ISLAMABAD: The atmosphere in Pakistan has been crackling with Kashmir-centric rhetoric since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 22. Seen leading the barrage is Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. “The defenders of our skies, in a state of constant readiness, Alhamdolillah. Our motorways are our runways,” he tweeted with the hashtag of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). He also shared photographs, which were, however, fake. They were not PAF jets standing ready on the highway, but the US and South Korean F16s. The PAF described the runway landings as “routine”. The minister is known for his anti-India ranting.
On the use of nuclear weapons, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had earlier said, “We should pray that such an option never arises, but if we need to use them for our survival, we will.”
However, former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar does not agree. “Should we use nukes as Asif suggested and destroy ourselves and them as well? Is that an option?” she asked. She said in a recent interview that tit-for-tat statements, warmongering and calling India an ‘enemy’ is all Pakistan has done for the last 60 years.
The Pakistani media has helped in escalating the situation. A breaking news report even said that India has finalised plans to attack selected targets in Pakistan under the Cold Start strategy and also “that although Pakistan will not initiate an attack, it would respond with full force in case of any strike by India.”
How is last week’s Uri attack along the Line of Control impacting the common man in Pakistan?
“I have heard that Pakistan is going to attack India but I don’t know whether it will affect or change my life for the better,” said Waqas Ahmed, a 60-year-old tobacco vendor in Islamabad. “My daughter is getting married next month and I’m collecting money for her dowry, I work all day and when I go home to rest at night, all shows on TV talk about war these days, but honestly, that doesn’t change my life problems,” he smiles.
Lahore medical student Basit, 17, said, “As long as we get school holidays and I can watch cricket matches on television, I am okay with attacking India,” he laughs.
Commenting on the jets being flown over Islamabad in the last week and air routes being closed Tooba Haq, an elementary school teacher said, “This is an extended Defence Day (September 6) for the government. They are using it as an opportunity to show off their decade-old agendas in the garb of India or Kashmir.”
However, there are some war enthusiasts as well.
“Pakistan should go and attack India first so that we teach them a lesson,” said Mohammad Hammad, 17. “Why will we promote terrorism in India when Pakistan itself is a victim of terror? I am sure India did it to malign us.”