Will China review its “love-affair” with Pakistan?

A single seamless socio-economic and cultural entity before 1947, once divided into Pakistan and India, the two divisions have now completely drifted apart. Despite being neighbours, India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world. Because of their unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is in a coma. Sadly, the most populous region in the world has also remained home to the largest number of poor people in the world.

Some 10-12 years back, we had the opportunity to discuss with the then Dean of LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Prof Zahoor Hassan, with whom we had signed an inter-institutional cooperation agreement, about mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Pakistan and India. He thought that an intense Indo-phobia among many of the influential people in Pakistan stood in the way, who called India, the enemy nation. He also referred to similar picture of Pakistan, the enemy nation, in the minds of influential people in India. Clearly, feeling of “national pride” is stronger than any feeling of brotherhood on both the sides.

After Pakistan’s unprovoked attacks on India, carried out by the Dirty-tricks-wings – JeM and LeT – of the Army and Inter-Services Intelligence Agency of Pakistan, were ignored by the international community, India had no choice but to carry out its own strikes against the JeM training bases and infrastructure that were threatening her. Many of the world leaders had disregarded Pakistan’s evident intentions to bleed and harm India for a long time.

Unfortunately, some news outlets and Indian politicians have been attempting to create a narrative to lead people to believe that the Pakistani threats are over exaggerated by India for internal political purposes. Pakistan establishment, however, continues to demonstrate their intentions not only with their denials, tacit support to militants as well as refusal to act upon India’s complaints. Since last 30 years or so, Pakistan has been shelling and firing across the LOC into India, and have also used proxies, such as LeT and JeM, to attack India viciously. Pakistan appears to have India solidly in its cross-hairs.

Apparently in a rush to provide cover for Pakistan, some Western countries have also, for years, been attempting to tell the public that there is a difference between “moderate” Pakistani politicians and the “army” hardliners and that the politicians are helpless before the army. Unfortunately, that distinction is make-believe and most of such countries are realising their folly in such an assumption.

China, of course, has become a new factor influencing India’s negative attitude towards Pakistan, both among policy-makers and the common people. China should value the efforts made by India for stability in the region. This is of interest not only for India but for China, too. China can become a part of the solution, rather than being perceived as a part of the India-Pakistan problem. A new ray of hope came on Monday 01 April when China claimed that “positive progress” has been made on designating Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ by the UN. China’s relations with India are improving yet have not become rational enough that, instead of siding with Pakistan, China would open the door to strategic cooperation with India.

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Pakistan Is Trying To Exhaust the Indian Political Will To Fight On To Total Victory

Every war has two visible and direct costs – lives lost and money spent. There are several indirect and collateral costs some of which are to be incurred and amortised over long periods of time.

Lives could be of civilians or soldiers. Lives could be lost at the boarders or inside the country. Money spent could be in terms of running costs of operations, depletion and loss of military and civilian assets and infrastructures, replacement costs, disbursal of immediate and long-term compensation and so on. Indirect and collateral costs are immediate or deferred over short, medium or long-term and may include loss of opportunity, productivity, rehabilitation, renewal and reinforcements, diplomatic costs paid by the country, political costs paid by ruling parties, social and psychological costs paid by citizens and so on.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations. Consequently, their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. According to a 2017 BBC World Service poll, only 5% of Indians view Pakistan’s influence positively, with 85% expressing a negative view, while 11% of Pakistanis view India’s influence positively, with 62% expressing a negative view.

Pakistan is at War with India since 1947 whose scale and scope has been swinging like a pendulum between extremes of hostility and bonhomie. Pakistan recognises the odds against them. They don’t expect to defeat India in a full scale war. The Pak doctrine of a thousand cuts must be seen in the light of the available alternatives before it since its defeat and dismemberment in 1971 which was the biggest national economic suffocation and humiliation suffered by Pakistan at the hands of India.

