Friday, July 22, 2011

How can India Tackle Terrorism from Pakistan?

(Image: India-Pakistan border in Ranbir Singh Pura, on the outskirts of Jammu, India. Courtesy of Channi Anand, NewYork Times)
Aggressive Indian view: Enough is enough. Our army is more than twice the size of Pak-army. We are technically sounder than them in all three wings of armed forces (i.e., army, navy, & air-force). We know the exact locations of terrorist camps in Pakistan (mainly, in southern Punjab & Pak-occupied Kashmir). What are we waiting for? A bigger attack??? Even if our air-strikes on those terrorist camps result in a war, we have an upper edge. Pakistan has neither money nor resources to sustain a war with us even for a month (most likely, for not even 20days), as it hardly has any international support. And there is no way it can dare to use atomic-weapons as the result would be more catastrophic for itself. We only need a government with some political will, and Pakistan will be a thing of the past. No Pakistan, no terrorism - story finished.
My take: Such speeches make great impact on the masses, and truly, can electrify public emotions against Pakistan. Also, this may win elections, and may make one very popular, attracting a large number of followers. However, this is absolutely a bogus set of flawed arguments, aimed at disguising masses heading towards a disaster. Let me explain:
· It is very important to understand how “security” of citizens is defined. Does it mean only physical security? I would like to define “security” as a comprehensive term, which consists of physical as well as economic, social & psychological security. State’s job is not just to look after its people’s physical security, but it is also suppose to make sure its people have good education, health care facilities, employment opportunities and a better quality of life in-general. If the state chooses the “aggressive-view” option as presented above, how is that going to affect the “comprehensive security” of the people of India? On the other hand, it is more likely that the people will have to sacrifice their current quality of life (of course, war will hurt every socio-economic indicator badly). We would be required to then forget about 10% GDP growth and put hold on our success stories at least for a few years, if not for ever. And the obvious unimaginable destruction (i.e., socio-economic, environmental & of precious human lives) that a war brings will put India far behind the rest of the world. I don’t think that will make people of India more “secure”.
· Now, even if you win the war, what next? The state of India is struggling to provide basic facilities to its people, how will it take responsibility of another 17crore? Can’t we see how America is struggling to manage Afghanistan currently? Fall of Islamabad does not mean end of troubles. The number of non-state warlords of Pakistan will multiple by many times, and of course, the terror strikes will increase unthinkably all over India. Can’t we see the present state of Pakistan- how the number of suicide bombing has crazily increased in past five years (as some terror groups feel the fall of Kabul is due to Pakistan’s support to the US)? (see link:
Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan: 2003- 2011
Security Forces (SFs)
* Data till February 20, 2011, Source: SATP
This will be like throwing over a billion people in mire of an absolute chaos and endless cycles of violence. We surely don’t want this to happen.
· Wars cannot be completely won or lost in today’s times, and it results in a compromise (e.g., recent war of USA- Iraq, & USA – Afghanistan on its way to a compromise). Practically, it is never possible to wipe out a whole country. Pakistan is a reality and it will always remain there (unless its people have some other plans).
· Extremism is psychological and guns will only provoke it. Remember, our fight is against anger; and aggression on our part will fuel extremism in Pakistan. Suppose, there are 20% extremists in Pakistan, our aggression will make them mainstream majority. If we kill one Hafeez Syed, some other will adapt to his psyche and continue attacks on India. [Note: I am not suggesting Hafeez Syed should not be killed. If the court sentences him to death, he must be punished without delay. However, this will not solve larger issue of terrorism and the problem will still persist for India.] Instead, we should kill that anti-India psyche.
