Sunday, May 25, 2008

Not Just an Islamic, But a Psychological State

Arun Shourie

India's size has become "an unmanageable liability," writes an analyst in Pakistan's Frontier Post of June 9. "As a result, nearly one-third of its 25 states are at war, where military troops are routinely called out to keep peace." The cause for this is largely "India's exclusionary political, religious and social order that is heavily biased against non-Hindu minorities," he says. This from an analyst whose own country is being torn apart by killings of Shias by Sunnis, of Sindhis and Mohajirs by Punjabis, by tensions between Baluchis, Pakhtuns and Punjabis. Second, except for a brief period, he observes, India's economy has been stagnating around "the Hindu pace of growth." This from an analyst whose country is living from month to month on what is the seventeenth bail-out package from the IMF since 1958, this from an analyst the currency of whose country has been devalued over forty five times in the last decade, this from the analyst in whose country even the management of the Water and Power Development Authority, even of the Karachi Electricity Board has had to be handed over to the Army! Third, its military power has remained "less than decisive in its conflicts with Pakistan except for its military action in East Pakistan." The Pakistan Army has lost every single war it has fought with India, yet India's military power has been "less than decisive"! And as for that one exception which even he acknowledges, the case of 1971, it seems that in the author's view, it is "the backing of the overwhelming majority of native Bengalis" which enabled Indian forces to prevail.

A bit of a change in that last bit, I must say in fairness! For in their history textbooks, children are taught that the "native Bengalis" very much wanted united-Pakistan to continue and it was only the cunning of Hindu-Bharat which waylaid them.

The next point will truly be news to us. Recalling some hare-brained proposals for "solving the Kashmir problem," he says "Even if I were Indian, I couldn't help but support Pakistan's so very obviously rational approach to the conflict on Kashmir." Not just that, this analyst knows something we don't, for he continues, "This rationality in Pakistan's position has the majority of Indians re-looking at the Kashmir conflict in terms of 'justice' although their immediate motive is economics. In survey after survey, the majority of Indians have come to believe that the cost of keeping Kashmir is higher than leaving it alone..." The only way out for India is to resolve the Kashmir issue "in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir, and in accordance with UN resolutions," writes a former Army colonel in the June 11 issue of the same paper. Till it does so, not only will it keep bleeding, such analysts write, it will be exposing the region to "power-play by the West under CIA machinations." "But India," the colonel continues, "with typical narrow-minded bania mentality, refuses to see the realities on the ground and the resultant fall-outs of a continuing impasse over the Kashmir issue..."

"The latest Indian Army operations in Kashmir are due to the adamance of the mujahidin who are waging war to achieve their aim of self-determination," observes the Jang in its editorial on June 4 - two lies in those few words: that the invaders are mujahideen, and that the goal of their invasion is self-determination! "History tells us that when people of any region start sacrificing themselves for their rights then no power on earth can restrain them from their goal. This time mujahideen have given a new life to the movement and the Kashmir issue has become prominent. The Indian government has tried to crush the mujahideen but all in vain..." The invasion has given a new life to the secessionist movement in Kashmir? That will certainly be news to the tourists in the Valley!

"No doubt India is losing on the war front," the Jang announces, "but at the same time the Indian propaganda machinery has become very active with western media support..." In a word: only mujahidin from within Kashmir are involved, militarily they are prevailing, if at all India is scoring a point it is only in propaganda, and that too only with western help! Still the latter is a matter of concern to the paper. "We fail to understand," the paper says, "why our 'grand official intellectuals' have failed in convincing the foreign media that the Kargil war is not based on fundamentalism. Why most of the foreign media reports on Kashmir are anti-Pakistan and anti-mujahideen and why our diplomats and embassies are unable to present the mujahideen's case in its right perspective. And finally why western rulers are endorsing the views of Vajpayee in the context of Indo-Pakistan relations and the Lahore Declaration."

A week, and that lacuna too seems to have been made up! "Its (India's) casualties are mounting," writes an analyst in the Nation of June 13, "and there is a grudging acceptance that it is also losing the media war to Pakistan. These twin pressures are beginning to take their toll on a wary populace which has seen political instability followed by military failure. Elections are less than three months away and no one seems to know which way the country is headed." "In such a situation," he concludes, "Pakistan should stand its ground with grit and determination and appreciate its brave men in uniform who are manning our territory with courage and ensuring that India's aggressiveness is countered swiftly and severely."

