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Over-hyped Forgiveness

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Amitabh speaking at the function in Mumbai.

Two contrarian events were held yesterday. One event was held in Mumbai to pay tributes to those killed in 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and the second event was held on the Indian side of the border in Punjab near Kartarpur Sahib, to lay the foundation for a corridor to be built which could enable Sikhs to visit the shrine where Guru Nanak breathed his last. At both the functions, the representatives of the govt were in attendance. In Mumbai, CM Devendra Fadnavis was present, whereas in Punjab, CM Capt Amarinder Singh and Vice President Venkiah Naidu were present. Nitin Gadkari managed to attend both the functions since one was in the day and the other was in the evening. But that’s where the similarity between the two events end.

It’s ironical that you have one event to pay respects to those killed by terrorists in Mumbai who were sent by

Naidu laying the foundation of the corridor

Pakistan, and another one on the same day, to lay the foundation of a corridor, an act which smacks of friendly ties with the same country which sent the terrorists. The tone and tenor of the two events too was contrarian. One in Mumbai talked of forgiveness, moving on, bravery of staff and uniformed men, while in Punjab, Capt Amarinder spoke of retribution in no uncertain terms, even as he welcomed the initiative to have a friendly corridor with Pakistan. I agree with the Captain, not because he’s also a fauji like me, but because he’s being pragmatic in his approach. He knows very well that by offering this corridor, Pakistan is trying to re-create a fault-line between Sikhs and the rest in the country. Had we rejected this offer, they’d have succeeded since it’d hurt the sentiments of Sikhs. But any impression that Pakis have suddenly developed a soft corner for the Sikhs would be highly misplaced. We know very well who sponsored militancy in Punjab in 1980s. So, while accepting the offer was the right thing to do, warning Pakis to refrain from abetting terrorism was also a pragmatic thing to do. Rightfully, the Captain didn’t talk of any forgiveness. Not only this, again rightfully, he also declined to accept the Pakistani offer to visit Pakistan to inaugurate the corridor, as they sponsor terrorism, he said in no uncertain terms. That leaves the question of Navjot Singh Sidhu who has gone to Pakistan again, for the inauguration this time. In his interaction with media, he has even called Imran Khan, a messiah of some kind. Clearly, the man seems to be batting on front foot while the enemy is bowling a googly at him. We know what happens in such cases. Sidhu obviously lacks the maturity and pragmatism of his CM. Probably, that’s the reason he isn’t one.

For me, 26/11 remains Unforgiven

In the context of Pakistan, I believe that forgiveness is an over hyped belief. 26/11 happened because we forgave them for their hundreds of terrorist attacks which they had perpetrated on our soil. But still, the tone and tenor of the event in Mumbai seemed that its us who are eager to move on, even when likes of Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi who perpetrated the attack in Mumbai are still roaming freely in Pakistan. Moreover, you forgive someone who is repentant about what he or she has done. Pakistan hasn’t done anything of the kind. Forget about an apology, they haven’t even acknowledged that these terrorists belonged to Pakistan. So, what forgiveness are we talking about, and on what grounds? If we forgive and move on without delivering justice to the next of kin of victims of those dastardly attacks, what message will it give to Pakistan? Won’t it convey that we’re still a weak nation? Won’t it embolden them to launch more such attacks? No doubt, it will, as it did earlier. It’s for this reason I say, that 26/11 should remain UNFORGIVEN till we punish the perpetrators of the crime.

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26/11 UNFORGIVEN, launch at Nagpur

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As I said in my talk, wars need to be ended and not just stopped. There’s a huge difference between the two things. Had UN been around during the second world war it’d have stopped it in the middle and allowed Hitler to continue to rule Germany. God only knows how many more Jews he’d have gone on to kill. In Kashmir, we didn’t allow the war to be completed in 1947, 65, 71 as well as in 1999. And we continue to pay for that blunder. We have lost more than a hundred thousand lives since 1947 because of our problems with Pakistan. Had we allowed the war to be completed, I’m sure this issue would not have cost us this much. Stopping a war before it completes its course prolongs the pain as the issue which caused the war doesn’t go away. It lingers on and on, till it brims over once again leading to another war. This is exactly what has happened with us. Even in 1971, we completed the war on our eastern border for benefit of Bangladeshis but didn’t do it on the western borders for our own benefit. 

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