Monday, December 08, 2008

A Conversation With An Indian Blogger On The Mumbai Attacks And Their Aftermath

Alright, so writer/editor/analyst Nitin Pai of The Acorn and myself agreed to have a sort of public conversation on the Mumbai attacks and their aftermath. Below are the first two emails; I will follow with a third soon and hopefully Nitin will find the time to reply. Without further ado...
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Hi Nitin,

In some ways, it feels like the dust has settled on the Mumbai attacks - at least on the discourse front - but in many other ways, it feels like the party's just getting started. The atmosphere on both sides of the border is unbearably tense. There was a report in Dawn about how a prank call from someone purporting to be Pranab Mukherjee put Pakistan's military on alert. I guess this is what it would feel like if Brad Pitt went over to Jennifer Aniston's parents' house during Thanksgiving, only if Pitt and Aniston both had nuclear weapons.

There are three sets of "things" about the attacks and the aftermath: the set of things which I know for sure, the set of things I'm not sure of, and the set of things that I'm completely lost on.

Things I know for sure

1. Having Asif Zardari in charge during a crisis is a bad thing

I bet even the lawyers are missing Musharraf right now. That guy was smooth, knew how to play the media game, and could talk up a storm. Zardari, on the other hand, is a bumbling idiot. He clearly learned nothing from his wife, who was even better at playing the rhetoric game than Musharraf (she was able to convince the entire establishment in DC and London that the chosen one from a feudal-aristocratic family was most attuned to democratic and liberal principles, for crying out loud). Zardari is liable to say or do something immensely stupid, which would be harmful at the best of times but can be near-apocalyptic during a crisis between two nuclear-armed states. Having a guy who confused the causes of World War I for the causes of World War II, or who went on Indian television and talked about instituting a no-first-use policy on nukes without running it by the people who actually decide nuclear policy in Pakistan in charge is a bad thing.

2. India's options are severely limited

India cannot launch an invasion or anything of the sort, because Pakistan has nuclear weapons. It cannot expect the U.S. to do its bidding to the extent that it would like because, as Negeen mentioned, Pakistan actually has leverage over the U.S. in the form of 100,000 troops on its western border (though this is not to say the U.S. won't do its bidding at all, quite the contrary). Even "low-level" responses, such as precision military strikes in Pakistani Kashmir are fraught with danger. Finally, doing nothing is perhaps the most unpalatable option of all: the Indian people, if my reading of various Indian newspapers and blogs is correct, want to throw a punch, for cathartic purposes if nothing else. But at this point, they cannot take anything other than extremely lame measures like calling off India's cricket tour to Pakistan or not allowing the release of some Shah Rukh Khan movie across the border.

I was leading my weekly discussion section this past Wednesday for a introductory course in international relations. It was all undergrads, but they're smart undergrads. So I asked them a simple question: "What would you do?" If you were an adviser to Manmohan Singh right now, I asked, what do you tell him? I was met with silence. I waited. Nothing. "No, seriously. What do you say to him?" Nothing. I waited a couple of seconds, before I moved on to discuss this week's readings, but it was telling that there wasn't even a suggestion.

3. This was not India's 9/11

The reason 9/11 was America's 9/11 was that the U.S, as a state, was not used to political violence. Of any kind. Even its civil rights movement was abnormally non-violent. The idea of civilians being targeted for political aims was not just anathema to them, but simply new.

This is the main reason that Mumbai is not India's 9/11. India is a violent country, by most standards. From secessionist movements to ethnic riots to religious violence, India has seen it all.

And yet the reaction to this episode easily outflanks the reaction to other forms of violence, even if they were more brutal in terms of lives cost. By way of illustration, not only was Narendra Modi not punished for aiding and abetting riots that killed more than 2000 people - ten times the casualties of the Mumbai attacks - but he and his party were in fact rewarded by being reelected.

There is, of course, a very simple reason for this dichotomy: notions of Self and Other. Identities, as Alex Wendt might say, constitute interests. Put differently, who we think we are - and, by extension, who we think we are not - will impact what we consider to be impacting our values and beliefs. It's clear to me from the mobilization of civil society in India in the last ten days that violence perpetrated by groups originating from Pakistan simply means something different than violence perpetrated by one's own, even if the latter costs more in terms of lives lost. We in Pakistan are no strangers to this phenomenon. Innocent civilians lost due to American drone attacks elicit a very different reaction than the Taliban bombing girls' schools does.

