemy at borders. I stopped watching his shows long back. For that matter, I rarely watch television debates these days as I strongly feel that they dish out nothing short of nonsense.

However, I happened to see his foolish utterances on a video clip of Al Jazeera channel someone sent to me on social media. This Doha-based global new channel, an Islam world's answer to BBC and CNN, telecast a story on how Indian television news media comprising 400 channels was stretching the boundaries of journalistic ethics at a time when tensions escalated to worrying levels on the Indo-Pakistan border.

Going by the tenor of his tone, Goswami doesn't seem to settle for anything less than the obliteration of Pakistan from global map. A foolish Bollywood actress who seeks to be in news with controversial comments has gone a step further and wants to see the destruction of Pakistan in the hands of India. She said at a media event that she felt like going to the border, snatching guns from Indian soldiers and firing at Pakistan.

But she doesn't seem to be aware of the dire consequences if she lands in the hands of Pakistani army a la Abhinandan Varthaman, our brave IAF pilot who returned from Pakistan captivity recently. Even Geneva Convention norms for prisoners of war (PoW) will not come to her rescue. It's different matter though.

Our twitter and NRI patriots appear to be equally disappointed at war not taking place. These sections want a war with Pakistan. It's fact that Pakistan is a small country and can't stand India in a direct war. It was proved beyond doubt in 1965 and 71 when the two countries fought full-fledged wars.

So, it's very unlikely that it will put up strong challenge this time too. But our belligerent neighbour, like our country, is a nuclear power and has wherewithal to use nuclear bomb. Nuclear bomb is nuclear bomb. It will explode and create a havoc even if an impoverished Pakistan uses it. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the saffron party he leads understand that India can't afford a full-fledged war with Pakistan, given the nuclear risks involved.

But Pulwama attack last month in which a suicide bomber from Kashmir killed 40 army men is no small skirmish to ignore. It obviously put India on boil and majority of Indians are seeking revenge and an eventual end to this mindless violence. The Narendra Modi government did a right thing by allowing Indian Air Force (IAF) to attack purported training centre of Masood Azhar-led Jaish-E-Mohammed which claimed responsibility for Pulwama massacre.

Through this daredevil assault on the training centre in Balakot district well-inside Pakistan territory, the Centre sent a strong message that India would take revenge for any attack on its soil. By hitting a target far beyond Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), India also sent signal that POK is part of India and will take it back if push comes to shove.

India carried out similar surgical strikes in response to attack by JeM militants on army brigade headquarters in Uri in September 2016, in which 19 soldiers were killed. This tit-for-tat strategy for every attack is a better military strategy than going for a full-blown war, risking nuclear retaliation and huge economic loss.

Moreover, I don't think Pakistan is ready for war either, given the precarious financial position the country is in. In December last year, global rating agency Moody's downgraded Pakistan's sovereign rating to B3 Negative as its debt file ballooned to 72 per cent of GDP ($304 billion) and fiscal deficit widened. Its forex reserves currently stand at a measly $13 billion.

As consequence, it is depending on dole-outs from the US and China, bailouts from IMF. Therefore, any war with India will push Pakistan into bankruptcy. As a popular and shrewd cricketer who led Pakistan to World Cup victory in 1992, Imran Khan, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, is aware of the dangers in war with India. No shrewd leader will take his country into suicide zone, isn't it? There lies the Pakistan's decision to hand over our brave IAF pilot within two days of capturing him.

It’s appropriate to say that Imran Khan had handled situation deftly and diffused tension with India. He should show similar enthusiasm and deftness in eliminating terrorist camps on his country's soil and finding a peaceful, lasting solutions to long-pending Kashmir problem. The Narendra Modi government is also not keen on war as such a step will take a heavy toll on the economy which is limping back to higher growth trajectory after a disastrous demonetisation in late 2016.

Further, the Surgical Strike 2.0 has improved chances of BJP retaining power at the Centre and we should not be surprised if maverick Modi gets clear majority for second successive time. Therefore, there is no need for Modi to press for a war at a time when elections are nearby. But one thing is clear. If BJP crosses halfway mark in Lok Sabha elections, there will be a profound impact on Telugu politics.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao strongly believes that 2019 General Elections will throw up a fractured mandate and he as the initiator of Federal Front will play key role in the government formation at the Centre. That way, he hopes that he can get more funds from the Centre to foot the bills of tall promises he has made during the recent Assembly elections. His hopes will vanish into air if BJP gets clear majority.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is also nourishing a dream of playing key role in the national politics and installing a person of his choice as Prime Minister if BJP loses election or gets less than 200 seats in Lok Sabha. But as of now, he is facing a formidable rival in YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on his home turf. Even if he deploys Chanakya tactics and succeeds in retaining power in AP, a BJP government at Centre with own majority will turn out to be a big disappointment for him, for sure.

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