1:57 am - Wednesday July 17, 2019

Pakistan’s suicidal desperation: Modi-led India rising evoke LoC attacks

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It would be a mistake to simply dismiss Pakistan’s 11th violation of ceasefire norms in October, which killed five civilians in villages close to the international border in Jammu, as just one of those things.

The period before winter sets in, when infiltration into Kashmir becomes difficult, is normally the time Pakistan ups the ante as it tries to push more jihadis into the state.

However, India should not see this purely in that light.

The fact is the rise of Narendra Modi and India’s growing prestige in global affairs is actually going to make Pakistan’s behaviour worse than ever. Pakistan is not a rational state. Its purpose is not its own growth and rise, but the prevention of India’s rise. Pakistan defines itself as “anti-India”, an Islamic state fighting a “Hindu India” to the finish, by fair means or foul.

Rational states know how to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and try and get the best deal with larger powers without sacrificing their own interests.
Pakistan is not a rational state, it is a suiidal one: PTI

But despite two indecisive wars (1948 and 1965) and two stinging defeats (in 1971 and 1999), Pakistan has, if anything, expanded its antagonism towards India. The only thing Pakistan has recalibrated after two defeats is how to wage war with India. It will use its nuclear umbrella to fight low-intensity jihadi warfare, including economic warfare, to damage and thwart India’s economic and political rise.

With Modi as Prime Minister, Pakistan will thus try more desperate things in future.

Consider previous episodes of Pakistani daredevilry on Indian soil. Pakistan used the nuclear parity achieved in 1998 to internationalise Kashmir through Kargil. That, unfortunately recoiled on Pakistan as the world saw it, for the first time, as an irresponsible power. Then it sent jihadis to attack Parliament – if any top leaders had been killed in that attack, India might have gone to war in blind rage. But luckily that didn’t happen.

In 2008, as Pakistan was spiralling downwards, India was rising continuously, notching up year after year of rapid growth. India was about to leave Pakistan in the economic dust. This is why it attacked the symbols and citadels of India’s economic rise – the Taj and Oberoi hotels.

The intention was to damage investor and business confidence in India – as 9/11 did in America. Of course, routine circulation of fake currency goes on endlessly – both to finance jihad against India at the cost of printing currency and damage the credibility of India’s money

The best way to look at Pakistan’s bad intentions towards India is through C Christine Fair’s book, Fighting to the End: The Pakistani Army’s Way of War. Fair is an expert in south Asian military and strategic issues, and she makes the following points about Pakistan.

One, Pakistan is an ideological state, an Islamic state that puts its Islamism above commonsense strategic thought. This means even repeated failure to achieve its strategic goals with war or near-war does not deter it from pursuing suicidal policies. Jihadis are mere suicidal individuals. Pakistan is a suicidal state.

Two, it is not just a joke that Pakistan is an army with a state – and not the other way around. The Pakistani army, despite allowing periodic reversions to weak democratic governments, has complete control over foreign affairs, defence and strategic decisions. When it comes to India, the army decides the policy not the government. And the army is in unremitting hostility to India. Defeat only leads to more desperate forms of aggression. The Pakistani army is thus little better than an ISIS – an ideological power with a state to provide it with the resources to endlessly prosecute its ideology. The existence of the state is merely a support for its ideology.

Three, since the battle is ideological, it means even a deal on Kashmir will not solve anything. In fact, it will assure the Pakistani generals that their policies were right. Writes Fair: “Pakistan’s antagonism with respect to india cannot be reduced to the bilateral dispute over Kashmir… Pakistan’s defence literature clearly maintains that Pakistan’s army also aims to resist India’s position of regional dominance and its slow but steady global ascent.”

Further, she notes: “The likelihood that Pakistan’s military or even civilian leadership will abandon the state’s long-standing and expanding revisionist goals and prosecute a policy of normalisation with India is virtually nil.”

By revisionist, Fair means a state that is fundamentally dissatisfied with the status quo and will fight to the bitter end to achieve its goals, even if they are manifestly unachievable.

In this way, as Fair points out, Pakistan is more like Nazi Germany or imperialist Japan, “both of which pursued their revisionism until they were destroyed.” Unfortunately for India, the option of cutting down Pakistan cannot be dealt with this way, as it is a nuclear power – an irrational one at that.

We need a more calibrated and fine-tuned strategy to thwart the designs of Pakistan. The only lever that may restrain Pakistan is China, but currently their strategic goals are congruous.

Fourth, it is foolish to pretend that Pakistani civil society is fundamentally opposed to the army’s ideology.

Fair notes that “states like Pakistan vacillate between autocracy and weak democracy. Part of the Pakistani army’s ability to defend its pre-eminent position stems from the success of its ideology, which permeates Pakistan’s varied institutions and societal groups. Even during periods of (invariably weak) democracy, civilian leaders and citizens alike embrace the elite ideology of the military: its strategic culture.”

The rise of Modi, and the expected return of India to a higher growth path over the next few years will convince the Pakistani army (and state) further about the existential nature of its struggle with “Hindu India”.

The mere fact of India’s rise – and not who rules India – makes the Pakistani army, which feeds itself on the weakening udders of the Pakistani state, see enough justification to cause mayhem in India. Pakistan can attack an India ruled by a weakManmohan Singh as well as a stronger Modi.

Modi and his National Security Adviser Ajit Doval should read Christine Fair’s book on the Pakistani army’s way of war and ready themselves for a regular and long-term onslaught on India, Indian politicians, the Indian economy and everything Indian.

This is not a problem that can be sorted out in a year or two. The end will depend on two things happening: Pakistan ceases to be an ideological state, and the army loses its heroic status in that country and becomes subservient to civilian rule. It is not going to happen in this generation.

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