Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pakistan and its India obsession

For long the Americans have believed the way to wean Pakistan from its obsession with India and `Jihad’ is to get them to come to an understanding with India on Kashmir.

The view from Washington, the capital of an Empire which discovered and exported the culture of quickie TV dinners into a global obsession, is that “Its doable”.

The problem is:
a)its probably not doable from the Pakistani point of view
b) it may not solve the crisis and may in reality deepen it.

There is actually very little reason to believe the Pakistani Army and the state it controls will give up `Jihad’, if India reaches some kind of an arrangement on Kashmir. Also, far more significantly, one has to consider whether such an arrangement will stop the `Jihadist’ machinery already created by Pakistan, from doing what it is doing : slowly taking over the Pakistani army and/or the state.

The unfortunate truth is that no Pakistani leader can come to an arrangment with India on Kashmir and live to tell the tale. The ground reality is that if he agrees to as simple a thing as demilitarisation of Siachen or accepting the present Kashmir border as it is with some concessions from India, he will be branded a traitor and may face death squads in his own country. Such a deal, may well only hasten the end of the present Pakistani state as we know it and its take over by Jihadist elements, who could use `concessions’ given to India as an excuse to turn out the government.

Also one has to understand that the control that the Pakistan’s Army is able to exercise over a rapidly disintegrating Pakistan, stems from the bogey it is able to whip up against its `eternal enemy’ – India. No fear factor from India translates into no raison d’etre for a huge Pakistan Army which consumes the lion’s share of that impoverished state’s budget. Once this huge army starts shrinking, there may also be no real raison d’etre for component units of Pakistan staying together.

So what happens when Americans keep pressing Pakistan to talk to India?
Pakistan keeps talking but without a coming to a realistic, acceptable compromise. If the pressure is too much, its organs slip across a couple of terror modules or detonators for sleeper cells inside India to derail the peace process.

Take this week’s attacks on Mumbai. India may officially say “every angle is being investigated”. But every analyst worth his salt will bet the attack is a Pakistani sponsored one. This time round, the peace talks may not be derailed because India seems to have made up its mind to soft paddle on this one and give the Pakistanis the benefit of doubt. What happens next?

One really does not know as India’s determination to continue peace talks in the face of outrages has not yet been seen. This seems to be a first of sorts.

However having said that the Pakistan army does not really want peace with India, one must also add that the Pakistani Army and the state it virtually runs, is not against talks with India, with or without American pressure. They talk in the hope that India will ultimately agree to give some unilateral concessions, without any guarantees of peace from Pakistan. In such a case, the Pakistani state as it exists now, will be saved for the moment though it will continue to face existentialist threats from Jihadis and the army which sponsors it, who will of course continue and be emboldened to continue targeting India, as they will see one sided concessions as signs of weakness caused by their repeated attacks. *

The truth, which analysts sitting in western capitals don’t want to see, is that Jihadist elements have already penetrated the army and bureaucracy. One of the reasons why the Pakistani army and its much feared intelligence wing - ISI - are not fighting them with full force, is because of fears that any such a fight may trigger a revolt within the rank and file of the army, with junior officers and soldiers crossing over to the Jihadi side and the generals who really run the country being replaced in a coup by younger, more Islamised officers.

Jihad – is unfortunately a state of mind that has little to do with any `obsession’ with India. Pakistan became more Islamist after 1971, when it felt that the only antidote to an eventual break-up of various wings (Baloch, Pakhtun, Sindh) of the sort signalled by the emergence of Bangladesh lay in re-emphasising its Islamist-Arabic moorings.

To this end, history was re-written to tell Pakistanis that they were Arabs and central Asians and not really South Asian (!), Islamic symbolism was reiterated, minorities were relegated further into the shadows, Islamic sects which did not accept hardline Wahabi tenets punished by being declared un-Islamic and treated at par with minorities.

All this led to a strange mentality being developed – Jihadist – which propagated that the world was ganging up against Pakistan and that it had to fight its numerous enemies to stay alive. The listing of `enemies’ kept increasing every day – India, the US, which 'let it down', UK, which 'gifted' Kashmir and Junagadh to India, Bangladesh, which was treacherous, Baloch, who were similarly treacherous, Ahmedias, Bohras … the list just went on. It was almost like Nazi Germany – anybody, who was not a pure Aryan German swearing by Nazi tenets, was an `enemy’!

Pakistan has created its own devils and has to exorcise its own devils. It has to start by teaching unbiased history to its young people which tells them that they are blood brothers of Indians, Afghans and Bangladeshis and need to live at peace with them for their own good.

That Islam in the sub-continent evolved from its Saudi moorings into a Sufi form which synthesised Hindu and Sikh beliefs and practices with Islamic philosophy and tenets and created a gentler, South Asian version. Pakistan has to take this 'revisionism' further and turn into what its founder – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – wanted it to be :an Islamic state with a secular polity which gives the genius of its minorities and `non-Islamic’ sects full play in creating a more vibrant society and economy.

It is when Pakistan does all this and moves on economically like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that it will find peace with itself and with its neighbours.

Otherwise, regardless of concessions by India or Afghanistan, it will remain what it is – a near jihadist state, where the Taliban is inches away from controlling nuclear weapons.

However, unfortunately this solution is not ‘doable’ in weeks or months and the danger is that the Jihadi forces unfortunately may not give Pakistan this time frame to heal itself.

What are the concessions which Pakistan hopes for? One sided demilitarisation of Siachen, without first fixing the actual line of control or any real mechanisms for confirming that both sides are withdrawing their forces. Giving up of the whole Sir Creek to Pakistan, denying Indian villages and towns on the the creek’s shores the rights to venture out into the sea. (Ludicrous you may say, but even this could be done if Pakistan were to come to a larger understanding in other areas)