The question being posed by the internet is this: As Pakistan has returned the downed IAF pilot, does this mean that ‘de-escalation’ will now ensue?
This misses the point. The ‘escalation’ of the long-running confrontation in Kashmir has not been about one Indian pilot crossing the border. It has been about any number of Pakistani-backed or based insurgents crossing the border.
Therefore, as positive as it is, the return of one Indian pilot is not a meaningful change in the circumstances which have mandated ‘escalation’. (Or, as it should more properly be called – ‘response’; for the ‘escalation’ had already come on February 14th, from the western side of the border.)
Now, various perspectives differ on just what a ‘resolution’ to the immediate causes of crisis looks like. Some will apparently be happy with a mere ‘reset’ to the status quo on February 13th.
That seems dangerously short-sighted – as the only thing gained there is ‘time’, until the *next* outrage in *exactly the same* manner occurs. And then we are back here, to this point, with a cost measured in lives and risk. A comforting series of complacency-building headlines for awhile, to be sure, but not a prize at all – let alone one worth having.
Others, at the complete other end of the spectrum, believe that so long as there is a Pakistan, that there shall be these sorts of shenanigans emanating therefrom, with consequent imperilment for Indians (and, for that matter, it must be said, quite a swathe of Pakistanis who find themselves similarly in the cross-hairs of either the Pakistani Government and its various assorted arms and agencies, or the extremist militias of sundry stripes who seem to operate with increasing impunity across both the Indian and Iranian borders and throughout much of Pakistan itself).
Considering the nature of Pakistani raison d’etre effectively since Partition, and the woeful record of its actions over the course of those many decades, I do not necessarily think they are entirely wrong in this view.
In the ‘middle’, however, are a range of more ‘moderate’ perspectives that maybe of more immediately applicable value than wide-eyed enthusiasm for the notion of Making Akhanda Bharata Again , through sheer force of arms in the intervening short term.
At the more ‘hardline’ end, although again very reasonable in comparison to the extant status quo, is the concept that the crisis-points will continue so long as Pakistan continues to occupy the remaining swathes of Kashmir.
This seems plausible, not least due to the reasoning this perspective shares with a more ‘moderate’ cousin. Namely, that the outrages shall be ongoing until such time as Pakistan moves meaningfully to secure its own internal affairs, and shut down its rampant intelligence service’s “pet project” insurgency operations.
Or, at the *very* least, manages to somehow stop the near-constant flows of militants across its revolving-door / ski-lift borders.
In the absence of at *least* this ultra-moderate modicum of sanity occurring, the only possible outcome is – as I have said earlier – a sad recurrence of February 14th’s events. And other travesties like it.
So what does a ‘justifiable’ basis for ‘de-escalation’ look like?
It is not the return of one pilot, across the border.
It is an *end* to the flitting across the border of Pakistan’s hounds – whether they are operating ‘on’ or ‘off’ the leash.
Anything less is not even a “half measure”. It is simply a “delaying” of the next attack, the next atrocity, the next flare-up, the next crisis, the next “escalation” straight back to this point and then some.
Now *how* an end to the Pakistani-authored security quagmire on the Kashmiri frontier is achieved, is another matter.
As I have said, there are a range of perspectives on how this might be conceivably accomplished.
Yet *none* of them involve , if we are being entirely honest with ourselves, allowing a simple ‘reset’ to February 13 , in the absence of any serious changes by and/or to Pakistan.
Those calling for “De-Escalation” without any regard for this fact, are charitably describable as dangerously deluded.
It is understandable, in the extreme, to like the idea of peace. I get that. Yet it has never been the case, in any ancient wisdom that I am aware of, that “peace” is the mere immediate “absence of overtly visible conflict”.
Therefore, “De-Escalation” does not grant peace. It simply enables more powder to infiltrate its way into the keg before the inevitable self-striking match appears.