The doctrine of a thousand cuts emerged out of Pakistan’s drive for national glory and economic security via the conquest of the support of the Islamic world, China, the US and the belief of Pakistan’s rulers that they could check India’s bid for a regional dominance via foreign aid and military deployments. As Pakistanis sought to free themselves from their diplomatic dependence on the United States, the Americans sought to use that dependence to contain imperial ambitions of Russia, China and the Islamic countries in the region.

Given the size of economy, India is able to afford the monetary costs of the ongoing war with Pakistan but it is unaffordable for Pakistan. The cost of lives is where the actual Paki-game is being played. Loss of lives away from the civilian areas does not result into as much of collateral costs of political opinion, public opinion, social and psychological costs as against the costs which the loss of lives amidst civilian milieu result into. Thus, simply put, Pak tries to generate a spectre of loss of lives in non-military zones which cannot be created by Pakistani men in uniform. Pakistan has therefore created specialised regular combat troops to execute such battles and similes who do not wear a regular uniform. Some of these operations are at best projected to have been out-sourced or franchised. India mistakenly calls them terrorists.

A dispassionate look at the events of the last few days would establish the point. India attacked the so called terrorist-training establishment but Pak Military retaliated. If terrorists were free agents, there was no reason for Pak to retaliate using regular military assets.

The retaliatory action of Pakistan is actually an act of unprovoked aggression on Indian military establishment and a war on India. This was immediate. In such immediate reaction, the assumption was that time was working against Pakistan – i.e., the longer Pakistan waited to retaliate against India, the dimmer its prospects for success. This assumption was grimly realistic.

Pakistan had little chance of preventing further strikes from India and India’s great military superiority would eventually bury Pakistan. The global diplomatic opinion developing in favour of India drove the Pakistanis into the logic of preventive attack: given inevitability of more strikes by India and Pakistan’s feeble military power relative to India’s, Pakistani leaders reasoned, better attack now than later. If Pakistan had any chance of fighting a military battle with India to some kind of successful conclusion, it had to bring military operations to a head as soon as possible. Short-war Pakistan was going to pick a fight with a long-war India.

India has not yet reacted to the Pakistani military aggression and invasion. Wing Commander Abhinandan has been returned as a POW.  By swiftly seizing the opportunity to retaliate to Indian air-strikes, Pakistan has forced India into a murderous, location-by-location slog that could eventually exhaust India’s political will to fight on to total victory.

Pakistan has tried to raise the blood and treasure costs of the war beyond India’s willingness to pay. The Pak theory of victory amounts to the hope that India would judge the cost of defeating Pakistan to be too heavy, too disproportionate to the worth of the interests at stake.

How India deals with these developments will shape the future of Indo-Pak war for a long time. India needs to craft her strategy very quickly, circumspectly and brilliantly.

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This follows an earlier posting on 15 February 2019, titled “Pakistan is at war with India: Pulwama, Uri or Mumbai are tactical offensives” which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ProfMukulGupta/posts/704635659930365.

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Taming the Politicisation of Military Action

Twenty-one of the major political parties who are not a part of the ruling NDA released a joint statement on 27 February 2019 saying they were “anguished over blatant politicisation of sacrifices of armed forces by ruling party” and said that they regretted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not hold an all-party meet in the wake of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan “as per the established practice in our democracy”. No example or reference was provided as to which sacrifices of the armed forces was being politicised and a general statement was made.

Following their joint protest in the national capital, a meeting of the opposition parties was held at the residence of Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday 13 February 2019 to have a pre-poll pact and a common minimum programme (CMP). After this meeting, they had declared that Congress President Rahul Gandhi was entrusted the task of preparing the CMP. They had also announced, “We will again sit on February 26, 27 or 28 when we have time.” SP-BSP and Left parties were conspicuous by their absence.

Clearly therefore, the meeting of these opposition parties on 27 February was a meeting for finalization of CMP as was planned a fortnight earlier and not any impromptu or urgent meeting convened to discuss the Indo-Pak developments. While at the end of the meeting, no CMP was released, instead a joint statement was released to the press.

