Indian generals have their job specification neatly defined — to be anything but loudmouths. They are, by training, adept at bluff and bluster. They are not necessarily required to marshal their troops on the battlefield with valour and finesse as military strategists. More than anything else, their performance is judged by how they hurl empty threats and hollow bombast at their regional adversaries — Pakistan and China. Not one to go remiss in fulfilling this job assignment, Indian army chief General MM Naravane has spewed vitriol. He has alleged that while India was busy “not only helping our own citizens but the rest of the world by sending medical teams and exporting medicines” during the coronavirus crisis, Pakistan was only “exporting terror”. According to a leading Indian English-language newspaper, Naravane made these remarks while on a two-day visit to occupied Kashmir to review the security situation. “It is very unfortunate that at a time when the whole world and India is fighting the menace of this pandemic, our neighbour continues to foment trouble for us,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
As is apparent to the eyes of a discerning beholder, his statement has a resoundingly hollow ring to it which was exposed by our Foreign Office. “These baseless Indian allegations are patently designed to divert global and domestic attention from India’s state-terrorism and egregious human rights violations, and clamping of fundamental freedoms in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, particularly post August 5, 2019,” FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in her swift riposte. She called the Indian army chief’s allegations “irresponsible, spurious and totally false”. Pakistan has, in recent days, charged India with repeated ceasefire violations across the LoC, resulting in the martyrdom of civilians. According to the ISPR, heavy artillery fire by India “deliberately targeted civilians” across the border. Instead of levelling pointless allegations, India should heed the saner counsel of international community: end its ruthless lockdown in occupied Kashmir, restore all communication channels, allow Kashmiri students access to virtual classes and stop exploiting international focus on the Covid-19 pandemic to pursue its exclusionary ‘Hindutva’ agenda.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2020.
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