Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Jihadi Mentality: Its Recoil and Danger
The war in Kargil has ignited an intense reaction across the country. War does. War that results from aggression by the other does even more. This time round two factors have caused the reaction to be even more intense. There is the element of betrayal: India had extended the hand of trust and friendship; Pakistan, it now turns out, merely pretended to reciprocate. And then there is the effect of television. This is the first war which has been brought into our living rooms: we see the extreme conditions in which our soldiers are defending our country, we see the majesty and beauty of our sacred mountains which the enemy has violated, we see the bodies arrive, we see and hear the valour of the bereaved parents and wives.
There is another reaction. We are all humbled: by the valour of the soldiers, by the fortitude of the relatives. Would I agree to begin the trek up some God-forsaken, distant hill, each of us is forced to think, knowing that as a result, within three-four hours, I may be dead?
The form the reaction has taken is just as telling. Each time a body is taken back thousands upon thousands stand in reverence along the route. When it arrives in a city or a village, thousands come out to pay homage. Neighbours and others visit the family of the soldier. Contributions to funds have exceeded all expectations.
The visits are out of empathy. The funds are for caring: to care for the soldier who has been disabled, to care for the wife and children of the soldier who has been killed.
The papers of Pakistan, especially the Urdu papers, on the other hand, have been full of reactions of an entirely different kind. Of "Jihad conferences" being held, of "Jihad centers" to be opened for recruiting volunteers, of collections for yet another "Jihad fund". The volunteers are not to care for anybody, their mission is to go across, and vanquish and destroy the land of kufr, the Hindu-India. The funds are not for caring, they are to destroy and dismember the land of kafirs, the Hindu-India. The speeches that are made at these gatherings, the slogans that are raised -- "Kashmir banega Pakistan" -- the very words that are used -- "Hindu-India, the birth-enemy of Pakistan," the "Battle for Hind" -- contain a venom, which we cannot comprehend.
But it is something we should learn to comprehend. For our neighbour is saturated with it. The venom, and the actions it triggers, will recoil on Pakistan of course. But that will take decades. In the meanwhile, unless we develop antigens to that poison, untold costs will be inflicted on our country. Moreover, if we falter in crushing every single action which that poison triggers, the poison will acquire greater and greater potency in the eyes of the Jihadis -- see, it is because of the Jihadi-spirit that our mujahideen have given those banias such a licking, they will conclude. So, every single action that is spurred by that sort of spirit must be completely crushed. But how will be ever ensure that it is crushed if we turn our eyes from what triggers it?
Lt. General Javed Nasir is one of Pakistan's "thinking Generals". He has been head of the ISI. He is among the Generals who were associated with Pakistan's successes in Afghanistan. Not just a typical voice, therefore, a crucial one. Recall that Nawaz Sharif made his desperate flight to Washington on July 3, that he signed the capitulatory joint-statement with Clinton on July 4. On July 1 -- that is, just three days before Nawaz Sharif had to accept that Pakistan would withdraw behind the Line of Control -- Lt. General Javed Nasir was telling Pakistanis that India was on the brink of defeat and collapse and disintegration! Readers would have concluded that the Indian defeat was so overwhelming that Vajpayee had as good as lost his mind!
Defeat in Kargil will spell disaster at the polls, that is what is staring Vajpayee in the face, this former controller of the ISI wrote. "He was angry," the General wrote, describing, no doubt from secret sources of the ISI, a meeting of the Indian Prime Minister with our Service Chiefs, "froth coming out of his mouth, shaking with anger, a little bit stammering [sic.], he let the Khakis have it." "I order you to throw them out, otherwise there will be large-scale sackings irrespective of ranks."
The Kargil operation has already inflicted unbearable cost on India, the General calculated. Each shell of Bofors costs a thousand dollars, his spies told him; in just one week India has fired nearly 30,000 rounds, his sources on the front told him. That means India has burnt up three billion dollars in just one week, his calculator indicated. And now India will have to spend another ten billion dollars to replace the barrels of the guns. Four days earlier, in another article, the General had recalled how, at the time of the Lahore Bus diplomacy, in an article in The Nation, "I had implored the Pakistani Army and Mujahideen to interdict the Srinagar-Drass road to make things more difficult for the Indians in Siachin. The Mujahideen executed a brilliant plan." His brilliant plan having been executed so brilliantly, Indians are on the run, the General informed his countrymen.
