Shahriyar Nawaz Haq
Pakistan is a unique country that has successfully stemmed the tide of terrorism. The decade long struggle against this scourge has only come at a phenomenal human and financial cost. Pakistan has lost over 80,000 persons and incurred a staggering cost of $125 billion. This struggle coincided with coming to an end, the decade long rule by venal politicians, who literally waylaid the country and robbed it blind. The often talked, second pincer aimed at rebuilding of emaciated economy and of promoting peace has been launched with vigor and élan by the new political setup under the astute leadership of Imran Khan. Unconcerned with the cacophonous voices of the opposition, the Prime Minister is doggedly pursuing the goal of attaining economic stability through attraction of foreign investment to realize the full economic and strategic potential of the country. The government’s effort has already attracted great deal of investments and in a decades time the effects will become evident. Unfortunately, these developments are perceived to militate with those of its arch foe India and other states, who consider such developments antithetical to their enshrined policies and doctrines. While the Prime Minister of Pakistan was hosting a high powered Saudi delegation led by Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, India stage managed an attack on its troops in Pulwama, which led to the killing of 45 Indian soldiers at the hands of a Kashmiri freedom fighter. As usual, India without due ratiocination blamed Pakistan for the attack. In spite, of assurances of Pakistan’s Prime Minister to bring such elements to justice, albeit on production of actionable evidence, the Indian state machinery duly complemented by the cavalier Indian media decided to punish Pakistan.
Once again India and Pakistan, the arch rivals in South Asia, and the two de facto Nuclear Weapon States are locked in a serious conflict. While the Modi Government was working to a pre meditated plan, firstly, to reverse the effects of its unrealistic policies on the vote bank in the impending elections and secondly, to distract Pakistan from pursuing its newly contrived economic policies and projects with unflinching dedication and thirdly to daunt foreign investors. The equally irresponsible media without regard to severity of consequence began to spew venom against Pakistan. Perhaps for the first time in history anchors began to discuss war strategies with retired general officers and together they suggested, quixotic solutions that could lead to serious miscalculations. All this war mongering led to whipping of sentiments both against Indian Kashmiris and Pakistan. While vigilante justice was served to Kashmiris and other Muslims by burning their shops all over India, Indian colleges/universities expelled students thus forcing them to return to their homes in Indian held Kashmir. This wave of savagery also led to stoning to death of a Pakistani languishing in Indian jail. Other punitive measures included; banning of Pakistani artists from working in Bollywood projects, snapping of trade relations leading to colossal loss to traders on both sides, threatening to divert the water of rivers flowing into Pakistan and immediate returning of Pakistani visitors in India. With regard to the incident itself, this was perpetrated by a 19 year old Kashmiri youth (who had earlier been subjected to disgraceful punishment by Indian security forces), who packed over 350 KGs of explosive in a vehicle and rammed the Vehicle Borne IED into a convoy killing 45 soldiers. By now it is authenticated that the crime was committed by an Indian citizen, secondly, Lt Gen Hooda, ex Commander, Northern Command, India himself accepted the improbability of bringing such huge quantity of explosive from across the Line of Control and additionally hinted that the source of explosive could possibly be the construction work going on at one of their highways. Now juxtapose the offer of Imran Khan to India to provide evidence of involvement of any Pakistani and his continued beseeching for giving peace a chance, with the contumacious Indian stand on punishing Pakistan and of closing all avenues of dialogue.
To walk the impetuous and delinquent talk, Modi gave IAF the green signal to intrude into Pakistan and IAF forayed and dropped their payload in haste and claimed destroying a militant’s camp, killing over 300 of them. Sober analysis subsequently revealed it to be a fictitious claim. True to his resolve, Imran Khan ordered a counter strike, which though did not result in any casualties or any collateral damage, but the imprudent and reckless IAF chose to make another foray and paid with two aircraft downed and killing a pilot and capturing another. In yet another gracious gesture Imran Khan announced release of captured IAF pilot, but the puffed up Indian Government and the benighted media and public alike termed the gesture “knuckling under Indian pressure”.
