United behind the jihadis

Pakistan shows itself to be anti-India, at whatever cost to itself (again)

“No relationship,” writes Rajdeep Sardesai “has been as schizophrenic as that between the two subcontinental neighbours…How does one explain travelling to the headquarters of the Lashkar during the day, and sitting in the evening in the hotel lobby listening to a pianist play a Lata-Rafi melody?” How indeed? Mr Sardesai goes on to write how after a “few sharp, testy exchanges” in an interview during the 1999 Kargil crisis, Nawaz Sharif threw a generous banquet for his Indian guests where the Pakistani leader “proceeded to reminisce on his favourite Hindi film star, Rajendra Kumar”.

Somehow Mr Sardesai sees a “romantic edge” in this dualism. Bizarre, grotesque or surreal would be better adjectives. The dualism itself, moreover, is irrelevant because the threat India faces is from the Lashkar and the Pakistani military-jihadi complex, then as now. And there is nothing to suggest that Pakistani fans of Lata, Rafi and Rajendra Kumar won’t unify behind the military-jihadi complex, either out of conviction or out of coercion.

Now there are Pakistanis who argue that these terrorists are a greater threat to Pakistan than India is. But the fact is that they don’t count for much. So one month after Pakistani jihadi terrorists attacked Mumbai, here’s the objective reality: the Pakistani people are willing to allow their armed forces to provoke a nuclear war so as to protect terrorist organisations.

The ‘peace process’ of the last four years was doomed to fail because it refused to accept this fundamental reality. It was based on hope. But hope, to quote George Shultz, is not a policy. The price of ignoring this wisdom should be obvious now.

If reality is acknowledged, then what becomes clear is the relevance of the Reagan Parallel. Instead of going around in circles and being slapped each time around, India should not compromise. No deals. And certainly no negotiations over territory. It was wrong to bring Pakistan out of the doghouse in 2004. It will be inexcusable to do so now.

26 thoughts on “United behind the jihadis”

  1. Good commentary.

    Do you see any hint that our current leadership is willing to change policy based on fresh evidence that has come in?

    Or is it too committed to the old policy of peace-processions wherein any change in direction would be tantamount to an admission of failure?

    With LS polls looming ahead, it is safe to say there can be no major policy changes this late in the game. Let us simply hope and pray the terror attacks to come in this time don’t achieve their maximum kill potential.

  2. OT but not really OT.

    This is from another forum and explains why Pak (civil society included) is uniting behind the jihadists.

    A clinical psychologist and a French of Pakistani descent, Dr. Sohail Abbas, presented a damning report about two years back, IIRC. As the head of a team of doctors, nurses and psychologists, he had interviewed a lot of jihadis who returned to Pakistan after they were airlifted from Kunduz and others who crossed back by themselves and were de-briefed by the PA. More then 40% of these terrorists had come from mainstream educational institutions, not madresseh.

    The International Crisis Group, as far back as circa 2004, said ““ appear to be few differences between public school and madrassa syllabi with regard to the levels of intolerance that are assuming dangerous proportions” .

    Around the same time, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Pakistan (SDPI) produced a thorough, comprehensive and a severely damning report on the curricula and textbooks followed in mainstream schools and colleges. It may still be available on the web. This is referred to in the very first sticky post of every incarnation of this thread:
    Pakistani Education, or how pakistan became what it is: Curricula and textbooks in Pakistan

    There is also a monograph “Islamisation of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks” by Yvette Claire Rosser published by ORF & Rupa and Co in circa 2003.

    Noted Pakistani educationist A.H.Nayyar, who is also an author of the SDPI report mentioned above, recalls how he was startled by the aggressive behaviour of Pakistani students when he posed certain inconvenient facts to them and how they wanted the destruction of India.

    We also know how the Education Minister in Musharraf’s government, Ms. Zobaida Jalal, had to beat a hasty retreat after suggesting removal of a Quranic verse on Jihad from a Biology textbook. Her house was attacked and she received threatening calls and finally she was forced to admit that she believed in jihad. But, that didn’t save her job still as the clerics wanted Musharraf to remove her and the powerful military dictator had no option but to meekly surrender to the diktatas of the ulemas.

