The day after India announced that it carried out a surgical strike against terror bases across the Line of Control, news and commentary in the English-language publications of Pakistan, not unlike sections in the Indian media, is riding high on nationalism and jingoism. If the Pakistani media is to be believed then things have come to pass largely because of the aggressive and ill-thought out polices of the Modi government, and its Hindutva ideology.
There are a few voices that urge toning down of the jingoism, and perhaps even a rethink of Pakistan's policy in Kashmir, which, as I.A. Rehman writes in the Dawn, "is becoming costlier and more meaningless by the day."
There is no acknowledgement of the international community's long-standing concern that Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists, or of India's long-standing demand that the powers that be need to stop terrorists from crossing over and attacking Indian soldiers and civilians, and its courts should bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
Writing in The Nation, M.A. Niazi describes as "ridiculous" India's claim that Pakistan was behind the attack in Uri, which killed 19 soldiers, and argues that New Delhi not Islamabad is facing flak in the international community. "The BJP is seen as the proverbial bull in the china shop, having first broken the situation of nuclear deniability by the 1998 tests, and now of promoting a vicious Hindutva that is willing to set off a nuclear war," he writes.
Writing in The Friday Times, Imtiaz Gul asks whether the surgical strikes claimed by India are a "ploy to deflect attention from Indian oppression in Kashmir," and he wonders whether if the terrorist attack in Uri is a "creation of the Indian government on the eve of President Nawaz Sharif's address to the U.N. General Assembly?"
Taking another look at the situation in Kashmir, Rehman, writing in the Dawn, asks whether anybody is even listening to Pakistan when it talks about Kashmir. "While voices continue to be raised here and there in sympathy with victims of oppression in any part of Jammu and Kashmir, the issue has been left to be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan," he writes.
In a piece called the "Doval-Modi circus," The Nation carries a satirical conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his national security advisor Ajit Doval "in the Planning Room of the South Block."
"The Doval-Modi Circus could lead South Asia to its nemesis, the nuclear holocaust. Let us move to the planning room of the south block to see how things unfold...," according to the newspaper.
The Daily Times says that while Pakistan remains committed to peace, India has rebuffed its calls for dialogue, assigned blame for Uri without proper investigation, and engaged in "knee jerk" reactions such as not attending the SAARC meeting which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November.
"Pakistan on its part must be lauded on its restraint and maturity with which it handled this act of hostility by the Indian government," according to the newspaper.
The Pakistan Observer says that India pulled out of the SAARC meeting after "feeling the pinch of the diplomatic offensive by Pakistan aimed at exposing Indian brutalities in Occupied Kashmir," and the attack in Uri was an "engineered drama enacted to malign Pakistan." "Not a single country in the world accepted India's allegation that it was sponsored by Pakistan," according to the newspaper.
As of Friday, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have also pulled out the SAARC meeting.
The Express Tribune argues that "if India pushes the military envelope too far" the Pakistan would have to respond. "That could include the deployment of air and ground assets, including armor depending on the nature of Indian aggression. This is not some table-top exercise played out in a military college; this is potentially an outbreak of armed conflict between two heavily armed states with a long history of animus and both with the capacity to inflict considerable harm on each other, both civil and military."
War, the newspaper concludes, "cannot and must not be allowed to happen."
Like in India, there are a few voices urging reflection and restraint on both sides.
In a separate piece, also in the Dawn, Rehman warns that the toxic media discourse around the prevailing tensions could drive a permanent wedge among the peoples of the two countries. He writes that India and Pakistan have fought three war without blurring the "line that separates nationalism from humanism."
"The media mercenaries seem to be out to convert India-Pakistan differences into permanent hostility, an endless saga of mutually destructive conflict," he writes... "The wounds caused by words take longer to heal than the wounds made by swords."
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