Dealing with Pakistan has been a sensitive issue ever since we got separated. Successive Indian governments have acquiesced for peace with Pak but it’s all been otiose.
It has been quite a while since the PM’s brief sojourn on Pakistan soil on the occasion of counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s birthday finished and a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. The visit was followed by the ferocious Attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, in which seven of our Valiant security personnel faced casualties along with five terrorists. This attack has again compelled us to rethink our strategy towards the neighbouring nation of Pakistan, which has been infamous for harbouring terrorists for its strategic purposes.
First of all, I want to pour my heart out for the gallant act of our security personnel from various troops including the DSCs, The NSG commandos and those from Punjab Police who faced the terrorists first hand. Whatever the editorials of the top Newspapers blabber from the cozy comfort of their Air Conditioned Offices, It doesn’t matter to an average and crude Indian like me. Who matter to me are those, who let their lives for their countrymen without thinking the least about themselves, their families. I understand pretty well that combat operations like these are not fought keeping in mind what would be the headlines of the editorials. Those who are finding ‘Stupidities’ in the operation must be allowed to take firsthand experience of such operations. It is true that there were some sort of lacunae in communication part from the govt, which grossly led to mishandling of the situation, but its blame cannot be put on our Army men.
India has shown its willingness for peace multiple times. Atal Bihari Bajpayee ji started a bus service to Lahore in the past, to recent generous gesture of PM Narendra Modi by calling Nawaz Sharif at his oath taking ceremony and the PM’s stopover at Lahore on Nawaz’s birthday. But Pakistan’s response has been very lackadaisical, rather belligerent. We were welcomed with Kargil after Atal ji’s effort and Pathankot and Mazar-e-Shariff incidents after Modi’s stopover. PM Modi’s bonhomie with Nawaz Sharif was welcomed and praised world over and Nawaz Sharif too has shown ostensibly genuine interest for the peace process. Both countries share common history, culture, languages. Then what squelchs bringing peace between both the countries? The answer sadly lays with the most powerful entity and stakeholder of Pakistan i.e. its Army and its dogsbodies.
The Army controls most of the affairs related to its defence, foreign policy and has a monopoly on strategy toward India. The Pak Army’s leadership is abundant with anti-India, Jihadi extremist elements that do not want a peace process to flourish. Earlier they tried to fight India in a conventional warfare and faced humungous humiliation in 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars. When they tried a conventional war they were left red faced with embarrassment, so they changed their strategy and adopted a strategy of penetrating in India with proxies in the form of brainwashed terrorists. We have seen a series of such attacks in the past few years.
My basic contention is if the Army, which actually controls most of the matters significant to India in Pakistan, is completely disinterested in peace, why should we be talking to the civilian govt which is quite irrelevant in India related matters? Truth to be told, the constitutional institutions in Pakistan are rapidly collapsing and people with sanity are becoming rare. Jihadi elements are mushrooming in the name of Kashmir’s freedom (Which is a hoax created by Pakistan’s establishment to demonize India) and otherwise. Extremist Mullahs like Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar not only roam freely there but are also facilitated with security and monetary support to spew venom against India. Indian Agencies have also traced ISI’s direct involvement in terrorist attacks and insurgencies across the border.
In a recent interview to Business Standard, C. Christine Fair, an authoritative voice on Indo-Pak affairs and author of multiple books on Pakistan Army, said “If the attack is seen as an attempt to derail the nascent peace process between the two countries, it might be a misreading of the way in which Pakistan employs its jihadi assets to secure its strategic interests in the region. The attack on the air base is not a spontaneous response to recent development. It is simply the latest manifestation of the Pakistani national security strategy to pursue its revisionist agenda against India.”
Her words clearly explain the current situation. We have been backstabbed umpteen times in the past and there seems no legitimate reason to engage with Pak anymore.
The uncanny behavior of the Pak leadership after the attacks mystifies us more. The dispensation of fake media reports regarding the ‘arrest’ which was later dubbed to ‘preventive detention’ and finally taking the generic alibi of ‘we don’t have information blah blah’ was nothing but a figment created to lure the ‘Indian opinion of the twiterrati’ which later turned out to be outrageous and agonizing even more. This usual chicanery has been continued by Pakistan in all attacks that were perpetrated from its soil. This sly behavior does not distress me as much as quixotism of the current Indian govt does. We know Mr. Modi as a sagacious and cogent man who has outperformed many of his predecessors in foreign policy and we have faith in whatever he puts upon us. But if his govt obstinates for confabulation with Pakistan despite its obnoxious behavior, he may face opprobrium and trim his support base in India. I am well sure he is thinking of it more than I am.
So what are the options left with us, dealing with Pakistan?
The only option we have ironically is, no dealing with Pakistan at all. Yes, you heard that right. We need to ignore Pakistan, to reduce the media coverage and social media furore about the Jihadi nation. We need to cut economic, social, cultural ties with Pak and sever it on international fronts. Not to forget the befitting replies on border with gunshots matching with squaring the number of bullets being fired from their side. Simultaneously, we need to transform our armed prowess, which is in Christine Fair’s words, ‘Defensive competence instead of Offensive superiority’. This strategy may be a tough game keeping in mind the international pressure but is the only way forward.