The India Post, Chandigarh, 5th January, 2009 : Speaking at the Rotary Club Chandigarh in Sector 18 here this evening, Dinesh Kumar, a Rotary World Peace Fellow and a defence analyst, said that the India-Pakistan standoff seems to defy some basic theories of conflict resolution.
Despite four conventional wars, three near wars and numerous acts of terror, India and Pakistan have still not reached a level of ‘hurting stalemate’ where it becomes expensive for both sides to engage in conflict. Pakistan continues to increase its aggressiveness while India is content to remain passive in action and thunderous only in words. International mediation too has worked only in parts and as a short term measure. India, in fact, is facing the much deeper problem of a hostile Pakistani mindset which believes in demographic superiority and a policy of bleeding India with a thousand cuts. So far India’s response has only been to apply a thousand bandages.
For India, the Pakistani establishment has converted that country into a “rogue state” which, since virtually its inception, has adopted terrorism as an instrument of state policy. But there is no point in lamenting. Instead, India needs to fast set its own house in order. India must take defence and security more seriously and professionally. It needs to work to a plan to make every act of terrorism more expensive for Pakistan, a country which former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright has perceptively termed as an “international migraine”.
Dinesh Kumar, a former Resident Editor of the Times of India who is currently researching India’s military power at an Australian university where he also teaches, said that India will have to use a mix of soft and hard measures to deal with Pakistan. The Pakistani Army has always been the main power centre in that country and that will have to be engaged just as the Indian government has done with the Military Junta in Myanmar and had earlier done with some success with Pervez Musharraf.
India could also consider adopting Cold War tactics wherein NATO and Warsaw Pact countries engaged in an eye ball contact for decades on end. The reason for such a move would not be as much to fight a war as it would be to keep the Pakistani Army militarily distracted so that it plays a lesser role in civilian governance of that country. The Pakistani Army has the dubious distinction of not allowing a single civilian government from completing its term in the 61 years of that country’s creation. India will have to renew and build an effective covert operations capability and use it effectively against Pakistan. India had foolishly diluted this capability in 1997 after having earlier used it with some success against Pakistan when Islamabad was engaged in fostering terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In other words, India will have to make Pakistan’s policy of terror expensive.
But even more, India will have to take defence and security more seriously. Pakistan has acted with exactly same tactics since it was created in 1947. It engaged in a surreptitious invasion of Kashmir in 1947, 1965 and then 1999 and supported insurgency starting from as early as the 1950s when East Pakistan was still a part of that country. Fostering insurgency in Kashmir and terrorism in other parts of the country is thus a continuation of Pakistan’s policy.
Dinesh Kumar observed that “unfortunately, successive Indian leadership has reflected little strategic thinking”. Parochial politics, corrupt and criminal politicians, bad administration and poor governance, and the Indian polity’s little understanding of security and defence issues has marked much of India’s post-Independence history. Little wonder that every Pakistani surreptitious invasion in Kashmir has caught the Indian establishment unawares. India’s approach of building international opinion against Pakistan is an excellent exercise in diplomacy and this effort must continue. But the fact also remains that ‘Strength respects strength’. Only a resolute India which has its house in order will be able to find active support from Western powers, which believe in realpolitik rather than a moralist foreign policy. So long as Pakistan is of geo-strategic significance to the US, Washington D.C. will do only so much and no more to help India fight its War on Terror. It therefore becomes more important for India to get its act together. The people of India need to wake up to the fact that countries and empires have disappeared whenever they have been governed by people that are unfit to rule.