Of Hawks and Doves
All soldiers want peace, and this is an undisputable fact. They want peace because they are the ones who die in war.
I get messages from doves that accuse me of warmongering. They say that I have an unhealthy obsession with war and blood; that I don’t value human life.
Think of me as a surgeon who recommends amputation of a limb that is severely infected by gangrene. If the limb is not cut, the gangrene will spread. The limb has to be cut to save the patient. The surgical procedure is not pleasant. But that does not make me a butcher. I am still a surgeon.
I have nothing against doves. They are the lifeblood of a vibrant counter narrative. But there are some home truths that they need to understand. And unless they understand these truths, their vision will always be blinkered by comfortable vestigial beliefs they have grown up with.
We have been in a state of war with Pakistan for 70 years. Sometimes, the war was conducted from behind the veil of plausible deniability, through proxies, especially late 70s (Punjab) and after 1989 (Kashmir). Sometimes, it was a direct conventional conflict, like we saw in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999 (Kargil).
The 26/11 attacks, terror strike on Pathankot Air Force base and Uri terror attacks are fresh in our memory. In the 1993 Mumbai blasts, which left over 257 dead and over 1400 injured were, all planned, financed and directed from Pakistan. So were the many bomb blasts in market places and public areas across India.
Countless Indian lives have been lost, since 1947. Precious Indian lives are lost everyday on the Line of Control. And unless we accept the harsh truth, we will continue to lose lives everyday.
We recognized Pakistan as an existential threat and took decisive action in 1971 and on 16 December that year, the Pakistani Army, that great protector of the Citadel of Islam, surrendered to the Indian Army. It was a crushing and humiliating defeat and it took Pakistan a few decades to come to terms with the fact that it was left with half of Jinnah’s “moth eaten” state.
After that we went to sleep for eight years, only to be jolted back to reality by the Khalistan movement. That was followed by the Kashmir militancy. The militant movement soon turned to a full scale Wahhabi style terror campaign.
The Punjabi elite, whether military or political, own Pakistan. Yes, they own that country. And deep rooted historical, cultural and religious narratives, convoluted to suit a specific kind of thinking, almost guarantee that Pakistan will always view India as an enemy.
I want to tell the doves in India that irrespective of how many candles you light on the Wagah border, Indian blood will always flow. People to people contact may grow but it will never stop terror. You are making a huge mistake by believing that once people from our countries are friends, all will be well.
All will never be well, because the people of Pakistan have no say in their own destiny. They can never be a pressure group that can alter the way the Pakistan Army thinks and acts.
In many ways, Pakistan is still an absolute monarchy. It may have the trappings of a democracy but the Army Chief is the Emperor. His word is absolute. The people are like sheep, sometimes led to the pen, and sometimes to slaughter.
The problem is the Pakistan Army. It has always been, and always will be. Not until the Pakistan Army has a change of heart, will we have peace. And I don’t see the Pakistan Army lighting candles at Wagah anytime soon.
Whenever doves speak of a people to people connect, they are addressing the wrong constituency.
Our struggle with Pakistan is existential. Ghazwa-e-Hind is not a fairytale. It is as real as Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Many well meaning Ulema will be at pains to convince you that Islam has already ruled the sub-continent and that the prophesy has been realized. It matters little what they say. What matters is what a majority of the Pakistanis believe. Faith can move mountains. Or start bloodbaths.
Iman Taqwa Jihad fi Sabilillah; faith, piety and holy war in the way of Allah. This is the motto of the Pakistan Army. Read this line again. And again. This is the core philosophy of the Pakistan Army. This is driven into the minds of young Pakistani soldiers and officers every day of their training and service. Jihad against India is the raison d’etre of the Pakistan Army, the very reason for its existence.
The Pakistan Army will not stop Jihad against India. In the Pakistani power structure, there is no one higher than the army. They are the Parliament, Supreme Court and stock exchange all rolled into one. For seven decades they have flourished unsupervised and it’s impossible for them to adjust to Parliamentary oversight. And that is why coups happen in Pakistan.
This is the same army that launched a full-scale military invasion in Kargil, without so much as informing the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. This army has assassinated, imprisoned, exiled and dismissed twelve of the seventeen Prime Ministers in its history, sometimes directly and on other more temperate occasions, through proxies.
It is imperative that we realize that we are dealing with a rouge army. And this is why this army must be brought to heel.
I call this my “mowing the lawn” principle. You periodically mow your lawn and cut grass. It’s not the grass’s fault; it’s just the nature of things. So, when you wait for Pakistan to attack, and then plan retaliation, you are just allowing the grass to grow. The Pakistani Army should be attacked without provocation, in small and medium sized actions across the Line of Control, never allowing things to get out of hand, and yet always drawing first blood. The grass must periodically be cut. I am not warmongering. I am just recommending maintenance activity.
The strategy should be to seize the initiative and keep hammering the Pakistan Army periodically; to keep them so preoccupied counting their losses that they have little will to pursue the greater romantic notion of Jihad.
We live in an exciting neighborhood. Jihadis, nuclear weapons, ethnic strife, terrorism, religious extremism, economic instability and a rouge army are facts that we have to exist with.
A gun guarantees peace, not war. After the death of Burhan Wani, Kashmir, and especially South Kashmir, was wracked by violence and stone pelting. Over seventy-five people died. As a last resort, South Kashmir was handed over to the army. In the next 24 hours, everything stopped. Have you seen stone pelting on TV for the past one month?
To light a candle for peace is criminal neglect; it is to turn away one’s face and close one’s eyes thinking that the wolf will not kill you just because you cannot see it.
The Pakistan Army presents a real and credible danger to our nation. We must acknowledge it as such.
We cannot change our neighbor’s heart, or geography. The only alternative is to hammer it into submission.