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Medusa

Author: Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
Publication: Major Gaurav Arya
Date: March 12, 2019
URL:      https://majorgauravarya.wordpress.com/2019/03/12/medusa/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

On 14 August 1947, a part of the British Indian Army separated from its mother organisation and became the Pakistan Army. It retained the flavour of its British creator; the parties, the spit and polish, the gin in the afternoon and whiskey in the evening, the ‘hard as hobnailed leather’ ethos and the drill square. Its officers were Pakistani in skin-tone but British in thinking. “Brown Sahibs” would have been an apt description.

We were no different.

The Indian Army has seen a strong and consistent democratic dispensation since independence. Yes, our political leaders have made mistakes. But it is also true that the Indian Army is the better for never having tasted the fruits of unquestioned power.

India ratified its Constitution on 26 November 1949 and gave itself a Constitution on 26 January 1950.

The Pakistan Army saw a political leadership vacuum from the very beginning, something they could take advantage of. While India’s socialist democracy moved towards economic justice, the power center in Pakistan remained the landowner, the redoubtable Wadera. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the relationship of the ruler and the ruled has always been that of the Chaudharys and Haaris, the landowner and the landless tiller. And the biggest Chaudhary of them all has always been the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan’s first Constitution was approved in 1956 but abrogated in 1958, after a military coup. The 1962 Constitution was suspended in 1969. It was abrogated in 1972. In 1973, Pakistan framed a new Constitution. It was again held in abeyance in 1977, after a coup. This Constitution was restored in 1985.

Each time it was a Pakistan Army General who tore up the Constitution of Pakistan. When it wasn’t a General, it was a civilian who was all too willing to dance to the tune of whoever was the pied piper in Rawalpindi. Governor General Ghulam Mohammad, Major General Iskander Mirza, General Ayub Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, General Zia ul-Haq, General Parvez Musharraf, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif…not all Pakistani autocrats have worn the uniform.

Gen Ayub Khan midwifed the political career of the greatest of all Pakistani democrats, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In 1983, another military dictator General Zia-ul Haq appointed a young industrialist to the very important position of Finance Minister of Punjab. That young industrialist was Nawaz Sharif. Before 2013, there was no one more liberal and secular than Imran Khan. He baited the Army and called out the fundamentalists. After losing every election and looking down the path of political oblivion, Imran Khan understood that without the three A’s of Pakistan, he was dust. Allah, Army and America have always been the pillars of Pakistan.

Imran saw that the national mood was against America. So, he embraced Islamic fundamentalism, and suddenly the Pakistan Army was Teflon coated. The elite soon renamed him “Taliban Khan”. In 2018, General Qamar Javed Bajwa manipulated the Pakistan General Elections and Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi became the twenty-second Prime Minister of Pakistan. Incidentally, Imran belongs to the same clan of Mianwali Niazis that gave Pakistan another historical gem, Lt Gen AAK Niazi.

But I digress.

Strategic depth is the Holy Grail that the Pakistan Army has always sought. You need land to fight wars and Pakistan is not more than 400 kms wide, at an average. No nation wants to fight wars on its own land. It is avoidable. So, the Pakistan Army creates “zones of influence”. In Iran, it is the Sunni terror outfits perpetually at war with a Shia state. In Afghanistan, it is the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, amongst many others. In India, it is Kashmir. Earlier, it was Punjab. There are other geographies involved, within India. What I mention here is the tip of the iceberg. There are circles within circles. Pakistan’s attack on India is asymmetric. And it is mind-bogglingly sophisticated.

No one can accuse the Pakistan Army of not having a sense of humor. When the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown by General Zia ul Haq, the coup was called Operation Fair Play.

Zia irreversibly changed both Pakistan and the Pakistan Army. It was under him that mainstreaming of radical Islamists started. When he appointed various ultra-conservative Ulema to the all-powerful Council of Islamic Ideology, an unknown Sargodha born cleric found a special place in Zia’s heart. General Zia-ul Haq created Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

This was the time when the boundaries between the Pakistan Military and the self-styled Mujahideen who had fought in the Afghan Jihad, started blurring. Unity, Faith and Discipline, the motto given by Jinnah was dumped. Its place was taken by the freshly minted ‘Iman Taqwa Jihad fi-Sabilillah’. Jihad became the avowed aim of the Pakistan Army. Its soldiers were no longer simply professionals. They became Ghazis, devout Muslims who were at a state of perpetual war with non-Muslims.

Officers and men were graded by how ‘pious’ they were. Outward signs of this piety were namaz, the obligatory beard and frequent references to the Holy Quran. Liquor was banned. Music was declared ‘haram’.

From the day it was born, Pakistan’s journey to being a security state started. This required money. So, agreements were signed with US and later with China. It was easier for US to deal with Pakistan, than with India, notwithstanding India’s socialist leaning towards the USSR. India was a messy democracy and work in progress. In Pakistan, US had always dealt with one man, the Army Chief. It was always about convenience. Nothing has changed. Pakistan Army has always had serious mercenary tendencies. That too has not changed.

Soon, the ISI had its own political wing, used for keeping tabs on politicians. They blackmailed, harassed and pressurized. They created and destroyed governments. They were instrumental in assassinations and disappearances of political rivals. They say that the ISI has closed down its political wing. But then, they say a lot of things.