Things I don't know for sure

1. What the motives of the attacks were

Assuming we can abandon the language of evil-doers and killing for killing's sake, I am unsure of the precise motivations for the attacks. I suppose how one conceives of the motivations of the attackers is in part determined by how one conceives of the attackers themselves.

If, for instance, one considers the attackers to be operating as an extension of the arm of the Pakistani state, then there are two possibilities. First, the attackers wanted to widen the low-level war fought in Kashmir for two decades to the Indian "mainland". Second, and more convolutely, the attackers were sent to escalate tensions on the eastern border, thus affording the military and the ISI the opportunity to take forces away from the western border where they are fighting an unpopular and difficult war.

On the other hand, if the attackers are a relatively autonomous entity, the possibilities change. One idea could be to sow discord between Pakistan and India, retard the five-year peace process which would marginalize them if it actually came to fruition, and create operational and political space for them to operate. If this is the case, they have already succeeded. Another possibility could be that this was a replica of Bali, i.e., a targeting of westerners in an eastern country. If that is the case, it is merely another step in these groups' war against the west.

I really don't know.

2. Is there anything the Congress Party can do to stop the BJP winning elections next year?

Crises are usually good for political parties in power, if they handle them correctly. The Republicans in the U.S., for example, used the rally-round-the-flag effect for a good six years to stay in power, despite being terrible at leading and governing. The Indian case seems different to me, because as a distant observer, I sense a fair degree of pent-up frustration with Congress' ability to protect Indians, and this Mumbai attack seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Do you think Congress has a snowball's chance in hell next year? If yes, why?

Things I am completely lost on

1. How the Pakistani security establishment is going to change priorities, if at all

It's no secret that post-9/11, the military and the ISI have targeted militant groups that operate against domestic targets - such as Shias - and targets to the west - such as in Afghanistan - a lot more than they've targeted groups that operate against targets to the east. I wouldn't go so far as saying the latter have been left alone, but they've definitely been given more leeway.

I wonder if that will change. On the one hand, this crisis has shown that these groups can mean a lot of trouble for Pakistan, because bringing the state to the brink of war with a militarily and economically stronger rival is a seriously suboptimal outcome. On the other hand, the preceding reason could well be used to justify their continued existence. In other words, the severe imbalance of power between Pakistan and India could be interpreted as a reason to keep these groups hanging around, just in case.

2. What Barry-O is thinking right now

You know how I feel really sorry for? The guy who idealistically claimed throughout his campaign that we - whomever "we" may be - "will change America and change the world." As I said in another class I TA, Obama is barely going to be able to change the carpeting in the White House, forget the entire bloody world (and I say this as an Obama supporter).

One issue is simply the course of events, which are invariably more complicated once you're in power than when you talk about them as a dispassionate observer. If Obama was faced with this crisis as President, what would he have done? Nothing too different than George W. Bush, I would imagine.

A more important issue is what the underlying intellectual philosophy is that guides Obama's thoughts. He seems to come from a tradition of realism, especially when he says things like "I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush." Indeed, this is the exact reason he picked Robert Gates as Defense Secretary - not all that team of rivals nonsense. On the other hand, he's spoken about supporting democracies and interventions in places like Darfur that make him closer to the liberal hawk/interventionist camp in the U.S. (think Madeline Albright). So when he picks the liberal-hawk-to-end-all-
liberal-hawks (Hillary) to be Secretary of State, I don't know what to think about his philosphy on international relations. And not knowing his general intellectual persuasions makes it harder to guess what he would think or do in specific crises like this one.

I guess that's a lot for one email. I'll shut up now, and look forward to your thoughts.

Best regards,

Ahsan
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Ahsan,

Using the 9/11 analogy or anticipating President Obama's stance on these attacks look at the situation from an America-centric perspective. While this may allow a greater degree of debate among scholars and laymen alike, it is best we set aside these distorting prisms if we want to examine the situation with clarity.

I have previously characterised contemporary India-Pakistan relations as a game where India faces three players on the Pakistani side. India would like to engage and give the benefit of the doubt to one player (now Zardari & Co, for the want of a better name), but contain or suppress the second (Gul & Co, again for the want of a better name). The third Pakistani player, Kayani & Co, stood in between the Zardari & Gul companies, with evolving relationships with either. The relationship between Zardari & Co and Gul & Co appears to India as antagonistic, but not beyond all doubt. The dynamics of this four-cornered relationship was evolving, and was perhaps headed for some stability, until the Mumbai terrorist attacks were executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, likely with the ISI's connivance.


