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Saturday, February 24, 2024

We Need to Start a Cold War with Pakistan

One of the most mystifying aspects of the cyclical debate which unfolds in Bharat after every terrorist strike emanating from Pakistan, is the traditional war and peace duality presented as the only two options on the table.

Our establishment intellectuals condescendingly inform us that talks with Pakistan to ‘resolve’ Kashmir, or military action with danger of escalation into nuclear conflict, are the only two options available to Bharat. Everything else is dismissed as cuckoo land talk – Bharat does not have the international heft to effectively isolate Pakistan, the economic muscle to impose sanctions, or the capability to carry out surgical strikes on Pakistani targets (this 3rd option might anyway lead to nuclear war if Pakistan feels threatened enough), we are told.

With military action thus being effectively ruled out, and public attention moving on to the next event  in the pre-decided news cycle narrative of  ‘cow vigilante terror’ or ‘attack on minorities/students/Dalits’, the status quo is maintained with respect to Pakistan. This status quo has been given a fancy new name : ‘strategic restraint’

After some time, we hear about the Government sending a dossier to Pakistan to prove Pakistani involvement in the latest terror attack. International powers urge both nations to ‘resolve all differences through talks’. Op-eds start appearing in papers on how Bharat can use its ‘soft power’ to change Pakistan’s behavior i.e through deeper trade and cultural links. Gradually, the pain of the terror attack is forgotten…all is well, until the next attack happens.

But are war or ‘strategic restraint’ the only two options that Bharat can exercise against Pakistan?

Ideological Roots of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Pakistan was established based on the 2-nation theory which postulated that religion is the determining factor in defining the nationality of Muslims living in the Bharatiya sub-continent. As per this theory, Muslims could never prosper or protect their identity in a united Bharat with a Hindu majority – hence right from its inception, Pakistan’s raison detre as a nation lies in its opposition to Bharat.

From the 1970s onwards, the Pakistani State (both civilian Government and Army) have undertaken a program of overt Islamization and today Government issued school textbooks indoctrinate Pakistani children by propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, Bharat’s ingrained enmity with Pakistan, Hindus as backward, superstitious and treacherous kafirs (non-believers).

Pakistan’s constitution bars Hindus from several high offices, and until this week Hindus were not even allowed to officially register their marriages. Abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Hindu and other minority religion girls is a common occurrence in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army is the most respected institution in Pakistan and has ruled that nation for 33 years since its formation in 1947. Pakistan’s foreign policy in particular is firmly controlled by its Army. A recent book ‘Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War‘  based on an extensive survey of essays, books, and manuscripts written by Pakistani military personnel tells us the following salient points

  • “the military attracts public support by describing the foe – inevitably Hindu India or its agents – as nonbelievers (kufar, pl. of kafir) and casting the conflict nearly exclusively in religious terms. Thus, conflict with India is portrayed as jihad against nonbelievers who threaten Pakistan” (p90)
  • “the authors first establish that Hindus are dishonourable, meek, pusillanimous, treacherous, and inequitable and then argue that these traits define the country … Muslims are honourable, brave, dedicated to fighting for the umma, steadfastly committed to justice, and fight only when attacked” (p154)

Bharat’s establishment intellectuals make the case that engaging with Pakistan’s civilian Government is essential if Bharat wants to weaken the Pakistani Army-jihadi complex. But what they sweep under the carpet is :

1.) Pakistan’s Army has the final word on relations with Bharat.

2.) Pakistani Army is highly respected by public and viewed as a gallant defender against Bharat’s evil designs.

3.) Pakistan’s civilian Government is no peacenik; the most famous political dynasty in Pakistan – the Bhuttos – has pledged to fight a 1000 year war with Bharat. The Pakistani Government is complicit in the ‘bleed Bharat with a 1000 cuts’ strategy devised by the Generals.

4.) The Pakistani masses have no love lost for Bharat or Hindus.

It is clear that Pakistan considers Bharat an enemy in perpetuity – they believe they are fighting a war of ideologies that would last for generations. So then why are we deluding ourselves?

Cold War with Pakistan

Our establishment intellectuals are right on one thing – outright war with Pakistan is not in Bharat’s interest, given that we have quite some distance to go before we acquire the economic and military muscle to ensure a decisive outcome in case of military conflict.

But we can and must start a cold war with Pakistan. A hot war involves armed conflict between nations, and a cold war refers to economic, political and military rivalry between nations without actual combat.

After World War II, the Soviet Union and its allies were pitted against the United States and other democratic countries of the world. The hostility and rivalry between the two parties came to be known as the Cold War. Both sides resorted to economic sanctions, threats, propaganda and other measures without using weapons against one another.

We need to fight a similar war against Pakistan. Our Cold War with Pakistan is a war of ideologies that will last generations…it will not prevent terror attacks on Bharat in future, but it will give a sense of clarity and purpose that we are fighting an implacable foe that wants nothing less than the destruction of Bharat.

It will end the perennial confusion in our minds that the establishment intellectuals have created, and will ensure that pro-Pakistan elements within Bharat are sidelined rather than set the mainstream narrative as they currently do.

The political benefits for any Government that takes this bold, decisive and easy step are also obvious.

Hence, it is in the interest of every Bharatiya to support the private member bill moved by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. The bill in its entirety can be read here. Every citizen must petition his elected MP to support this bill, irrespective of party affiliations.

This is the simplest and most effective way of paying homage to the martyrs of Uri, and ensuring that their sacrifice does not go in vain.

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