India-Pakistan War Hysteria: Who Would Gain and Lose?Sunday, October 02, 2016
The Flashpoint and the Blame Game
The game is on again. Never ceased since 1947. But refreshed and intensified from time to time, sometimes leading to bloody war, heated diplomatic exchanges or dangerous political and military maneuvers. India and Pakistan have been consistently blaming each other for interference, fueling and funding internal conflicts and since 1980s, terrorism. And there have been signs and even "acknowledgements" on both sides, from time to time, of their gruesome involvement and instigation in the affairs of the neighbour.
How Serious is the War Threat?
Though the chance of an all-out war is remote, due to nuclear status of the two nations, the possibility of dangerous political and military adventurism, with undefined consequences cannot be ruled out. Both countries have one of the largest armies in the world, with lethal conventional weapons, including short-range missiles and a history of violent conflicts. And since wars and "missions" are often planned, promoted and executed by lunatics, and none of the sides is short of such "talent" in military, politics and media, it would be foolish, not to take the threat, seriously. The threat is real!
The matter is made far more volatile by 24-hour live news programming by media, fueling the environment with rhetoric, false propaganda, irresponsible reporting, and invocation to pride, anger, fear, mistrust and calling for a "matching" and befitting response.
But is War the Real Threat?
Blame game, security threats, military maneuvers and border clashes have been repeatedly used as a nice, simple and convenient distraction or scapegoat for one's own internal crises and failures.
In addition, within the Indian and Pakistani establishment, there are, and always have been, actors who tend to pull back the strings anytime the two neighbours hint of making meaningful progress in their bilateral relations. As if peace, not war, between India and Pakistan, is the real threat and a dreadful outcome, that must be resisted at all cost.
Unfortunately, these are standard tactics, used not just in the sub-continent, but across the globe.
If the heat of the current conflict persists and does not subside soon we may witness the following consequences of the prevailing crisis. I am not contemplating on the possibility of a war, surgical strike or similar eventuality, as the outcome in that case could be horrendous and extremely unpredictable. I am only focusing on the cost of unchecked war hysteria that persists for a reasonable period of time, only to reoccur at an "opportune" moment.
Consequences and Beneficiaries of the Prevalent Warmongering
- Rhetoric, and emotionalism would triumph over cold facts, logic and truth.
- The overall appetite to listen to an alternative, more moderate and balanced view on Pak-India relations would suffer.
- Taking intelligent, creative and mutually beneficial diplomatic and political decisions would become extremely difficult if not impossible.
- The events would be construed as "proof" of inherent untrustworthiness and evil intentions of the "enemy" (neighbour).
- The hype would provide a "sound justification" and motive to significantly increase the defence budget on both sides.
- Defence systems manufacturers (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Dassault etc.) would make a fortune and rally around like vultures, to sell their state-of-the-art killing machines for mass destruction. The deeper the Pak-India crisis, the higher the profits.
- The armed forces of both nations would now be able to procure their favourite, dream weapons under the guise of national security which would have been beyond their reach under normal conditions. Thus peace and the fortunes of defence industry are mutually exclusive; cannot coexist.
- Media ratings and viewership would skyrocket. Anchorpersons, hawkish politicians and commentators, defence analysts and writers would immediately become celebrities. The louder, harsher, crazier the talk, the popular it gets.
- Many publishers, writers and producers of pessimistic books and content would witness a surge in sales as their products now become bestsellers.
- Social media sites and telecom operators would flourish and social media professionals would no longer be jobless or underemployed (you'll hear more about videos, postings getting viral).
- The military leadership in both countries would gain far greater attention, influence and political power, at least for some time. This would be more true in Pakistan but also applicable to India in relatively lesser terms.
- By connecting and associating the current crisis with the great game of the global powers (America, India, China and Russia), the beneficiaries could magnify the perceived risks, and consequently their profits.
- Moderate voices would be suppressed. Some may even be targeted politically, physically, socially and financially.
- Radical and extreme elements would grow and thrive.
- Suffering of the Kashmiri people would worsen. As the heat goes up, the rule in Kashmir would get more oppressive and brutal. Stronger, more popular resistance in Kashmir would be automatically linked to Pakistan's direct interference, funding, training and armed assistance.
- Already overburdened tax payers would now be forced to finance the great game.
- The democratic system in Pakistan can get eclipsed, especially if tension and heat of the conflict sustains for longer period.
- However, as India pumps too much cash into its defence, and gets closer and closer to the worlds most notorious ally, the US and furthers the romance with Pentagon and CIA, its military is destined to gain unusual power in due course, at the expense of its democratic institutions.
- Many of the key social and political issues would become inactive. And once the war cloud clears out, the politicians may find themselves to be surprisingly unpopular.
- Politicians and political parties in power, may thus struggle in subsequent elections, having delivered "nothing". This could be more true in Pakistan, where every "good" measure taken with regard to national security is automatically attributed to the military, and every "bad" measure or failure is attributed to the politicians. Military is immune from errors, mistakes and blunders.
- Economic growth and businesses (other than the ones attached to the defence industry) would slow down.
- Due to lower budgetary allocations, social institutions, education, healthcare, agriculture and social development would be deprived of its due share and suffer as a consequence.
- 21% of the total human population (India and Pakistan) would suffer directly as a consequence of wrong focus and priorities, underdevelopment, lost opportunities and millions of others in the neighbouring countries indirectly.
- Both India and Pakistan rank amongst the poorest nations in the world. Around 29.5% of the Indians and Pakistanis are below poverty line. The most deprived and vulnerable segment of the society would be further marginalized.
- The environment would have its effect on laws, civil liberties, tolerance and freedom of speech as witnessed throughout the world after 9/11, including India and Pakistan.
War hysteria and warmongering is a fairly stable concept in the modern world. It is manufactured to yield the results (benefits) cited above. And due to its effectiveness, the pattern is repeated over and over again. It is therefore critical to understand how the game is played, who benefits from it and how it destroys our prospects as a people.
Stay away from the trap. Don't play the game. The longer the game is played, the higher the price. Stay focused around your priorities, and remain critical of the hawks and warmongers. It's their business but none of yours. Do not serve as fuel to the fire that is lit to torch your own souls. Again, if you can't do anything about it, just stay away!