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Pakistan's rulers can deceive anyone and everyone

By Lieutenant General Ashok Joshi (retd)
February 26, 2015 22:00 IST
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'For so long as the rulers of Pakistan remain committed to confronting and vanquishing India, they will sustain delusions, breed terrorists, and export them,' says Lieutenant General Ashok Joshi (retd).

Pakistan's top generals meet

Image: Indian soldiers patrol the Line of Control. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff/com


The fourth delusion is that Pakistan is ideologically, morally, and legally justified in adopting all measures to take possession of Jammu and Kashmir. Its belief rests on the argument that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, being a Muslim majority state, rightly 'belongs' to Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan was doing no more than finishing the agenda of Partition by invading Jammu and Kashmir.

'Impelled' by this delusion, Pakistan has gone to war with India in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999. In 1947, Pakistan benefitted greatly by pushing tribesmen into Jammu and Kashmir. It reaped the advantage inherent in pre-emptive offensive operations.

It is part of the declared policy of Pakistan that there will be no peace between India and Pakistan until the Kashmir dispute is resolved to its satisfaction. Many have come to believe that the Kashmir problem holds Pakistan together as nothing else can. It also justifies confrontation with India as a State policy.

The occupation of Jammu and Kashmir has proved to be a self-defeating exercise for Pakistan in many ways. The 'cause' of Kashmir has so possessed the popular imagination that the rulers of Pakistan have become its hostages. They dare not opt for a compromise solution to the long festering problem.

The bind in which the Pakistan leadership has placed itself can be averred from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statement on February 5 that Kashmir is the 'jugular vein' of Pakistan, and there would be no peace in South Asia without the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

The fifth delusion is that 'Muslim' Pakistan is bound to overpower 'Hindu' India because jihad is ordained to succeed. Pakistan policy makers do believe that since Pakistan is an extension of the Middle East, the Pakistan army is a natural successor to all the Muslim aggressors of the subcontinent from the eighth century onwards.

So, the rulers of Pakistan have appropriated the legacy of all Muslim invaders of the subcontinent whether they came here to loot, break idols, or to establish kingdoms. The names of some Pakistani missiles are indicative of this legacy: Ghazanvi, Abdali, Ghauri, Taimur, and Babur. This 'legacy' has not proved to be innocuous. It has led to bravado and spirit of aggression on the part of Pakistan.

The late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's 'Operation Gibraltar' -- pushing of hundreds of infiltrators into Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir in August 1965 -- followed the Pakistan army's 'grand slam' -- tank thrusts towards Akhnur -- achieved nothing for Pakistan. The tank thrusts in Punjab left behind a 'graveyard' of tanks in India.

Pakistan ended up losing 90,000 military prisoners to India in December 1971. The war of 1965 was passed off by Pakistan as a victory, but that pretence was not tenable in 1971.

Pakistan's efforts to dislodge the Indian posts in the Siachen sector have failed all along. Pakistan 'irregulars' -- army-men in militia apparel -- who intruded and occupied posts in the Kargil sector were dislodged by the Indian Army in 1999. But the notions of extraordinary military prowess seem to impel Pakistani generals into misadventures.

It was the possession of nuclear weapons that emboldened General Pervez Musharraf to undertake operations in Kargil. He had deluded his subordinates into believing that India would not use its full range of conventional forces.

Since Pakistani military performance has not been encouraging, Pakistan has arrived at a bizarre definition of 'victory.'

Pakistan does not see itself as ever having been defeated militarily...

For the Pakistan army, Pakistan will be defeated only if it accepts India's hegemonic position in the region and beyond...

Pakistan's rulers seem to have overlooked that Indians -- Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs alike -- under the British leadership did well in the Great War and World War II. When it comes to the quality of leadership, Indian officers have turned out to be more professional than their Pakistani counterparts.

One reason could be that unlike in Pakistan, Indian military officers have remained focused on the profession; they have not taken to misadventures into politics, or business ventures like the Fauji Foundation.

If religion were to be a factor in deciding the outcome of battles, would the Muslim rulers in India have lost all the battles to the British?

The sixth delusion is to believe that the subcontinental culture has been effectively banished from Pakistan. Pakistan's rulers would like to delude the common man that he has no vestiges of the enduring culture of the subcontinent that owes to geography, climate, and history. Therefore, the rulers have issued a fiat, a few years ago, that there would be no kite-flying on the Basant Panchmi day.

