Change in Direction of Wind – India-Pakistan Antagonism

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Asif Haroon Raja for VT

The notorious Narendra Modi nurtured by the RSS had earned infamy due to his disgraceful role in the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodia in 1992 and in the massacre of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 when he was the State Governor. The US and the West declared him a terrorist and denied him a visa.  However, when he took over the rule of India in June 2014, all his sins were pardoned. Soon after, he started flexing muscles against Pakistan. On a flimsy pretext as to why Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi had hosted a dinner for the visiting Kashmiri leadership in August 2014, which had been a norm, he adopted a belligerent posture. After giving marching order to Pakistan’s envoy, he directed the Indian Army deployed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to heat up the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary (WB) in Kashmir in contravention to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

From September 2014 onwards, the intensity of firing across the LoC and WB was gradually increased under a calculated plan. Martyrdom of Kashmiri freedom fighter Wani in IOK in July 2015 revitalized freedom struggle, which gave an excuse to Modi’s BJP regime to step up atrocities against the Kashmiris. All previous records of state terrorism and human rights violations were broken. Pellet guns were used for the first time to blind the children and the unarmed youth taking part in protest marches peacefully.

To force Pakistan not to extend diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris, propaganda war was geared up to paint Pakistan as an abettor of terrorism in India and in IOK. To further maximize pressure, covert war that had been initiated from Afghan soil in 2003, was accelerated and water terrorism was up-surged as an additional tool to cow down Pakistan. False flag operations, threat of surgical strikes, induction of sophisticated war munitions, and heavy buildup of conventional forces and nuclear strength were other pressurizing tactics.

Internally, BJP became the torchbearer of Hindutva. It started destroying democratic institutions and secular values pursued by the Congress, fomented fascism and became intolerant towards other religious minorities in India. Religious and press freedom and independence of the judiciary were undermined. Modi declared his intentions to revoke special status of IOK. In order to change the demography of IOK, he started constructing new colonies for the retired army personnel and Hindu Pundits. However, he couldn’t make constitutional changes to make IOK an integral part of India since he didn’t have the requisite majority in the Lok Sabha.

In order to gain two-thirds majority in the May 2019 elections, Modi in consultation with his patrons executed a false flag operation in Pulwama on February 14, 2019. In the engineered suicide attack, 44 Indian soldiers died and the blame was promptly put on Pakistan. Indian media created war hysteria and the event was made a pretext to launch an air attack in Balakot on February 22. The incursion backfired, but Pakistan took the revenge by giving a befitting response on Feb 26-27 which humiliated Indian air force and raised the stature of PAF sky-high. Irrespective of the huge setback, Modi succeeded in garnering Hindu votes and sweeping the elections.

After returning to power with a heavy majority, Modi’s first major action was to rescind special status of IOK by annulling Articles 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution on Aug 05, 2019, and bisecting IOK into two Indian Union Territories. Soon after, 8 million Muslim Kashmiris residing in the illegally annexed region were locked up in their houses, curfew was imposed, and they were subjected to worst atrocities. Youth were slaughtered or put in torture cells and the women raped. This gory practice is still going on with a vengeance to break their will to resist. The hawkish senior civil and military Indian leaders didn’t stop there. Drunk with power, they threatened to annex GB and AJK and break Pakistan into four parts. Hardly a day passed without unprovoked firings by Indian forces across the LoC and WB in violation of 2003 ceasefire agreement, killing and injuring civilians living in the close vicinity as well as soldiers. Even villages were not spared.

From 2009 onwards, after India blamed Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks and impulsively suspended composite dialogue, Pakistan has been bending over backwards to renew talks with India, but India showed no interest and not only kept notching up its bellicosity but also made terrorism a precondition to restart talks. Pakistan never picked up the courage to state the fact that India is the biggest terrorist state in the region and has created issues with all the neighboring states in South Asia.

Modi was urged repeatedly to stop the madness but he turned down all peaceful gestures and pursued the path of hostility relentlessly. The constant low intensity conflict along the LoC together with absorption of IOK by India upped the temperature to a boiling point and it was feared that open war was round the corner.

The foreign paid proxies that had been flushed out from FATA and Baluchistan in 2015 were once again regrouped and rejuvenated by RAW and proxy war was stepped up in the two conflict zones.

Apart from Pakistan’s nuclear program, which is an eyesore for India, USA and Israel, CPEC has become another irritant for the trio. The three strategic partners are determined to disable the nuclear program and to scuttle CPEC at all cost.

Under the obtaining highly tense geo-political environment hope for peace between India and Pakistan in the near future was slim. People were keeping their fingers crossed as to when India will further up the ante.

The sudden news of hotline talks between the Army DGMOs of the two countries last month resulting in a ceasefire along the LoC and WB wef 25 February came as a big surprise. It was difficult to believe the national security adviser to the PM Moeed Yusaf who stated that no backdoor channel took place. Since then the volatile LoC and WB are peaceful.