· By being aggressive, we shall undermine the liberal, educated, middle-class people of Pakistan who are similar to us. Remember, Pakistani government was denying Kasab’s connection to Pakistan, but it was the main stream television channel Geo News of Pakistan, which uncovered Kasab’s family in Faridkot (in Pak). There are innumerable examples of how this class of people are introspecting in their social-fabric and are trying their level best to overcome anti-India sentiments. (Article continues below videos)
Prof. Sajjad of Lahore University of Management Sciences analyzes Anti-India ideology of Pakistan (courtesy: Dawn News)
Prof. Hoodbhoy talks about how big mistake was it to consider militants assets (courtsey: Express News)
Nazir Naji (writer) talks about terrorist safe haven in Pakistan and how it has generated existential threat to it (courtsey: Dunya TV)
Other links: (Najam Sethi, prominent political analyst and journalist, advocating end to India-Pakistan rivalry) (Hasan Nisar, popular urdu writer at Jung, indicating fault-lines in Pakistani society)
· Any observer of Pakistan would agree that these moderate people are losing voice in their country gradually (increasing number of moderate leaders are being killed). This is very dangerous for India, because they are giving a fight to the extremism in their society, which is India’s objective as well.
What should India do then?
Do I mean India should do nothing? Absolutely not… There are smarter ways which are likely to be proved far more effective in long term than a military action. [Note: I am not for demilitarisation. India must have a strong military to defend itself from every threat. I don’t want India to become a “Sone ki Chidiya” (golden sparrow) of the past that any beggar of east or (especially of) west loots away.]
· India should expand trade relations with Pakistan by many folds. Economy is one of the most important factors in international relations, if not everything. Look at China & US. The US has severe reservations for China’s militarily expansions, and it hates the idea of a world with two hard super powers (militarily at par with each other). However, it will never dare to attack the Chinese, as its economy is deeply dependent on them. After all, China is the biggest money lander to America. Coming back to the point, the common Pakistanis will clearly realize that their interest is in India’s growth and not in India’s down fall. For e.g., if Pakistani farmers are benefiting from exports of their mangoes to India, they would want India to grow so they can have bigger market and get better price returns, which in-turn will fuel their own growth. The more economic-interdependence, the more obsolete “anti-India sentiments” will become.
· We definitely need great increase in people to people contact. One can think of attacking another, when there is emotional detachment. If people have known the ground realities, have had direct interactions with the “other side”, have known their version of the story, some sort of bondage is bound to be established. Both sides (India & Pakistan) should exchange students, faculty members, artists, & intellectuals on a large scale. Visitor visas must be made easily accessible (of course, with proper background check).
· On political level, India must aggressively resolve less contentious issues (i.e., water, Siachen, Sir Creek etc). Kashmir must be resolved through backchannel (without any media hype) diplomacy with full priority. Issue of Baluchistan should be tackled only after Kashmir is resolved to push Pakistan on negotiating table.
· India should do its best to help the moderates of Pakistan gain voice, and should use its external intelligence agency (i.e., Research and Analysis Wing) constructively. Silencing extremists in Pakistan may be a good strategy, but encouraging moderate voices is surely a promising one. Covertly, India should also explore opportunities to strengthen secular, moderate and progressive democratic parties. I would like to call this “positive” use of external intelligence. This is very vital considering the present scenario in Pakistan. There will be nothing more fruitful for India than to have a stable democratic Pakistan, which practices secular values.
· Lastly, the people of South Asia are over-emotional. Indians and Pakistanis either fight or love each other. They talk about either war or reunification and wiping the border off. Let’s not have bipolar relations. Reunification is very quixotic idea. International relations are based on country’s interests and not on emotions. Let’s have warm relationships, great people to people contact & trade relations. Let’s invest heavily in “comprehensive security” of our people, instead of buying arms & ammunition. More importantly, let’s realize our fates are directly linked to one another.
Excerpt from Anand Patwardhan's documentary "War & Peace" (courtesy: Anand Patwardhan):

