Ever since the bloody partition of the South Asian sub-continent in 1947, the endless history of hostility between India and Pakistan has been a curse for the oppressed masses. Periodically, either one of the two regimes turn this mutual hostility into episodes of acute confrontation – mainly in the interests of continuing domestic politics by other means. The latest incursion into mainland Pakistan and the bombing at Balakot by IAF fighter bombers after the Pulwama terrorist attack, and the subsequent shooting down of two Indian fighter jets by the Pakistan Air force, have heightened the danger of a full-scale war between the subcontinent’s two nuclear-armed states. This military escalation has exacerbated a mad rush by the belligerent media on both sides of the Radcliff Line to bring about a scenario described by some as ‘MAD’ – the “Mutually Assured Destruction” syndrome. However, there is some method in this madness. Sidhart Bhatia wrote on the role of the Indian media in The Wire, “When the history of these times is finally written, the media’s reprehensible role in creating a climate of hate will merit a special mention…the nightly screaming about the nation, patriotism and Pakistan and the constant hate mongering against ‘traitors’ was done with an eye on the numbers. In a difficult environment, where channels found it difficult to make money, every trick in the book was legitimate. The audiences were manipulated into wanting it and the channels gave it to them, ensuring viewer sickness – it made business sense.” In the Pakistani media the modus operandi was perhaps a little different, but the intent was just the same. According to Vipin Narang, professor of political science at MIT, “neither side seems to want a war. They have had their ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ moment and recognise how a couple of wrong turns could set off uncontrollable escalation”. In this gimmickry of war and peace negotiations, the Modi regime’s prime concern is the vulnerability of the BJP at the coming elections. In sheer desperation, it is trying to the arouse the hysteria of Hindutva chauvinism, exacerbating anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistani hatred to inflame mass bigotry and thus secure electoral victory. Despite the pressures from imperialism, international finance capital and the Indian bourgeoisie, Modi wants to keep a sub-threshold state of near-war to linger on. For instance, just moments after the announcement of the release of the captured Indian pilot, Modi responded with a sarcastic broadside against Pakistan, saying: “A pilot project has been completed; now we have to make it real.” While his supporters applauded, most observers found the comment arrogant and crude. Modi is acutely keen to keep militaristic jingoism simmering as a means of luring voters into the BJP camp. Perhaps Modi seems to harbour the misconception that he can continue toying with xenophobia without risking a full-fledged war. It’s a shocking fact that the Indian and Pakistani governments are the world’s top spenders on armaments yet among its lowest spenders on health, education and social welfare The ‘moderate’ reaction of the ruling circles in Pakistan has been somewhat more restrained. Imran Khan’s gestures of peace and his warnings of the danger of Armageddon have more to do with Pakistan’s crumbling economy and the instability that ravages the state. He is desperate to avoid letting the conflict go beyond the brink, something that could bring down his short-lived government and bring Pakistan’s mounting crisis to disaster. For long years now, the spymasters of Pakistan and India have maintained the pretence that they don’t really sponsor terror groups carrying out subversive activities in each other’s vulnerable regions. In fact, the Indian deep state wants to destabilise Pakistan by interfering in Baluchistan and other vulnerable regions where the Pakistani state has been rocked by chronic dissent and at times episodes of armed struggle by local nationalist movements. Likewise, Pakistan’s deep state has the long-term aim of wrenching Muslim-majority Kashmir from India. In the past three decades jihadist groups based in Pakistan have struck targets in India, but the Pakistani state has been conveniently ambivalent in punishing them. In this conflict between the subcontinental rivals as in many others around the world, war by proxy has become a new norm. The irony is that both states pose to end the plight and bring prosperity for the Kashmiri masses; it’s the oppressed Kashmiris that suffer most on both sides of the LoC. In the Indian-occupied Kashmir, the viciously oppressed population has risen up against its oppression at the hands of India’s army, the largest deployment of military personnel against a civilian population in the world. The deprivation, religious discrimination and brutality of BJP rule have provoked a revolt that has rocked the might of the Indian state. One of the main causes of the revolt since 2016 has been the unemployment and deprivation under the Indian occupation. Yet across the LoC in the Pakistan administered Kashmir, according to a government’s Bureau of Statistics report released on March 02, 2019, unemployment rate in 2017-18 was 10.3 percent almost double to that of 5.8 percent in rest of Pakistan. It’s a shocking fact that the Indian and Pakistani governments are the world’s top spenders on armaments yet among its lowest spenders on health, education and social welfare. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in 2018 India allocated four trillion rupees ($58bn) – 2.1 per cent of its gross domestic product – to finance its 1.4 million active troops. Similarly, last year Pakistan spent 1.26 trillion Pakistani rupees ($11bn) – about 3.6 per cent of its GDP – on its 653,800 troops. The two nuclear adversaries have ballistic missiles capable of delivering these weapons of mass destruction. AchinViniak in his epic work After The Bomb estimates that the costs of the two countries’ nuclear programmes would, if spent on social development, have largely eradicated women’s deaths during obstetrics, infant mortality and child illiteracy. To perpetuate their rule, the subcontinent’s elites have used the Kashmir time-bomb that was left behind by the British imperialists to keep the region unstable. And yet successive wars between India and Pakistan have miserably failed to resolve the conflict. All negotiations have failed. Individual armed attacks, sans movements, have only furnished the occupying army with an alibi to perpetuate its tyranny and oppression. To be continued The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign Published in Daily Times, March 5th 2019.