    It was the elite Beaconhouse students who helped Lal Masjid thugs to enforce shariah in the Aabpara neighbourhood last year.

    There is overwhelming evidence that the entire Pakistani society is jihadic and terrorist. The tag ‘Terrorist State’ truly and eminently describes Pakistan.

    Read and despair. There is no chance of long-lasting peace with a ‘normal’ Pakistan.

  3. Nitin,

    You might as well be talking to a wall. We have been through the motions innumerable times. Soon all the outrage would have been forgotten. The profession candle-holders will again assemble at Wagah and talk about power of people-to-people contacts and Track 2 diplomacy. The common Pakistani is just like us this will tell us. Both nations are facing extremism they will say and invoke the Sangh parivar to tell us that they are worse than the jihadis from Pakistan.

    The government is already bowing down in front of vote bank politics – the Anatulay episode. The man is still a Cabinet minister, the usually vocal Laloo is quiet. Sardesai and Sanghvi will also forget what happened to the Taj and tell us to move on, be the bigger guy etc etc. We already have the Pakis blaming us for blasts in their cities. As Arun Shourie put it, GoI is running to ‘mummy’ to fix the problem. Newspapers carry articles that Indian doctors are treating Pakistani patients, while at the same time Pakistani doctors are planning the next suicide bombing. Joy!


  4. At least someone appears to understand….love him or hate him, would do well to watch him though…..

    Answer Pakistan back in a language that it understands:Modi
    By our correspondent
    Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat,25 December, 2008

    Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday advocated tougher stand against Pakistan.

    Talking to Etv Gujarati Modi said “Terrorists who attacked Mumbai were Pakistanis, they came from Pakistan, they used Pakistan’s port and ship, this clearly means that it was Pakistan’s attack on Mumbai. India should answer Pakistan back in it’s own language. India should answer Pakistan back in a language that it understands. Pakistan already has waged war, we just have to continue it, we should just stop keep talking.”

    Earlier on Wednesday, talking to Supreme court’s bar association representatives Modi said “Terror attack on Mumbai was a war. It is unfortunate that the central government is neither taking it as a war nor they have yet answered Pakistan back.”
    You tell them, Narendra bhai!

  5. Nitin,

    I have never quite understood, how Reagan accelerated fall of the Soviet Empire? It was in the doldrums, by the time he came into power anyways.

    Even if we consider that we use similar tactics to dislodge PA from their perch of power, how do we deal with the inevitable chaos that will descend on Pakistan (as it did in Russia) when this happens.

    I do not have a solution of how to deal with Pakistan at this point in time, but the Reagan parallel does not sound like a great idea to me.

  6. Rajdeep Sardesai seems to be one of those idealists who thinks that the moment we savor some Pakistani-style mutton curry, our romantic, schizophrenic relationship with the country immediately begins. During the entire Cold War the Americans were not exactly averse to vodka, caviar and suicidal Russian novelists.

  7. And talking about schizophrenia and Reagan, there’s another man who was rather schizophrenic. In his first term he massively contributed to bringing the two superpowers dangerously close to nuclear war. In his second term, he suddenly began to very skillfully and genuinely negotiate to the point of contemplating complete disarmament. And he bizarrely failed to do this because of his insistence of SDI, an eminently failed endeavor.

  8. Those people live in a bubble, shielded from reality. They are shielded by the copious amounts of military and financial aid given unquestioningly by the Americans. They are shielded by their otherworldly religious ideology.

  9. Schizophrenic or not, India has quite a bit to thank Reagan for. Without him, the Soviets will still be holding India in its bear hug. Comrades Singh and Sonia would have seen to it that the telephone remained a luxury good, and the Electronics Corporation of India continued to market East German and Soviet dinosaurs as indigenous computers.