The fact that the attacks were carried out, and allowed to be carried out suggests:


a) That whatever might be the long-term benefits of having a civilian dispensation in Pakistan, it is not a credible interlocutor in the short-term.


b) That, in the post-Musharraf dispensation, the quarters that control Pakistan's nuclear weapons and the quarters that control its jihadis are operating increasingly independently.


c) That unless India acts forcefully, it may have to live with an escalating level of terrorist attacks. The Mumbai blasts of 1993 set off the trend of serial blasts. The Mumbai blasts of 2006 set off a new series of synchronised bombings. The Mumbai attack of 2008 might indicate a new wave of urban guerilla warfare.

This suggests that India must match its long-term commitment to a Pakistan's internal reconciliation and democracy with a short-term disregard for the unwilling or impotent de jure rulers. India's response must not be constrained by the need to keep Zardari & Co in power.


Second, far from having no options, it must be noted that India has a few options: not conducting a punitive strike is an option; sending troops to Afghanistan is an option; working towards an international coalition (of the kind proposed by Robert Kagan recently) is an option; bridging the United States and Iran to make use of the land corridor from Bandar Abbas to Kabul via the Zaranj-Delaram highway is an option; lobbying the international community to tie economic aid to Pakistan to Islamabad's meeting concrete milestones is also an option. In fact, if it is established that Gul & Co conducted the Mumbai attacks independent of Kayani & Co, the nuclear dimension becomes more manageable.


Third, the Mumbai attackers might well have failed in a broad strategic sense: by uniting the fissiparous Indian polity on the need to defeat jihadi terrorism. True, the post-Mumbai spirit might fizzle out, but already, politicians and policymakers have come around to tackling terrorism in the right earnest.


As I write this, Zardari & Co have arrested a top-rung Lashkar-e-Taiba leader and raided its Muzzafarabad camps. Symbolic as it is, it is still a welcome move. But will the other players on the Pakistani side accept this quietly?

regards,

Nitin

28 comments:

Rabia said...

I guess the question I have for Nitin is: what option do you think that India has to effectively pressure Pakistan to dismantle its eastward focused jihad networks in the immediate short-term? Like Ahsan, I can't see anything effective that India can do.

Also, as Saleem Shehzad points out in today's Asia times, there really is not much Pakistan can do because of the danger of the LeT and other Punjab based militants basically starting a civil war in Punjab or joining up with the TTP in the West.

Nitin said...

Rabia,

Dismantling the India-focused jihadi networks in the short-term will be a tall order. But it might suffice if they are contained in the short-term; as yesterday's events indicate, this might have started happening.

The problem is that containment creates a sense of security that lulls India (and possibly, the Pakistani government) into a sense of complacency. That's what happened after 2002. This time, there is sufficient realisation in the West and in India that the relationship between the Pakistani army and the jihadi apparatus is the central problem and needs to be severed.

Sud said...

Interesting exchange.

1. What concerns me is that Delhi is yet to show the political will to pluck some relatively low hanging fruit such as a move to downgrade diplomatic, people-to-people and trade links with Islamabad in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. Or is the reasoning here that doing so might play into the attackers' hands?

2. Seems to me Delhi is also playing a "internationalize the Pak issue" gambit. (Yup, am predictably not enthused). The reasoning could be that give the Pak establishment a little rope and they will, true to form, go on a nuclear sabre-rattling spree that should sow doubts in their sponsors' minds (yup, the same crowd that has repeatedly bailed out Pakistan) about whether the Pak rentier state is sane-enough-to-be-useful at all. There are some signs the gulf between the principal sponsor (USA) and Islamabad is widening but so much is played out for outward consumption that its hard to know for sure. The recent burning of 260 NATO supply vehicles near Peshawar could be an important sign, though. NATO's equipment losses in this 'incident' are actually staggering - going back to at least since the Korean war for a comparable number.

3. Interestingly, opinion in Dilli seems to have matured enough to realize that going in for an all-out confrontation, even if ignoring the nuclear angle, serves to achieve little. Its only low level cannon fodder who get killed whereas the high level planners and plotters of jihadist terror, the financiers and ops managers of jihad factoris, madrassas and camps - would likely escape physically unhurt. Targetted strikes at say, the GHQ and the ISI HQ, at the landholdings of the Pak top brass etc is a much more direct form of waging economic war against the jihad sponsors in Pakistan.

4. Pls note, no mention has been made of using the Indus water treaty for leverage. The treaty has survived 3 (non-nuclear) wars so far. Just mentioning onlee.

/Have a nice day, all.

san said...

