INDIA – PAKISTAN: LESSONS FROM THE RUINS (I)
An excellent analysis of what haunts Indo-Pak relations and a geo-political strategy to deal with the challenges facing us in this century.
Paper no. 1607 10. 11. 2005
INDIA – PAKISTAN: LESSONS FROM THE RUINS (I)
Guest Column by Arindam Basu
As the dust settles on the site of the latest terrorist attack on Indian soil, it is time to ponder the various illusions and hopes that have been exploded by these blasts. Whilst in some circles the pretence may persist that nothing fundamental has changed, and while a few deluded individuals may continue to fantasize about Indo-Pakistani peace, those men who are sane and honest, must face reality as it is, not as we would like it to be. In a period of profound peril, nothing is more despicable than idealism.
“India is in danger”. Every thinking citizen knows this to be true – and yet, few are prepared to state the fact openly. Even fewer are prepared or able to suggest policies to counter the challenges which are arising before us. Instead, an easygoing escapism fuelled by cheap consumerism and a hedonistic mass media, dominates the political and intellectual landscape of India. Symbolic of this tendency is the extraordinary eagerness of Indian commentators to ignore harsh facts, and the failure of our leaders to acknowledge, let alone tackle, ominous developments – both in our own country, and in neighbouring states.
Such behaviour, is itself predicated on the belief that if left alone, these problems will go away. History and life demonstrate otherwise. A problem that is not dealt with at the right time, in the right way, will become worse, not better. Escapism in such a situation is nothing other than weakness warped by cowardice. There is little hope for a country whose governments are infected by this disease.
The following two-part essay, is an attempt to sketch out a different view of the current situation, and to justify a complete change of course, (the particular course to be taken will be considered in the conclusion.) This line of action may or may not be taken: but it is there. We have an alternative to disaster – whether we seize it or not is up to us.
First and foremost, however, it is necessary to demonstrate why a change of course is necessary. The first part of my essay will consider the fallacies regarding the current policies adopted by India.
I.) Indian Misconceptions.
It is difficult to find a government anywhere in the world which labours under as many delusions as New Delhi’s. Even regimes which have eccentric leaders, (such as those in Iran, North Korea and the United States of America), still display a relatively sound grasp of ground realities. In India, the situation is reversed: the leaders appear intelligent, but the policies they adopt and pursue, are insane.
Such madness however, must be understood, if it is to be refuted. Indeed, it is only by demonstrating the roots of the errors behind the current policies that one can hope to change them. In particular, it is necessary to state and destroy three false assumptions that are central to India’s Pakistan policy, which are as responsible for the deaths in Delhi, as the terrorists who arranged those atrocities.
A.) Assumption One: The Peace Process will Pacify Pakistan.
For an utterly banal phrase, the term “peace process” exerts a remarkable influence on weak minds shutting off their elementary scepticism precisely when it is needed most. In India, it has almost been deified, as a new god who will provide everything provide the country keeps making heavy sacrifices in his name. Individuals who would normally scorn open displays of religious fervour, seem to have been besotted by this idol – even though there is nothing sacred or spiritual about it.
Now, the Idol has fallen. It has not delivered anything that its advocates promised. The level of infiltration and attacks by Pakistan following the start of this “peace process” has not decreased; bombings in Mumbai, Delhi and Kashmir demonstrate the opposite. More importantly, the madrassas that train the jihadis and the mosques that inflame them, have neither changed their attitudes or nor restrained their activities since the start of this peace process. On the contrary, they have exploited the security loopholes created by it, (such as the increased transport links between India and Pakistan, as well as the reduced military alertness) to strike Indian citizens again and again. This should come as no surprise: no Pakistani in his right mind is sincere about making peace with India � otherwise, he would cease to be a Pakistani.
What is surprising is how easily the entire Indian political establishment – right, left, and centre, has accepted the “peace process” mantra. Politician after politician - ranging from the BJP’s L.K. Advani, to the Congress’s Gandhi clan, to the leadership of the CPI, have made pilgrimages to Pakistan – a nation built on the blood and bones of Indian citizens. Not one of those who visited Pakistan can claim to be ignorant of this fundamental historical fact.
Yet, not only did these people visit the enemy of India, but not one of them had the courage or the courtesy to condemn Pakistani terrorism while they were there. Nor did any of them have any inkling that it might be dishonourable to shake hands with the man who launched the Kargil invasion. The utter shamelessness of these individuals, their willingness to degrade themselves and their country by pandering to the whims of the Musharraf regime, their sheer lack of consideration for the sentiments of the victims of Pakistani terrorism – all this testifies to the depth of decadence to which Indian politics has sunk, thanks to the “peace process”. Whosoever continues to support it in the wake of the recent bombings deserves severe punishment by law.
