Every battle, every war, every strike is followed by a question.
At what cost?
A question we’re either too charged up to ask or notice, or just plain disillusioned, and therefore don’t consider.
When a car bomb wrecked havoc on a convoy of the CRPF at Pulwama on 14 February, 2019, killing 40 CRPF personnel, our first reaction was rage. When a dastardly terrorist group, nurtured by our most hostile neighbour, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed ‘credit’ for the dreadful act, our angry eyes almost popped out of our heads.
When ‘How’s the Jaish’ started climbing Twitter trends — with a student from Aligarh Muslim University reportedly being the first one to tweet the same, who was immediately suspended and arrested — the sweat beads on our foreheads were turning to steam. We were literally seething.This is what Pulwama looked like on 14 February, 2019. (Source: Reuters)
Twelve days later, on 26 February, 2019, we woke up to the result of that rage. India had struck back — 12 Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force had penetrated deep into Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and had reportedly ‘eliminated’ several JeM training camps. They dropped about 1000 kg bombs in that area and reportedly snuffed out several terrorists' lives.
Then, ‘How’s the Jaish’ resurfaced on Twitter — only, this time, no one was getting suspended for it.
There are always two kinds of people on Twitter — those who act before they think, the other being their antithesis.
But there is the third kind that is particularly dangerous — the ones who wait for the most precise, most opportune moment to strike.
Recently, and shamefully, many of us fell into that category.
Partaking in the 'How’s the Jaish' narrative — in the process, didn’t we turn into the very monsters we were fighting?
After all, we’re fighting terrorism. Jaish-e-Mohammed is a terrorist group. Yes, nurtured by Pakistan, but our fight is still against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist organisations like it. Did we forget that when we mouthed their name, their words in the context of the Indian Air Force — and all the valour they stand for?
Fighting terrorism, not by tweets. (Source: Reuters)
So engrossed we were in cashing in on the perfect hashtag to get the pulse of the moment right that we forgot to ask: Now what?
Three PAF F-16 fighter jets violated Indian airspace in Nowshera sector, circling our skies, one of which was shot down in the Rajouri sector of Jammu. This, after night-long firing and mortar shelling across LoC. Pakistan restricted its domestic and international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad airports, affecting Indian and Pakistani airspace. As a result, flights to and from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Dehradun were temporarily suspended, throwing hundreds of people — and plans — out of gear. And an IAF pilot was captured by Pakistan.
That moment, of the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan, perhaps brought us back to the sobriety we seem to have thrown to the winds when we happily participated in 'How's the Jaish', making the JeM trend all over again — instead of ensuring it receives the totally disdainful silence from us it deserves.
For if we're fighting a terror group, we need to fight it consistently, and make no exceptions to the rule that it cannot be treated with any favour, any dignity — or any levity as well. Whether the josh around it is low or high.