Suicidal Inversion: Offensive is now Peace
by Ajay Chrungoo on 29 Apr 2012 52 Comments

The Indian political class’ inability to handle matters of national security is becoming brazenly manifest. The Government of India’s responses to some recent overtures from Pakistan reflect a horrible mutation of the outlook towards national interests. It seems as though some virus has entered the body politic and is causing a suicidal inversion to make the State to behave as an Anti-State.

Take the recent instance of the Government of Pakistan informing the Government of India about a possible Taliban attack on India. Another example is the Pakistan Army Chief calling for demilitarization of the Siachin glacier. Both overtures were more or less welcomed at the official level and presented in the context of a growing urge in Pakistan for peace and friendship with India. A little thoughtfulness, and not any strategic genius, is required to understand the overtures and discern the offensive motivations behind the moves.

Possible Taliban Attack

When Islamabad informs New Delhi about a possible Taliban attack, it is not conveying its helplessness to control such elements operating from its soil. It is conveying a fiat accompli that terror acts from the soil of Pakistan will continue in the near future. It is perhaps gauging to what extent the Indian leadership has internalized the policy of delinking the acts of terror from the dialogue process. That the principle of ‘uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue’, which Pakistan enunciated and the Indian Prime Minister accepted, is alive and kicking, must have become crystal clear to the concerned powers across the border after India officially welcomed the Pakistani gesture.

The official discourse in Pakistan has undergone a significant change since America killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Islamabad is no longer investing in creating façades of deniability for the acts of terror which its army calibrates and controls. The Pakistani strategic fraternity now openly owns the Haqanni network as its strategic instrument. The way Hafez Sayed has been treated after Americans declared a bounty on his head reflects clearly that the Pakistan Government is least bothered about any plausible deniability.

In this light, when Islamabad informs New Delhi that Taliban may attack, it acquires a meaning radically different from what the Government wants the people of India to believe. Far from being a peace gesture, the impending Taliban attack seems to be a coercive manoeuvre to push faster the peace process the two countries are engaged in. Any terrorist attack on Indian soil may put the present government in India in a precarious and extremely embarrassing position with a heavy political cost. What better time to tell India that Taliban may attack to make Delhi run faster on the track of the so called peace?  

India’s lament about Pakistan using terrorism as a foreign policy instrument lost all credibility when it accepted the Pakistani proposition to delink terror from dialogue. The international community may gradually come to the conclusion that India is merely playing pathetic and wants others to solve the gravest insults to its unity and integrity without a modicum of conceptual clearity, determination and commitment to act on its own.

Even if we believe for a moment that Islamabad has actually been able to convince New Delhi about the genuineness of its helplessness to handle non-state actors like Taliban, and that the information about the possibility of a suo moto attack by it on Indian interests within or outside is driven by concern to preserve the ongoing peace process, certain grave implications of accepting and then welcoming it have to be borne in mind.

Most importantly, it means that India accepts non-state actors using Pakistan’s territory to launch attacks on India. It also means that Pakistan is not in control of its affairs. In such a situation it further implies that dialogue with Pakistan is meaningless. The proposition that engagement with the State of Pakistan is crucial to create peace becomes bereft of content. A Pakistan which accepts to be not-in-control-of-itself and can be used by all and sundry cannot be expected to deliver.

Besides, accepting such a proposition kills all possibility of international accountability of Pakistan and its army to fight and control terrorism and behave as a responsible state in the comity of civilized nations. Accepting such a proposition means allowing a nuclear Pakistan with a Rogue Army to spin out of control.


Siachin Demilitarization

The implications of welcoming Pakistani overtures to demilitarize Siachin are no less grave. Siachin Glacier is located in an area of the Himalayas which divides the subcontinent from Central Asia and also divides Pakistan from Tibet. Removal of Indian military presence from this area will make any movement from Pakistan-controlled Skardu into Tibet very easy.

With Chinese control of Aksai Chin and the Karakorum Highway, the vulnerability of Ladakh will only increase. The Kargil War has a fundamental lesson for the nation. Pakistan cannot be relied upon to maintain the sanctity of any region along the Line of Control. Even after an internationally recognized mutual withdrawal after finalizing the Actual Position on Ground Line, there is no guarantee that Pakistan may not surprise us by capturing the area in the near future. 

That the Indian government and various strategic think tanks are proposing a final demarcation of ground positions in the area before withdrawal from Siachin means that there is, on the Indian side, little realization of the implications of such a move in case Pakistan accepts the Indian proposition. The Indian army is not on foreign territory in Siachin. India is on its own land. If India accepts withdrawal of Indian troops from Siachin as a peace gesture, it sanctifies the Pakistani claim that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. To vacate one’s own territory as a peace building measure tantamounts to impairing national sovereignty irreparably.

Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani’s suggestion for mutual demilitarization of Siachin comes at a time when Pakistan has invited and encouraged a Chinese presence in POK in a big way. Not long ago, media reported that Pakistan is leasing out Gilgit Baltistan or parts of it to China. Seeking withdrawal of Indian troops from Siachin in such a scenario smacks more of a diplomatic offensive rather than a peace gesture.

India has to decide whether its claim to land access to Central Asia is vital for India or not. Can India hope to be recognized as another pole in the balance of power in Asia if it accepts its expulsion from the crucial regions of the Himalayas? The Indian claim on POK including Gilgit Baltistan is sanctified by a unanimous resolution of the Parliament of India. Siachin demilitarization will ridicule this national resolve.

When Atal Bihari Vajpayee accepted Pakistan’s role in Jammu and Kashmir, very few could see the unfolding of the process of rendering the whole of India’s northern frontiers as a dispute. The Siachin demilitarization is a concerted attempt to make India accept the crucial features of its frontier in the north as illegitimate.

The dangerous dimensions of the perversion of Indian strategic responses came to the fore when the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh suddenly proposed a give and take with China. This happened immediately after the successful test fire of Agni-5 which we tom-tommed as a decisive step towards a credible nuclear deterrence against China.

Though Gen. J.J. Singh later tried to distance from his statement, it only added to the sequence of responses which have the subversive potential of negating all national interests along our northern frontiers. The Arunachal Governor’s utterances and subsequent retraction only show that the model of resolution which the Government of India has in Jammu and Kashmir has started infecting our thinking on Arunachal Pradesh.                      

It has also to be borne in mind that Pakistan is, through acts of terror and coercive diplomacy,  pressurizing America as well as Afghanistan to agree to the expulsion of Indian influence and involvement in the trouble-torn country after the withdrawal of American troops. Islamabad has chosen to do this in full public glare at a time when Dr Manmohan Singh claims that relations with Pakistan are improving.

India is making unilateral concessions to Pakistan at a pace that is shocking. It has agreed to allow Pakistani FDI in India without any reciprocal gesture from Pakistan, knowing well that it is also the hub of illegal economy which can find its way into India via the open door.

Then there are other anti-India powers which would be more than interested to invest in India through the Pakistani route and thus influence our economy and politics. India also withdrew its opposition to European Union aid to Pakistan. But this gesture does not seem to have even cursorily impressed Islamabad or Pakistan public opinion.

All concessions by India to Pakistan are being read there as primarily the outcome of the coercive policy Pakistan has pursued with India, and not the outcome of India’s legitimate urge for peace with Pakistan. Pakistanis themselves must be baffled that every offensive move made vis-à-vis India has been renamed by the Indian government as a gesture of peace. How long will this state of affairs continue and at what cost?

Dr. Ajay Chrungoo is chairman, Panun Kashmir
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