Pakistan including other countries of the world is awaiting diffusion of the prevailing tension. India for its misadventure and following military humiliation and a black eye, is acting intransigent, leaving everyone including its saner element to continue guessing Modi’s next inanity. With Pakistan’s mature behavior duly complemented by international efforts, the current tension may diffuse, but what needs consideration is, how do we prevent recurrence of such situations in future? Before any suggestions are proffered let us briefly review the reasons.
During the last four decades India assumed a highly conceited attitude and it will not be incorrect to say that the 1971 Indo-Pak war acted as a defining event. Since then, India has been claiming a larger than life superiority and invulnerability, especially viz a viz Pakistan.
Such feelings of grandiosity will likely get intense under the ideology of Bharatya Junta Party (BJP), which if reelected will surely change the secular nature of Indian constitution. If one casts a circumspect look at Indian behavior since the Pulwama incident of 26 Feb, one will clearly discern characteristics such as; unrealistic sense of superiority, obsession with success and power, unique sense of entitlement and absolute lack of empathy.
This state of psychosis rests in reasons such as the desire to restore India to the glorious days of Asoka, actualizing the irredentist concept of Akhand Bharat (reunification of India )and the inveterate hatred for Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular.US thinking of creating in India a counterpoise against China has added to hyper manic episodes of India.
In the highly polarized environment of South Asia, where a UN recognized struggle for self-determination has reached its final stage and Indian decision not only to curb it with unprecedented violence, but to prosecute proxy wars in Pakistan has hurled the region in a dangerous situation. Pulwama and aftermath has made it amply clear that the unrealistic Indian approach is a perfect recipe for disaster in nuclear environment of the Sub-Continent. The Indian Prime Minister has shredded to smithereens Kenneth Waltz, a US political scientist’s argument that, “States are not likely to run major risks for minor gains. “The world must realize that the irrational actors inhabiting the structural set up of Indian Nuclear Command Authority and responsible for ensuring retention of strategic stability in the region, have displayed egregious disregard for sensitivities associated with the dynamics of employment of strategic weapons. In this regard, it is worth noting that some Indian analysts in the wake of IAF intrusion of Pakistan’s air space remarked that, the Pakistani doctrine of “full spectrum deterrence” has already failed. This could not have been media antics alone because some retired Indian Generals too were echoing similar disrespect of strategic understanding.
Getting to the heart of the matter in the wake of Pulwama incident, following need serious considerations:-
The world must understand the rigid, unaccommodating and exclusive nature of political philosophy that the BJP Government subscribe to. As this runs counter to any rational behavior, recurring interventions of important states may have to be a considered a rule rather than an exception.
Countries must desist from providing India weapons and technologies that can possibly have destabilizing effects in the region.
Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) as an organization and Muslim countries in independent capacity must exert possible influence on India. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates States can utilize the investment and other commercial leverages to influence and elicit cooperative behavior from India.
If the US expects to prop up India as a strategic ballast viz a viz India, then China which has high stakes in Pakistan, must not only promptly intervene during moments of crises, but strengthen Pakistan in ways that will send daunting signals.
This episode amply reflected upon the necessity of having political leadership with grit and resolve. Competing politicians must not only understand these requirements but gain understanding of issues beyond making absurd amount of money and that too through crooked means.
Pakistani voter must realize how critical it is to cast his vote to a genuine leader, who can through strength of character and personality take the nation out of such situations.
Should BJP get reelected, the Indian armed Forces too will get radicalized and the hyper manic delusions will likely take the rulers and the forces away from reality, thus multiplying security issues in the region, especially those relating to maintenance of strategic stability in the region. Pakistan must calibrate its responses accordingly.
Within bounds of reason, Pakistan must increase the empathy and responsiveness on issues causing concerns to other countries in the region.
While keeping its responses ready against any Indian foolhardiness, Pakistan must retain its focus on converting the country into an area of strategic importance promoting peace and prosperity for the world at large.
Additionally, the situation invites doctrinal review to ensure that Pakistan emerges victorious from a nuclear war, should one be forced upon it by circumstances. While it may seem ridiculous, it is believed, there will be little sense in inviting a second strike, as it will be devastating enough and we must not wait to receive it.