"This is not 9/11" = Indians will settle for being terrorized = Indians have low standards

Asif Zardari = Pakistan's Yeltsin, or Pakistan's Khatami, or Pakistan's Manmohan

Pak Army/ISI and AlQaeda share a common interest in not wanting to fight each other. Pak Army would rather face off against India in a Cold War, than fight a hot war against its jihadi offspring. They know their nukes can deter India from doing anything anyway. As the Romans say 'who profits?'

Ahsan said...

Sud:

1. Maybe it is the case that such actions don't have much of a payoff, and so aren't worth pursuing. Or maybe they're just keeping their options open and waiting to calibrate their response to Pakistani moves against LeT. Who knows?

2. Interesting thoughts, don't have much to add.

3. Surely you aren't suggesting that the Indian military launch strikes at the headquarters of the Pakistani military?

4. Yes, interesting point.

San:

That idea (i.e. the Pakistani military/ISI deliberately doing this to escape fighting the war on the western front) is interesting to be sure, but it imputes too much long-term strategic vision to a historically myopic institution.

Anonymous said...

Some people in the Pakistani media said 9/11 was a plot from the US to garner support of the world against Muslim countries!

Just visited few Pakistani blogs discussing Mumbai terror issues, most of them seem to agree to 9/11 opinion aired in Pakistani media, naturally it can be clearly made out from their language how uneductated and uninformed they are, mostly the discussions are in Urdu or in poor English.

How uncivic these people could be even in their thinking. God help them with good education and sanity so they can be able to sense the denial state would bring doom to themselves in Pakistan.

Here is a link to a blog from a third party, worth to have a look:

http://www.juancole.com/2008/12/pakistani-reaganism-must-end-new.html

sparx said...

It is actually pretty easy to cripple Pakistan. All you need to do is to send two Indian Naval warships to the Arabian Gulf and block oil supplies into Pakistan. No Oil, no economy, no Pakistan.

Ofcourse Pakistan can be expected to try and engage the Indian warships , but then that is to be expected and can be taken care of

raja said...

INdian warships make no sense. If Indian political leaders were smarter they should have immediately made it clear that Pakistan, as a nation, apparently has nothing to do with the attacks but there is evidence that cross-border terrorism was involved. This way India could have legitimately sought the Pak Government's help in bringing the controllers to justice. Surely the terror camps in Pakistan are a problem for security and prosperity of that country also in addition to being a thankfully infrequent headache for India.

supersizeme said...

Good work, looking forward to the following replies.

So far though I'm not buying any of the bs, it all seems very one-sided. For instance one side of the argument is trying to cover all bases and draw up something reasonable and diplomatic, the other side of the argument is simply stating; BAM! Pak Army/ISI did it!
Some people believe in the boogey monster, some believe in the tooth fairy but it's tragic indeed that some seemingly 'intellectual' members of society like to believe in such typical-scenario Indian bedtime stories.

Sud said...

Sparx,

Don't for a moment think the naval action option wasn't considered. Pak oil supplies would last a week at most at full mobilization. Even less if the lone refining facility there is taken out. So there's something to be said doing a Parakram II, calling Pak's redeployment bluff, forcing their army to mobilize at the eastern border for a prolonged period and starving Pak of its forex and oil reserves. But there's a catch (ain't there always)?

Back in 1999, in the thick of the kargil war, The Indian Navy planned to bloackade the karachi harbor. But instead they found that the US navy was escorting oil tankers right into the harbor. The US, Pak's chief sponsor so far, was not interested in having Pak defeated and demoralized (or collapse or get dismembered in a 1971 redux) just yet. Yes, it wasn't quite the USS Eisenhower level support but it was decisive in staving off a naval blockade.

Hence, this time too, the IN before moving would require the USN's non-intervention at a minimum. That likely figures in the Pak GHQ's calculations.

Also, while its easy for us armchair analysts to deride the 'cowardly lack of response' from Dilli to increasingly frequent and escalatory challenges from Pak, recall that back in 1971 Gen Sam Maneckshaw negotiated hard with Indira Gandhi to get a 7 month repreive to prepare for a decisive assault in East pakistan rather than stumble half-prepared into stalemate. After op Parakram in 2002, the IA was supposed to implement its cold start doctrine of quick movement in repsonse to rapid crises. Cold start isn't complete yet. So yes, Dilli might still have the military option on the table after all. In any case, preparing for it is better than rushing in half-blind. Of course, the present lot in Dilli have shown little or no appeite for militarily forcing the issue with Pak, or even taking forceful measures short of a military showdown. But the smart thing to do would be to use the next few months upto the LS polls to prepare for a military move should the next GoI so decide.

