The terror attack at the Pathankot Air Force Base, the second in the Punjab within a span of six months, once again gave cause for alarm. It came very shortly after the surprise visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore to attend the wedding of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter. Described as brazen and bizarre by the Indian media, the murderous Pathankot attack served no purpose.
The killing of innocent people is a heinous act. The perpetrators of this act, those who carried it out and the masterminds who planned it, should be hunted down and brought to justice.
India has been at the receiving end of several terror attacks. The Bombay carnage is one just example. Pakistan has also suffered at the hands of these murderous thugs.
However, the urgent solution to this problem is not a hysterical media and extremists trying to gain points and inflame people. Rather it is to challenge the terror threat and make terror costly for anyone who perpetrates it.
The urgency of the situation does not require bland statements from Pakistan where the attackers came from. Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi know only too well the cost of bloodshed.
They both know that they have rabid extremists in their own land. They both aim at uplifting the living conditions of their countrymen living in abject poverty and deprived of clean water, sanitation and basic health services and goaded into extremism by self-appointed saviors of their country.
While Sharif has promised to further investigate evidence handed over by the Indian authorities, more is expected.
A public examination and media focus on all aspects of this attack should be made. This initial step will soften the situation and will lessen the frenzied rhetoric of extremist organizations in India notably the RSS and their allies who are baying for blood. They and those who claim to have carried out the attack, Jaish-e-Muhammad or whatever murderous group, are undermining the progress of both countries.
Non-state actors should never be allowed by their terror attacks to cause misery and havoc. It is to the credit of the Indian government that it has remained calm. And that is the right thing to do.
Sharif’s call to Modi and his pledge to take action should be followed by meetings of senior security officials from both sides of the border.
What if Ajit Doval, the Indian security czar, dropped into Islamabad for a cup of “chai” with his Pakistani counterpart?
Take a leaf out of Sadat’s visit to the Knesset or the extension of Arafat’s hand to a hesitant Rabin on the lawns of the White House.
Well-wishers of both countries want peace for the people of the subcontinent who, while having obtained political freedom in August 1947, have yet to free themselves from several miseries including that of war psychosis and the blackmail of murderers and extremists.
That would be the real day of freedom.