Of Masood Azhar and Pakistan
By Sant Kumar Sharma
Two decades ago, it was a lazy evening for me at Delhi, playing with children, flipping through newspapers and listening to music. I was then working with The Times of India and it was a very leisurely day for me as it was my first weekly off after completing the night shift a day earlier. After completing the night shift, there used to be two weekly offs back then.
No idea about the dynamics of the shift duties of late. The logic of two offs was apparently trying to set the biological rhythm. Slightly better and get attuned to day shift the following week.
On a cold December evening, I got a call from the office, as some people on duty had suddenly taken CHHUTTI and there was a sort of crisis situation developing. The person on the phone said it would be better if I join the Desk, and take out the early evening edition. A blue coloured Mahindra Commander jeep arrived at my Dilshad Garden residence and I was whisked away to BSZ Marg office.
Once in the office, it was work as usual planning the page 1, overseeing other inside pages, keeping an eye on the ticker, and so on. Fairly routine evening, one can say. Coordination with all different Desks was a part of the job profile.
As we were about to finalize the First Edition, news about possible hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft from Kathmandu broke out. The situation was not very clear and we went ahead with the edition putting that news as a small item on page 1.
An hour later, it became clear that it was shaping up into something big, real big. The hijacking drama ended almost a week later, with the release of Masood Azhar from Kot Bhalwal jail near Jammu city. He was escorted to Kandhar, by Jaswant Singh, to be handed over to Taliban, who were nothing but Pakistan proxies.
Ever since, Masood Azhar has done well for himself, preparing dozens of suicide bombers, ordering killings in a wanton manner in Jammu and Kashmir, other parts of India. His Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) spread terror all around, and India paid dearly. It overcame the mayhem JeM spread, and the deeds of this terror organisation led to the Pulwama attack on February 14, 2019.
Too long did it take India to shake off itself and adopt an aggressive posture vis a vis Pakistan. Action in Balakot followed, and retaliatory action by Pakistan Air Force in Nowshera sector. That defines the relationship of the two neighbouring nations now.
So it should be, and we in India must inflict heavy costs on Pakistan in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. There should be no lowering of deployment levels on border and LOC. Per force, Pakistan has to keep its forces in a position of alert. That pauperizes it, since resources have to be mobilised for keeping the forces fed, buy ammunitions for them, and keep oil in reserves for any possible mobilisation.
For too long has Pakistan got away with murder, too many times, at too many places in India and harmed its interests abroad. Forget the word reconciliation for a decade, or two, or three. Create an ecosystem in Pakistan similar to what it had created in Indian Punjab and J & K. Do the same, try to break it, the same way it has continued with its break India project since it’s birth in 1947.
Reminding ourselves of Pakistan hostility, harming us in dozens of ways is something we should understand fully. Don’t forget, don’t forgive.
Keep them on their toes, always. Act, and force them to be ready to react. They understand no other language. Damn the silly ideas about possible openings for scaling down the deployments. That should be our resolve for the new year that begins soon.