Sunday Levity: But Foster, Gurkhas aren’t Pakistanis

Why Uncle Sam needs Pakistan (“Because of the Gurkhas” edition)

“Ignorance about India”, Narendra Singh Sarila writes, “was the reason why the Americans came to rely on British advice on questions concerning the subcontinent after its independence.” He quotes an anecdote to illustrate this:

In those days, the Americans’ understanding of India was extremely limited. To take an extreme example, John Foster Dulles, President Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state, had to be disabused by Walter Lippmann during a conversation on SEATO as late as in 1955, that Gurkha troops were not Pakistanis.

‘Look Walter’, Dulles said, ‘I’ve got to get some real fighting men in the south of Asia. The only Asians who can really fight are the Pakistanis. That’s why we need them in the Alliance. We could never get along without the Gurkhas.’ ‘But Foster’, Lippmann replied, ‘the Gurkhas aren’t Pakistanis, they’re Indians’. (Actually, Gurkhas are of Nepalese origin.) ‘Well’, responded Dulles, ‘they may not be Pakistanis but they’re Moslems.’ ‘No I’m afraid they’re not Moslems either; they’re Hindus’, Lippmann pointed out. [Dennis Kux, Disenchanted Allies pp72, quoted by Narendra Singh Sarila, The Shadow of the Great Game pp216]

Praveen Swami’s book on the secret jihad in Kashmir

The Indian edition of a must-read book

Praveen Swami’s 2006 book India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad: The covert war in Kashmir, 1947-2004 is a book that you must read. Now, for reasons best known to the marketing department of its publishers, the international edition was priced out of reach of most people. Yet it is ‘most people’ who should read it, and not only scholars, academics and deep-pocketed specialists. That’s why the largely unheralded release of the Indian edition should be welcome. Here’s the introduction to the book:

This book explores the history of Jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, documenting the course of their activities and their changing character from 1947 to 2004. Drawing on new material, including classified Indian intelligence dossiers and records, Praveen Swami shows that Jihadist violence was not, as is widely assumed, a phenomenon that manifested itself in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir only after 1988. Rather, a welter of jihadist groups waged a sustained campaign against Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir from the outset, after the Partition of India. This book first analyses the ideology and practice of Islamist terrorism as it changed and evolved from 1947-1948 onwards. It subsequently discusses the impact of the secret jihad on Indian policy making on Jammu and Kashmir, as well as its influence on political life within the state. Finally, looking at some of the reasons why the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir acquired such intensity in 1990, the author suggests that the answers lie in the transfiguration of the strategic environment in South Asia by the nuclear weapons programme of India and Pakistan. As such, the book argues, the violent conflict which exploded in these two regions after 1990 was not a historical discontinuity: it was, instead, an escalated form of what was by then a five-decade old secret war.[Cambridge University Press/Foundation Books]

It’s available in bookstores as well as from the publisher’s website. The other book you should read is Chandrashekar Dasgupta’s War and Diplomacy in Kashmir, 1947-48. While Mr Dasgupta’s book is focussed on the political milieu of that period, Mr Swami’s book documents Pakistan’s uninterrupted covert war since then. Both are slim, highly readable volumes and if you’ve not already read them, you ought to do it soon.

(And if you’ve got additional suggestions, share it with the others in the comments section)