Just my 2 paise.
/Have a nice day, all.

AKS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AKS said...

Ahsan:

"It's no secret that post-9/11, the military and the ISI have targeted militant groups that operate against domestic targets - such as Shias..."

Interesting point. This is one aspect of the 'war on terror' that we don't really hear much about.

There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of large, planned sectarian attacks in Pakistan. I honestly don't know why.

Is it because the security establishment has been successful in dismantling these groups?

Is it because these groups have been otherwise occupied in Afghanistan?

Or is it that a deal was reached between the security establishment and these groups?

Nitin:

All that is needed is for an Indian soldier to kill a Pashtun in Afghanistan and all hell will break loose here. I have to deal with nitwits speaking about the Hindu - Zionist conspiracy on a daily basis as it is; if Indian troops end up in Afghanistan it will confirm, for most Pakistanis, the existence of the Hindu-Zionist conspiracy. After that pretty much everyone can count out any possibility of 'working with the Pakistanis.'

"The problem is that containment creates a sense of security that lulls India (and possibly, the Pakistani government)..." [and many ordinary Pakistanis.]

Manan said...

Ahsan,

ur points in "I know for sure" is too one-sided (whc side is easily known) though I would agree mostly with the points in "I dont knw for sure" n "I dont know" (may be coz u dnt knw, just guessing) but this may be or is or can be the plight of most of pakistani people. Most of them are too self-centred or just lack universal perspective. No disrespect but most pakistani blogs lacks a perspective outside pakistan.

Therefore, I dont thing there makes any sense in putting my thoughts forward and wasting mine and others energy. Though, most of the comments are interesting...

But one thing is clear, Most politicians in India are selfish. Even before taking any steps to protect India they will think what benefit they themselves will get. And after that they will think about India. So what happens is that they wait for something to happen instead of being alert and avoiding disaster. You may be familiar with this types as pakistani politicians are no different. All of them are weeds who should be taken out to stop rotting of India and Pakistan.

Ray Lightning said...

India and Pakistan have engaged in cold war "limited damage" battles for several decades now.

India, through RAW, has covertly funded the separatists in Bangladesh long before the movement developed into a direct war.

Pakistan has done the same thing in Kashmir and Punjab.

Though it worked well in the past to both sides, this strategy is dangerous when both countries are armed with nuclear weapons.

I doubt if the Pakistani army / ISI is party to these attacks in Mumbai. True, there could be certain rogue elements who are still at large in these institutions, but the planning for these attacks couldn't have been done at the top leadership. The result of these attacks is overwhelmingly negative for the Pakistani army (less funds from US) and Pakistani state (major loss of face). India would like to milk these opportunities for as much as they offer. However, it would not do any mobilization of the army, because it knows that Pakistani army is definitely not the culprit.

India has also graduated from the cold-war battles. To reciprocate to the Kashmiri insurgency, it could fund the flames in Balochistan or NWFP, but this is detrimental to the Indian interests in the long run (unlike the period when Bangladesh was created).

India and Pakistan are both extremely diverse nations with a huge potential for separatist movements based on language. But the stability of the subcontinent crucially depends on the success of both the countries' federal governments. So it is in the interest of both the countries to strengthen each other's governments, and to ensure that they remain democratic and highly federal.

Anonymous said...

Just to add on to what Nitin had to say about India's potential response and Ahsan's mum IR class.

Pakistan (or elements within Pakistan) are waging an asymmetrical campaign against India. Given the presence of nuclear weapons, conventional responses are highly problematic. As such India ought to consider various asymmetrical responses including covert action and targeted assassination. Increase funding for Baluchi separatists and have them target Gwadar and transport routes in and out of Gwadar. Increase investment in Chabbar-Afghanistan corridor. Speed up the training of Afghan military forces. Convene a diplomatic working group with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to counter Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. Go after the sponsors and perpetrators 'Israeli-style' (think Munich). You want D company? The figure out how to plant a dump truck full of explosives at his front door.

In short, think outside the box and don't fall into the trap of massing troops.

Sudhir said...

In Ice hockey they say, "To win go to where the puck will be; don't chase after where it is now". Similarly, piece together the direction in which events areheading and it has all the elements of a slow motion train wreck.

