February 6, 2002


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Rajeev Srinivasan

On the Art of War

As I write this on Republic Day, January 26, 2002, it is clear that despite the fuss and noise of the last six weeks, ever since the December 13 attack on Parliament, nothing has changed. Pakistani terrorists continue to massacre Indians every day. The Americans continue to advise restraint: this war on terrorism is not theirs, of course. The Pakistani general continues to strut around, providing meaningless sound bites. China's strongman arrives in India uttering cooing noises while supplying hundreds of fighter planes to Pakistan. Yes, business as usual.

Well, maybe not all is lost. There are several lessons out there for the learning, if only we'd care to look. First, the demonstration, yet again, that strength of purpose gets respect. It was only after India made it clear that she was prepared to go to war, nuclear flashpoint or whatever be damned, that the rest of the world sat up and took notice. I think all the usual suspects, the UN, the US, the UK et al, expected India to cave instantly yet again; they were surprised.

Second, Pakistan, despite General Musharraf's early and frequent bluster, found that nuclear blackmail has boomeranged on them. The 'secular' 'progressives' were wrong about the 1998 nuclear tests. Instead of increasing tensions in the subcontinent, these tests were an excellent opportunity for Pakistan to finally get over its military inferiority complex and to deal with India constructively.

Unfortunately, Pakistan chose to go with nuclear blackmail. By threatening to escalate every minor skirmish to a nuclear face-off, they hoped to get world opinion to compel India to hand Jammu and Kashmir over to them. But in fact, it has led the world to want to rescue from Pakistan's clutches its crown jewels, its 'strategic assets', its nuclear weapons and missiles (courtesy the Chinese) -- what a sweet irony!

Third, it is pretty clear that things happen in India when politicians find their minds concentrated wonderfully. When it was only the poor soldier whose life was in danger, there was no serious attempt to crack down on terrorism, but now there is. As I said in my column, Some Mother's Son: Bring on the Draft, if the likes of Rahul John Paul Gandhi or Bipasha Basu had to be on the front lines against terrorists, their families would have cared a lot more. Nevertheless, even under the current circumstances, the Congress and the CPI-M -- the latter no doubt on orders from China -- have been loath to cooperate with the government.

It is highly unlikely that Musharraf meant what he said about cutting down on support for fundamentalist and terrorist organisations. But if he did mean it, it is likely that he will not last long in power, as his Frankenstein creations will take care of him soon. And if he does manage to hold on, Musharraf is likely to become Pakistan's Gorbachev, presiding over the dissolution of his country's empire.

For, make no mistake: there is a Pakistani Empire right now. Those Pakistani politicians talking about an empire were just slightly off -- they currently run the Punjabi Sunni Empire, where their subject peoples are Sindhis, Baluchis, Seraikis, Pashtuns, Shias, the Balawaris, and so on. With the emphatic end of their Afghan colony, the dissolution of the rest of the Pakistani empire is increasingly possible.

First to go will be the Pashtun nation, erasing the Durand Line, whose validity expired in 1993, and in any case, most Afghans never accepted it. The Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan will merge to form a Pashtunistan.

Once this happens, the unravelling of Pakistan will continue apace. At the end of the day, there will be six or so small Islamic statelets, none of which will be in a position to hurt India very much, but which could inflict much pain on one another. Neither will the US or China be able to use them as part of their Great Game in the subcontinent, because these will all be too small.

If you think this is not sensible, and you believe the pull of Islam is too great to call this dissolution, think again. The Arab world is exactly like this. Despite the fact that they are all of Arab ethnicity, and have the same religion, the region is divided into small, feuding states. Of course, given the general oil-based prosperity of the Arab world, they are able to have a rather large impact: they can buy serious weaponry. But an impoverished set of Pakistani successor statelets will have relatively little with which to cause trouble.

Once this happens -- and I now believe it is not a question of if, but when -- there should be no problem for India to let the Vale of Kashmir go and join PoK to form an independent Kashmiri state. Ladakh and Jammu can stay with India. Only, I seriously suspect that in these circumstances, the Muslim Kashmiris of the valley will have a serious re-think about their prospects. In fact, even today, the inhabitants of Balawaristan -- which I am told consists of Pakistan-occupied Gilgit, Baltistan, etc -- are fed up with imperial Punjabi hauteur. Life is not a bed of roses in PoK either.

As I have said before, the 'secular' 'progressives' keep telling us how wonderful it would be to have a stable and prosperous Pakistan on our borders. Here's to the exact opposite: a broken and impoverished Pakistan. This is the best chance for India to progress. And it would deal a deadly blow to Chinese containment of India. This is likely to be Comrade Musharraf-Gorbachev's legacy.


In a simple but effective act of democratic dissent, a group of Indian-Americans got the CNN network to pay attention to widespread complaints about the non-objectiveness of the network when it comes to subcontinental stories. An article published by Rajiv Malhotra on got so much response that Kris Chandrasekhar, Satya Prabhakar et al put up an online petition at which in turn attracted 50,000 signatures in ten days. Armed with this, an Atlanta group was invited to meet CNN, and was assured that their concerns would be looked into.

Similarly, consider what happened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where an excellent exhibition by Stephen Huyler entitled "Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion" is in progress. Huyler, an ethnographer and artist, has put together one of the most heartwarming exhibitions on Hinduism ever seen in the Western hemisphere. And there were plans afoot to "balance" this positive picture with some muckraking and shrill films by Anand Patwardhan, an extreme leftist, who portrays Hinduism as, to put it simply, evil. I wonder why Patwardhan has not bothered to portray Islamic or Christian fundamentalism with the same tenderness.

Anyway, Vishal Agarwal and others mounted a signature campaign to avoid having Patwardhan's polemic hurt Hindu sentiments. I am glad to say that once again peaceful democratic dissent seems to have had its effect, and the offending films have been withdrawn.

I would encourage readers to take positive action like these above instances to support those causes that they hold dear. The media is certainly open to pressure.

Rajeev Srinivasan

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