The next development was the offer of peace to India by Gen Bajwa during the security conference in Islamabad this month. It was followed by a letter from virulent Modi to Imran Khan wishing him and the people of Pakistan good wishes on the occasion of Pakistan Day on March 23. A meeting on Indus Water Treaty was also held at Delhi under friendly environment. Indian troops are expected to take part in joint drills of SCO countries organized by Pakistan. It is speculated that the SAARC Summit which is held in suspended animation since 2016 due to Indian obduracy is likely to be renewed and the next summit will be held in Islamabad and Modi may attend. If so, it will change the whole dynamic.

Let us make an appraisal as to how come this sudden change of heart took place and that too secretly and mysteriously. In my view another round of hypocrisy is ready to take off and soon our media would spread news about the success of backdoor diplomacy and the role of our friends in melting the ice of antagonism. Media channels will splash breaking news that a great breakthrough has been achieved and things would soon get back to normal between the two arch rivals. The government and its allies would claim it as their diplomatic triumph while their fans would get engulfed in ecstasy.

This kind of euphoria is an old phenomenon. Whenever India finds itself in trouble, or it has a sinister plan up its sleeve, it offers a hand of friendship and our leaders readily and excitedly clutch the offered hand saying let bygones be bygone and let us give peace a chance in the overall interest of the two countries in particular and South Asia in general.

In this regard, I would like my friends to recall the peace treaty signed with India on January 4, 2004 and the period till Nov 26, 2008 when we were in a state of euphoria, flying kites that all our core issues of Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek and water would be resolved through composite dialogue. LoC was silenced. But India had a different plan.

Under the guise of peace and friendship, it fenced the whole length of the LoC and Pakistan helped India in subduing the freedom movement in IOK. Getting rid of the threat of Kashmir which had become a bleeding wound for India, RAW launched the biggest ever covert operations from Afghanistan to bleed and destabilise Pakistan and make it a failed state.

From the eastern front India launched cultural invasion in Pakistan with focus on the smaller provinces and the younger generation, to popularise India as the most powerful state in the region, glorify Indian armed forces, promote Indian secularism and liberalism through movies, songs, dance, music, fun and frolic, spread obscenity, demonise Islam and Islamists, make settled issues controversial, create divisions, inject doubts and misgivings against the state premier institutions, and remove the sting of jihad. RAW made inroads with the help of people-to-people contacts and confidence building measures.

Much of it was achieved with the help of Pakistan media, NGOs and liberals and organisations like Aman ki Asha and SAFMA. To maximize pressure on Pakistan, India started building dams on our three rivers so as to resort to water terrorism.

While pretending to be friends, India put all the acts of terror in India and in IOK in the basket of Pakistan. This facade of friendship was torn apart by India after it conducted a false flag operation in Mumbai in Nov 2008, suspended composite dialogue abruptly and from that time onwards adopted an extremely aggressive posture which was taken to new heights by Modi from Sept 2014 onwards. He never minced his words while stating his sinister objectives against Pakistan. On several occasions he and his hardcore lieutenants have been threatening to deprive Pakistan of single drop of water and to fragment Pakistan. A product of RSS, he nurtures pathological hatred for the Muslims and Pakistan.

Historically, our leaders, both civil and military, starting from the great Quaid-e-Azam have been extending a hand of friendship to India and urging it to live as peaceful neighbors, but India not reconciling to the existence of Pakistan rejected the gestures. Main bone of contention was and still is the unresolved Kashmir dispute, which India will never resolve in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiris and the UN resolutions. Talks were a mere gimmick to buy time and absorb IOK into Indian Union, which it did on 5 Aug 2019.

India never let go any opportunity which came its way to harm Pakistan. Conversely, Pakistan never availed the opportunities, or whenever it did, the plans were executed poorly. Our successive regimes have remained under the illusion that their defensive policy clothed in one sided appeasement would make Pakistan safe. India has inflicted tens of thousands of cuts on the body of Pakistan since 2003, and has cleverly portrayed itself as a victim and Pakistan as an abettor of terrorism. India succeeded in selling its false narrative to the world since Pakistan made no effort to build a counter narrative to put the record straight. All its acts were reactive and apologetic.

Today India is up against most difficult times both on external and internal fronts. Never before India faced a potent twin threat from China and Pakistan, and never before Indian society was so deeply divided. Never before Pakistan spoke so boldly against India to expose its wrongdoings. India’s ugly face has been exposed to the world for the first time after the arrest of Kulbushan followed by leakage of misdoings of Srivastava Group and Goswami WhatsApp chats. Never before, it was so sharply criticised by world bodies including the EU over its massive human rights abuses against Indian minorities and Kashmiris. Visas have been denied by Canada to its senior military and civil officers involved in human rights abuses. Snakes in the grass in Pakistan milked by India are being systematically crushed.