It is not sufficient to note that the peace process with Pakistan has not succeeded in pacifying that country. What is essential, is the realization that it could never do so, because for Islamabad to make peace with India, would be tantamount to destroying its raison d’etre. What the peace process has succeeded in doing is castrating the Indian government which has responded so meekly towards Pakistani-sponsored terrorism, that one is left wondering whether India is smaller, weaker and less populated than Pakistan. Indeed, India’s pretensions to Great Power status are just that, pretensions, until and unless it deals with Pakistan not in the style of a supplicant or a neighbour but in the manner of a master. The current rulers in New Delhi are not creatures who can rule: they must therefore be replaced by men who can.
B.) Assumption Two: Kashmir is the Problem.
In mechanisms, it is often essential to isolate a problem to a particular fault at one point, and then to rectify the fault, and thereby, to solve the problem. If political life was a branch of robotics, such an approach to Indo-Pakistan relations would be valid. However, the nations that currently exist on planet earth are comprised of humans, not machines, and a totally different approach – the organic one that distinguishes between symptom and cause, is necessary.
The view that Kashmir is the main or the essential problem in Indo-Pakistan relations, is the product of an Anglicized mechanistic mentality, that sees diplomatic relations as little other than a machine that should operate to facilitate trade ties. Such a view of truly worthy of a soulless, commercially-minded nation such as the English – but for Indians- heirs to an intensely spiritual civilization spanning millennia, to adopt such a view is utmost folly.
What needs to be understood – and it is particularly pertinent to the Kashmir issue, is that these disputes are the signs of a wider problem. They are not the cause, but the effect. The very fact that similar disputes do not exist between India and Myanmar, India and Nepal, India and Bhutan – serve as a reminder that it is not border disputes which create hostility between nations, but hostility between nations which generate boundary clashes. When France and Germany were mortal enemies, Alsace-Lorraine was bitterly disputed between the two; today no one even mentions it, even though the province has certainly not vanished. Similarly, following the Sino-Soviet split, clashes broke out on the border between the USSR and China. With Russo-Chinese rapprochement in the 1990s, the same border has remained quiet – and indeed, has been demarcated to the satisfaction of both parties. The lesson should be clear: disputes do not cause problems – they reflect them. (The failure to resolve the Sino-Indian border should be perceived in this light – as a reminder that the hostility between the two countries runs deep – at least on the Chinese side.)
Thus, let it be clearly understood, that Kashmir is not the problem; the problem is Pakistan – which itself is nothing but a colony of jihadists and their sympathizers, mismanaged by a mendacious military, and misused by the Americans, Chinese and Arabs in whatever way they see fit. Solving the “Kashmir problem” even if it were possible, would do nothing to end Indo-Pakistan tensions – just as treating a symptom does not cure a disease. So negotiations over Kashmir with Islamabad are worse than useless; diplomats who set any hopes in them are dunces – not leaders.
C.) Assumption Three: Goodwill begets goodwill, kindness begets kindness.
‘It is not by hatred that hatred is ended” – The Dhammapada.
“Love those that hate you..” – The Christian Gospel.
Not all advocates of peace with Pakistan in India are merely fools; some are pious simpletons as well. As the above quotations indicate, spiritual and theological scriptures frequently promote the kind of idealistic behaviour that New Delhi has displayed over the past three years.
What is not appreciated sufficiently, is that such injunctions apply to personal, not political relations. On a personal level, friendship, compassion, and other such gentle and soft emotions make major contributions to the welfare and well-being of society; without them, humans could hardly be humane. Yet, even in a social setting, it should be recalled that another factor facilitates the expression of such sentiments: the fact that one can always ignore and shun those who do not reciprocate one’s goodwill.
On the political level, the situation is completely different. Compassion, kindness and other such fine feelings are nothing more than weakness – except when directed towards a country’s allies or towards nations that one seeks to work with. Kindness towards one’s enemies on a political level, breeds contempt, not respect. The foe thinks – This nation is so cowardly as to send me aid after all I’ve done to him. Or so weak. Or so stupid. ad infinitum. Thus, indulgence of one’s foes is an invitation to attack – it does not bring out any reciprocal goodwill, but on the contrary, only increases the insolence of the enemy.
In the Indo-Pak case, this is so obvious as to hardly deserve mention. India sends millions in aid, opens its borders, – and Pakistan responds by spitting on its face, (“No helicopters with Indian pilots”) and then, with renewed terrorist attacks.
It is of course true that the terrorists do not represent all of Pakistan; only the overwhelming majority of Pakistani citizens. Were it otherwise, there groups would be short of recruits, short of funds, and short of training grounds – not to mention low on morale as well. Only in an atmosphere of widespread support for their cause, can the jihadis flourish: the fish does not swim on land after all.
This toxic atmosphere cannot be cleared by goodwill or compassion – for in the mind of the fanatic, these are signs of weakness at best, of duplicity at worst. They can only be detoxified by a purging a society of its leaders and its demagogues.
Image Courtesy: http://oldindianphotos.blogspot.com/2009/08/ruins-at-hasan-abdal-punjab-pakistan.html