    And today, in all this din surrounding Jihadis and Pakistan, whom would you rather have as the PM, a Ronald Reagan or a Manmohan Singh?

  10. @Ashutosh:

    During the entire Cold War the Americans were not exactly averse to vodka, caviar and suicidal Russian novelists.

    Well said. This only shows how shallow Sardesai´s understanding of policy really is.

  11. Well, Reagan was our foe, but he behaved according to his national interests. You can’t accuse him of being unpatriotic to his country. However, he did damage his country’s economy through unprecedented deficit-spending, which was quickly adopted by the Democrats. Furthermore his collusion with Saddam and the Afghan jihad led to the inevitable problems down the road.

    Meanwhile, regarding being ‘United Behind the Jihadis’ – here’s an article in the Pioneer which shows how even many Hindus became united behind the jihadis, during the Kandahar hijacking:


    With friends like this, who needs enemies? Maybe the entire country shouldn’t be defended. Maybe those areas and communities who want to make the tradeoffs necessary for collective defense should be defended, while those who don’t should be left to fend for themselves. No sense slaving away so that others can ride free.

  12. Look at Modi’s speech. He has used the word “Pakistan” 7 times! He is too good at stressing some words to give as much stress and coverage as possible!

    Bring him to the centre stage please!!

    BTB, Another gibber from Burkha in HT – joining hands with Pakis and saying no war. While we fundamentally agree with this no war policy, her reasons are so damn unconvincing. That link is a long one and I didn’t want to post the full link. Someone help me how to include a http link without pasting the full link!!

  13. With Modi going out of his way to root for war and what not, I’ve lost respect for him as an adminstrator. With the masses baying for Pakistani blood, he should take the higher stand.

    He’s from Gujarat for the Gods’ sakes! Why doesn’t he just persuade all the Gujarati businessman to buy the whole goddamn country?!

    Why kill people when you can make money off of them?

  14. “With the masses baying for Pakistani blood, he should take the higher stand.”

    Modi is taking a higher stand. Calling upon Indians, known for “resilience” and “tolerance”, codewords for cowardice and sloth respectively imo, to make war, and doing so convincingly indeed is “higher stand.” How high does he need to go to reach the high-on-peace classes, since the masses are allegedly a war-mongering lot?

  15. And with Keshav taking cheapshots like that, I have no respect for him.

    He claims that we’re “baying” for the blood of his Pakistani blood-brothers. No, we’re not animals, we’re people seeking justice. I don’t know if his wisecrack about asking Gujaratis to buy Pakistan is some lame attempt at humour, or if he’d just rather wisecrack because he doesn’t know how to play the fiddle like Nero did, while the country burns from barbaric assaults.

    Pakistan must be made to pay a price for its terror attacks on us, or otherwise it will continue to attack again and again with impunity, avoiding any changes in its perverse behaviour and attitudes.

    If Keshav wants to form a separate country and bare its throat to Pakistani attack, then by all means I’m all for it. But the rest of us would rather not live with Keshav and share in his sorry fate.

  16. Modi does attract a lot of angst, grimace, double-standards, itchiness, malice and such from what socal aptly described as the high-on-peace cl-asses, that manifest sometimes as wisecracks and sometimes as cracks, period.

    Good fun to watch n ensoi.

    Meanwhile, summing up in 1 word all that has happened since 26/11 regarding Indian response to terrorism: NOTHING.

  17. Sanjay,

    This is in continuation of our earlier conversation about the utility/reliability or cost/benefit ratio of using jiahdist irregulars as instruments of state policy.

    Check this article in the pioneer:


    Am excerpting the relevant portions:
    The big shift in 2008 was the realisation that the American influence on the Pakistani Army was not merely limited but often non-existent. It is obvious that the Pakistani Army had a role to play in the execution of the assault on Mumbai. It was looking for an excuse — and the series of desperate, provocative and bellicose statements from Islamabad reflects its frustration — to move troops to the Indian frontier, call off operations in FATA and walk out of America’s Afghan war.

