Releasing the Indian Pilot -Weakness of Wisdom?

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Did PM Imran Khan do the right thing in releasing the Indian Wing Commander in Pakistan’s custody?

Was it a sign of weakness or a statesman’s leadership act of great wisdom? Or was it something called the “weakness of wisdom”.  A wise act appearing like a weakness!

We can argue both perspectives with cogent arguments, very forcefully and sway the conclusion to our desired end.

But really, the biggest issue that should determine the label of, weakness or wisdom is whether both countries were ready for a war?

Conventional or Nuclear!

Whether this would have remained confined to short and limited engagements, as we saw, or quickly expanded to a larger, perhaps even a full scale military conventional engagement or even our worse nightmare, the  horrifying spectre of an existential nuclear conflict?

This, to me, is the defining narrative, and reality that confronted us these past few days.

More importantly both countries must have war gamed and scenario planned a spectrum of possible scenarios ranging from a “least likely to happen with no damage”, meaning that no country would attack the other and no damage would be inflicted on either side.

To the other extreme spectrum of a worst case scenario of “most likely to happen and worst outcome”. Which in this case would mean attacks and counter attacks by both countries, expanding to a larger conflict and leading to a suicidal nuclear war.

This latter scenario was clearly what both countries must have concluded.

It did appear for a heart stopping 24 hours that Modi’s brinkmanship or miscalculation, call it what you may, of pushing his luck and striking Pakistan with conventional missiles, especially after the public humiliation of the two downed planes and the captured pilot, may well have scripted through to Armageddon!

This would have been compounded by Pakistan’s clear intention communicated to India of a 3 to 1 counterstrike, which meant for every 1 strike by India, Pakistan would hit 3 targets.

And thus the fires of hell would have rained on both countries as they initially unleashed their conventional arsenals and then their nuclear.

So where and how did this slide of insanity down the slope of a  nuclear holocaust stop?

Perhaps two things. And one can debate which came first or had more impact.

But clearly the decision to release the pilot greatly mollified the terribly bruised Indian ego, humiliated in their own country and outside.

And secondly then of course Big Brother USA who stepped in and said. Ok guys, that’s enough.

But I think, and this is a pure assessment, a third factor may also have played a role. I think the Indian military leadership may have, and I say may have been reluctant to follow Modi’s midnight madness.

It is in all that one can safely conclude that PM Imran Khan may have averted a very likely nuclear disaster by demonstrating great sagacity, tremendous magnanimity and most importantly, brilliant statesmanship in releasing the pilot!

We’re not out of the woods. The Indians are still smarting. They are angry and hurt. They feel insulted, humiliated.

Despite Modi’s putting up a brave face, he’s clearly got egg all over his face. This is not to gloat over their discomfort or misadventure, which I would love to do, but simply to state the obvious. They screwed up, royally!

But, tragically these events also showed how isolated we are, today.

Not one country, including *Taller then the Mountains and Deeper then the Oceans, friend forever BFF China, so called brotherly Ummah Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the latter host to “Guest of Honour, Sushma Swaraj, what a kick in our backsides, except Turkey, condemned the Indian attacks and pointed at Kashmir as the root cause.*

Not one!

*Our Foreign Policy is in tatters. Let’s not kid ourselves folks!*

All these recent foreign junkets by the PM and the Army Chief, and the chest thumping PR of how successful this person did this thing and that thing and saved the day etc etc are, in my opinion, in the final analysis, complete foreign policy failures.

Yes we did manage to get some money, but also a kick on our faces and on our backsides, with UAE’s invitation to Sushma as Guest of Honour, perhaps alongside “et tu Brute” go down in history as another most sad act of treachery, given the recent bonhomie between Pakistan and UAE!

But here is the light at the end of this dark tunnel. The silver lining. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Name all the cliches one can but this truly is *Pakistan’s best opportunity to cleanse our Augean stables of all the filth and crap we’ve collected and nurtured for decades.*

Call them what you may. Strategic Assets. Non State Actors. We don’t need them! We must root them out mercilessly or they will be responsible for our destruction, God Forbid!

And the World, rightly or wrongly, now just doesn’t have the patience to listen to our stories.

Beware the proverbial Ides of March has yet to come! Let’s fix our house before it’s too late! It’s only then that Kashmir will get a willing ear and we may have another friend or two!

*-Haider Mehdi*

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