Pakistan has got out of isolation mainly due to CPEC, which has become a magnet to pull all the landlocked Central Asian States, South Asian States less India and Bhutan, West Asia. Middle East, Africa and Russia. If Taliban take over, Afghanistan will also join CPEC. Iran is inclined to make Chahbahar complement Gwadar. Pakistan’s macroeconomics have begun to show improvement and the value of rupee has improved.

The US is in no position to extract any concession from the Taliban or to pull out safely without the cooperation of Pakistan. Pakistan armed forces have emerged as the strongest and most battle hardened force of the world and have earned kudos from the world. These are happy tidings for Pakistan and the only thing it has to do is to put its house in order which is presently in disorder due to Govt-PDM clash, rising inflation and price hike. There is a need for a national dialogue to cool down the political temperature.

Modi’s fascist and racist policies have backfired and have made all the Indian minorities including the Dalits hostile and they have become defiant. Kissan Tehrik, Khalistan and Naxalite movements, and freedom struggle in J&K have become existential threats to the security of India. Never before India suffered such humiliations at the hands of PAF and China’s PLA and it couldn’t do anything to wash out its embarrassment. Much to Modi’s chagrin, its chief patrons USA and Israel didn’t come to his rescue.

India’s huge investments in Afghanistan and covert war against Pakistan seem to have gone down the drain. CPEC which has the potential to make Pakistan self-reliant couldn’t be scuttled and India’s plans to annex GB have been disrupted by China. Hopes of Indo-US-Israel nexus to convert Ladakh into the biggest military station have dashed. Not only Afghanistan but Iran has also slipped out of the hands of India.

While India’s chief patron USA is a descending power engulfed in multiple crises, its chief rival China is the ascending power and the future super power which has become a strategic partner of Pakistan with common security interests. The story of the USA as the giant and China as a minnow has become redundant and today both are equal competitors.

Shining India’s rising economy has plummeted due to Covid 19 and its GDP has dipped into negative. For all practical purposes democratic norms and secular values over which India used to gloat have been overtaken by fascism and racism. Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and NRC Bill have alienated the minorities of India particularly the Indian Muslims who are worst affected. Delhi riots in February 2020 followed by mass movement of the Muslim women in Delhi against the CAA gave a glimpse of deep-seated hatred of the largest minority against the Hindutva lovers.

About two million Indian security forces are engaged in counter insurgency operations all over India and in IOK for the last so many decades and not a single insurgency or separatist movement could be quashed. The Indian Army particularly the lower ranks are in a state of demoralization due to social discrimination, maltreatment by seniors and misusing them extensively to kill own citizens. Modi has lost its popularity, his smiles, his stupid hugs, and in frustration is growing a long beard.

India had got a chance of the century in 1971 as quipped by Subramanian and it cut Pakistan to size. Today Pakistan has got a chance of the century to avenge its humiliation and settle the long-standing Kashmir issue. Today, China is also an equal stakeholder in J&K and in collusion with Pakistan and freedom fighters in IOK, is well poised to dictate terms to India.

Instead of making productive use of this great opportunity, we are once again inclined to return to the futile talks and to normalise relations with most cunning and treacherous India which believes in the philosophy of taking only and not giving an inch. It has a big role in keeping Pakistan politically unstable and economically weak. Under no circumstances it can see Pakistan prospering.

The sudden change of direction of the wind has not happened on its own. Modi would never have annexed disputed IOK without the blessings of the USA and Israel and then stuck to it adamantly. India accepted China’s intrusions across the LAC and sued for peace since it is in no position to strike back and forcibly retrieve its lost territory. After the 1962 debacle, the Indian military has once again acted timidly against China’s aggression.

India would not have ceased firing along the LoC last February if its house was in order and it was not faced with twin threats. Modi would not have written a letter of felicitation and desired cordial relations with Pakistan without a nudge from Joe Biden. Pakistan would also not have accepted India’s offer of ceasefire and talked of peace at its own. The USA is the only country which can dictate terms to India as well as Pakistan.

Both the US and India are sailing in choppy waters. Biden would not affect any changes in the overall global policies but would execute them in his own ways and for that he needs a breather. The moment the US and India sail past the rough patch, they will recommence their old monkey tricks.

Pakistan cannot afford to sing peace mantra and hope for reopening fruitless talks with India without first providing relief to the 8 million Kashmiris going through hell. Without India restoring the special status and stopping the reign of terror perpetrated upon the Kashmiris, and closing its terror infrastructure in Afghanistan, Pakistan should not agree to reopen talks.

In concert with China, Pakistan is in a position to put pressure on India to agree to these preliminaries before restoring diplomatic ties and then embarking upon wholesome dialogue for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan must play its cards shrewdly and intelligently and must not get duped once again. Time is on Pakistan’s side.


The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, his 6th book under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. [email protected]

Author Details
Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written a number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense and political matters for numerous international/national publications.
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