The problem is deeper than just what to do now. Not just general Pak society but also state institutions since the Zia and the ZAB era have been indoctrinated with ever more puritan forms of islam. The Army, supposedly the sole truly national institution and sorta 'secular' to boot has been deeply affected. My guess is the cadets from kakul who graduated in the 80s on will be in a position to take power at the highest echelons (Lt gen and COAS) over the next decade. This group is quite, quite different from the whiskey-swilling 'secular' face (e.g. yahya, Ayub, even Musharraf)the pak army presented the world and particularly the Americans with. The next wave will be more like Lt Gen Hamid Gul rather than like Gen Karamat. The types who believe their own spiel that 1 pakistani==10 Indians, that the momeen are unbeatable (really!) and that they can really win a Nuclear war because they are more willing to take casualities.

Over the next decade, things will come to a head. 10s of 1000s of brainwashed foot soldiers 'graduating' from madrassas every year; little prospect for earning an honest living by contributing to the regular economy; intense competition between groups and sects over who is more islamic (wahabis, barelvis, deobandis and what not); WMD materials floating around with the 'button' coming under the thumb of the indoctrinated generals and a crazed, irreconcilable hatred for the other - kaafir yindia.

All in all, a perfect storm.

After the expose of the AQ Khan walmart and after every US presidential contender declaring that WMD in terrorist hands is their biggest nightmare, what was till before 9/11 just India's problem has now become an 'international migraine' which promises to go critical in the next few years.

There are those in India who say we should help complete the Pakistan project wherein Pak emerges as a 'truly islamic' state where the koran is the constitution and sharia is the law of the land. When Lahore of tomorrow becomes like what Swat is today, and life in pak becomes even more relaxed and enjoyable than it is now, Pakistan will perhaps find peace and leave india alone. (Yeah, I know...)

Anyways, interesting all in all and worth watching where things will go from here. Some endgame is coming up for sure. What it is, is hard to say.

Ray Lightning said...

Sudhir, Anonymous above..

This is not a cricket match. There is no end game in a nuclear war.

It is an open guess how much damange one country is willing to take before it uses the nuclear option. Will it be an act of terrorism with 1000 deaths ? with 2000 deaths ?

In a nuclear war, the person who first uses the bomb has a distinct advantage. So it is stupid to do this terrorist gambit, and sacrifice the choice of nuclear attack.

In reality, there will be a nuclear retaliation and mutually assured destruction, but when this "game" gets to its climax, the first user inevitably has an advantage.

These morons who are sponsoring the terrorist form of attacks may have the best intentions for Pakistan at their heart, but they are doing a major strategic blunder and putting their populations at an immense risk.

This is the reason we should eliminate non-state actors in the sub-continent. A weak Pakistani state is a nightmare for Indian government. And so is a weak Indian state for Pakistani govt. (Imagine Indian govt having no control, and Gujarati militias doing cross border raids into Sind)

Strategically, both India and Pakistan have no option but to swallow their pride and support the other's federal govts.

Sudhir said...

Tks Litening.

But for your timely missive, nuclear war would've been mistaken for a cricket match onlee....*lol*

On a more serious note, though, it is the following statement that I find impractical.

Strategically, both India and Pakistan have no option but to swallow their pride and support the other's federal govts.

India I suspect would be willing to live with a united Pak wherein the LoC is recognised as the IB and the cashmere issue is closed permanently. I doubt Pak can afford to accept peace with India, even if its civilian leadership reeeeally wanted to. The entire military-inteligence setup that ha always claimed first right on pak's resources have *no* incentive to 'normalizing' relations with either India or Afghanistan.

And yes, am fully aware of the risks of N-war. I doubt India will violate its declared NFU stance. What concerns me most about Pak is that the rogue portion of its establishment could well decide that a plausible-deniability terror attack using WMD is do-able against a major Indian city. The likes of Hamid Gul and Zaid Hamid are there for all to see.

India's only chance of nipping this menace in the bud is to join with the rest of the civilized world and de-fang Pakistan. If its India today, it could be Israel or the UK or the US tomorrow. Anywhere in dar-ul-harb, in fact. More Pakistani sabre rattling with nukes will be countr-productive. Pak is so dependent on foreign aid that it risks bankruptcy should it dance too far out of line. India's ecnomy is relatively much stronger but then its governments are less prone to 'rogue ops by retired military' anyway.

Post Mumbai, Pak has accepted in so many words that terrorists train on its soil; that its 'retired' military people are involved (that should've been set to rest after the Kunduz airlift itself in 2001); that ostensibly banned orgs raise money and train in arms openly in Pakistan.

