Thursday, November 26, 2009

A YEAR AFTER 26/11, CALLS FOR A STRONG PAKISTAN

It is exactly one year since Mumbai was attacked by terrorists sent from Pakistan and 20 years since India began fighting terrorism unleashed on it by that nation. Despite all the hue and cry after 26/11, there is absolutely nothing, repeat nothing, to suggest that there has been any fundamental change in Pakistan's posture towards India. Those who masterminded the Mumbai attack still roam free in Pakistan and the usual belligerent noises continue to be made by its leaders. Just because Pakistan has got mired in an internal strife of its own making does not mean it has awoken to the realisation that it is time for it to embrace India as a friend. There is also no reason for any Indian to say that Pakistan too is an innocent victim of terror.

Yes, there has been no major terror attack since 26/11. But this pause should not make anyone rush to the conclusion that there is a cessation of hostilities from Pakistan's side.

Despite the mountain of bitter experiences that began with Partition itself, there remain intellectually and emotionally weak and meek voices in India's establishment whose hearts beat for Pakistan. Forgetting everything, they are trying their best to scare Indians into believing that a strong and stable Pakistan is India's interest, and that if it breaks up, India will have to face five loose and very dangerous cannons. Taliban will be at India's doorstep, they bleat like ignorant goats who believe they are going to be slaughtered, as if a rag tag outfit of individuals with nothing but small arms, is going to be a far more dangerous proposition in hostile Indian territory than the strong, cohesive and fully armed military machine of Pakistan.

These professors of panic have conveniently forgotten that ever since its creation, Pakistan has been deliberately working to break India up. In fact, it can even be argued that the sole objective of its policy towards India has been to bleed it to death by inflicting on it a thousand cuts. Has anyone ever heard Pakistan say that a strong India is in Pakistan's interest? Is a single Pakistani whose voice matters saying so even now? Forget Pakistan. Has anyone heard even China say something like that? On the contrary, it has been giving every possible support, including in the nuclear field, to Pakistan to enable it keep India weakened and tied down. It has even given shelter and training to various insurgent groups of the North East. Of late, in fact, there is even talk in China of breaking India into 25-30 pieces. And our dumb guys are crying for a strong Pakistan?!

Any other country in the India's place would have done everything possible to destroy all threats emanating from Pakistan by comparatively so weakening it that it would have been left with the same choice that China has left India with. Not many people know that India had raised an armed unit of Tibetans who were to carry out covert operations in Tibet at a opportune time. But after China zoomed way ahead of an apathetic India in military strength, the idea was dropped in utter panic. If India tries anything now, it has no doubt that the response from China will be in many multiples. Learning from China, that it exactly the kind of fear that India should have put into Pakistan. But it did nothing whatsoever to even slightly deter Pakistan from continuing to fearlessly prosecute its proxy war.

That is why India has, for 20 years, been fighting terrorists on its own soil and taking a heavy body count. Why did this happen? A fatal fondness for being seen as nice and peaceful has created an inertia that has made this nation vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, even from insignificant countries like Bangladesh. That is why the very people who have criminally failed to make India strong and secure against attacks from Pakistan are the ones who are now saying that a strong Pakistan is in India's interest. They have somehow managed with a known enemy without doing anything at all for decades. Any change is unfamiliar territory; weak hearts and static minds fear nothing more than change.

That is precisely why, instead of readying India for a post-Pakistan scenario or even a fully Talibanised Pakistan, they are once again displaying the same mental bankruptcy that has seen India needlessly lose thousands of its sons over the last two decades. To strengthen their case for continuing with the status quo ante situation of a strong Pakistan, frightening pictures are being painted of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban. This is not being done with even the remote thought of readying India's armed forces to play a major role in securing the nukes with the help of the US and sane elements in the remnants of Pakistan, should it go under, but to frighten India into making concessions to a nation that, even if it survives this time, will without doubt become even more dangerous and violent in the coming years.

In fact some analysts have gone to the extent of making the absurd claim that Pakistan winning its war on terror is "in India's supreme national interest!" - take that - to make out the even more ridiculous case that India must make "moves, offers, anything that will enhance the power and credibility" of Pakistan's government. One is unable to comprehend how such minds work, and how they can be so out of touch with the reality in Pakistan, despite this being a major part of their job 24/7. Pakistan is effectively run by the military which has promoted and used religious fundamentalism and terror as instruments of state policy. The weak civilian government there does not take the final call in any major matter, particularly concerning India. Even President Zardari who has made some right noises, has no control over anything; his words amount to nothing. That is why even Dr Manmohan Singh says "I don't know who to deal with" in Pakistan. Yet some guys want to "strengthen" Pakistan's government, when they should know that it will not in any manner change anything in India's favour.

Even a child knows that a clenched fist packs much more power than an open hand with its five fingers apart. There is also no one who does not know that if the roots of a tree are cut, its branches lose their vitality, and that even if they are successfully replanted individually, they emerge much weaker than when they were being nourished through one stem. Yet, some bright individuals want Indians to believe that India will be secure if there is a strong Pakistan that is ideologically and militarily united to fight India, and will become vulnerable if it has to deal with five small resultant states that will be without direction and power, and perhaps even at war with each other.

Last year, General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, reiterated the unpleasant truth that some Indians want to avoid, when he said that many Pakistani leaders consider India as its principal threat and regard extremist groups as potential strategic asset against it. The recent arrest of Syed Daood Gilani aka David Headley and the revelations about his close links with the LeT, Indian Mujahideen, ISI and serving and retired Pakistan Army officers, has once again highlighted the repeatedly forgotten fact that terror in India has been, and is being, promoted and sustained by the state of Pakistan, or at the very least parts of it that matter and will continue to call the shots.

Many people realise that if Pakistan emerges stronger from the present crisis, particularly after the US leaves, the news can only be bad for India. A well-oiled terror apparatus having the full backing of a rejuvenated state which may well get Afghanistan back, as it is aiming to, will present an unprecedented challenge to India. India needs to strengthen and prepare itself to meet such an eventuality with a sense of urgency that is nowhere to be seen. Any concessions and offers that it makes to Pakistan now are only going to be used to claim victory for the jihad launched by it against India. And that will only breathe fresh life into the terror structure and attract more recruits to fight India with renewed vigour and determination. One has to be nuts to even make such a suggestion at this point of time.

There is no pressing hurry to get into talks with a state when you don't know who is in control of it. There is nothing to be gained from strengthening the very hands that have tried their best, and are trying still, to slit your throat. There is no sense whatsoever in helping to hold together, much less strengthen, an idea that is grounded in hostility to you and that is already self-destructing, as it had to. Whatever needs to be done should only be done after the debris has settled, no matter how long it takes.

This is the least that those culpable and sitting protected in their fortresses - and their mouthpieces - can do out of respect for those who have laid down their lives fighting this long and all but declared war of hate, and the innocent who have fallen victim to it in the course of their daily lives. To their souls in heaven, any call being made for a strong and stable Pakistan is nothing short of treason.

Also read: Musharraf's shockers on terror. Kashmir and Indian Muslims
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