The internal contradictions in the official reactions of China at the Goa Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apt description of Pakistan as the “mother-ship of terrorism” are too evident to be missed under doublespeak. Beijing may shed (crocodile) tears at the “sacrifices” Pakistan has had to make due to terrorism, but the price that Pakistan had to pay for terrorism was largely because it had inducted terrorists from the streets to its policymaking corner rooms.
But why has Islamabad been branded as the mother-ship of terrorism? The answer lies in the communalised mindset that led to the demand for Pakistan by a large section of pre-independence Muslims. After partition, the architects declared their real aim: “Ladke liye Pakistan, hanske lenge Hindustan”.
The pro-partition Muslim leaders, who had mesmerised their masses into believing that an Islamic India was within their grasp very soon with partition as the first chapter of a return to the 16th century political map, subsequently lost to more radical Islamic leadership. Theocratic Pakistan, split in various competing Islamic formulations, has emerged as a petri-dish of terror in the world today.
Within months of its birth, Pakistan planned a quick takeover of Kashmir through a masked tribal uprising. It was almost on the verge of success but was deprived of its coveted prize through a swift manoeuvre of the Indian Army and timely political decision of the Dogra king, Hari Singh. In the very first decade after Pakistan came into existence, it was evident that the game of the Pakistani leaders of grabbing India was not going to be achieved.
It was the frustration of the mullah-led masses out of this and the Pakistan Army’s need to rehabilitate itself in the public eye of Islamism-honed masses that joined hands to end the civilian rule through the assassination of then Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. General Iskander Khan took over the reign. Soon after Pakistan was formed, Mohammed Ali Jinnah passed away leaving behind leadership vacuum. That was the beginning of the mosque-military alliance which has dominated Pakistani politics ever since. The military benefitted when Pakistan joined the America-led alliance aimed against the Soviet Union. The US offered an unending flow of arms, ostensibly to stop the Soviet spread out.
Washington, DC refused to listen to India’s warning that the only aim of the Pakistan Army was to target India. Taking advantage of the trauma India suffered in 1962 at the hands of the Chinese, Pakistan’s Army-led Government launched the surprise 1965 attack with modern arms and planes obtained under American assistance. It did not bargain for what followed under Lal Bahadur Shastri. Islamabad’s Army was once again in a swirl after this defeat.
India marched forward in democracy and the Pakistan Army was unable to return the Government to civilian rule, as the eastern wing of Pakistan became increasingly restive under a Punjabi dominated-Army and politicians tried to impose Urdu and suppress Bengali culture there. This led to increasing demand for the separation of the eastern wing that was culturally, economically and intellectually far ahead of the dominant Punjabi milieu.
Despite the horrible suppression of the Bengali people by the Pakistan Army, Washington remained steadfast in its support to the Army-led regime. But all the American arms and support could not save the Pakistan Army from a decisive defeat when the Indian Armed Forces and the Government under Indira Gandhi disregarded even the US threat to deploy warships in Bay of Bengal and liberated Bangladesh.
This was the third setback to the Pakistani military as the saviour of jihadi ambitions. It also led to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, for a time Prime Minister as the civilian rule returned for a short interval, defining the winning strategy against India as the ‘thousand cuts’ on India’s body that would bleed India to death.
The Jihadi brainwashing of Pakistan’s teen generation through a string of ultra orthodox madrassas was General Zia-ul-Haq’s answer to prevent any return to civilian rule. The Constitution was reframed to make any deviation from Islamic cleric rule punishable by death. This was the beginning of terrorism with official support.
The Zia strategy to promotejihadi ideology to consolidate the Army regime has resulted in terror becoming both a challenging extra-constitutional power in Pakistan politics and also a part of the state policy in dealing with ‘kafir’ India.
Pakistan-American scholar Shaza Nawaz has described the Army as an “an institution that has been, and remains, the centre of gravity in Pakistan”. But the same Army, having generated and nurtured thejihadi terror modules as instruments of state policy, now finds – as often happens in all ultra-radical societies – that the devil it had created and nursed, has gone out of control and occasionally has an agenda of its own.
The agendas of the two ideological cousins – Pakistan Army and terror outfits there – over-lap, and clash as well. So the terror modules and their creator, the Pakistan Army, at times are on the same side; and can be pitted against each other, depending on the occasion.
The Chinese advice to India to pursue negotiations with Islamabad is pointless, as Modi, after repeated attempts at persuading his Pakistani counterpart to reopen talks, has found that Nawaz Sharif is no longer the deciding power centre in that country.
Any Government in New Delhi would be closing its eye to the reality of China now finding a good and willing client in Pakistan in the pursuit of its own global ambitions. China has entered a stage where it wants to be the table for two, with the US, to share how to run the world. Washington has refused to concede that stake to Beijing and is busy in building up alliances with other Asian nations to counter the global assertions of Beijing.
China has discovered a deep interest in Pakistan to counter this, especially a growing US-India-Japan-Australia strategic alliance. Prime Minister Modi has been offering President Xi a hand of friendship on equal terms, but Pakistan is a willing surrogate- and why should not Beijing use it by huge infrastructure investments in Pakistan to gain a southern opening into the Indian Ocean!
New Delhi has to play its cards well and give up hopes of Beijing helping in any global action against the mother-ship that spews terror and pollutes the climate for peace. It must tell China of the limits of India’s friendship. Having seen the double-talk of ‘bhai-bhai’ days, New Delhi will not be double crossed again.
(The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP and