"India has massacred 60,000 Kashmiris, but the
people of Kashmir will never rest till they have won freedom;"
"India has deployed 700,000 soldiers in the Valley, and yet the
Kashmiri mujahideen are inflicting heavy losses on them every day;"
"How laughable it is that India has packed the Kargil sector with
40,000 troops, and just a handful of mujahidin are able to inflict
humiliation upon humiliation on them;" Indian infrastructure has
collapsed to such an extent that even those Indian casualties which
were "lucky enough to be evacuated by air, had to wait for three
days for a bed in Srinagar hospitals" -- such "facts" are repeated
ad nauseum in Pakistani papers. Sixty thousand Kashmiris killed by
India? Seven hundred thousand troops in Kashmir? Forty thousand
troops in Kargil? Soldiers waiting for three days to get a hospital
bed? We tend to dismiss such assertions as the usual lies -- friends
who run one of our most conscientious news services about happenings
in our neighbourhood, Public Opinion Trends, are so inured to these
concoctions that they excise them from their reports! In fact, the
concoctions deserve attention.
For one thing they are part of a world-view, they
are part of an Ideology. Everything Pakistan does about Kashmir --
stoking terrorism, sending army regulars, spreading fabrications at
every international gathering -- it pictures to itself as jihad, as
a religious undertaking, indeed as an Allah-ordained duty.
Concocting lies then becomes a device for discharging that duty.
"War is stratagem," the Prophet has said, "War is deceit." [Sahih
Muslim, Volume III, pp. 945, 990-91; Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume IV,
pp. 166-67; Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume II, p. 728] Thus one may lie,
one may kill the enemy while he is asleep, one may kill him by
tricking him. [For instance, Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume IV, pp.
164-65, 167-68.] That is one problem: for the man or force weaned on
jihad, the concoctions are an intrinsic part of the struggle he is
waging, for him the fact that the war he is waging is Allah-ordained
is a complete justification for cruelty, for lies and the rest; on
our side, we don't just shut our eyes to the concoctions that result
from it, we shut our eyes even more tightly to the Ideology of which
they are but the result.
There is an immediate, practical result also. These
sorts of "facts" and assertions are repeated so often that by now
they have sunk into the subconscious of the average Pakistani. He
actually believes that India has massacred sixty thousand Kashmiris,
he actually believes that Kashmir is aflame, that Kashmiris are
dying to merge into Pakistan, that it is just a matter of months and
they will be able to do so. From this it is but a step to conclude
that all that is necessary is to give one more push, to launch one
more offensive, and the Kashmiris will rise, the place will go up in
flames, India will be broken, the job will be done.
The believer, having internalised the concoction,
just can't see why the world doesn't believe what he is putting out.
As we have seen, Pakistani papers had themselves been reporting --
with evident self-congratulation -- that soldiers of the Pakistan
Army have wrested posts from the Indian Army, that they have
occupied a village in... As international opinion turned against
Pakistan for that very reason, suddenly, as if a switch had been
turned, references to the Pakistan Army ceased, and the victories
were ascribed to the valiant mujahidin. Within days, references to
these mythical mujahidin too were replaced -- now it was the
"Kashmiri freedom fighters" who were inflicting the "humiliating
defeats" on the Indian Army. One feature of course is that these
switches come naturally -- as the war is a jihad in the cause of
Allah, whichever thesis will serve The Great Cause is the one which
must be pushed. The other is that the believer is just not able to
see why the world does not swallow his fabrication.
As everything is a matter of belief in Allah, to
question the "fact" which has been put out, to doubt a scenario --
the sheikhchili's scenario in which one favourable twist leads to
another devastating turn -- becomes blasphemy, it becomes proof that
one lacks faith, it is betrayal. Thus, not to believe that Indians
have massacred sixty thousand Kashmiris, to doubt that Kashmir is on
the brink of breaking away from India, not to believe that Kashmiris
are pining to join Pakistan is to be unpatriotic, it is to lack
faith in the fundamental notion that, as they all believe in Islam,
all Muslims constitute one, seamless ummah. As a consequence, while
not even the allies and props of Pakistan are buying its assertions
today, self-delusion remains a duty!
The insurgency which Pakistan had orchestrated in
Kashmir is dead: to cite a single index, while the number of
tourists in the Valley had fallen to just 600 in 1996, this year
they are running close to 250,000. Recruitment of locals has
evaporated. But in the Pakistani press the insurgency is at the
point of overturning the Indian State! A fundamental change has
taken place in the area, writes a commentator in The News of 3 June.
" ...Freedom fighters in Kashmir have attained self-sufficiency in
weapons and have developed indigenous techniques of fighting which
have become a way of life for them," he writes. "They fight under
the cover of darkness, under the protection of mountains and in
their own area which they know very well. They move in the area like
wild goats and can reach anywhere without any difficulty. They
return to their homes and hearths in the morning after accomplishing
their task and join their family on the jobs which are needed to be
done to earn livelihood." "Two weeks of fighting in the Kargil
sector have established the following facts," the analyst continues.
