Friday, November 25, 2011

Reflection on 26/11

Indians don't wish ill of Pakistan. Rather, we are apathetic to its fate. The only thing we really care about is expanding prosperity and security for our people.

Pakistan sought and obtained divorce. Sixty four years on, Indians are glad. Other than a few lunatics, most Indians are relieved Pakistan's 180 million are not part of our national life.

If Pakistan is burning itself down, we care about it as much as we care about Rwanda.


To the extent, Pakistan has presented itself directly to India, it is through war. Interestingly, for all our angst about this, India has already prevailed.

This in spite of the apparent Pakistani belief that each of their soldiers is equal to ten of ours :p

There are good reasons for this. While Pakistan has inflicted a painful cost on India, it hasn't been nearly enough to derail our economic advance. And while India has seemingly been passive, it has craftily expanded the war from lonely glaciers and crowded bazars to the high tables of economic globalization.

Arrival of nuclear weapons in the region has prevented outright conflict. For Pakistan's commando generals, this means we are now in the era of - what Steve Coll called - Ghost Wars. These are fought mostly in the shadows and, on occasion, on world's television screens.

What their tunnel vision misses is that, while still painful, such terrorism no longer terrifies. When something is expected, it doesn't shock any more. It still hurts, but more like a rubber band snap than a scorpion sting.

Anything more than a scorpion sting risks provoking all out war. Anything less than a rubber band snap is futile. The terrorist finds himself deterred into a range of tactics that are too weak to hurt India while sufficiently ghastly to make the world recoil from Pakistan.

India has wisely portrayed this dynamic as Pakistani terrorism against Indian economy. This is a real powerful narrative that doesn't require India to compromise on her values. Sixty four years after the war began, the increasingly globalized world sees India as an emerging economic superpower while routinely calling Pakistan a failed State. Easy to see who has prevailed.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior while expecting different outcomes. By this definition, Pakistani huqmaran have not only lost the war, they have lost their sanity too.


I disagree with those who call on India to match Pakistan's murderous ways.

We have an approach that is already very effective. All we need to do is to keep reinforcing the narrative of Pakistani perfidy in every possible forum - in this, we are aided by Pakistan's galactically stupid conduct. Each terrorist gambit of theirs only serves to make our point. You'd almost think Pindi and Aaabpara are agents of New Delhi!

Each time we ask Pakistan to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai, they come across as dragging their feet. It doesn't take a 150 IQ to see how self-destructive this conduct is.


Where we really should focus, is hardening our defenses against Pakistani terrorism. We need ever higher walls to hold back their pawn soldiers - not bridges to engage their killer brass.

We need homeland security of the sort that has prevented attacks on US since 9/11. I favor adopting the 1% doctrine on these matters.

We need police reform to focus on real terrorists rather than gunning down college girls and pretending this somehow makes us safe.

We need to ensure that our economic growth brings prosperity to Indian muslims and that they emerge as role models for the newly democratizing Islamic world.

We need our media and political elite to stop hobnobbing with Pakistani elite merely because they can offer titillating sound bites and scandal fodder.

As private Indian citizens, we can do even more. Indians are now an integral part of the global economy and culture. This gives us unique visibility and influence over flows in capital, trade, and ideas. We should deploy this power to deny Pakistan wherever we can.


My Pakistani liberal friends call such views of mine hate.

They tell me these views only serve to strengthen the grip of army and obscurantists on their national discourse.

They ask me to engage the good in Pakistan and stand with civilians in Government.

I believe these are great prescriptions for Pakistani liberals to follow. It's their country and they should fight to preserve its honor. Nothing will give us in India greater happiness than the day Pakistani liberals prevail.

In the meanwhile, we have to take steps to protect our people and prevail over enemies.


Arun Goveas said...

Brilliant Mr. Red, I wonder, if you would allow MMS or any of our Tall Leadership can just say this verbatim as a speech. (unfortunately, they won't!).

Vijay S Mishra said...

Good thing about a well written piece is 1. You agree to most of it 2. Even if you don't agree to some of it you still respect the writer and take into consideration his logic into your decision making and it changes your opinion in some way.

omar said...

It is a complete mistake to talk of "helping Pakistani liberals" or "not helping Pakistani liberals". This is not grade school politics. India should do whatever is good for India. IF it is ever good for India to have more trade or travel with Pakistan, then India should do it, if not, it should not. But EITHER WAY it makes no sense to make decisions based on some visceral like or dislike.
Trade with Pakistan is actually a straightforward positive for many Indian businesses and and carries no serious downside for security. Practical steps to prevent infiltration, check contraband etc have to be taken, just like any other country should take those precautions. Framing this issue as if it has to do with being nice or not being nice is a mistake.
Stengthening border security, being able to respond professionally to attacks, making sure any attack can be responded to appropriately and with escalating responses if need be....all these are no-brainers. They have nothing to do with trying to support Pakistani liberals.
Pakistani liberals incidentally have a very steep hill to climb. India is not the main hurdle for them. Their own army and military-mullah alliance is the issue. Its not going to be easy.

Narahari said...

Could not have said it better...

Eagleeye47 said... well put ...

Forever Bemused. said...

Sorry, I do care about Pakistan. I wish it could be obliterated by the yanks or would simply away on its own.

Anonymous said...

Weren't you justifying USA killing over a million civilians to avenge its 3000 dead in 9/11? Your blood lust doesn't extend to India's enemies? I guess living in NYC can do that to you...

KayEm said...

Unfortunately, India's underbelly isn't only Pakistan but corruption and the nexus between politicians, the police and the underworld. Also, the two major parties (Congress and the BJP) don't come to any understanding re safety and security. That, surely, should be non-negotiable.