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Pakistan"s Unholy Trinity

By: Vivek Gumaste
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It may sound simplistic. But true nevertheless. India cannot parley with Pakistan because Pakistan does not want to. This is the inevitable conclusion that one reaches after days of pondering over the issue, meticulously dissecting every facet of the problem and confronting every argument with a counter thought. The very premise of Pakistan militates against détente with India. The off and on diplomatic goodwill is but a meaningless quirk of an underlying malignant malady.

The complex charade that is being played across the border is one big lie without an iota of truth or a speck of sincerity. Neither is this enactment a first of a kind drama, it is a replay of the same wicked plot albeit with a different cast and at a different time and one that is staged every now and then. Unfortunately India like the mentally challenged boy in first grade who just cannot summate two plus two even after umpteen attempts, continues to be perplexed by this intrigue and is unable to formulate a cogent response. India"s naiveté and Pakistan"s deceit inadvertently conspire to produce a barren stalemate in lieu of a meaningful resolution, as is currently evident.

"Non-state actors" is a terminology accentuated by the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari post 26/11, but a concept that has always been central to Pakistan"s anti India strategy. In fact, non state actors, along with the Pakistani Army and the political establishment (whenever it existed) form an evil triumvirate each with a distinct, scheming role in an ongoing Indophobic ploy.

Hark back to the early days of independence and the first Indo-Pak confrontation to purview the machinations of this interaction. The frontline of that assault was comprised not by commissioned officers of the Pakistan Army but by hordes of Pathan tribesmen who ravaged Kashmir in an ugly orgy of pillage and rape. These Pathan tribesmen were the original non-state actors.

That these non- state actors were actively aided and abetted by the Pakistani authorities is clear. Kuldip Nayar in his book, Distant Neighbours (Vikas Publishing House, 1975) states: "Shiv Saran Lal who was at that time Deputy Commissioner, Dera Ismial Khan, NWFP, reported to New Delhi that Pakistan had sent "armed tribal people (half a million) to the Pakistan -Kashmir border and the Pakistan government provided transport in civilian and military lorries."

The unholy nexus between the Pakistani Army and non-state actors was evident even then. The Kashmir raid was conceived and commanded by serving army officers. Ramachandra Guha in India after Gandhi observes: "Overseeing the operation (Kashmir) was Akbar Khan a colonel in the Pakistan Army. Khan had collected 4000 rifles from army supplies and diverted them for use in Kashmir.More fancifully he had adopted the nom de guerre " General Tariq",after a medieval Moorish warrior who had fought the Christians in Spain."

Complementing the Army and the non-state actors was the political polity ever ready with protestations to camouflage the shenanigans of the other two as Guha indicates: "Pakistanis disclaimed any involvement in the invasion-they insisted that it was a spontaneous rushing of Pathan Muslims to the aid of co-religionists persecuted by a Hindu king and a Hindu administration."

Another incident that unfolded a few years later encapsulates not only the characteristic waffling of the Pakistan government but also captures the tentative response of the Indian government that has become the hallmark of its Pakistan policy. In 1950 widespread killing of Hindus in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) led to a massive emigration of Hindus into India. Nehru"s pleas to the then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan fell on deaf ears. Only when the Indian Army was deployed along the border (note the similarities to the build up in 2001) did Liaquat Ali Khan fly to India to sign a pact to mollify an enraged Indian government. However the influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan continued unabated despite the treaty which Pakistan saw merely as a political tool to tide over the crises but not one to be implemented.

Continued inaction by the Indian government in face of this chicanery prompted the strongly nationalistic Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a minister in Nehru"s cabinet to resign. In a strongly worded speech in the Lok Sabha on April19, 1950 he stated: "I have never felt happy about our attitude towards Pakistan..It has been weak, halting and inconsistent... Our goodness or inaction has been interpreted as weakness by Pakistan. It has made Pakistan more and more intransigent." (excerpt from L.K. Advani"s My Country, My Life)

Fast forward to India circa November 2008, Dr. Mookerji"s statement mirrors the situation to a T: its acuity as precise as it was in 1950. The Indian response in present times has been the same: "weak, halting and inconsistent."

Pakistan"s present antics vis-à-vis the Mumbai attack reflects a similar modus operandi - the unholy trinity is still at work. Today, the non state actors are represented by LET, a callous band of religious zealots well versed in modern weaponry and far more sophisticated in the execution of evil than its predecessors. LET stands directly implicated in the Mumbai assault. The logistics of the Mumbai carnage smacks of a military tutelage that clearly places the Pakistan Army in the dock. Support for anti-India terror organizations is no longer an ad hoc proposition as in 1947, but an institutionalized mission of the Pakistan Army via the ISI.

The civilian government, in this instance, in a rare bout of sanity, agreed to cooperate with the investigation by offering to lend the services of the ISI chief, but soon backtracked apparently at the behest of the Army. What followed next was a series of vacillatory statements in line with its true visage. This flip-flop questions both the credibility and authority of the political establishment. Is the civilian government merely a facade for the all powerful Pakistan Army to carry out its bidding in a suave, diplomatic fashion? Or was this a failed but genuine attempt by the political class to establish its writ? Either way it exposes the vulnerability of the Pakistan government and the futility of engaging a non-entity from India"s point of view.

The ascendancy of a pro-India lobby or the emergence of a moderate faction in Pakistani politics is the ultimate fantasy of Indian liberal thought. But alas it remains a phantasma. The power structure in Pakistan continues to be fuelled by anti-Indian sentiments. The peaceniks there constitute a weak and insignificant component of the power matrix, selectively highlighted at times for appearances sake but of little practical consequence. Lost in a dream world of wishful thinking sans a sense of pragmatism, Indians have failed to look beyond the immediate picture to the detriment of its security. India cannot fashion its policy around a miniscule pro-India lobby (magnified by the day dreaming Indian intellectual class) that carries little weight- that is the crux of India"s failed Pakistan strategy.

To deem Pakistan as a failed state is a generous overstatement. It does not qualify as a state at all, period. A state must have a degree of accountability. A state must have a functioning hierarchy. Pakistan has neither. At the helm is a dysfunctional government with little jurisdiction over its geographical domain or its subjects. Calling the shots is the Pakistan Army, the fountainhead of anti-Indian choler. Still smarting under the humiliating defeat of 1971, the Pakistan Army has resorted to a proxy war (Mumbai, Kargill) with India through the deft use of terror groups to shift responsibility and will scuttle any conciliation. Pakistan remains a conglomerate of anti- India interests masquerading as a nation. The earlier this dawns on India the better.

In this protean setting, negotiations are a futile and self-destructive proposition for India. Overt war can result in a Pyrrhic victory and is not an option. Surgical strikes could easily deteriorate into a conventional engagement with similar consequences.

The key to formulating a coherent Pakistan policy lies in understanding the Machiavellian internal dynamics of Pakistan. India cannot rectify Pakistan"s inherent character or hope for a miraculous transformation overnight. But it can set its own house in order by changing its mindset, fortifying its defenses and sealing its borders - a task of mammoth proportions but the only approach that has a chance of success in the present circumstances. Sealing the border may sound like a drastic response, insular in character and negative in its approach. However, when open travel and trade routes provide easy access for terrorists and serve as conduits for smuggling deadly arms into the country, India would be unwise to persist with them.

Pakistan is a virulent anti-Indian disease that is pandemic in that area. It is impossible to eradicate from without but can be quarantined within its borders. That is where the solution lies.

Vivek Gumaste

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