Home Minister had held a meeting of political parties on 16 February 2019 when a resolution was passed. “We strongly condemn terrorism in all forms and the support being given to it across the border,” it read. “The entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight these challenges. Today we stand united in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism and in defending the unity and integrity of India,” the resolution further read. The leaders had appreciated the Home Minister’s promptness in convening the meeting.  Naresh Gujral of the SAD had said: “All parties unequivocally extend cooperation with the government and express solidarity with the security forces.”

The government had again held a meeting of the political parties on 26 February 2019 after the air-strike on terrorist installation in the early hours of the same day and shared the details with them through two members of the CCS. All parties in one voice praised the security forces and supported the Govt’s anti-terror operations.

In less than 24 hours after this meeting of the political parties with the Government, the opposition releases a statement to the press for public dissemination where they are disparaging and accusing the party in Government of politicising.

If they were really anguished, they could have sought another meeting with the government rather than going to public. Choosing to go to public rather than talking to government in effect means that it is they, the 21 opposition parties, who are politicising the matter.

Not only are these 21-opposition parties politicising the on-going Indo-Pak imbroglio, they struggling for survival after being reduced to irrelevance in national politics are trying to sew together a garment using torn and dissimilar patches of shapes, sizes, colours and material as a pre-poll coalition on a headless mannequin of no useful size or gender.

Blinded with such opportunistic lust for power, they are not even mindful of projecting a divided public opinion to the rest of the world on a vital matter of solidarity and national security. The only message going out to the public is that for them it is the seat on the throne first, nation comes later.

The government can pre-empt such horrid attempts by spineless politicians aimed at polluting the public opinion through a daily briefing session for the political parties wherein they could be informed about the preferred voice of the nation. The same may then be shared with the people of the country through a daily follow-up press briefing.

Since the government is of the people, its voice is the voice of the people. If the opposition is standing with the government, the preference of the government will become the prescription for the opposition. After all in a democracy, it is the preference of the people which matters.

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The onus of #SayNoToWar is with Pakistan – Don’t let it get shifted on to India

Just for the kind reference of the apostles of peace, who are trending #SayNoToWar, in a written reply in Lok Sabha, then Defence Minister A K Antony had said, “530 soldiers were martyred during Kargil War under operation Vijay. 3,987 soldiers have been killed afterwards during the years 2000-2012.” According to Global Terrorism Database at University of Maryland, 6488 terrorist attacks were recorded in India during 2002–2015. Little more than 7600 people killed and over 14400 wounded.

Pakistan’s unprovoked act of aggression against India on 27 February 2019 including violation of Indian air space by Pak air force and targeting of Indian military posts seems to be irrational to the point of suicidal. Through the capture, mal-treatment and vulgar display of bleeding Indian Air Force pilot, Pakistan has already violated the Geneva Convention and if Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was not handed over back to India within 7-days, it would have amounted to Pakistan having officially declared war against India.

How can Pakistan hope to survive a battle with, much less defeat, an enemy possessing an unprecedented diplomatic backing and an economic base 10 times that of Pakistan? An Indo-Pak military battle is one that Pakistan is always going to lose, so how does one explain Pakistan’s decision? Do the Pakistani leadership recognize the odds against them? Do they have a concept of victory, or at least of avoiding defeat? Or does the Pakistan’s leadership prefer a lost battle to an unacceptable peace?

It would appear that Pakistan’s decision for war is dictated by Pakistan’s conceit and the threatened economic destruction of Pakistan by India. While Pakistan’s aggression in India this morning may be the trigger for the ensuing military conflict, the road to this battle is built on Pakistan’s doctrine of inflicting a thousand cuts on India through terror, drugs, counterfeit-currency, insurgency, supporting the secessionists in Kashmir, causing Hindu-Muslim trouble and many other low grade war tactics.

Is India underestimating the role of fear and smugness in Pakistan’s calculations and overestimating the effectiveness of economic and diplomatic sanctions as a deterrent to war, whereas Pakistan underestimating the cohesion and resolve of an aroused Indian society and overestimating their own strategic geography as a means of defeating India’s diplomatic superiority.

