What if they gave a nuclear war and nobody came?
(Published in Business Standard today)
It’s another boring, muggy weekend. Traffic, paperwork, household chores, the drone of routine.
The only distraction, really, is the two nuclear powers poking each other in the eye. If you don’t already have plans to renew your insurance, you can remain glued to the news, mouth open and fingers crossed, or beating your naked chest painted with chicken’s blood, depending on how you feel about nuclear powers poking each other in the eye. Either way, it’s not just the weather that’s bringing sweatiness to an armpit near you.
I’m a peaceable realist—slow to physical aggression, but with a firm sense of justice. If a man keeps smacking me across the face without provocation, I’ll first try to discover his problem; then talk to him about it; then try to put a barrier between us; and then, at some point, I’ll get fed up and just smack him back. Escalation, if any, must be gradual. Smacking an aggressor back right away gives you no time to prepare, and lowers you to his sociopathic level. Still, after you’ve said ‘Wtf?’ a number of times increasingly loudly, without result, you may need to respond in kind.
At this level, I’m okay with India’s recent attack on PoK-based terror launch pads. The Indian government took measured steps and used its diplomatic clout, and came out looking mature and responsible and righteous and unwilling to be taken for granted. But honestly, this whole thing is more about us than about Pakistan, because they’re not going to stop being a pest. We now have to pray that Pakistan won’t escalate things into full-scale war. How did we get here?
Manmohan Singh: No war with Pakistan, strategic restraint.
BJP and supporters: Weak coward! Gnashing of teeth.
Narendra Modi: No war with Pakistan, strategic restraint.
BJP and supporters: Total masterstroke, sir, you really showed them.
Indian Army: We have conducted surgical strikes in PoK. Not our first time—but it’s the first time that a government is talking about it, because public sentiment.
BJP and supporters: The complete opposite of what you said before is also a total masterstroke, sir, you really showed them.
News: #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes *faints dead away from patriotic fervour*
Internet: #UnseemlyGlee #Revenge #NoQuestionsYouPorkistaniAntinational. *smears naked chest with chicken’s blood*
Nation: That’s for Uri and Pathankot, you dastardly, er, dastards.
Nation: Wait, can we keep Fawad Khan?
News: #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes #SurgicalStrikes.
Pakistan: What strikes? There were no strikes. You people are delusionary. We should know, we based our whole state on an imaginary friend.
USA: Oh you two think you’re in trouble? Are you watching our election?
BJP: Well at least we’ve delivered on one electoral promise. That should get our damn base off our backs, and maybe get some patriotic support in UP and Punjab where, incidentally, elections are coming up.
Everyone: Ohhhhh right.
Analysts: Having denied India’s strikes, Pakistan can’t retaliate.
Pakistan: *Immediately violates LoC ceasefire in J&K*
Indian film people: We’re banning all Pakistani actors!
Pakistani cinema people: Oh yeah? Well we’re not screening YOUR stupid films anymore!
World: Okay now you’re making us nervous.
2,00,000 Punjab residents: Let’s spend this weekend evacuating our villages as a precautionary measure, for an indeterminate length of time. Ah, border life.
Optional ending 1: Everyone calms down and goes back to poking each other in the eye, but covertly.
Nation: Welcome back, Fawad Khan.
Optional ending 2: Nuclear apocalypse, 21 million dead, nuclear winter.
Nation: Has anyone seen Fawad Khan?
I say we raise our glasses to a long series of boring, muggy weekends filled only with traffic, paperwork, and household chores.