Pakistan’s brazen violation of the line of control (LOC)in Kashmir yesterday, and the even more provocative act of mutilating one of the bodies of the two Indian soldiers killed, is intended to send several messages. Some of it may be related to Pakistan’s internal political dynamics – including the coming elections and the likely change in the Chief of Army Staff – but the core message is to peaceniks in India, including the Prime Minister.
The message is simple: no matter what peace overtures we make, the Pakistani state will be in a permanent state of war till it achieves all its political and military objectives (Kashmir, Khalistan, etc). And it will use fair means and foul – terror, fake currency, et al. Peacetimes will be used to prepare for war – covert or overt.
The problem, though, is with us. When somebody is shouting from the rooftops “I hate you”, how is it that we don’t get the message, and still talk peace? We keep talking about confidence-building measures, when Pakistan has done absolutely nothing to build any kind of confidence in us about its peaceful intentions.
Jaw-jaw may be better than war-war, but jaw-jaw without strategic purpose makes no sense when it is all one-sided. Our jaw-jaw is not an answer to Pakistan’s not-so-covert war-war attitude. After 1971, Pakistan has realised that it can’t win a conventional war with us, but it is preparing for war by every other means possible.
Signals about a shift in Pakistan’s attitudes were available even during Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s visit to Delhi last month, where he made Pakistan’s hostile intentions clear by trying to equate the 26/11 terror attacks with the Babri demolition, and suggested that Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia – whose body was handed over in a mutilated form by the Pakistanis - may have been the victim of inclement weather.
That we have now been handed another mutilated body by Pakistan less than a month after Malik’s insensitive comments shows that we are the fools. We seem to need repeated clouting on the head with a blunt instrument to wake up to the reality that is Pakistan – an enemy state.
Here are six things we should never forget about Pakistan.
One, Pakistan’s reason for existence is anti-India. Unlike India, whose reason for existence is the idea of India (secularism, peace, prosperity, etc), the Pakistani state lives only for the sake of enmity to India. This means the idea of Pakistan is bankrupt beyond enmity to India. Till the Pakistanis – state and people – choose to define themselves positively, there is going to be no peace.
Two, if the idea of Pakistan is non-existent, and the idea of India is what enrages Pakistan, it means two things: the Pakistani state will always prepare for war, and the peaceful pauses are merely meant to give them breathing spaces to recuperate and build their war apparatus against us.
Three, there is no point differentiating between the Pakistani state and its people, which our romantic Aman ki Aasha peace-mongers keep drilling into us. The point of this distinction – between state and people - is meaningless since it is the Indian state that is trying to talk peace with the Pakistani state. It is not negotiating with the Pakistani people directly.
Four, if the idea of India has to win over the non-idea of Pakistan, we have to let them stew in their own juice till the illogic and foolishness of creating a state based on Islam and enmity to India is apparent to all thinking Pakistanis and the ordinary people. They have to abandon the idea themselves. As things stand, the people could easily fall prey to the violent ideologies of the Pakistani Taliban – and we have to be prepared for the fallout. We should always be ready for Pakistani perfidy – and this means not accepting any peace overtures at face value even if we decide to talk to them for the sake of world opinion.
Five, India must thus always keep the powder dry because Pakistan has always been preparing for a 1,000-year war. They know that our people have the tendency to forgive and forget Pakistani perfidies a little too quickly. This is why we have never learnt the lessons of 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 and 2008 (26/11). Pakistan is counting on the Indian (largely Hindu?) tendency to forget the past and move on even though they themselves will never forget. This is the greatest danger India faces today – our unwillingness to confront the truth about what our enemy is like.
Six, the Pakistanis understand only strength. We have to build our strengths against Pakistan – economically, militarily, and in terms of our terror-fighting capabilities. Till 1971, they underestimated our military strength. Now they underestimate our secularism and economic and social strengths. But underpinning it all will be our ability to make Pakistan to pay a price for misadventures. This is what we need to focus on – making them pay.
Two markers will let us know if Pakistan has changed. And these are: the Pakistanis change their constitution to take Islam out of it. If Pakistan becomes truly secular, there is hope for peace. Second, the role of the army is clearly made subordinate to that of the civilian authority in Pakistan. If this happens, we can again begin taking the risk of talking peace with them.
There are other markers – sending the 26/11 plotters to the gallows, etc – but giving MFN (most favoured nation) status to India or making visas easier are not true indicators of a desire for real peace. These may be deliberate ploys to lull us to believe that they are thinking peace when they are not. In fact, the Pakistani army will use freer visas to push more terrorism here.
This is what we should expect from the Pakistani state.