And for good and obvious reasons, he said. "Whereas the Mujahideen are fighting for a just cause and Shahadat is the greatest honour they can receive and as such they are fighting for this noble objective, the Indian soldiers are highly demoralized. Most of them have already completed their Kashmir tenure and want to go back to the safety of the mainland. They are being forced into the attacks and kept in Kashmir against their will. They only fulfil the formality of attack." This plain truth was being portrayed by Pakistan TV, he said, and that is why the Indian Government banned it! But Indians continue to watch Pakistan TV "for factual and correct situation", using dish antennas, he said, "despite house raids by police"! All we have to do is to keep the road to Siachin closed, he wrote the next day. That will force India to spend Rs 30-40 crore a day, "which will break the Indian back"! The General painted even rosier gardens. If the Indian Army can be prevented from retaking the Kargil positions, Vajpayee will be forced to lunge into Pakistan crossing the LoC. This prospect "offers the Pakistan Army the opportunity of the century to redeem its honour and take revenge for Dhaka." Once Pakistan makes a major penetration into India, the Sikhs will get and grab "the opportunity of the millennium to rise and play havoc with India's lines of communications." And once there is a major setback to India in Punjab, "the Sikh dream of Khalistan will become a reality." And that will induce the Tamils to revolt in the South, and the Nagas and the Mizos to proclaim their Unilateral Declaration of Independence"!
Faced with disintegration, Vajpayee will have to opt for the nuclear option, the General forecast. Therefore, he counseled the world, before India reaches that point, the world should solve the Kashmir problem "in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council." Q E D! Not only has Pakistan the opportunity of a century because of the bind in which India is caught, Allah has conferred a special boon on Pakistan to enable it to avail of this opportunity, the General's reasoning went. And what is that boon? "In Parvez Musharraf we have an excellent General," he explained, "who has the blend of dynamism (his SSG background) and superb professionalism. Allah chose him for this occasion. He will not only deliver but deliver beyond expectations of all. He is the gift of Allah to the nation."
The only thing to guard against is American perfidy, the General wrote. On his reckoning, the Pakistan Army has won each and every war with India, and it is only the USA, "which has a history of betrayals towards Pakistan," that has compelled Pakistan to forgo what it had won on the ground! General Hamid Gul, an even more formidable former head of the ISI, was announcing victories in even more vivid colours. "General Gul predicts Indian troops surrender," ran the headlines of The Pakistan Observer on 27 June. That the Indians were concentrating so many troops in the area is all to the good, General Gul told the paper. Soon, the monsoon will set in, and they will be trapped in "the hills, dales and jungles of Kashmir while this terrain is familiar and friendly to the Mujahideen." "He said," the paper reported, "it is pre-ordained that this military machine that subjected Kashmiris to terrorism will be humiliated and disgraced at the hands of a handful of Mujahideen."