A military battle with Pakistan is, of course, a battle India is always going to win, but Pakistani people are not the enemy the Indian government wants to fight. India has to settle her accounts with the rouge ISI, the military and the stooge political leadership of Pakistan who are hand in glove in persistent enmity and hostile activities directed against India and survive by fuelling animosity between the people across the boundaries.

The real enemies of Pakistan are its military and the ISI who thrive on corruption and legitimise their subversion of democracy by projecting the bogey of India as an enemy. These enemies have already failed Pakistan as a nation and multiple generations of Pakistani people.

War is not the solution to any problem. But war may be the only arrow left in the quiver of peace loving India in its long haul efforts to find a solution to the problem called Pakistan.

If Bhagwaan Shree Krishna could be requested for His guidance at this hour, I suppose, He would support India waging the Dharma-Yudh (not to be mistaken as war in the name of religion like jihad).

This is not war-mongering but exploiting war as the very last recourse in pursuit of right, just and sustainable peace.

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Election-2019 in the VUCA world!

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) is the world we now live in. Corroboration is to be seen in the events of the last seven weeks which are also the first half quarter of 2019. These 50 days certainly feel like more than seven weeks.

Between the U.S. government shutdown; government of India approving merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda; a viral and controversial new Gillette ad inviting men to work on toxic masculinity; Government rejecting a demand for a JPC to probe the alleged scam in Rafale jet deal; the EU passing a ban on a range of single-use plastics; the mind-blowing and awe-provoking glimpses of the KUMBH at Prayag; the unbelievable and provocative glimpses of the future at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the revolving-stage at the rock-star like show of Modi in Surat, a major new study finding that that oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated, the job-creation or the lack of it data from NDA rule; the hope-inspiring-hope-depressing thoughts from Davos; Supreme Court getting caught in the politics of CBI chief; never-ending Brexit drama; Mayawati facing ED heat; the Ocean Cleanup system breaking down and being towed back to port for repair; more fugitives being extradited to India from the middle-east; weather extremes–US Midwest in deep freeze, prolonged cold spell in north India and a burning Australia; the ‘jumalebaaj or a congenital liar’ label being stuck on both of the Prime Ministerial aspirants of 2019; the 10-year challenge on social media; a series of reports on breakthrough new bio-materials; Indian cricket victories down-under; Israel claiming that a cure for cancer is only a year away; Sabarimala temple issue igniting Kerala; and many other stories big and small — a lot has happened in just a the first five weeks after we rang in the new year.

And then came the Valentine’s Day attack on the CRPF convoy near Awantipura in Pulwama district of J&K. This shook the entire nation and once again brought the horrors of terror in focus. The after-shocks of the attack and rebounds are going to come soon.

In the midst of all the good, bad and ugly types of news, 2019 is also the year India is electing the 17th Lok Sabha to be voted in by nearly 100 million first time voters – the courageously optimistic youth which defines the Good Life of tomorrow in an entirely different way from the 70-80 million people who were voters for the last time during the previous general election of 2014 and who are not there to vote in 2019.

India deserves and therefore we, the people, need to pull together and elect the best leadership paving the road ahead towards superior governance, efficient public services and shoring up of national, racial & cultural pride to actually deliver the Good Life in question.

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70-years of Alienation of Kashmiri people is a national disgrace

Let us not trivialise the Kashmir problem, its history and current situation. The solution for the Kashmir problem cannot come from abroad: not from the United Nations Security Council, or from anyone else. It must be the result of dialogue. It is the job of the Government of India to manage the integration of people of Kashmir with people of India and it is essential to discuss with people of Kashmir. Given that Kashmir is integral part of India; people of Kashmir are integral part of the collective called the people of India. There is nothing for us to discuss with Pakistan or someone else with regard to our people and our territory.

 

In the first half of the 1st millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later in the ninth century, Shaivism arose. Islamisation in Kashmir took place during 13th to 15th century and led to the eventual decline of the Kashmir Shaivism. However, the achievements of the previous civilizations were not lost.