The game as pak has been playing, is changing. Blanket denials, proxy warfare, plausible deniability - its old tools are ever more harder to use now that they've been exposed outside south asia as well.

Who could think 10 yrs ago, after Chagai when India and pak were 'hyphenated' that today the gulf between the 2 countries in both perception and performance would be this wide? And 10 yrs hence, who knows?

Again, anything is possible. A suicidal Pak wanting to take down India with it in a nuclear holocaust is a distinct possibility. And that worries me deeply.

Hey, just my 2 paise only.
/Have a nice day. Ciao.

venkat said...

Ashan,

On the nuclear weapons front...India can a couple of nuclear hits and still be on the world map...how many can Pakistan take before it vapourises into thin air ???
You guys are still alive because we've got politicians who have their tail between their legs!!!

Parag said...

Why is that everytime I read any Pakistani view, they never fail to bring up nuclear waepons, as if India does not have them? Last time I checked India can wipe out the Pakistan from the map in less than 4 hours hummm...

Now it is true that India does have limited options. Indian is a prosperous country while Pakistan as American media puts it "failed state". They are practically brankrupt, begging for money from the world. They are in self collapsing mode and if your opponent in self collapsing mode, the best thing to do is not to disturb lest the collapse would stop.
Now to answer the question that if I were Manmohan Singh advisor this is what I would do:
I would create a doctrine to basically break Pakistan in small states. It is a long term policy but doable. Much like America did to Russia and then overpower them. Once that is done Kashmire issue can be easliy resolved. Further, then India should classify what countries among those small countries are in favor or against India. The once that favors India, India should go out to help them in the development and even outsource some of the talent and the knowledge to them and make sure that the those countries enjoy the same prosperity as does India.

Ray Lightning said...

@parag

India cannot afford to break Pakistan. It will be a nightmare negotiating with 6 to 7 different states on peace treaties. None of these small states will be friendly towards India. Just look at Bangladesh.

Further, India itself is susceptible to a break-up. Many separatist elements in India will get encouraged when they see an independent Sind or Balochistan.

More importantly, India cannot afford to keep Pakistan in a humiliated state. The British did the same mistake with the Germans. It is for nobody's good.

It is important to recognize that a strong Pakistan is in the interest of India. The faster we realize this, the better.

Idiots like Hamid Gul or Zaid Hamid will be exposed in Pak. It is only time before the educated Pakis take over their country. And they are our brothers for God's sake. They have got to be smart and intelligent :)

Revathi said...

I dont know why the nuclear option is being evoked each time a terror attack takes place. Statements like "India is a violent country" dont help. Is it more violent than the USA that is constantly engaged in war on several fronts for the last ten years?
That aside, when terrorist of Indian origin were discovered in the UK, India didnt deny their existence. Entire Pak population is busy denying that the ten terrorists that took part in the bombing could be from Pak even after international newspapers established their identity.

The USA can only help India up to a point. They live far away and are concerned only about catching Binladen. Once that happens, their reaction will be " after me, the flood".. The subcontinent will be left to simmer in hate.

fugney said...

It's nice to see someone else say that this is not India's 9/11. I've thought so all along. And I've been wondering how much of the public anger over this has been precipitated by the Indian media.

Naveen said...

Having Asif Zardari in charge during a crisis is a bad thing

I think you are joking when you are saying Asif Zardari is in charge of pakistan. If not say so I will elaborate.
Well pakistan army lets democracy lovers in pakistan and other people around the world to think that Zardari is incharge. But I pity Zardaris position( he cant openly say he is nt incharge nor can he take full control.). This is a big advantage to pakistan army as it can absolve itself all responsibility in the matter.

India's options are severely limited
Yes very true. With chinas veto India cant get UN mandate for anything against pakistan. One option is BLA though mostly powerless can be equipped in long run to have levarage over pakistan. For short term and immediate need collobration with israel in taking unofficial subversive action.

This was not India's 9/11
I dont know what to say to this. comparing mumbai's attack to 9/11 is Indian english media obsession for everything western. Its just extension of that. They first tried 7/11 (7th July blasts ) now they are trying 26/11 (26th November), looks like somehow they want to put 11 after the slash.

Naveen said...

What the motives of the attacks were?
Even if the operation did nt have ISI backing, definitely it was not without the knowledge of ISI I guess. (I hope you agree). So on the assumption that operation had silent nod of ISI, we can draw following,
Pakistan army wants to divert troops to its eastern border. (Pakistan army tried this by increasing tensions on the LOC by numerous firing incidents few months back.)
If it is really an operation without ISI's knowledge, then I am afraid what is going happen to pakistan in near future.
If it was without ISI's backing then my guess is it was in collobration or with training from al-qaeda. Al-qaeda has the experience of using marine routes to carry out terror violence and links between al-qaeda and LeT is very well known as al-qaeda leaders have used safehouses of LeT numerous times and continue to do so.


