(This article of mine was published last year on Niti Central which is now retired. Putting it on my blog for the record)
At the recent Counter Terrorism Conference held between 19th and 22nd March 2015, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh while talking about cross border terrorism said, “The source of most terrorist activity in India lies across our borders. It is unfortunate that even after paying such a heavy cost for itself, Pakistan and its associates find it difficult to understand that there are no ‘good terrorists and bad terrorists’. Differentiating terrorists into ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ categories has failed miserably. If the ISI and the Pakistan army stops its support to certain terror outfits.”
Mr Singh went on to say “I sincerely believe that the Pakistan should seriously rethink its strategy of using terrorism as an ‘instrument of proxy war’ and it would be in her own national interest”.
This is the flawed thinking that has gone on for a very long time in India. Pakistan has used “non state actors” for as long as its existence to further its “ideology”. It started in 1947 when it sent tribal force into Kashmir to seize control illegally and has used it ever since in its pursuit to get even with India.
Understanding the Ideology of Pakistan
Pakistan was formed after partition of India in August 1947 after Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his Muslim League ran a campaign saying Hindus and Muslims were two separate religions who could not co-exist calling it the Two Nation Theory. Pakistan was formed on the basis of an Islamic ideology though Jinnah professed to be secular and wanted a secular Pakistan. His speech in the constituent assembly on August 11th, 1947 is often cited to prove his secular credentials, but journalist Tufail Ahmed mentions in his article that Jinnah under the influence of Iqbal from 1937 onwards and after Partition, made speeches that were laced with imageries from Islam. He made statements: “Muslims have not been crushed during the last 1,000 years”; “I shall never allow Muslims to be slaves of Hindus”; “The cows that Hindus worship Muslims eat; the villains that Hindus malign, Muslims idolise”; “The goal of Pakistan is not only to get freedom and autonomy but the Islamic concept of life”; “It is Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual blessing that Pakistan came into being. Now it is Pakistanis’ responsibility to turn it into the model (state) of the Righteous Caliphs.
So Pakistan was born on the basis of religious divide created by the Jinnah and the Muslim League and it forms the basis on which Pakistan continues to live till today. From its inception, the leaders of Pakistan projected their country as the fort of Islam and them as their guardians. Pakistan Army took over the role of being the guardians of the faith. Pakistan Army is an army whose prime responsibility is jihad.
How Pakistan pursues its ideology
C Christine Fair in her book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War argues that the Pakistan Army’s revisionist agenda is restricted not only to wresting Jammu and Kashmir from India but also in preventing India’s “inevitable if uneven ascendance” in South Asia and beyond. Unlike conventional armies which seek only to protect territorial boundaries, Fair says that the Pakistani Army has taken upon it to protect the country’s ideological frontiers as defined by Islam.
Soon after independence, Pakistan started its pursuit to project itself as the citadel of Islam when it invaded Kashmir, a princely state which acceded to India based on the terms of independence of India, because it had Muslim majority population. It is often projected that Pakistan started using terrorists against India from late 1980s but the fact is that it was right after independence that Pakistan sent tribal force into Kashmir to wrest control. The use of “non state actors” by Pakistan is as old as the country. Pakistan initiated four wars against India and lost each one of them. But as Christine Fair argues in her book that for the Pakistan Army, defeat does not lie in its failure to win Kashmir despite its numerous unsuccessful attempts; defeat will be the point when it stops trying. Therefore, failed attempts are just “honourable and brave Muslims” fighting against “meek, pusillanimous and treacherous Hindus”.
This fact has to be understood by India very clearly that no matter how good intention it has towards Pakistan, it will never be able to stop Pakistan from acting against India’s interests. Pakistan will not desist from anti India activities even if it is given Kashmir on a platter by India as it is in an ideological battle with India. Over the years, this ideological battle has got ingrained very deeply in the psyche of the nation. There are many proponent of the “Gazwa-e-Hind” story which is based on an alleged hadith which allegedly predicts a final battle in India and as a result, a conquest of the whole of Indian sub-continent by Muslim warriors. Pakistan Army’s lower and younger ranks are getting even more radicalised than its older generation and it readily accepts this “hadith” as their “destiny” to achieve. These younger generations will lead the Pakistani Army very soon.
