Pakistan’s neurotic obsession to change the status quo in Kashmir, seek parity with India by resorting to cross-border terrorism to check its ascendency to a regional power and chase strategic depth in Afghanistan has pushed Pakistan in to a state of chronic instability. Far from hurting India its policies have put the very future of the state at stake. The jihadi assets it reared over the years as tools of for pursuing its strategic policies have turned against it and have been indulging in systematic assaults on the symbols of the army and the state. There are genuine fears that nuclear weapons may fall in to jihadi hands either through subterfuge or directly in connivance with a section of the Pakistan army. Pakistan faces isolation internationally and has come to be a identified as a dangerous place posing serious threats to regional and international peace.
For Pakistan army a military defeat is not a defeat but giving up and accepting the status quo and India’s supremacy is defeat. It sees victory in the ability to continue fighting India.
Why does Pakistan behave abnormally or to put it differently what is the basis of its flawed strategic culture? C.Christine Fair’s brilliantly researched book-‘Fighting to the end-The Pakistan Army’s way of war'(2014), breaks new ground in scholarship on Pakistan. It provides revealing insights in to Why Pakistan is hell bent upon pursuing such strategic policies which hurt it the most. She makes three formulations.
One, Pakistan army’s view on defeat is different from what normally it should be. For Pakistan army a military defeat is not a defeat but giving up and accepting the status quo and India’s supremacy is defeat. It sees victory in the ability to continue fighting India. A former Pakistani general is on record having said that army would always prefer to take a calculated risk and be defeated than to do nothing at all.
Secondly, Pakistan’s apprehensions about India are not security driven but mainly ideological and military in scope. This implies that any appeasement through territorial concessions will only serve to encourage it to pursue anti-Indian objectives with even greater hostility. Lastly, Fair draws Pakistan’s analogy with what Charles Glaser describes a ‘Greedy state’.
Glaser defines a ‘Greedy State’ as one that is “fundamentally dissatisfied with status quo, desiring additional territory even when not required. “He elaborates,” Purely greedy states pursue revisionist policies to increase their prestige, spread their ideology or to propagate their religion. “Glaser cautions that the appeasement strategies aimed to placate the greedy state are counterproductive and dangerous because non-security goals result in a fundamental conflict of interests that makes competition the only strategy with which a greedy state can achieve its goals.
Pakistan’s strategic community believes that emphasis on two nation theory would keep Pakistan a viable state by forging a coherent national unity threatened by internal strife and multifarious cleavages.
Pakistan suffers from a syndrome of ‘Chronic insecurity with grand ideological ambitions’. The roots of its xenophobia against India lie on one hand with its self -perceived feelings of perpetual insecurity and on the other flawed images of India and wrong understanding of history. It links up ‘incomplete state apparatus’, ‘disproportionate refugee crisis’, ‘lack of resources’, etc. at the time of partition to ‘grudging Hindu nation’ that was unreconciled to the existence of an independent strong Muslim neighbour.
Second factor for its insecurity is its insistence on two nation theory as the ideological basis of Pakistan state and its strategic culture. India was opposed to partition but once it became a reality it accepted partition and in nation-building process left partition behind, concentrating on the present and the future. For Pakistan army and its security experts partition defines its present and the future. Pakistan was fought on the basis of two nation theory. Pakistan’s strategic community believes that emphasis on two nation theory would keep Pakistan a viable state by forging a coherent national unity threatened by internal strife and multifarious cleavages. It wrongly assumes India- a secular country opposed to two-nation theory is also opposed to existence of Pakistan and wants to undo the partition. At the same time insistence on two-nation theory as the ideological basis of the state has held back the process of secularisation, led to the rise of politicised sectarian violence and nurturing of jihadi groups as tools of state policy. All this has strained the stability of the state.
The third element in Pakistan’s insecurity is fears of obliteration of Durand line, which it believes could lead to ‘Pakhtunistan’ or ‘Greater Afghanistan’. It has responded by chasing the concept of strategic depth by using Islamist proxies and aligning with Americans and Saudis to create a pliant regime and marginalise India there. These moves have also impacted on the stability of Pakistan state.
Pakistan army as country’s best organised and powerful institution considers itself as not only the defence guardian of the country but also the protector of ideological frontiers of the state. It defines adversarial relations with India in civilisation terms .i.e. on the basis of two nation theory .Soon after Zia ul Haque’s ascendency to power Pakistan made radical Islam as the new ideological frontier of the state and began patronising different jihadi outfits to pursue its strategic goals. Pakistan army has false optimism about its chauvinist nationalism and believes in supremacy of Muslim army over Hindus.
Pakistan army will not allow any accommodation with India because its survival as an institution depends on maintaining active conflict with India.
To have a broader acceptance of its policies it has ensured that its view of strategic culture is shared by civilian institutions, the political class and even common citizens and has succeeded in it. For successful pursuit of its strategic objectives Pakistan army has maintained control of country’s Foreign and Defence policies, which provide it unbridled access to financial and political resources. It has pursued nuclear weaponisation, using all unethical processes and blackmail. The nuclear umbrella has allowed it to use jihadi groups with increased impunity. It believes that New Delhi would find conventional retaliation too risky. An important dimension of its strategic culture is not to allow Indo-Pak peace process. Last year it indulged in beheadings to send a message across that it was opposed to liberalised visa regime. Pakistan army will not allow any accommodation with India because its survival as an institution depends on maintaining active conflict with India. However, it may allow calibrated trade, which will help it generate additional revenue to expand conventional and nuclear investment and also deflect fears of international action.
Pakistan army has relied on Americans and Chinese to pursue its unrealistic ambitions vis-à-vis India. American policy is flawed on two counts. One, it wrongly assumes that Pakistan is a state motivated largely by security concerns that can be satisfied with some territorial concessions and appropriate allurement and thus capable of reversing its revisionist policies. Secondly, it lives in a fantasy world thinking that aid translates in to leverage and personal relations with foreign department officials can change things. Americans have used sanctions against Pakistan only half-heartedly. Successive US administrations have delivered tough messages only during their last few months of tenure. Instead of pursuing a long-term policy of democratising Pakistan, which is at peace with itself and its neighbours, Americans have been placating Pakistan to pursue its short-term interests in Afghanistan.
…Pakistan will continue to pursue policies that will undermine America and weaken India by any means possible…
Pakistan has used distorted narratives of the past to justify its relevance to US interests to wrest military, economic and other assistance from the Americans. It threatens to supplicate China or more unscrupulous partners should Americans dither. This process has been described by Schaffer and Schaffer (2011) as the perfected art of the guilt trip. In fact, lack of vision by Americans, when it applied proliferation related sanctions against India, saw Pakistanis sending jihadi groups in even bigger numbers.
C.Christine Fair calls for sober realism to assess destabilising impact of Pakistan’s adventurist policies on regional and global security. She feels Pakistan will continue to pursue policies that will undermine America and weaken India by any means possible, even though such methods may be risky. Since there is nothing to suggest that there may be any reversal in Pakistan’s revisionist policies or it may implode in the near future Fair cautions that the international community should prepare for a Pakistan that is even more dangerous and calls for appropriate multilateral and bilateral approaches.