These are the analyses of Pakistan's "thinking Generals," of its "strategic thinkers," these are analyses appearing in the country's "responsible, sober" English papers. The Urdu papers of course carry reports of even more glowing victories -- as I write this I have at hand reports from Nawa-e-Waqt, al Dawa, Ausaf, Jasarat, Khabrein, Din -- they give even more Allah-ordained reasons on account of which India is about to disintegrate before the might of the Mujahideen. "Enemy is being thrashed from all sides;" "These militants are battle-hardened having fought in Afghanistan for over ten years;" "The Mujahideen have been waiting for open war with India since long. Now they have the opportunity with the opening of the Kargil front;" "The Amir of Markaz Dawat wal Irshad, Professor Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, further claimed that the foolish Europe does not know that Mujahideen have arrived there also in a clandestine manner;" "Maulana Mohammed Azim Tariq, President Sipah-e-Sahaba, said that the moment Government declared Jihad the Sipah-e-Sahaba would provide 50,000 trained Mujahideen for fighting alongside the Pakistan Army;" "The meeting of the Jamiat Ahl-e-Sunnat-o-al-Jamat held in Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Qazi Abdul Malik decided that the Jamiat will send 20,000 volunteers;" "Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Amir Jamiat-e-Islami has started collecting Jihad-e-Kashmir funds, and Jamat-e-Islami is issuing pamphlets urging people to obtain the blessings of Allah by taking part in the Battle of Hind;" "A pamphlet issued by Abdur Rashid Turabi, Amir of the Jamiat-e-Islami in Azad Kashmir says that the shadows of war are deepening, and Pakistanis should give a fatal blow to the birth-enemy of Muslims, India, the Mujahideen have reduced the pride of the enemy to ashes, he says;" Ausaf reports that according to its survey ninety five per cent of the people in Islamabad and Rawalpindi believe that the Kashmir issue can be solved through war and not through negotiations; according to the survey, 99 percent of the people in the North West Frontier Province want the Government to declare Jihad against India for solving the Kashmir issue; "Thousands of armed tribals at a public meeting on 27 June at Miran Shah in Northern Waziristan Agency announced Jihad against India and took an oath that they would not rest unless they hoist the Islamic flag in Delhi".
The article of faith, that India is the "birth-enemy of Muslims," the conviction that the opportunity of the century has come, that Allah has given them an instrument for availing it, the hallucinatory reports that the enemy is being routed, the conviction that Jihad is the solution, the fever for it.
And the foundation of all this: the conviction that everything that is being done is in the cause of Islam. The Ausaf of 30 June: " A group of Al-Badar mujahideen left Mansehara for Kashmir on June 29 for taking part in the Battle of Hind. Bidding them farewell, Commander Ejaz Ali, Amir Lashkar-al-Badar, instructed them to eliminate Indian troops and hoist the flag of Islam in Kashmir. They had to fight the Indian Army from Kargil to Delhi." Two days later, on 2 July, the Ausaf reported, "Pakistani ulema, including Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, Mufti Jamil Khan and Dr. Abdur Razaq issued a Fatwa of Jihad against India in Islamabad on July 1. In the Fatwa, issued in response to a query from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, they said that students should be sent on Jihad by shutting down all religious schools." Ideologies become blinkers: believers keep looking at the world through one pair of pre-fabricated spectacles, they keep fitting developments into one straitjacket when in fact the world is changing inside out. The adherents are therefore "pre-ordained", to snatch General Hamid Gul's expression, to flounder. Hallucinatory reports of non-existent victories can only make the ultimate defeat more certain, more thoroughgoing, and swifter. But that very preconditioning predisposes believers to invade and assault.
That is what we must see, at last. 1948, 1965, the brutality unleashed on East Pakistan in 1971, the terrorism they caused in Punjab throughout the 1980s, the insurgency they spawned in Kashmir in the 1990s, Kargil now: is it right to be surprised each time?
And, other things apart, Pakistan is by now the hub of what can only be described as an "International Islamic Rapid Action Force": Jihadis from various Islamic countries, available for one Jihad after the other.
Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, and, of course and always, Kashmir. "Taliban Minister for Communication, Naimatullah Khan Naumani, Minister Hajj-o-Auqaf, Maulana Abdul Wali, Special Force Chief, Maulvi Gul Zarin, I.G. Police, Maulana Anwar, addressing a function on the occasion of the 14th death anniversary of Maulana Irshad in Kabul (on 29 June) announced war against India alongside Kashmiri mujahideen," reported the Ausaf on 30 June. "They said that the help of Kashmiri and Pakistani mujahideen during Russian aggression was a debt on them, and it was now high time to clear this debt. They did not fear India, they said, nor any other power. They would fight alongside Kashmiri mujahideen for the freedom of Kashmir and their preparations in this regard are complete."
In a word, Kargil is but one step for the Pakistan Army and the terrorists Pakistan has spawned. We must see that defeating them in Kargil can be but one step for us.
July 12, 1999