Home Editor's picks The hashtag-based peace activism is not asking for peace, but a bloody status quo

The hashtag-based peace activism is not asking for peace, but a bloody status quo

Peace is not when you become immune to periodical deaths at borders or in conflict areas. Peace is when you make sure the perpetrators are punished and weakened not to disturb peace again.

Since last week I have seen some hashtags on Twitter like #PeaceNotWar. After Pakistan tried to strike back, India has not responded so far and the war bugle seems to be dying down slowly. Thankfully some Peace!

As I type these words, there have been multiple ceasefire violations on the LOC and Indian forces have shot down 2 militants in Kashmir’s Handwara district. 5 security personnel and 1 civilian were killed. Operation lasted for 60 hours.

  • Is this Peace?
  • Rather, what exactly is this war that we are talking about and what exactly is this peace?
  • Is our definition of peace limited to Delhi and Mumbai?
  • Why isn’t there any sustained activism to resolve all hostilities, why are peace warriors seasonal who only spring up when India retaliates?
  • And more importantly, why is the onus of peace on the one who tries to fight back and not on the perpetuator?

It seems that there are 2 variants of peace. One is the form where none of the sides are aggressive or harbor any ill-will towards the other or at least do not make any sort of violent attempt to destroy the other side.

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Other is our Pak establishment’s version of peace where there is no declared war but ceasefire violations are the norm. India’s security apparatus is always stressed out and once in a while attack on Indian military and civilian areas using low cost non-state actors is acceptable.

This is the kind of peace we have had since the 90’s. It is this version of peace which our peace activists want to achieve. I think it will be appropriate to change the hashtag from #PeaceNotWar to #StatusQuoNotWar. This would be a more accurate representation because what these activists want is not an elimination of hostilities but a state of controlled conflict where Indian forces and civilians are pitted against Pakistan’s low-cost weapons in form of terrorists.

From a strategic perspective, we are today in a fortunate position. India’s point of view and actions have received unprecedented international support and Pakistan is under pressure. In such a situation, who benefits from immediate de-escalation? Whom are we helping by putting pressure on our government rather than pressurizing Pakistan to move towards completely ending hostilities?

More importantly, what if we de-escalate today and again get an 26/11 or Uri of Pulwama in return, who takes responsibility that our neighbor will not repeat what he has been doing so far?

An Indian today is staring at a future with economic growth. Be it sports, economics, science or art – he is looking at a future which will be considerably better than the past. He has hope. He bears demonetisation and 2 hours of one-way traffic to work because he has hope. That the future will be kinder to him and his kids. He has much more to lose if there is an all-out war but still, he refuses to buckle and put pressure on the government to stop tensions. Why?

Because he does not want to be selfish. He cannot enjoy peace while his brother at the border is facing a war daily. Yes, even he wants peace but he wants peace for all Saurabh Kalias out there, he wants peace for every border town, he wants peace for each and every military warrior and their families. He is not willing to accept the time interval between 2 bullet shots as peace.

After Balakot, there was jingoism, a spurt in nationalism and a sense of superiority flying around. But scratch the surface and you will find deep pain and anguish. Scratch a bit more and you will find the scars of 26/11, Uri, Pulwama, parliament attack still fresh and bleeding.

Ask anyone what was the first thing that came to their mind after they heard about Balakot, was it a sadistic glee imagining dead terrorists and a sense of victory? The answer will be a big no. The first thought was the memory of 40 CRPF Jawans who were killed in Feb and their families. The average Indian is not a war monger. His approach towards Pakistan is more like – you mind your own business and don’t bother me.  But he is no longer willing to be pretentious and accept an uneasy calm as peace.

What will it take for peace activists to stand with an average Indian and bargain for a pure non-negotiable form of actual peace?

#YesToPeace, #NotToWar but #PeaceForAll

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