In case any Aman ki Asha hippies haven’t realised it till now, Pakistan Interior Minister’s ‘weather’ comment was meant as a deliberate insult. It is time we grew a spine and started seeing it as such.
Beyond a point, the death of a soldier stops being just another death and becomes something slightly more symbolic. A soldier who goes into battle in defence of his country represents the country itself. His triumph represents the country’s triumph and his death is a loss, not just to his own family, but to the nation in general. The soldier is a statement that the country makes saying, “We will not sit quietly when attacked. We will not be taken over.”
Captain Saurabh Kalia was taken prisoner by the Pakistani Army on May 15, 1999 during the Kargil conflict and was in captivity for more than 20 days. At the end of those 20 days, his mutilated and tortured body was returned to Indian authorities. His eyes had been gouged out, his eardrums were found pierced, and his private parts had been mutilated.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, currently on a visit to India, was asked about Captain Kalia’s torture. Unbelievably, he has chalked up the inhuman torture to weather conditions. He also speculated, doubtlessly amused, that Captain Kalia’s many injuries may have been inflicted by wild animals.
Similar to the statement that a soldier’s country makes when sending him into war, the return of a soldier’s mutilated body to his homeland is a statement as well. It speaks volumes about the way the enemy nation thinks of matters like wartime conduct, treatment of prisoners, and even humane behaviour. But what is even more insulting is turning around and laughing barbarity off as a weather anomaly. It is a line that, once crossed, can never be crossed back regardless of how many different ways you try to cover up later.
As Indians, we have seen many such lines crossed. We have had uncalled for full-scale invasions. We have had our crowded urban spaces bombed and we have watched as thousands have been killed by Jihadis to make religio-political points.
We have also watched each other as we burned with impotent rage at our Governments’ refusal to engage with a virulent enemy the way such an enemy is supposed to be engaged. By not doing so, India has made Pakistan comfortable in its shoes. So comfortable in fact, that their Interior Minister waltzes into India and then proceeds to laugh off the horrific death of an Indian soldier on national television.
I can only hope that those who advocate the path of ‘talks’ and ‘peace’ with Pakistan are aware that those in charge of Pakistan laugh at them in the privacy of their homes and rest convinced that no matter how many brazen attacks they stage against their soft neighbour, no matter how many Indians they defile and slaughter, no harm will come to them. Instead, they will be invited into India and treated with State honours and asked to address gatherings of India’s urban elite. They will be allowed to spew sophisticated bilge in defence of their imaginary grievances and they will be served drinks as they speak.
It is time we made it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable. It is time those in Pakistan realised what the ‘weather’ in India is truly like.