January 14, 2002


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That tired formula again...
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Varsha Bhosle

War, what's it for

Seinfeld fans may remember this phrase from the episode where Jerry convinces Elaine that War & Peace was originally titled 'War, what's it for,' till Tolstoy's mistress improved upon it. I chuckled as I watched the re-run and then switched channels only to find myself guffawing at something more hilarious -- a piqued Paki complaining that Indians "like to rub Pakistan's nose to the ground". Now is it our fault that the terrorist state chose to put its nose down there? All that certain Indians are doing is ensuring that Pakistan smells the filth well and good. I heard that there was much multiculturalist hand-wringing when George W called Pakis... Pakis. It's so nice to be in powerful company, heeheehee. And now, even Musharraf, in his much touted speech, has admitted to Pakis being "jaahil", heeheehee!!

Since two weeks, my mailbox has been inundated by scores of articles written by Pakis, all urging the Supreme Mohajir to rethink their Kashmir policy, rein in the ISI, and tend to the country's non-economy. The peaceniks who spammed me with this junk -- like Powell vis-à-vis the Indian government post-Mushy's speech -- probably expect me to sport a conciliatory halo today. My advice: Forget it; I'm more savvy than your asinine perceptions will ever permit you to be. I only pray that our government's newly-found Viagra stock doesn't run out.

With Op Enduring Freedom, the "Arab street" has been silenced. The complete rout of The Great Islamic Warriors -- whose Supreme Beard recently did a Hell's Angels on a motorbike (oh please mail me cartoons inspired by this latter-day Hijra) -- brought about a smattering of self-reflection in the Arab press. Suddenly, Muslim thinkers began asking why jihadis carried their evils elsewhere; why the Islamic world hasn't sustained even one real democracy; how Islam could have harboured a malignant strain that would rejoice in murder. Why? Kyoooon ki upar se danda pada: the B-52s, the bunker busters and, my favourite, the Daisy Cutters.

Likewise, the Paki street has gone into self-examination mode. Why? Kyoooon ki India has mobilised her forces at the frontiers like never before. The Paki street realises that a defending and defensive India is one thing, but an attacking and aggressive India is quite another. Pakistan embarked on its policy of proxy war -- bleeding India in "a war of a thousand cuts" -- only because it is a low cost, high payoff option. Even today, Pakistan's economy breathes from day to day and gasps for foreign aid. No matter how many years a war will set back India, it will utterly destroy Pakistan. The writers I'm pressed to heed, know that. Pakistan's non-economy is why the Supreme Mohajir became an U-turn specialist vis-à-vis Afghanistan; it is also only why he's making peace mutterings with India now. The Paki street knows that without handouts from the West, Pakistan will sink; and with war, it will be wiped out. Hence, the tamasha at the SAARC conference, and the dove cooing from columnists.

That's what the mere *threat* of war has accomplished. Fifty years of Gandhi-bhakti, Jaali-Note Express, MFN trading status, bus diplomacy, etc, etc, only brought us to the point where war is recognised as a viable option. The results of our obsessive hankering for peace showed us that war has its own advantages.

Pakistan has lost everything it began with -- East Pakistan, the two-nation theory, and democracy. Its political institutions have passed out; its society is steeped in medieval chaos; and its economy... well... from The Indian Express of June 20, 2001: "In a document signed by the Pakistan Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Governor of State Bank of Pakistan Ishrat Husain, it has virtually pledged the country's economic sovereignty to the IMF. The cost of Kashmir is finally catching up with Pakistan." And from the Dawn of April 14, 2001: "How to resolve the dilemma of being poor and yet seeking not to be formally declared as such so that Pakistan does not lose its eligibility for international loans confronts the country's economic decision-makers with their biggest challenge. Pakistan's $26 billion debt burden reflects what World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern has called the country's 'lost decade' of the 1990s, when, according to him, poor policies, political instability and corruption stalled the economy."

If -- and that's a big "if" -- the Indian government continues to squeeze, has a clear vision of where it's taking us, and, most importantly, has the guts to follow through and face the consequences, Pakistan will also lose the only thing that has held the country together and unites every class of citizen -- the hope of acquiring Kashmir. Without that, Pakistan will break up. And I won't be weeping. That's what war's for.

Too harsh...? But look at Pakistan's policy: "India will lose the entire game if an independent Kashmir is allowed to exist. Independent Kashmir means the fragmentation of India, since there are around 15 separatist movements going on there... We have gained a lot because our offensive continues. This is a psychological and political offensive. The Indian army is fully trapped and is vulnerable... Yes, this ['tactics of death by thousand cuts'] was my strategy in Afghanistan and it's the same in India... As long as Pakistan exists, the problem of Kashmir will keep burning. No government in Pakistan can afford to give up Kashmir." That is Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, former chief of the ISI, close confidant of Gen Zia-ul Haq, and the man who drew the blueprint of terrorism in Kashmir.