In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Shah Mir Dynasty. For the next five centuries, Muslim monarchs ruled Kashmir, including the Mughal Empire, who ruled from 1586 until 1751, and the Afghan Durrani Empire, which ruled from 1747 until 1819. That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the suzerainty (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947. Maharaja Hari Singh, great-grandson of Gulab Singh, who had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, was the reigning monarch in 1947 at the conclusion of British rule of the subcontinent and the subsequent partition of the British Indian Empire into the newly independent Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.

Following huge riots in Jammu, in October 1947, Pashtuns from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province recruited by the Poonch rebels, invaded Kashmir. The tribesmen engaged in looting and killing along the way into a guerrilla campaign in a mission to frighten Hari Singh into submission. Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to the Government of India for assistance, and the Governor-General Lord Mountbatten agreed on the condition that the ruler accedes to India. The Instrument of Accession is a legal document executed by Hari Singh, ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, on 26 October 1947. By executing this document under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh agreed to accede to the Dominion of India. Once the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir and drove the Pakistani-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of the state.

Due to a botch up in handling of the foreign affairs and international relations by the then self anointed Indian political leadership comprising of Nehru and Mountbatten, and the aspiring new political leader of Kashmir – Sheikh Abdullah, former princely state which had diligently and legally acceded to India, became a disputed territory, and is now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China. Historically, Kashmir referred to the Kashmir Valley. Today, it denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir (which consists of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh), the Pakistan-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan, and the Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.

The problem about lack of integration of Kashmiri people with rest of Indian people is not a “race struggle” or a “class struggle” as is made out to be by our wise people who were educated based on the Marxist political economy. We finally understood how wrong the whole ideology is.

Historically, Kashmiri people were always Indian people. Gaps or fissures among people were a consequence of the Mughal-Muslim rule which had led to creation of Indian-Muslims and then driven a wedge between the Indian-Hindus and the Indian Muslims. This fault line between the two Indian groups were not limited to just the Kashmir valley but had spread all over India. This fault line culminated into dismembering of India into Pakistan and the persisting Hindu-Muslim friction in modern India.

Mass integration of Kashmiri people with people of India could not have been a spontaneous process. It had to be something which was to be organized by the political elites of India and Kashmir. Mass integration creates cultural, social and political conflicts, shocks and tensions. It challenges the structure of society that has been gradually developed over centuries, maybe even millennia.

Individual integration by Raja Hari Singh was a matter of considerable individual courage and the product of an individual or family will. Mass integration is a totally different phenomenon. The gregarious nature of mass integration makes decision making much less important than it is during individual integration. Mass integration remains a dicey act, but mass integration increases the courage in an individual that is necessary for any integration. Mass integration also has the effect of changing the objectives of people who are integrating. The goal is no longer to be assimilated into the new world, but to strengthen one’s old way of life.

What is strange with mass integration is the willingness of people who are integrating to benefit only from the advantages available to them. Also at work, often, is the will to extend their home world to their host country and to transform it gradually according to their own tradition. Such a transformation is not the primary intention of every one among those who are integrating; but this intention encourages political or religious activists.

The mass integration that we should have witnessed did not involve the individual, but the crowd, the collective, the group. Unfortunately, some individuals monopolised the process – by posturing for conditional integration and grant of special rights to themselves. This caused polarisation and hardening of the other extreme pole where some other individuals opposed the integration and advocated secession and separation. Sympathy towards the individual posturing makes sense only with individual migration. An individual Kashmiri is not the culprit; he is a victim, and not just a victim of the tragic situation in his own state, but the victim of the wrong assumptions of the multi-culturalist Indian elites who are supposedly overseeing the mass integration of Kashmiri people into India but do not even hesitate for a moment to actually mass alienate those people. Crowd, mass behaviour does not deserve the same consideration. It is the Indian and Kashmiri political elites, who have been the biggest stumbling block in way of people integration.

Both the Kashmiri-Indians and Non-Kashmiri-Indians should stand in the shoes of the other side, be able to find a solution. No masterminding from abroad.

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