The Pakistan Army was the self-proclaimed savior of the nation. But to be the savior, an enemy was needed. So, the Pakistani population was told how India had never accepted partition and how the Constitution of India did not acknowledge the existence of Pakistan. India, five times the size, would gobble up Pakistan. The Hindu was to be reviled and looked upon with suspicion. Incidentally, Pakistan’s school textbooks have some of the most hateful literature you can find in any school curriculum in the world. The hate for India was thus institutionalized.

Four wars were fought, three over Kashmir. Countless acts of terror later, Pakistan is no closer to getting Kashmir than it is to speaking a coherent sentence in front of a global audience. But once you are the self-appointed Fortress of Islam and the only ‘Muslim nuclear power’, you have an inflated sense of importance.

Today, the business interests of the Pak military are worth over USD 100 billion. Fauji Foundation, Shaheen Foundation, Baharia Foundation, Army Welfare Trust and the Defence Housing Authorities own about fifty different businesses. From cement to real estate, from custard to diapers, the Pakistan Army manufactures every consumable you can think of.

Pakistan Army breeds terrorists because they are cheaper to maintain and arm, than a regular army. It also breeds them because of the huge advantage of plausible deniability. And who can argue with the fact that Pakistani Generals are far better at making money than fighting wars? Pakistan has outsourced its wars with India to the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar.

Post Pulwama, a few things have changed irreversibly. One, Pakistan has upped the ante by introducing suicide bombing to Kashmir. Two, India’s response by launching air strikes into Pakistani territory not just in PoK but also Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has raised the bar for anti-terror response. This message that the air strikes gave was not what politicians thought it was. They were busy counting bodies. Bodies are not important because to get bodies, we could have used MBRLs or medium artillery. We could have done it from the safety of our country. The simple act of launching fighter jets into enemy territory is an incredible statement.

It is not about Kashmir. Pakistan will remain in a state of perpetual war with India, until we are ‘cut to size’. Imagine how we must look to an insecure nation; five times the size, huge geographical area, an economy that has left Pakistan in the dust, a military that dwarfs its own and the blue passport that is respected worldwide. We are everything that Pakistan wanted to be, but never could. Jealousy breeds hatred.

After 1989, Pakistan convinced itself that it was the sole reason for the defeat of USSR in the Afghan War. It forgot that it was just a paid middleman between the CIA and the Afghan Mujahideen. Lt Gen Hamid Gul was the man who fanned this mad fantasy of ill equipped Holy warriors who won on the strength of their faith alone. All this is helium, off course. It was massive CIA slush funds and the infusion of weapons, including the redoubtable stingers that caused Soviet fatalities. All that welded with the Afghan warrior spirit was a little too much for the Red Army.

The more Hamid Gul lied, the more this fantasy took firm hold. If Pakistan could defeat the USSR, India would be a cakewalk. It would fall in two or three years, at the most. With this plan firmly in place, the Kashmir Jihad was launched in 1989. Flush with initial success, the ISI could almost smell the apples in Kashmir. Then, something happened that wrecked their insane plans of conquest. They ran into the Indian Army.

A Kargil and hundreds of terror attacks later, Pakistan has not gained an inch of land in Kashmir. And I will say it again and again; much as Pakistan may like to weave this wobbly narrative around Kashmir, this battle has little to do with the Valley. But one thing Pakistan Army has done, with some degree of brilliance. It has convinced a vast majority of its population that there are good and bad terrorists. And, terrorism is a legitimate tool when the enemy is India.

1947-48, 1965, 1971, 1993, 1999, 26/11, Punjab, Kashmir, Parliament attacks, and Akshardham temple attacks…I can go on and on. 15,000 Indian deaths later, we are no closer to peace, than we were when we gained independence.

Imagine a weird, hypothetical scenario, never possible in a million years. But humor me. Let us say we give Kashmir to Pakistan. Only the extremely naïve, in moments of absolute lack of lucidity, will believe that this will buy peace. It will not.

A full-fledged conventional war with Pakistan will have consequences that are avoidable. There are other ways to punish Pakistan, militarily. What India lacks is a coherent and consistent policy of dealing with a rogue neighbor. It is important that we don’t lose the momentum gained by the Balakot air strikes. We must keep our foot on the accelerator. The Pakistan Army must be in a constant state of pressure. It cannot strengthen both its Eastern and Western fronts. It is this dilemma for Pakistan that we must always seek.

The Pakistan Army is the Pakistani State. Of this I am convinced. It will have its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows. But it is also true that since 1947, it has defined the idea of Pakistan. It is the self-proclaimed guardian of Pakistan’s ideological frontiers.

There can never be peace with Pakistan unless Pakistan becomes a democracy in the truest sense. For that, the Pakistan Army will have to cease to be the center of gravity of that nation.

Greek legend speaks of a female monster called Medusa, whose stare would turn men into stone and who had snakes in place of hair. This terrifying being destroyed everything in her path. The only way to end her terror was to behead her. Perseus, the Greek warrior, did this. By this act of beheading Medusa, he brought peace to Sarpedon.

It is time to cut off the head of Medusa.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

#MajorGauravArya #Medusa #adgpi #IndianArmy
 
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