Thursday, January 7, 2016

What to do with Pakistan?

As the dust of the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Force Base dies down, some difficult questions need to be asked. No doubt this is part of a pattern from Pakistan that has gone on since the 1997 ceasefire between the two armies - the Indian side makes a peace gesture, and a terrorist strike hits India to break that peace down. Sometimes it breaks down instantly, sometimes it takes longer, but the trajectory is the same. This time too, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's best desires to the contrary, there is no reason to believe that anything is going to change. To put it frankly, we are being suckered each and every time.

Modi was perhaps the best bet for lasting peace in the subcontinent. The right wing will not attack him, at least not with any ferocity. Right now, it is mainly the Congress and the Deep Congress that are attacking him, despite the fact that many of them had actually celebrated his audacious and historic stop-by in Lahore. For now, Modi is safe in the knowledge that his core supporters are willing to give him a chance, just as they had given Vajpayee a chance. And yet, as Einstein once said, only an insane person would repeat the same thing and expect different results. So what can be done?

War is not an option between India and Pakistan because it is sure to go nuclear, or the US would intervene before that and turn it into a multilateral issue. Economic sanctions would be impossible given the already low level of trade. Talks and negotiations have clearly failed. Therefore, to use Chanakya's rubric, saam, daam, and dand are not going to work. We are left with the fourth choice - bhed. Divide and rule, as the British had once done. For all the show of strength, Pakistan is really not a country. The tenuous linkage through the two-nation theory ended in 1971, and there are deep fissures in the country - at least half the country by area would gladly seceded. Moreover, Gilgit-Baltistan and so-called Azad Kashmir are also quite unhappy with the Pakistani state. This is certainly India's opening.

The only solution, a long-term one no doubt, is to dismember Pakistan. As Tarek Fatah rightly described it, this is the original Islamic State, and the world would be better off without it. The dismembered parts, certainly unstable, would either have to join India or exist as vassal states of larger powers. It is a pity that former PM IK Gujral shut down RAW's capabilities in Pakistan, capabilities that Indira Gandhi had nurtured, but a focused attempt at recreating those must be used. That seems to be the only real solution to this problem. 

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