If there is war, it would be the fourth Indo-Pakistan war. The three earlier wars lacked any meaningful objective. Destroying Pakistan's armour or liberating East Pakistan were irrelevant to India's own national interest. To determine India's war objective, this time one must appraise Indo-Pakistani relations of the last five decades.
Kashmir is a symptom of those relations. The core issue has been Partition. Musharraf has said that the Partition will remain unfinished until Kashmir became part of Pakistan. RSS chief Sudarshan says that the Partition remains unfinished until Muslims leave India. One seeks transfer of territory, the other transfer of the population.
There is a third view. The Partition must be undone. It can be undone diplomatically through the formation of a European-style community. This we tried, but failed. Or it can be undone by war. This columnist wrote an open letter to prime minister Nawaz Sharif after Kargil. It ended with the following words. "I am a believer. I know that one day India and Pakistan will get together. Through diplomacy if possible, through war if necessary. This is the tide of history. It is the destiny of South Asia."
Has our real tryst with destiny arrived? If there is war, it should be the last Indo-Pakistan war. After it, there should be no Pakistan. There should be no Bharat. There should be only Hindustan as the United States of India. Hindustan was named by Arab Muslims centuries ago to describe the Indus territories and beyond.
Independent Baluchistan and a greater Afghanistan, incorporating the Pushtun areas, could become part of SAARC. But from Baluchistan, across the Indo-Gangetic plain, should stretch Hindustan. History and geography determine this. At what cost this can happen will depend on the wisdom of our leaders. Whether Hindustan might be a union, a federation or a confederation, will depend on unfolding events.
The future is hazy. Only one thing is clear. We stand on the threshold of momentous change.
Events shaped our thought,
Now history will turn
As brothers we fought,
As brothers we'll unlearn.