Is there anything the Congress Party can do to stop the BJP winning elections next year?
(Why has this question come up here? are you talking about domestic compulsions on UPA to act against pakistan.?)
Yes there are many, but its more of domestic issues. Election are still four months away, and lot can happen in this time. Mostly by that time things between India and Pakistan would have cooled down though not back to normal, if there are nt any other terrorist incidents. Even if UPA takes no action against pakistan and concentrate purely on other issues and track record of BJP in tackling terrorism, they can easily be back in power.

Anonymous said...

The congress govt in India will not act. Unfortunately they no longer have an Indira Gandhi in their ranks and i'm sure they will just wait until the wounds heal. Pakistan is lucky that this is the case. That's all i can say.

Unique Perception said...

Ahsan,
‘India cannot launch an invasion or anything of the sort,’
UNSC Resolution 1373
Reaffirming the inherent right of ‘individual’ or collective self-defence as
recognized by the Charter of the United Nations as reiterated in resolution 1368
(2001),
UNSC Resolution 1368
(2001),
“3. Calls on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks and stresses that those ‘responsible’ for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable; -
India has invoked Resolution 1373 as has been already acted upon by the NATO forces & since the UNSC has accepted India’s contention to be valid & instructed Pakistan, it paves the way for India to exercise it’s ‘inherent right of ‘individual’ (or collective) self-defence as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations’(1373) against ‘those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable;’ (1368).

‘Pakistan has nuclear weapons.’
 Huh? So what? If you really have them, then use them, or are they procured from the Chinese to be displayed in a museum? Please do decide soon, this Paki Nuke talk is becoming a Global nuisance..& frankly, the Indians care a damn, rather it’s played up to frighten the Pakistanis themselves…Zardari pranks et al.

‘But at this point, they cannot take anything other than extremely lame measures like calling off India's cricket tour to Pakistan or not allowing the release of some Shah Rukh Khan movie across the border.’
--Keep sneering & guessing…

‘but it was telling that there wasn't even a suggestion.’
--The suggestions have exhausted – it’ time for real strategic action..

‘India has seen it all.’
--maybe, but 11/26 shall be given a befitting response..

A compulsive mentioning, some sort of a thumb rule, by every such blogger of your kind – Narendra Modi (PBUH)

‘Alex Wendt might say…’
--by plagiarizing from some Vedic text, given their poor understanding of it, distorting it into a mumbo jumbo to be further extraneously quoted by those of superficial grasp of the latter…
‘Innocent civilians lost due to American drone attacks elicit a very different reaction than the Taliban bombing girls' schools does.’
--Equating the drone attacks with the Taliban bombing girl schools, is exclusively a Pakistani phenomenon. Indians do not share it even fractionally, No, not even in their wildest dream, They are well aware of the fact that the mindless violence during the Mumbai attack is directly perpetrated ‘By’ Pakistan, & the mobilization of civil society in India is got more to do with the accountability of the administration & Politicians for their laxity & procrastination than as ‘clearly’ misconceived by you..

‘Second, and more ‘convolutedly’, the attackers were sent to escalate tensions on the eastern border,’
--Obviously.. the ISI..

It's no secret that post-9/11, the military and the ISI have targeted militant groups- and targets to the west - such as in Afghanistan - a ‘lot more’? than they've targeted groups that operate against targets to the east.’
---LOL.. yeah the facts are no secret…no disagreement with regard to the ‘sincere’ efforts of the Pakistani Military & the ISI.. .’ friends of the war on Terror’ lol

‘Barry-O---on Darfur’
--sincerely wish he does something to halt the ethnic cleansing by the barbaric hordes of the hapless tribes.. the ‘carpeting’ of Pakistan can wait..
--Aam Insaan

Anonymous said...

THE MILITARY AND THE CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN SEEM TO FOLLOW A COMMON POLICY OF MASSIVE DENIAL.

THE MILITARY DENIED THAT IT'S SOLDIERS WERE INVOLVED DURING KARGIL CONFLICT AND REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE DEAD BODIES OF IT'S SOLDIERS.......

THE CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT IS DENYING EXISTANCE OF ITS ROGUE CITIZEN AJMAL KASAB !!!!!