I’m a Retired Naval Officer and For Me, War Isn’t a Video Game

War is not the answer. It has never been. All it tells you is that other machineries have failed to resolve an issue by other means. Warmongering days are here. Every person sitting in his/her living room is a defence expert and an analyst who has it all worked out. It is easy to do that. People are seeking so called ‘revenge’. Pause. It is really convenient to speak of war and support it when you’re not the one in the front fighting, and it is someone else who is going to do it for you. That’s limited thinking. What did we get out of previous wars? Nothing concrete.

I am often asked why can’t you look at the progress we have made in the past five years? I look at everything around and I see pain. I see more intolerance and hatred so strong that it has torn the fabric of families, filled them with conflict. All it needed was fake news, fake statistics, viral trampling over of what was good about India to get it going.

I was told by a youngster today on a social media platform that I first need to go to those terrorist camps in Pakistan and preach them peace, and only after that I am eligible to preach peace to India.

All I have to say to those youngsters is if that is how you feel about things, why do you not enlist? Become officers and soldiers and go on, train, fight, experience and then get back to me and tell me if it’s okay for you to fight for rabid political gains where the junta is swayed by rhetoric and is baying for war instead of seeing why there is unrest in the first place.

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The Kashmir problem is more than just terrorism. On the one hand, those asking for war want to fight terrorism and on the other, they want to chase Kashmiris from other parts of India…it is not people, it is the land they want, wouldn’t that look like it?

If you don’t want Kashmiris so much, why are you fighting over Kashmir? Isn’t that the same thing with the North East?

What happened in Pulwama is heart breaking. One needs to look closely at the unrest in Kashmir through decades. How many of those who spew rabid vulgar statements against those who are asking for peace and sanity even comprehend the problem or the history of a region that has been engulfed in this quagmire of politics from as far back as the 1947 conflict? I’ve spent months now especially reading up, speaking to people and understanding. Trust me, I’m still not there yet.

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All I see is as politics at its murkiest, an unfortunate lack of action by those sitting on intelligence that caused the tragic loss of those 42 uniformed lives, escalating of violence against Kashmiris in other parts of the country.

It’s ironic that airlift was denied for the living and approved for when they returned dead, wrapped up in the national flag. For every soldier’s wife, child, parent, who returns home that way, the flag doesn’t have four colours, it has five; the red is also there.

I’ve been told at least we have the guts to do this now, in this current time. These are not the people who were flying those jets. The men and women in blue (olive and white), yes, ‘Salute to the Air Warriors’! Those are the chaps with a massive quantum of courage that few will live up to. It's a fauji thing, to get to task when asked. The timing is suspect. We refused airlift of those very men who died. They returned by air, in coffins. Too late!

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This is not a video game you can power on and power off just like that. I am a veteran. Today, if we swing into full-scale war, nothing of this country or the world will be left. All it will take is one foolish move, and sadly, we made it.

I am not afraid to be back in uniform. I am more than ready mentally for it. I told my daughter as much two days ago. If that is where we are headed, it will happen and I will re-enlist. Not many will sign up for enlisting.

I follow the flag. Period. That is my iman, dharam, karam, aan and shaan. People tell me nothing was done before. I am not as young as people think I am, and not as badly informed.

Truth is, by the time that thought even crosses their little minds, we won’t have a world to live in because all this war cry for revenge will have destroyed everything.

Sit with a war veteran who has actually fought in 1965 or 1971 and ask them, listen to what they have seen and experienced.

It is so easy to sit in an air-conditioned space and used fingers to type out so much, hiding behind a screen, anonymous, safe.

The governance needs to ask the citizens to maintain peace in view of violence. There has been utter silence! Staying quiet when things just fall apart across the past five years, and instead allowing for it to happen, all the lynching and rapes and murders and wrongful arrests are as good as looking away.

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What India needs is education for its people, the right kind of education that teaches people to value each other, save lives, works in peace with each other, respects each other’s faith. That is how I grew up. My father taught me to respect every religion, be compassionate, courageous, made me secular, taught me the value of the Tiranga, and respect for what it represented. My teachers taught me the meaning of the Preamble, what it meant. Attempt to understand it and uphold it, as a nation, as an individual. Incidentally, I am an Indian from Kashmir. So yes, the hurt is real.

What India needs right now is to fix what’s burning inside, fix the bleeding, the parched, the hungry and the mindless violence, and bring to book those who openly defile the constitution. Let the cleaning begin at home.

Pakistan knows it doesn’t need to fight a war with India. They are watching us destroy ourselves. Why work so hard at something that is on a path of self-destruct? The next time we sit at the UN, we have a lot to answer for. Let’s get beyond monologues and fix things. Fix it and fix it more.

Let’s not get this to be about brownie points to getting political agendas and diversion from the fundamental things that ails our system. Let this be about India's well-being and the world at large. Jai Hind!

(Sandhya Suri is a retired naval officer. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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