"That the indigenous insurrection movement in Kashmir is so strong
and so well-armed that India can no longer hold it in check. It is
also no longer possible for India to cross the international
boundary and so the fighting will remain confined to Kashmir where
India has always been the loser..."
"On the diplomatic front the Indians are playing on
the back-foot," writes an analyst in The News of 4 June. "....The
Kargil operation [of India], aimed at killing the Kashmir issue,
will have helped to chisel away at the paralysed and hardened
Kashmir position of the international players [an acknowledgment
there!]. And the Kashmiris living under Indian control know that.
Much like the Intifada which proved to be a potent stimulus for the
Palestinians under Israeli occupation, India's Kargil fiasco will
renew the Kashmiri resolve to fight on. Psychologically, the fact
that a mere 400 - 600 mujahidin have bogged down the world's third
largest army for a few months, irrespective of the final outcome
[another acknowledgment there!], will be a major morale booster for
the Kashmiris of Kashmir." The diplomatic isolation of Pakistan is
for all to see, but the analyst remarks, "Nawaz Sharief meanwhile,
ably supported on foreign policy issues by his Information Minister
and Foreign Office, has pursued a near-faultless India policy. He
has mixed peace offers with commitment to his country's defence and
projected nuclear strength with gentleness. He is indeed South
Asia's strong man of peace...." Remember, The News is the paper
which was till recently the special target of the attentions of
Nawaz Sharief and his Information Minister!
Belief makes one not just blind, it makes one
reckless. The Taliban in the madrasas are of course fed Quranic
stories of the "wars" of Badr etc. But they are not the only ones.
The regular soldier and officer of the Pakistani Army has them
drilled into him just as deep. And the lesson from these stories
which is stuffed into him is not some particular stratagem to be
followed in a siege or an assault, say; the lesson he internalises
is that Allah shall always come to the aid of believers, that the
side of Allah shall prevail. So all one has to do is leap.
One of the things that strikes one in reading books
from Pakistan, the analyses in their newspapers, judgments of their
courts is the singular absence of subtlety, of shades. The analyses
are gross: the categories are basic, the conclusions predictable.
This is not the result merely of mental habits or capacities.
Ideology makes grossness inevitable. Everything is either black or
white, everyone is either a co-religionist or one who will some day
deceive one, every engagement is going to turn out one way --
capitalism is certain to collapse, it is on the verge of collapsing,
Allah is bound to come to the assistance of believers, His cause is
bound to prevail...
There is another consequence -- Pakistani
newspapers are replete with instances of it. The belief having been
drilled into him that he is doing Allah's Will -- or, as in
Marxism-Leninism, of History -- the believer just cannot believe
that the fault may lie with him. As the war he is waging has been
ordained by Allah, the one who is opposing him must, by definition,
be doing so for some perverse reason, for some ulterior purpose.
Pakistanis have been genuinely surprised at Washington's statements
disapproving their crossing the Line of Control. They just cannot
see that Pakistan might be in the wrong. Their analysts hint that
the USA is tilting towards India because it is drooling at the
prospect of India's large market! Commenting on a statement of the
American Secretary of State, The Nation of June 6 remarks ruefully,
"India being the bigger market for trade does not mean that the
world should give up its moral values on political issues"! By the
8th, the paper is hinting at some even deeper mystery! Repeating the
new fabrications on the Line of Control, the paper remarks in an
editorial, "If despite India's strange illogicality, the US State
Department chooses to buy the Indian accusations and discounts the
Pakistani version of the incident, there has to be more to it than a
fair assessment of the situation"!
The Indians cannot be fighting Pakistani troops
because they have occupied Indian territory. They are doing so for
some other, unworthy, deplorable reasons. Vajpayee is facing an
election, and launching a war against Pakistan has been his party's
traditional way of gathering votes! "The BJP government has
collapsed despite its 'popular' nuclear policy," observes Najam
Sethi's The Friday Times of 4-10 June in its editorial, "but it
still clings to the old political tricks to garner votes. It is also
hostage to an aggressive policy in Kashmir. If it lets up, the
Congress will pillory it by adopting a more hawkish stance. India's
politicians have therefore hog-tied themselves by their devotion to
this vote-getting gimmick..." "They [the Indian politicians] have
made de-escalation more difficult all round," it continues --
Pakistani troops cross the Line of Control, our forces, by fighting
back, make de-escalation difficult! "The Congress government
committed the 'popular' folly of sending troops to Siachin. But no
later government has dared to withdraw troops from it..." So long as
Pakistani troops were occupying Siachin it was far-sightedness, it
became folly when Indians occupied it! And daring would consist in
vacating Siachin for the Pakistani Army, not in holding it!
In this analysis the BJP government is strong
enough to push its "old tricks to garner votes". In other analyses,
the reason is the opposite! Writing in The Nation of 28 May, an
analyst tells his readers that an Interim, weak government is in
office in Delhi, and that "hawks in the Indian military
establishment are ruling the roost," and that this is what accounts
for the scale of the response, the air-strikes and the rest!
