#LetsdestroyPakistan, exhorted our keyboard warriors after the terror attack on an Army camp in Baramulla on Sunday night.
If hashtags were indeed weapons of mass destruction, India would have sorted out many of its problems by now, including that of a pesky neighbour that simply doesn't learn the lessons we want it to learn.
Unfortunately, Twitter wars are merely symbols of exasperation and frustration, a meaningless noise created by those who think digital fury is a perfect substitute for battlefield bravery, fantasies of those who believe keypads are like voodoo dolls and punching them would knock the hell out of the bad guy.
#LetsdestroyPakistan. Ok, agreed? But, pray tell us how? By pressing * followed by the # key? Or, by trolling Nawaz Sharif with nasty messages coordinated through the social media cell of some party?
How does one destroy Pakistan?
In a fascinating book titled Blitzed, German author Norman Ohler argues that the Third Reich won some of its wars through systemic doping.
Hitler was addicted to a cocktail of drugs, especially cocaine and crystal meth designed by his personal physician Theodor Morrel. Housewives, drivers, labourers, secretaries and bureaucrats were fed confectionery laced with methylamphetamine. And soldiers would not move without their quota of a drug called Pervitin — crystal meth.
The idea behind this programmed addiction was simple. It was meant to help Germany keep pace with Hitler's energy and the country stay awake, literally, give up its inhibitions and fears, and turn lambs into ferocious lions.
So, when the German army planned its blitz across the Ardennes mountain into Paris in 1940, Pervitin was mass produced (35 million) and supplied to soldiers. It kept them awake for three days, helping Germany maintain a high-intensity assault on France in a haze of drugs.
No Pervitin, No Paris, Ohler argues.
Is India supposed to mass produce similar drugs that switch off our inhibitions, black out the nuclear reality and turn everybody into bots primed for battle? For, short of that, India has tried everything to deal with Pakistan, drill sense into the heads of its jihadists and their benefactors.
We have tried peace through biryani-birthday-bus-cricket-Agra-Lahore diplomacy. We have traversed the full distance between strategic restraint and strategic strikes. We have tried isolation and cooperation, extending favours and withdrawing them. We have tried dozens of border skirmishes, two half-wars and two full-blown wars. Yet, not much has changed.
All that is left for us now is a mass programme to dope our sanity, or nuclear bombs. Ready for them? Look up pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before making up your mind.
Let's face it, howsoever bitter the truth. Pakistan and its 190 million people can't be destroyed without India incurring huge collateral damage and turning half of our cities into graveyards. Yes, it can be tamed, made to see sense, isolated, diplomatically brought down to its knees. But, all this requires patience, even a thousand-year war of attrition, not a quick-fix solution that guarantees mutual destruction.
On Lieutenant General HS Panag's Twitter timeline, you would repeatedly come across a phrase that he uses to define the India-Pak dynamics. "It is a game of chess," he cautions again and again.
Now, there are two ways of playing the game of chess. The puerile and the impatient, make reckless moves, attack each other's pieces — you kill my rook, I kill your bishop, till there are none — and lead to a mutually-destructive stalemate. The wise and the patient believe in patiently making their moves, contemplating the counter-offensive and achieving a victory with minimum carnage.
To achieve its objective on the chessboard at the Radcliffe line, India needs phenomenal patience, zen-like sang-froid to deal with victories and setbacks and Arjuna-like focus on the ultimate objective: Moulding Pakistan's behaviour to suit our interests with minimum costs.
The hysteria of hashtag warriors and TRP tyrants, unfortunately, is a dangerous distraction. It puts needless pressure on the state to mould its policies to suit the mood of the screaming masses, deliver on demand, making it vulnerable to follies.
In fact, as Pakistani columnist Cyril Almeida points out in the Dawn, India and Pakistan have been able to avoid unrestrained wars and madness because people in the two countries have often been the voice of caution and sanity, keeping a check on the designs of the state. But, this equation, he argues, may be changing because of 'weaponisation of people.'
"You can even see how an Indian leadership may be willing to deploy public opinion as a weapon: Look, don’t do the stuff you’re doing because our options are narrowing, India could be signalling to Pakistan by helping stoke the media flames at home," Almeida writes.
So, it won't be a bad idea to be careful what you wish for. The ugly chant of #LetsdestroyPakistan could lead to unintended consequences without in any way achieving the desired objective.