Pakistan will continue to use terrorism or “non state actors”. The line between state actors and non state actors has long since blurred. Pakistan pushed its own soldiers of Northern Light Infantry into Kargil as “mujahideen” to wage war with India. Admiral Mike Mullen of US once said that the Haqqani Network is the veritable arm of the ISI. Not just the Haqqani Network, every terrorist organisation in Pakistan is a veritable arm of the Pakistan Army/ISI in its ideological battle with India. General Pervez Musharraf, the former military ruler and former President of Pakistan had warned India that it will have to face many Kargils and Siachens in the future in the India Today Conclave in March 2009.
India needs to negate the ideological reason for Pakistan’s being
Given the facts, it is going to be futile for India to just step up its defences and win military wars with Pakistan. After four wars, Pakistan has not backed down. What India needs to do is strike at the very ideology of Pakistan. The ideology of Islam being the basis of Pakistan’s existence and the idea that Pakistan is the citadel of Islam. The Two Nation Theory was busted when in 1971, Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan separated from West Pakistan after military intervention by India. One of the reasons for India to split Pakistan was to end the insurgency in the North East which was backed by Pakistan which was training insurgents in Chittagong Hill Tracts. India stepped in after a bloody campaign was carried out by the Pakistan Army in which it killed over 3 million people in Bangladesh. Pakistan still smarts from this break up where it lost half its territory. In fact General Pervez Musharraf the former military ruler and President of Pakistan and the architect of the Kargil War in 1999 said that he mounted the operation to avenge the loss of Bangladesh in 1971. Pakistan Army through its control of education, the press has managed to deflect the loss of Bangladesh as a loss of its ideology.
To solve the problem of Pakistan, India has to make another attempt at disproving to the Pakistanis that it is Islam that holds the country together. There are inherent divides in the country which is dominated by its most populous state, Punjab. The Baloch independence movement for an independent Balochistan has been running from the time Jinnah gave the orders to annex it. There is a similar movement in the Sindh province. The Pashtuns too have their demand for a larger Pashtun nation along with their brethren in Afghanistan. Punjabis dominate every aspect of Pakistan including using up the vast natural resources of the Balochistan province or the waters of Indus while Sindh suffers from the lack of water. India did have the option of pressing the advantage in the 1971 war to dismember West Pakistan especially the Balochistan province but it was decided not to as Balochistan didn’t share a contiguous boundary with India and also the US was putting pressure on India by sending a carrier task force into the Bay of Bengal. Not only is Pakistan divided along ethnic lines, it is also divided on sectarian lines where the right wing elements of majority Sunni population have been targeting the minority Shia population along with Ahmedis, Christians and Hindus.
India has to unleash a massive “PSYWAR” against Pakistan that strikes at its ideology. For example use of print, TV, radio and electronic media to spread disinformation. Use of Bollywood which is very popular in Pakistan though Indian films get banned there routinely that is viewed as anti-Pakistan, is another means. India should make films on the struggle of the Baloch people, the plight of Sindhis and the Pashtuns which will serve as adding fuel the fire along the Durand Line. Use of Indian TV channels is another method. These too are banned in Pakistan as they feel it is against their “culture” and spreading “Hindu” culture in Pakistan. That itself shows that the Pakistani State thinks its people are susceptible to superior Indian culture. Use of internet particular in this age of twitter and YouTube which is used for propaganda purpose even by terrorists is a way to target the psyche of Pakistani people. Apart from that, moral, diplomatic, political support and any other covert or overt support to the people who are engaged in their freedom struggle against the Pakistani State.
For quite long, Indian politicians right at the highest level have maintained that a united, stable and secure Pakistan is in India’s best interests. It is a myth as a united, stable and secure Pakistan will keep plotting the next war (conventional or unconventional) against India in its quest to keep the ideological battle against India going. The only way India is going to get peace is to use every means possible to help Pakistani state disintegrate into four separate states of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Pashtunistan busting the Citadel of Islam myth of Pakistan.
It also gives us the best possible means of reintegrating Pakistan Occupied Kashmir with India. It will leave the troublemaker Punjab region a landlocked state with even lesser strategic depth to wage war against India.