But such objective factors -- "old political tricks
to garner votes" and the like -- are never enough for a believer. He
must detect something deep, some fundamental perversity in the one
who is being so obdurate as not to fall at the believer's feet.
Predictably, therefore, that staple of Pakistani papers has
returned: "Hindu cunning"! And this time, just as predictably, Mr
Atal Behari Vajpayee is the epitome of it. "Mr Vajpayee has proved
more two-faced than his predecessor," notes The Friday Times.
"Vajpayee -- the man who showed statesmanship by describing his
visit to Minar Pakistan as 'the defining moment in history' -- has
only appeared at the bar of history as a clumsy pygmy," The News of
30 May tells its readers. "A short-sighted and pathetically
parochial politician whose instincts for political survival are both
reactionary and jingoistic. His passion for the cheap thrill coupled
with the BJP's desire to regain a foothold in contemporary Indian
politics have resulted in airstrikes on Kashmiri freedom
It isn't just information from which Ideology
insulates one. Ideology insulates one from experience just as much.
When the believer succeeds, he is confirmed in the belief that the
Ideology has driven into him -- that Allah is with him. But the
Ideology has also driven another notion into him -- a notion that
protects the Ideology from an adverse outcome, but by the same token
disables the believer from learning. When they are defeated, the
faithful have been taught to conclude, Allah is just testing their
faith: Allah has put defeat in their path, they have been taught, to
ascertain whether at such a time they lose faith in Allah's promise.
Do they abandon their faith in Allah?, Allah wants to see. Do they
blame Him rather than themselves?, Allah wants to make sure.
This Ideology-induced deafness is compounded in the
case of Pakistan by the essentially authoritarian nature of both --
its society as well as polity. In free, democratic societies there
is incessant self-examination. In authoritarian societies pasting
blame on The Other becomes nature. The defeat in Vietnam caused an
enormous amount of introspection in America: it led, among other
things, to new strategic thinking, to new technologies. The rout in
Bangladesh caused none in Pakistan. We see the same sequence today.
Indian forces are rolling back the Pakistanis in Kargil.
Internationally Pakistan stands isolated as never before. But
Pakistani press is singing hosannas: the success of the mujahideen
in holding the Indian Army at bay has inspired the freedom fighters
of Kashmir, they sing to themselves, the uprising against India will
now reach new heights; the Kashmir issue has been "irretrievably
internationalized," they exult; the world now realizes that Kashmir
can be the nuclear flash-point, they declare to their own
These features hold for Pakistanis in general,
immersed as they are in, committed as they are to an Ideology,
Islam. Each of them is compounded ten-fold in the case of the
officer and soldier of the Pakistan Army. Stephen Cohen has noted
how the "Sandhurst" and "American" generations of their officers
have passed, how the officer-class consists increasingly of persons
from the lower middle class and peasant stock. In the country at
large these classes are among the ones which have been swept up most
by Islamic rhetoric: and, what with the continuing collapse of
educational institutions, at an accelerating pace. The success which
the Army has achieved through the Taliban in Afghanistan also
buttresses the notion that "the time of Islam has returned".
There are other factors too. The more intense
Islamic rhetoric has become, the more cut-off from outside
influences and opinions Pakistan has become, the Army even more so
than other sections: almost the only thing which has kept an
aperture open to the rest of the world is Pakistan's technological
backwardness -- because of this backwardness, it has had to continue
relying on other countries for technical upgradation, and hence some
contrary ideas must still be sneaking in. But it is a tiny aperture:
the countries from whom it secures the weapons are also ones whose
life and ways its Ideology teaches it to hate and reject.
Not only is the Army, like other sections of
Pakistani society, insulated from the world, it is insulated from
those other sections within Pakistan too. The Army is overwhelmingly
Punjabi. Within that one province, its recruits are overwhelmingly
from a small clutch of five or six districts.
Furthermore, that the Army has such an
over-weaning, predominant status in Pakistani society and governance
impels a certain deafness: few dare question what it says and does,
all the greater reason for the Army to conclude that what it is
thinking is valid. And there is another twist. The Pakistani Army
has great power, overwhelming power vis a vis other sections of
society, but not esteem. That went -- first with the way it lost
Pakistan in 1971, and then with the mess that the Army made of the
country during the years it had absolute sway, the Zia years. Since
then, while the success in Afghanistan has restored its esteem
somewhat, this is counter-balanced with the reputation for
corruption, the reputation for being involved in the drug-trade etc.
which have got stuck to it.
To the faith of the believer, therefore, has been
added a compulsion -- to prove itself again.
Each of these factors applies to organizations like
the ISI twenty-fold. And to the terrorist organizations the ISI etc.
have spawned -- a hundred-fold.
In a word, Kargil is but the latest of what
Pakistan will continue to inflict on us. Defeating each such venture
with demonstrative harshness is as much a part of the peace-process
as pursuing every opening like