Line of Trust
Indian social media (SM) is undergoing a turmoil. On one hand, are the vocal supporters of Indian Army who flaunt the latest cross-LOC ops as India's might. On the other, are the every so cautious "liberals" - who believe that the army adulation must stop. I will refrain from drawing inferences about either group based on historic data - and will just analyze the conundrum alone.
Should a society believe its army / government blindly? Should a society distrust its army / government blindly? Where does one draw the line between distrust and belief? Which is the ideal place to stand? The answers to these questions are always subjective: to a die hard IA fan boy like myself - there is nothing wrong in supporting *our boys*. After all, I sleep every night - knowing that *our boys* stand watch at the borders. However, setting aside my own favoritism, it is important to look into the questions raised above.
Armies and governments routinely lie to keep their own people (and probably their enemies) befuddled. Propaganda is not a new tool in the market. Control of information flow, especially during times such as Uri attacks, is a common response by a beleaguered government. And NDA-2 was pushed to a corner. It could have been so much easier for the government to say "we have attacked", while in reality nothing happened. Would a government do that to its own people? Yes. It is a question that doesn't have black or white answers. Pakistan (in all likelihood) is doing that to its people by saying "no attacks happened". Sometimes, it is better to assuage the immediate anger of the demos, than to give in to it. The crowd is not a rational being. Moreover, the crowd is ill informed.
Then, the question naturally veers towards - why it is that one believes Indian government but not the Pakistan government? This is where that elusive word - trust - crops up. If the UPA government had said this - would there have been such widespread belief and elation? Maybe. I - for one - would have been skeptical, but not with this government. Does my political bias come into the picture? Definitely. But that is only part of the entire picture. A government is judged by the kind of people it is led by. The kind of people it puts in positions of power. More importantly, a government is judged by how its enemies respond to its actions.
In case of 26/11, UPA government asked its citizens to suck it up. It didn't mobilize forces; and tried to buy peace with more lives on the line. Not only that - then PM almost gave away India's only Diplomatic currency - a moral high ground; for the sake of buying peace. The PM during UPA rule almost wrote off India's guard position (and some level of strategic supremacy) in Siachen. The then Defense Minister sat on files for so long that the forces were left with vapors to fight a war. The then home minister tried to divert attention from external enemies and their internal supporters by creating a false bogey of "Saffron Terror". One of their senior most leaders (Digvijay Singh) called 26/11 "RSS ka Saazish". The government pussy footed around the death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru, only to do it in a ham handed and slovenly manner for electoral optics. Same story repeated with the captured 26/11 terrorist Kasab. Every ministry and minister in that government had dipped their hands into the honey pot of public treasury with little or no worry for repercussions. Their closest all weather allies were those who were convicted for scams (Lalu), those having a divisive sectarian agenda (AIMIM and IUML), those running personal fiefdoms and causing widespread poverty in their own lands (Yadavs). One of the martyrs of 26/11 - Hemant Karkare (a highly decorated IPS officer) was instrumental in bending witnesses to the government's will in "Hindu Terror" cases. Another of their cherished officers (Srikumar) now stands accused of espionage and wrecking Indian cryogenic engine efforts.
On the other hand - so far, the NDA-2 has been led by people who have had clean public lives. Nitin Gadkari was accused of scams by Arvind Kejriwal - and later the accusation turned into an apology. Same with Arun Jaitley. Narendra Modi, the PM of India, has been accused of everything: stalking - extrajudicial killings - corporate favoritism - genocide - and yet none of it stuck in the court of law. We have a railway minister who, for once, is talking about economics of running the behemoth rather than blind sops. We have a power minister who is ensuring villages that haven't seen electricity ever, are seeing light in the dark. We have a commerce minister who responds to average citizen queries on social media - and the ministry itself has managed to step down a bit from its high horse. We have a EAM - and I need not elaborate her standing right now. We have a defense minister who is untainted by scams as well as tamas. We have a NSA, whose name creates more FUD in Pak than it engenders understanding inside India. Between the two teams, it is easy as to whose words are trustworthy.
But again, this is not the whole picture. The way Pakistan has responded to the highly debated surgical strike leaves no doubt as to what has happened. For once, the shoe is on the other foot. Usually, Pakistan will strike us with impunity, and leave us to pick up the pieces. This behavior had given it a sense of invincibility. Now that India has struck back, Pak is at a loss as to its response. According to some news reports, Pak is curtailing civilian air craft activity in both Karachi and Lahore airports. We also hear that their fighter aircrafts are being kept in war ready condition; and mock drills are on. There has been reports about escalated but sporadic cease fire violations across the border. All of this points to a country that has been clearly rattled. Some truths never come out - but there are enough signs.
The last piece of the puzzle comes from the responses from various countries: USA (spoke with our NSA before the strikes), Russia (reiterates our stance), China (distanced itself), Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and more recently, the EU. To think that all these countries are lying to help India save its internal political face, it is either naïveté or stubborn stupidity.
Finally - it all boils down to trust. Does one trust their government to tell them the truth? The answer to that one question will decide which way one reads the tea leaves. I, for one, trust the government that I voted for. I know they may not do everything I want - but they will not sell my country down at a discount auction either. And that, ladies and Gentlemen, is why I think the strikes did happen. Deep down, I know they did.
- Bully Mammoth