by Sunil Sharan
In a recent interview, Indian army chief, Manoj Naravane, claimed that one reason that Pakistan was cosying up to India was because of the pressure on its western front? What pressure on its western front, may I ask?
America had set a deadline with the Taliban of May 1 this year to fully quit Afghanistan. Some 2,500 American troops remain in Afghanistan, fighting America’s “forever war”, also called because it’s the longest war that the country has ever waged. Now American President Joe Biden says that he will miss the May 1 deadline for the pull out and probably bring all his troops home only by yearend.
A jihadi culture infiltrates Pakistan. The Soviets moved into Afghanistan in 1979. The Americans offered the Pakistanis $400 million to fight the Soviets, which the then-Pakistani dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, scornfully dismissed as peanuts, whereupon the Americans upped the figure to $1.5 billion. The Pakistanis were pleased as punch to have become America’s guns for hire.
The Pakistani army’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, trained Muslim (or mujahedin) fighters from all over the world to take on the Soviets. One of these mujahedin was Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistanis let in millions of Afghan refugee children into their territory, and trained them in madrasas on curriculum set by the Deoband seminary in India.
The students later became the Taliban. The ISI did an excellent job. The Soviets were pushed out of Afghanistan in 1989, worn down by the mujahedin. Much of the Soviet army also became high on opium, which permeates Afghanistan. Mikhail Gorbachev, the then-Soviet leader, was worried that his entire army would become drug-addled so he pulled it out. The withdrawal was one key reason the Soviet Empire collapsed. Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.
The Americans rejoiced. They had become the undisputed world numero uno now. The Pakistanis had been retained as guns for hire only as long as the Soviets were in Afghanistan, but the Pakistanis deluded themselves that the Americans would continue aiding them monetarily. Once the Soviets left, the Americans cut off aid to Pakistan. Pakistanis till today cry that the Americans used them like a condom and then chucked them away.
Came 9/11, and once again Pakistan had to side with America to take on Muslim fighters (Taliban, etc.) in Afghanistan. Pervez Musharraf, the then-Pakistani dictator, played a masterful double game for a decade. He helped the Americans with one hand and helped the Taliban with the other. The Taliban started thrashing the Americans, but the Americans, unlike the Soviets, refused to concede defeat and prolonged their agony in Afghanistan for another decade.
Today the Taliban has won in Afghanistan and is all set to take over Kabul. The puppet American-propped Ghani government will have to go, willy-nilly. Once again Pakistan has triumphed in Afghanistan because its mentees, the Taliban, have won.
So where is the pressure on Pakistan’s western front? There is none. Pakistan should be amassing jihadis now to wage a second jihad in Kashmir. Instead it’s sucking up to India. Normalize ties, let bygones be bygones, it pleads. Well, what about the thousand-year war against India promised by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, one of Pakistan’s most able leaders? What about bleeding India by a thousand cuts?
Bygones cannot be bygones because the historical animosity between India and Pakistan runs a thousand years. Will Pakistan’s military stop calling themselves ghazis, or warriors of the faith? Warriors of which faith and against which faith? Will Pakistan stop dreaming about flying the crescent on Delhi’s Red Fort? Jinnah created Pakistan as a safe haven for the subcontinent’s Muslims. Instead its raison d’être has purely become one to hammer India.
Will Indian military strategists also refrain from Operation Hammerhead, in effect breaking Pakistan into four or five pieces as their version of the subcontinent’s final solution, and will they also stop conjuring up salami slicing Pakistan. The hatred, it runs deep.
Pakistan has always believed that were it to launch a war against India, China would join it in sandwiching India. But Col. Santosh Babu and his men gave the Chinese a stiff riposte in Galwan. Pakistan was watching carefully. It has realized that, even in the absence of nuclear warfare, India will give a bloody nose to the Chinese as well as to the Pakistanis in a two-front war, even if it be a conventional one. And just in case India starts going down, there are always the strategic weapons.
India’s leadership is strong and secure in its strength. PM Modi has become a darling of many world capitals—DC, Moscow, Berlin, Riyadh, Dubai, Tokyo, Canberra—despite what the woke media might have you believe. General Naravane was in Saudi Arabia and the UAE late last year fostering defence relationships. Pakistan has antagonized both countries. India under Modi has endeared itself to both. That is another reason why Pakistan is now coming to India begging for peace. It’s already stopped abusing Modi. What a big step forward!