We have heard of “rogue” states, “failed” states and “terrorist” states. Now we are informed that a state can be like a hard boiled egg, “hard” on the outside and “soft” on the inside. Like India, for example?
Indian hawks argue that their state is “soft” because it treated “Pakistani-trained hijackers” with kid gloves and did a “deal” with terrorists. A real, “hard” state like Israel or the USA would never have done that, they say, admonishing their own state.
Many Indians are also telling the world that the Pakistani state is a “rogue” state and a “terrorist” state both hopelessly rolled into one grand “failed” state.
All this is hogwash. If the Pakistani state has “failed” to adequately look after 100 million Pakistanis, as alleged by India, the Indian state has “failed” to take care of nearly 400 million Indians below the poverty line. If Pakistani exports of terrorism to Kashmir and Afghanistan are the rage, as charged by India, Indian exports of terrorism to Karachi and Sri Lanka are no laughing matter either. If Pakistani nuclear weapons are in rogue Islamic hands, Indian nuclear weapons are surely in fiendish Hindu clutches. If the Pakistani state opted for a “hard” crackdown in quelling separatism in East Pakistan or insurgency in Balochistan, the Indian state tore up the 1948 UN Resolutions on Kashmir, sent troops to annex Hyderabad and Junagarh, bombed the Mizos in Aizawi, stabbed Pakistan in Bangladesh, stormed the holiest Sikh shrines in Amritsar, invaded Sri Lanka, committed genocide in Kashmir and nuked Pokharan many times. If the Pakistani state spends US$ 2.75 billion beefing itself up, the Indian state weighs in at US$ 11 billion in “hard” military muscle every year. Finally, if the experience of non-Muslim minorities is anything to write about in Pakistan, ask the Muslims, Christians and untouchable castes how they feel under the heel of the saffron state in India.
Conspiracies notwithstanding, the facts of the current situation are also straightforward. The hijackers, whether Kashmiris or even Pakistanis, are an angry consequence of the historic and continuing injury perpetrated by India against Pakistan and Kashmir. Therefore the onus of responsibility, or the root cause of the problem in whichever form it manifests itself (war, armed insurgency or hijacking), lies squarely with India. Also, India’s refusal to negotiate with the hijackers in Amritsar or refuel the plane suggests that it wanted the plane to land in Lahore or crash over Pakistani territory, in both cases pinning responsibility on Islamabad.
This tactic fits India’s post-Kargil strategy like a glove: paint Pakistan as a “rogue” or “terrorist” state, condemn and isolate it internationally, drag it into a suicidal nuclear arms race and wait for it to implode as a “failed” state. How should Pakistan confront this Indian challenge?
Clearly, international perception and assistance should figure as a critical element in the strategic objectives of both states. But despite Pakistan’s outstanding tactical military victory in Kargil, or perhaps because of it, it is India which clinched a strategic diplomatic win in July by successfully portraying Pakistan as an “irresponsible” nuclear state given to adventurism. Pakistan also seems to have miscalculated on the strategic value of delinking its nuclear policy from that of India so that it might reap some autonomous dividends from it. The tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998 and the reluctance to negotiate a timely signature on the CTBT are prime examples of this lack of vision. What now?
India is insisting that Pakistan should pull its “terrorist” hand out of Kashmir before its new military government can be accorded “legitimacy” by means of a dialogue with New Delhi. The correct diplomatic response to this Indian precondition would be for Islamabad to offer unconditional talks to India in the perspective of the Lahore Summit last February. If India puts Kashmir on the table as it agreed to do in Lahore in February 99, well and good. But if it doesn’t, which is more than likely, the onus of a “failed” dialogue for regional peace will be on New Delhi and not Islamabad.
But Pakistan has done no such thing. Indeed, government spokesmen seem to be tripping over themselves reiterating that there will be no dialogue with India unless the “core” issue of Kashmir is discussed! India’s conditionality has thus been matched by Pakistan’s conditionality. There is no dialogue. But that is what India wants. Why should Pakistan hand it over to India on a platter?
Since 1947, India and Pakistan have jointly mined the region in action and reaction. The end result is a conventional arms race followed by nuclear proliferation. Every now and then some mine goes off, as in Kargil last June or the airplane hijacking more recently. Both countries are hurting. But let’s face it. Pakistan is economically weaker than India, it is also more dependent on international goodwill and largesse than India. So it is currently hurting more than India. Therefore, while the goalpost of national security may remain the same, the game plan needs to be urgently revised. We need to build a state that is “hard” on the inside and “soft” on the outside rather than the other way round.