Sunday, February 15, 2009

INDIA NEEDS TO READY ITSELF FOR A POST-PAKISTAN SCENARIO

When the Head of State of a nation admits unashamedly to the world that his country is under real danger of being captured by rogue elements, then it can no longer be pretended that the threat is remote. Nuclear weapons and missiles, and a huge military are no protection whatsoever against such assaults from within. Talibani termites have been eating away the woodwork that defines the state of Pakistan for a number of years, encouraged by strong pillars of that very wooden frame that mistakenly believed, some still do, that these termites were programmed to attack and weaken only other structures that were inimical to it. Now it can no longer be hidden that the hollowed structure is on the brink of collapse.

In an interview with CBS, President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Pakistan is fighting for “survival” in the face of an onslaught by the Taliban who have “established themselves across a large part of the country”. "We are aware of the fact it’s ... Taliban... trying to take over the state of Pakistan. So, we’re fighting for the survival of Pakistan. We’re not fighting for the survival of anybody else." The Taliban, he added, had been taken for granted for a long time. "It's been happening over time and it's happened out of denial. Everybody was in denial."

When were such words heard last from the President of a country? Some analysts believe that this admission is meant to get the US to give Pakistan more aid and even get Kashmir back into focus. It seems they are all missing the point. Pakistan is actually under a grave and unprecedented threat, a threat of its own making and a threat which powerful elements in the military and the ISI still want to deny. Zardari's statement also indicates that there is a bitter power struggle between him and Army Chief Kiyani who, as per Imran Khan and others, is effectively in control of the government. When Zardari says "We have weaknesses and they are taking advantage of that weakness,” he is probably referring to the nexus between the Taliban and the military which has allowed the former to get to a position where they can take over the whole country, with the help of elements of the military who are still supporting it

As per William Dalrymple, "Saudis have invested intensively in Wahhabi madrasas in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab, with dramatic effect, radically changing the religious culture of an entire region. The tolerant Sufi culture of Sindh has been able to defy this imported Wahhabi radicalism". The Taliban and the Al Qaida are the visible militant faces of this version of Islam which is completely intolerant of all other faiths, including Shia Islam. They are, therefore, the perfect ideological weapons that can be exploited to oppose both the Western world and India with the ultimate aim of ushering in the political rule of Islam all over the world.

Since Wahhabi Islam rejects other versions of Islam too, it should have been anticipated by the handlers and trainers of the Taliban that, sooner or later, they would try to establish their version of the rule of Islam, the one they had in Afghanistan before 9/11, in Pakistan too. Up to a point, the military did have the Taliban and other militant groups bred with similar ideology by their "tooti" (penis), as a Pakistani general had once boasted. That was a long time back. Today it is clearly the militants led by the Taliban who have got the state of Pakistan by its "tooti".

President Obama is alive to the fact that terrorists are operating against US forces in Afghanistan from safe havens in the tribal regions of Pakistan. Quit naturally, he wants the state of Pakistan to fight and defeat them within its territory. Is that going to happen any time soon, if at all? If the world has heard Zardari right, that is almost an impossibility. Because the "weakness" is within, inside Pakistan's military and the ISI. And that situation is not likely to change on its own. The investment of these two organisations in the terror infrastructure is so heavy and so deep-rooted that it is realistically not possible for them to become enemies of the very men that they have trained and used for decades as their own, integral tools of state policy.

Is it, then, possible for Pakistan to continue to exist as one state with very strong elements pulling it in opposite directions? Will Pakistan succumb to Wahhabi Islam completely, with its military and the Taliban becoming indistinguishable from each other? Will the civil society of the areas still not overrun by the Taliban meekly surrender to the birth of an altogether 'new' country, a photocopy of the primitive and horribly oppressive Afghanistan that the world saw before 9/11? Or will Sindhis and Punjabis resist this speeding slide?

Will America and the world allow a nuclear power to become completely Talibanised and pose unimaginable danger to the whole world? The answer is a clear no. Is a strong and stable Pakistan possible with the Talibanis and Wahhabi ideology in control of large parts of the country and threatening the rest? Of course not. What, then, is likely to happen?

Will Pakistan suddenly and quietly collapse one day like the Soviet Union did and get confined to Punjab and Sindh, with most of its establishment and military intact? Or will it 'explode' first in one form or the other before it emerges from the fire and smoke in a new avatar that the world can comfortably live with?

India, indeed the world, has to start preparing for a post-Pakistan scenario that may be upon us sooner than we think. Before that, India needs to ready itself for any contingency that may suddenly arise necessitating the deployment of its combat power in support of elements in Pakistan in the highly possible event of an intense power-struggle and even a Bangladesh-like situation arising there.

Zardari knows what he is talking about better than most outside of Pakistan do. And he is clearly talking at a tangent with the dominant view in the military and the ISI. Pakistan's survival is perhaps no longer possible in its present form. Zardari's cry is probably one of despair and helplessness than of any realistic hope. India needs to listen to it very carefully and ready itself for a post-Pakistan scenario in which it may well find Zardari as the President of an Independent, Wahhabi-free, Sufi Sindh.
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Readers may also read:
1. Kashmir and Afghanistan are two side of the same terror coin
2. Understanding and defeating the ideology of terror
3. 9/11 to 9/19: Beads on a string that needs to be cut
4. A vote to save Jinnah's Pakistan: Will it?
5. A thousand cuts bleeding Pakistan
6. Pakistan: Dangers of the multi-ethnic Islamic state