Soon, however, that Pakistan is completely isolated diplomatically cannot be denied. But that only proves that it is a martyr in the cause of Islam! Taking note of the US reluctance to swallow the Pakistani version, the Army colonel observes that the US has always been bending backwards to "placate India." And for reason, he writes, "We may be aware of the US role the world over against the interests of Muslims. And its desire to somehow contain China, its only possible rival after the disintegration of the USSR. It will like the dispute over Kashmir to be so resolved that as a result of it the present land linkage between Pakistan and China is severed. In this context, its best bet is India as a countervailing power... In fact the US is / has been actively helping India in its technological attainments through Israel." In a word, if the US is not swallowing the Pakistani version that is because it is congenitally anti-Muslim, and if India has achieved something technologically that is because the US has been helping it via Israel!

Hence the colonel's ringing exhortation: "Let there be no misconception about the US and Indian collusion where interests of Muslims and the western nations clash. For the loss of Muslims also becomes the gain of India. It is time we realised this and the OIC, the Arab League and Mutamar-e-Islami worked together towards unity and greater cohesion in their ranks to thwart the designs of these enemies of Islam."

A complete rupture from reality. That one-third of India's states are at war, that our economy is collapsing, that India is losing on the war front, that Pakistan has overcome the initial Indian advantage and is now winning the diplomatic battle too, that to the extent that the US etc. are not endorsing Pakistan's position that is because they are anti-Muslim, that India's technological advances are due to American help via Israel, that Pakistan's rational position on Kashmir has led every Indian to re-think his country's stance... A psychological condition, schizophrenia. To the onlooker the figments are so absurd that he tends to disregard them. But the person concerned actually believes the hallucinations. He acts on them.

That is one lesson: we must at all times be alert to what Pakistani society and rulers are reading into developments in India, for those inferences will tempt them to instigate, and to invade. The manifest instability of our governments during the last few years, their being pushed and pulled from every side would have been an important factor in the Pakistani calculation. So myopic, so self-centred are those who have been pulling down governments, those who have fractured the electorate that it is useless asking them to see the consequence of what they are doing. At least the rest of us should heed this consequence -- of tempting a neighbour who is so apt to misread the situation in any case -- and quarterise these politicians and groups.

But that is just the preliminary lesson, almost an incidental one.

First, we must bear in mind that the one -- Pakistan in this case -- who conceives of himself as an enemy has an inherent advantage. He can prepare for one type of operation -- it was sponsoring insurgency last time, it is high-altitude warfare this time -- at a place and a time of his choosing. We have to prepare ourselves to counter that entire gamut of possible operations.

That will take resources. Therefore, we must not cavil at sparing them. There is no other way to survive. Things which have come to light during the past few months also show that we must rethink management of defence at several levels.

The management of production and procurement of defence equipment, for instance. The sorry tale of snowmobiles is well known by now. But it is just one of many. From the fate of the plan to produce ammunition for the Bofors guns within the country to the way proposals to produce bullet-proof vests have been knocking around - all speak to the same state of affairs.

The relationship that should prevail between the defence forces and the defence ministry, for another. To refuse to re-examine this on the clich�, "The forces must be subordinate to civilian authority," is to ensure that many operational requirements will not be attended to in time. It is also to ensure that resentments which have erupted in the past few months will continue to fester.

The composition of the National Security Council, the staffing of its secretariat, its function and role, for a third. The council really has to be more than a version of the India International Centre's Saturday Lunch Club.

But the basic lesson that Pakistan's Kargil invasion holds out is the old one, an unfortunate one but an inescapable one: Pakistan remains an implacable enemy. It sees only one role for itself: to break India. It is doubly convinced of this purpose because it sees itself as a state dedicated to Islam, and India as a dar-ul-harb, the land of war to vanquish which is an Allah-ordained duty. It stokes insurgency in Punjab, that leaves 21,000 dead. But it fails to wrest Punjab from India. Therefore, it inflames insurgency in Kashmir.

That leaves 15,000 dead. But that too fails to break India. So, it begins planning Kargil... Pakistan will just not abandon these operations. It sees no other role for itself. It sees that mission - of breaking India - as a divine mandate. At each turn it is convinced that while the particular operation which has just concluded has failed, the next one will break India.

Therefore, a united, prosperous Pakistan is not in India's interest. It will only be that much more zealous, and more effective in carrying out its mission.

And, therefore, we must engage Pakistan in the arms race which it cannot afford, we must lift restrictions we have put on our agencies and ask them to widen the fault-lines which have developed in Pakistani society and polity.

That is the basic lesson. Do not shy away from it. Listen to what the enemy is saying. Look at what he is doing. Look at his nature - full-face. Look at what he conceives his nature to be. As a first step, learn not to drown voices which try to awaken you to that enemy, and his nature.

Asian Age
July 2, 1999

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