By Lt Gen Kamal Davar (retd)*
In today’s increasingly deteriorating regional environment, underscored by sponsored terror, the truisms that forsaking long practiced self destructive policies and not punching above one’s own weight should be strived for, regrettably, do not apply to Pakistan. How predictable is Pakistan’s propensity to continually perpetrate terror in its neighborhood abandoning not only basic human values but, equally, strategic sense—- bitter lessons which Pakistan’s all powerful military in cohorts with its local terror kingpins– has failed to be comprehended despite military defeats and international denunciations since decades— defies elementary logic.
Whichever evil and self disparaging paths Pakistan wishes to tread, especially in stepping up violence in hapless Afghanistan and in India is entirely its own prerogative. That its exclusive India-centric terror driven agendas cannot be ignored by India and dealt with all our genius and strength is our calling.
The sudden spate of terror activism inside J&K, along the Line of Control/IB and their recent devious effort—rendered abortive— in neighboring Gurdaspur in Punjab must be factored in seriously by the security establishment. That, along with stepping up terrorism in J&K, Pakistan is once again trying to regroup Khalistani sympathisers is evident.
With the NSA talks around the corner, Pakistan’s notorious ISI on the directions of its Army Chief is on the lookout for some dramatic terror actions inside India and especially so during such occasions. Thus, Pakistan has unleashed unprovoked intense firing along the LC/IB causing many casualties to poor civilians for no fault of theirs. That many of these hapless innocents have had to move to safer areas well away from their humble homes and hearths is indeed unfortunate.
Pakistan continues to forget that that even repetitions of their infamous Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks will not deter India from its chosen path of marching ahead, adhering to its enshrined values of inclusiveness and secularism, which are an abiding cornerstone of India’s eternal ethos.
The Indian state must take all steps with alacrity and a deep commitment to wean Kashmiri youth away from Pakistan’s mischief and evil intentions. Regrettably, so far the PDP-BJP coalition state government in J&K has not shown much promise neither in governance nor in limiting Pak inspired terrorist activities in the state. The Centre must not allow matters to drift away as is happening presently. India cannot soft peddle on matters pertaining to J&K both in the internal and external dimensions of the problem.
It should be clear by now that Pakistan will not change its highly anti-India agendas—-a few in their dwindling civil society may be in disagreement with their nation’s fatally obsessive policies towards India, but their views are inconsequential and just ‘ page 3 party talk’ in cocktail circuits in India and abroad. Secondly, let us not forget that Pakistan is a sham democracy (American doles are not for encouraging democracy in Pakistan but to keep their supply lines to Afghanistan going on somewhat)—thus, the Pak Army will always rule the roost along with their fundamentalist elements for the for their power and corporate interests. Pakistan’s deep state-and-terror conglomerate will ensure business-as-usual with India.
It does not demand any overly brilliant analysis to conclude that in the recent months, the cash-strapped Pakistani establishment with its tottering economy, have been unable to pay its own government employees and has since then been administered generous doses of financial oxygen by both the US and China. Both these mentors of Pakistan have also recently announced the supply of some state-of-the-art-weaponry to their client state. Thus Pakistan, once again, feels emboldened to persist with its age-old agendas towards India.
Islamabad refusing to invite the J&K Assembly Speaker to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference scheduled to be held at end of this month in Islamabad and consequently India, rightly, announcing its intention not to attend will further aggravate the relations between the two nations. Whether the forthcoming scheduled meeting planned between the NSAs of the two nations will fall prey to Pakistan’s machinations remains to be seen. Even BJP leader and former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha has criticized these talks stating that” terror and talks cannot go together and it will be a dialogue of the deaf.”
In dealing with a recalcitrant Pakistan, India has to finally firm up its limited options. Let us adopt a policy of a cool disengagement towards Pak — what do we have to gain from those who are hell bent to harm the Indian state ? Importantly, our security preparedness has to be continually and substantially upgraded. We must raise the costs for Pakistan in case it endeavors to indulge in any mischief—till we do not retaliate, in some way and in kind, effectively and speedily, Pakistan will remain oblivious to reality.
A few decisions the Modi government may wish to take expeditiously. Firstly, if the Pakistani deep state manages to sabotage the forthcoming NSA talks, let India downgrade our diplomatic representation with them and send back packing the Pak High Commissioner and his large team of ISI operatives to Islamabad from Delhi. Secondly, all meetings between visiting Pak dignitaries to India and Kashmiri separatist leaders should be banned with immediate effect—-as is known such interactions are just a façade for these anti-national elements to get their annual financial doles and fresh instructions from their Pakistani masters. In addition, no cricketing ties should be allowed for cricket is a gentleman’s game and till the Pakistanis do not behave like one, let them stick to other games. A ‘cooling-off’ phase may drill some sense in the Pakistanis along with their international marginalization which India should encourage.
Let the Modi government display that as India strives for regional and neighbourly cooperation it cannot be a one way alley. It is high time India displays some resolve in sustaining its national interests.
*Lt Gen Kamal Davar (retd.) was India’s first chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency and is currently a security analyst. He can be contacted at [email protected]