That carryover from the undivided Punjab had to be dumped by Islamic Pakistan. The rulers of Pakistan also decided that Pakistanis had to feel, look, and be different from Indians. Pakistan is 'not India' is a corollary to Pakistan being a part of the Middle East.

Incidentally, the preferred usage in Pakistan is South Asia, and not the 'subcontinent.' The intent is to avoid even the mention of India as a geographic term.

In so far as Pakistan is concerned, India ceased to exist after Partition except as an adversary and an enemy. 'Hind' is preferred only in 'Ghazwa-e-Hind,' that is the ultimate battle for vanquishing India.

When the common man anywhere in the world, including in the Middle East, cannot easily distinguish between a Pakistani and an Indian, it hurts the rulers and ideologues in Pakistan.

Pakistan's top generals meet

Image: Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif presides over a meeting of his top generals.


The seventh delusion is that the rulers of Pakistan can deceive anyone and everyone, all the time, and yet get away. They have perfected the art of playing both ends against the middle. They made the United States believe that they were using all the resources made available to them by the US against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Instead, they created caches for their use against India.

They told the US that they had completely undergone a change of heart after 9/11, and would help the US in getting rid of Al Qaeda and its operatives. It is another matter that they actively helped the principals on the wanted list to hide within Pakistan, and for the right consideration, made them over to the US according to predetermined plans.

Were they the invisible partners in Operation Geronimo, the operation to capture Osama bin Laden? Are they helping Ayman al-Zawahiri to hide?

Pakistan is a synthetic construct. It materialised because of the compulsions of the departing British who were in a hurry to 'split and quit.' But while doing so, the British imperialists did not lose sight of their perennial geo-strategic interests that remained rooted in the northwestern periphery of the subcontinent.

The British wanted this geo-strategic mountainous area to be under the control of a malleable nation that could be rewarded by the US who had donned the imperial mantle at the end of World War II.

Pakistan's top generals meet

Image: Indian soldiers on the watch in Jammu and Kashmir.


Pakistan has got away with much by 'renting' its geostrategic region to serve the imperial purpose. But now this region is getting populated by international radicals.

Pakistan shows signs of great turmoil. Will ISIS make inroads into Pakistan? Will the nuclear assets of Pakistan turn into a liability for the rest of the world?

Had the consequences of Pakistani delusions been limited only to the etching of international borders on the subcontinent, no great harm would have come. There could well have been a prosperous federation of the subcontinent at peace with itself. But that was not to be.

Pakistani delusions have fragmented the subcontinent, and for itself, it has earned the epithet of being the principal exporter of terrorism.

Delusions are invariably founded on untested assumptions. Untested assumptions, when they are unquestioningly accepted, turn into 'axioms' that yield disastrous 'theories' -- for example, the conspiracy theories regarding the attack on the school at Peshawar.

For peace and stability in the subcontinent, Pakistani rulers would have to clear the miasma of delusions that they have created, and give up two obsessions of theirs: 1. The Kashmir problem represents the unfinished agenda of Partition, and 2. It has to be a pre-condition for peace with India.

Islamabad, what with its Lok Virsa Museum of Culture, well laid out avenues named after the Quaid e Azam, Iqbal, and the Kashmir highway, specially imported Saudi date palms et al is a metaphor for the artificial construct of Pakistan.

The museum was created in record time during then president Musharraf's tenure. A visitor to Pakistan would come to believe that Pakistan is centuries old, and so is Pakistani culture.

Pakistan is surrounded with many friends including China, and has an excellent relationship with the Islamic world. In matters of cultural heritage, India just does not exist, except vicariously in the music section.

Claiming a special relationship with Saudi Arabia seems to be integral to the mindset of the rulers of Pakistan. Islamabad seems to be populated by those who say their lines and interact with each other according to the tenets of Islam, and the script written by its rulers.

They seem to have forgotten the geographical and cultural continuities of the subcontinent. For so long as the rulers of Pakistan remain committed to confronting and vanquishing India, they will sustain delusions, breed terrorists, and export them.

Peace in the subcontinent will not be on short order even if the rulers of Pakistan were to undergo a change of heart, and give up hostility. There would be a long wait -- a generation or so -- before mutual trust is established.

There is no method of undoing Partition, but a lot can be done to recreate the natural economic zone, something from which both countries would benefit.

The rulers of Pakistan seem to overlook that more Muslims live in India than in Pakistan. Surely, Pakistan was not created for the benefit of the minority of Muslims in the subcontinent.

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Lieutenant General Ashok Joshi (retd)