    To be fair, the Pakistani Army may only have wanted a ‘conventional’ but spectacular terror strike against India and Indians. It is difficult to see a senior General actually sanctioning an attack on an international Jewish target, and bringing the Israel factor into the picture. Perhaps that was an Al Qaeda input into the Mumbai operation.

    Three elements in Pakistan — the Army, the Taliba-Al Qaeda combine and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba — are all using each other. None of the three is in absolute control. This makes the Pakistani Army even more unpredictable. It also terrifies the Americans, who have held the belief, since the Cold War, that they understand and can somehow manage Rawalpindi’s top brass. That theory is now obsolete.

    Indeed, each time the Tehreek-i-Taliban — the collective of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups, based in Pakistan’s tribal regions — announces that it will fight a potential Indian invasion shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistani Army, it actually enhances the global fear factor.

    In the popular perception, the divide between Gen AP Kayani’s Army and its jihadi auxiliaries is being erased. This will make Washington, DC, far less trustful of the one institution in Pakistan that it thought was cynical but ultimately rational — the military.

    The use of unethical means is ultimately self-defeating. Works as long as you control the discourse and suppress the news like Pak had long done. No longer is the nurture of jihadist pitbulls a viable business model for a respectable (as opposed to rogue) state anymore.

    /Just my 2 naye paise. Would welcome your critique/perspective. Thx.

  18. Sud,

    Pak army/ISI did not count on 9/11 to be sure, and that’s an example of your loose-cannon jihadism at work, as you pointed out. Nor did it count on the War on Terror happening. Likewise, neither did AlQaeda plan far enough ahead to think that Pak Army would be complicit in this US War. AlQaeda types obviously hoped to lure USA into a quagmire in Afghanistan, but hadn’t really thought through how it would play out. Pak’s ability to hoodwink the Americans with doubletalk while bending like the reed was obviously a big windfall, just like Dubya’s doomed invasion of Iraq. So certainly, the stupidity of the Bush Whitehouse has been a big stroke of luck for the Pak/jihadi camp, otherwise they might have had much rougher going.

    The Bush-Kaurava camp has seen the tide of battle turn with the arrival of Dronacharyas like GatesIII. Now that Duryodhan-Dubya is stepping aside to let Obama’s Karna take the lead, we may see some more progress on the warfront due to the change in leadership style. However I doubt that Obama can persuade the Europeans to pony up more troops to Afghanistan. That will in turn reduce Europe’s pull with the US, while India makes itself more relevant through its bolder military posture.

  19. Nice discussion here. But

    (a) please keep discussion on-topic.
    (b) If you are posting links, please enclose it in HTML
    (c) please do not quote long excerpts, a link will suffice.

  20. Great post followed by an interesting discussion.

    I feel that it would require the US, India and China to work together to solve the global migraine called Pakistan. Any solution should consider the interests of all three parties.

    Accordingly, it should be possible to balkanise Pakistan – let the US take control of the Afghan side, including the NWFP; India should look towards controlling the Sind and large parts of Punjab. China, I suspect may want to control the border areas with Pakistan, along with probably a permanent claim over parts of PoK.

    I am not in any way advocating that India, US and China annex the various parts of Pakistan.Let there be 3 separate indepedent countries (all of them de-nuclearised) that come under the sphere of influence/protectorate of one of these powers. It should then be possible to de-islamise these small countries, along with a functioning democratic culture.

    May sound like a pipedream – but unless Pakistan is disbanded and divided into smaller, more manageable States, I doubt if the migraine will ever go away.

  21. China has no reason to turn against Pakistan, just as it has no reason to turn against its rogue puppets in North Korea. Asking China to take action against Pakistan is like asking Pak to take action against Lashkar – either would be like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

    We can’t wait around like a damsel in distress, hoping some shining knight will come rescue us. We have to take matters into our own hands, which means using available levers to put Pak on the ropes. The US has a high exposure level in Afghanistan, which will only be growing in 2009. The US had therefore better keep its War on Terror from inflicting collateral damage on India, otherwise India will have to assert itself on the Pak border with attendant costs on the War on Terror.

