Subramanian Swamy – Loud but irrelevant
The madness continues, with India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy claiming that India will break Pakistan into four pieces if a war breaks out between the two nuclear-armed countries, while admitting India’s role in splitting Pakistan in 1971.
It is difficult to take Swamy seriously. He is the same man who suggested that religious freedom in an otherwise diverse India be curtailed to meet the demands of Hindu nationalism in various shapes and forms. From suggesting that voting rights only be handed out to Muslims who accept that they have Hindu ancestry, to proposing a law that prohibits conversion from Hinduism to any other religion, he is the Indian version of Zaid Hamid – equally delusional, only without the beard and red cap.
Loose cannons like him exist on both parts of the border. The good part is that as much as people like Swamy and Hamid will have you believe otherwise, they are in the minority. The foreign office and military establishment of both countries will always project a hostile attitude towards the other, which is natural when one looks at the post-1947 history of both countries. However, thankfully, this intense hatred is not shared by most Indians and Pakistani.
Why then, do people like Swamy and Hamid get airtime?
Sadly, they have an ardent support base, which despite being minuscule is extremely passionate and will always go out of its way to appear bigger than it actually is.
It is truly remarkable that over half a century has gone, multiple wars have been fought, nuclear weapons have been detonated, yet warmongers on either side of the border still believe that the lasting solution to problems between India and Pakistan lies in armed conflict.
It is generally felt, and correctly so, that in the current day and age an armed conflict will harm Pakistan much more than it will harm India. This doesn’t have anything to do with the military strength of either countries – this is based on the simple fact that Pakistan faces an existentialist strength from internal problems of religious terrorism and extremism.
A war on its international borders will severely stretch its military and economic limitations, leaving India’s military with a significant upper hand. Having said that, India is developing into an economic power house with its span of influence only getting more potent by the day. A war with Pakistan will put the brakes on India’s economic rise, something that no one in New Delhi’s corridors of power will want.
The temptation to fan anti-Pakistan and anti-India sentiment is always there among the hawks on either side of the border, but there is simply too much at stake on other fronts for both countries to indulge in military adventurism. It will be all talk, and a lot of it. India has the BJP in power, and Narendra Modi’s hard-line stance towards Pakistan is obvious. Even though his counterpart in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has tried a fair bit to ease relations, there is no shortage of hardliners in his cabinet and military command. Every verbal from either side will be responded to in kind by the opposite side and it will be futile to expect otherwise.
Relations between the average Indian and Pakistani are way too cordial for a bunch of political hardliners to make you believe that the whole country wants its opposite number bombed out. Even if things reach that point (which they never will, mind you), there will be no India and no Pakistan left to speak of.
But then what does one do when a Subramanian Swamy or Zaid Hamid belt out a characteristically aggressive press statement or interview?
Change TV channels, or open a new tab in your browser. 1947’s partition was a mistake. Giving airtime to people like Swamy and Hamid is an even bigger mistake.
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