A propos the diplomatic assault, the government hasn't driven me nuts -- yet. Sure, the Entity got on my nerves, but 'twas nothing that had me frothing at the mouth. However, one thing does vex me when I muse over the current situation: Too many Indians have this notion that someone somewhere is watching out for us and so we survive all sorts of calamities; that ahimsa served us well against the British (another fallacy) and will bring similar results in the war against terrorism. No doubt, we've survived many a catastrophe by simply shrugging off our troubles and plodding ahead. But, as the Afghan war demonstrated, even the rules of engagement have changed dramatically. Though it begs a "duh", I assert: the world is not as it was even 10 years ago. Therefore, to pin all hopes on a peace process based on dialogue with terrorist groups, their front organisations and their sponsor-states, will prove to be suicidal. For, terrorism, especially the Islamic variety, is immune to persuasion and dialogue. The only language terrorists understand is the application of military force and the resolve to use such force in response to provocation. Passivity is judged as weakness.

Many wrote me that since the Supreme Mohajir is bowing to the US's dicta, there's no justification for violence on our part. Which is a *ridiculous* argument. For, Pakistan must not only halt its "moral and political" support to jihadis, it must also abandon its dream of annexing Kashmir and its position that Kashmir is an issue in Indo-Pak bilateral relations. Without that, we'll be back to square one the moment the West achieves its aim of wiping out al Qaeda. And what has Musharaff's speech told us? This:
* The question to hand over any Pakistani [terrorist] does not arise. We will never do it.
* We have not given them [Dawood Ibrahim & Co] any asylum. If they are found here then we will *think* of taking appropriate action against them.
* Kashmir runs in our blood. No Pakistani can break from Kashmir. We will continue to give moral and diplomatic support to Kashmir.
* Don't try to cross border. Jawab puri taakat se dengey.

In a line: Laathon ke bhoot, baaton se nahi maanenge. That's what war's for.

Many ask me, what will the use of force against Pakistan achieve, for it will inevitably lead to war. Another idiot argument... What did Lahore achieve? Didn't we undergo Kargil after that? What did Agra achieve? Weren't we told then that Pakistan's claim to Kashmir was non-negotiable? What has diplomacy with the terrorist state achieved since 1947? Zero, nil. Isn't it time to give war a chance...?

If force can convince the Paki street to abandon its ambitions of "the fragmentation of India", we bloody well should be prepared to use it. (And while we're at it, take back PoK, too.) All that business about RAW doing an ISI in Pakistan is Alice-in-Wonderland stuff: We have neither the malevolence nor the spine to exploit the call of religion. Besides which, our people will continue to die throughout the long process of creating the networks for such covert operations. Another cliché: War is never painless. As Lt Gen (retd) Vinay Shankar wrote, "We do have the capacity to hurt and punish and in the process we have to be prepared to take a few bruises ourselves." Indians, thanks to the European power plays of World War II, got independence too easily. This time, we must EARN the freedom from terrorism by making sacrifices.

Irfan Husain is the only Pakistani thinker I won't call 'Paki', for he wrote this in October 2000: "The only force that can concentrate these closed minds is the steady deterioration in the economy that can be linked directly to our disastrous foreign policy and its accompanying defence posture. And at the heart of these policies lies the concept of jihad as a solution to our external and internal problems. In other words, we will continue on our present course until we can no longer afford to pay the high cost of jihad." Geddit? Only war will ensure that Pakistan cannot afford to pay the mangy dogs of not only Lashkar and Jaish, but also Hizb-ul Mujahideen and Hurriyat Conference.

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know what thinking Pakis are writing these days. Here's one sample for your "people-to-people contact": "In any case, there can be no concession over the 20-man list demanded by India... [Musharraf] is playing Chamberlain to Vajpayee's subcontinental or cardboard version of Hitler... Conflicts in the past we have instigated. This one is being foisted on us... What are we afraid of? We have half a million men under arms. Isn't that enough? In seeking peace with India let us be guided by the example of Mandela. But in resisting aggression let us be guided by the spirit of Hamas." Nope, not Rashid Qureshi or Hamid Gul or the other basket-cases of their fanatical establishment. This is the darling of the peacenik Indian media -- columnist Ayaz Amir in the Dawn.

My assessment is austere: Those who seek to bleed India, must be made to bleed. Their violence must be crushed with greater force. The unqualified message that *every* Indian must deliver to the world is, India will not allow terror and intimidation to succeed, whatever the cost. And that cost could well be war. I am one with Sunny Deol's line: "Doodh maangoge, to kheer denge. Kashmir maangoge to cheer denge!" We've had ENOUGH of this 30,000-dead "peace" -- it's time to give war a chance.

Varsha Bhosle

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