    Right now I’m concerned that US has stooped to expediency in striking a deal with the Congress Party to keep them in power, in exchange for Congress being a meek poodle to the US agenda in the region. This includes standing around meekly following terror attacks like Mumbai, in order to keep Uncle Sam happy. As we know, Congress is exactly the kind of party that would cut such a deal, since they are mainly focused on the survival of their party over any national interests.

    The fact that the media are obsequiously fawning over Manmohan and praising his name to the heavens in a surreal fashion, is an ominous sign that post-123 India may be shedding its independent democratic traditions to become a US-propped up banana republic.

  22. Sanjay wrote:

    … US has stooped to expediency in striking a deal with the Congress Party to keep them in power…

    That, I believe, is the ultimate statement of confidence in Indian democracy!

  23. Sanjay –
    Justice is those actions which lead to the greater good; attacking just because we’ve been attacked (many times) doesn’t automatically mean justice.

    Consider for a moment why you want to go to war? What will it achieve? Are you hitting simply because Pakistan hit (and has hit) us or are you looking for some clear geopolitical goal?

    Do you really want Congress leading the war? Is this the best time to go to war? These are all valid questions to be asking.

    My comment about Gujarati’s doing business in Pakistan still stands. Whether or not they could literally buy Pakistan I leave to your own humorous conclusions, but creating business in Pakistan helps them gain civility and stability in daily life and Indians get rich. How is that a bad proposition?

    P.S. I have no Pakistani blood, but Pakis are humans too, no?

  24. Keshav,
    May I call you Neville Chamberlain? We’re talking about security here. If you do nothing in response to an attack – guess what – you’re going to be attacked again and again. That’s rather basic, Neville. Clearly inflicting a price on an attacker deters them from further attack. Clearing doing nothing, would provide them with an encouraging sign of weakness. Everybody knows these things, and yet you seem to be trying to contrive some too-clever-by-half rationalizations for doing nothing. My suggestion is that you observe how the rest of the world works and acts, instead of trying to fabricate your own counter-intuitive imaginary physics. Because left to your own devices, you’ll be declaring up is down, black is white, tall is short, etc, etc, and vice-versa. Security is a well-known rational science, and so I don’t know where your made-up reasoning is coming from. You seem to be under the impression that just by typing words, that this gives you some sort of credibility, but it doesn’t. Please stop preaching your 1+1=3 theories, because they only reflect poorly upon you, rather than making you look like the revolutionary genius you think yourself to be.

  25. Nitin/Acorn,
    Regarding the ‘Reagan Parallel’ – let’s note a few things.

    Reagan’s ethnicity attracted a large swing vote in his favor, triggering a large defection of a particular pro-Democrat voting demographic. The closest analog India might have would be Narendra Modi, with his humble low-caste background, which most Hindus don’t even seem to be aware of, for some reason. I’ve no idea from where the lacklustre Rajnath Singh even draws his support from. He looks like a backroom dealmaker from Japan’s LDP.

    Nextly, Reagan’s Soviet opponents were not being led by any hyper-aggressive Stalin or even Khruschev, but by aging gerontocrats who were finally succeeded by the liberal Gorbachev. Gorby’s strategic acumen was about as impressive as I K Gujral’s or Manmohan’s — in other words, he wasn’t terribly sharp at all.

    Additionally, it was Reagan’s trilateralist predecessor Carter who set the trap of the Afghan War which bled the Soviets into collapse.

    India would only have limited success in using a Reagan-style military build-up to squeeze Pakistan, in the sense that Pakistan can always tap higher powers for additional aid – powers like China and the US.
    Furthermore, just as India is a pioneer in low-cost services and goods, likewise Pakistan is a pioneer in low-cost jihadi warfare, which enables it to bleed India quite efficiently, without resorting to aircraft carriers or spy satellites.

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