I welcome your comments....


  1. Nice analysis Kathan. According to me the the edge Pakistan has on Kashmir is majority of the Muslim population. The Pak military and ISI had been calling for a people's survey in Kashmir from 70's onwards. Apparently the Indian Kashmiri's are in double minds, which way to go. Another problem for Indian Kashmiris is they are not given the real Indian status the way a Gujarati or Bengali enjoys. In all university form there is a separate column for Kashmiris. Why so? Trade and talk with Pakistan will never help, the country has been Islamized by the so called ISI and Taliban, the youngsters of Pakistan aren't promising, they want a revenge of what India did for East Pakistan. So solution lies here. Make the Indian Kashmiris feel Indian. Pour in hell lot of money for the Kashmir state development, if we do so for 10 years there will be significant difference in POK and Indian Kashmir. The solution is to make Kashmiris feel at home. Anything with Pakistan will never help India.

  2. @Shriram- Thank you so much for your feedback. I have tried to portray the broader picture. Of course, solution of Kashmir is very important, but India will not be able to do it alone. We need to settle border disputes with Pakistan as well. You are partially correct when u mention Pak-army wanted plebiscite in Kashmir (due to Muslim majority). However, today ground realities are very different in Kashmir. All surveys suggest people there do not want to join Pakistan as they perceive it as a weak state. Now, Kashmir itself is divided when it comes to joining India. Majority of people in Kashmir valley want to have an independent entity, whereas people of Ladakh & Jammu consider themselves Indians and are not open to any other possibility. Thus, this issue has a political solution and it should be done through back-channel diplomacy (as I have mentioned in article). Of course, army should be removed from cities and should seal border; and India must invest in Kashmiri-people (as it has been doing so). Once issue is resolved politically, under-strict guidelines media of both countries should portray it as a grand success of South-Asia (regardless of who gets what). Over the years, army can be removed from Kashmir and borders can be made insignificant through trade (transfer of goods) & mobility of people on large scale. Of course, to integrate Kashmir with the rest of the country, private Indian investments must be encouraged. Rest of the Indians should be allowed to buy land in Kasmir and vice-versa. Kashmir-Tourism must be encouraged by central Government. (The more u think the more peaceful solutions u'd come up with).

  3. Occidental OrientalJuly 25, 2011 at 4:41 AM

    "I don’t want India to become a “Sone ki Chidiya” (golden sparrow) of the past that any beggar of east or (especially of) west loots away.]"

    Why espeically of the West and not especially of the East?

    Are westerners so backwards and regressive that eastern looting is preferrable?

  4. @Occidental Oriental- I am glad you picked that up. This was in historical sense. Someone who knows history of India, would find it very easy to understand. India faced foreign occupation from the west (mainly, British) for almost 190 yrs. The Europeans, facing dark-ages at home, were astonished by India's riches and were fighting hard to develop business relations with India. In 16th-17th century India was a big economic giant, securing over 25% of the global trade. But, because of lack of coordination between native kingdoms, and lack of development of globally competitive army-navy India had to face foreign domination. Thus, I wanted to emphasize that India should have best possible arm-forces to defend itself so it does not repeat the mistakes of the past.

  5. Occidental OrientalJuly 25, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    I know about South Asia's history. However, if one is going to be taken over again, better from the current secular, liberal West than Pakistan or any Islamic culture/political regime. But don't worry, nobody is going to take over India any time soon.

  6. Attack is better than protection.That is the rule of any war. Life is nothing but the war .

  7. The idea would have worked out in a macr view. BUt looking at it again, the policies are controlled by a select few in the society who may nit consider trade and finance to be on top of the agenda!

  8. Kathan,

    Congratulations on starting the blog with great ideas yourself.

    Some more suggestions:

    1) Encourage inter country marriages. Thus, each country will have their loved ones living as well as being born in the other country. Emotional bonds to protect against harm.

    2) Make a financial offer to buy out (or money compensation for) the land of Kashmir in the possession of the other. Settle the dispute commercially rather than militarily.

    3) No customs duty for goods originating from the other country.

    4) Encourage student exchange programs, cultural and sports events more and more between two countries.

    5) Gradually reduce(say 2% per year)the military budget on both sides and use it to help the poor and underprivileged on both the sides.

    6) Allow tv channels to be viewed on both sides and let the media be more responsible and promote friendship rather than hatred.

    7) Make visits of top leaders like PMs on both sides an ANNUAL event to discuss more and more co-operation.

    8) Governments should offer financial and technical help on worty social causes that will benefit the poor on either side.

    Amit Shah (

  9. wow nice article, you proved that you are more intelligent then national advisery committee of America, who suggested for Iraq - Afghanistan war, isn't it? My foolish dude, countries who have frighten from their existence are super powered,more developed with high standard of living.Don't waste your and our time for such a bogus article and if it is then just dont share your bullshit thought with us. I suppose u would heard the name of CHANKYA, if he read your article surely make suicide!
    My foolish dude, Israel, america very well know the danger of war and its outcome though they continuously fight because... read "Charles Darwin". hope dont be more foolish my foolish dude.

    1. Thanks for commenting. 1) please write understandable English (Even Hindi/Gujarati is fine). 2) What's your point? How is the world Chanakya & Darwin come in Indo-Pak equation? Calling someone "foolish" reflects your intolerance for alternative views and intellectual incompetency for engaging in discussion. Dear friend, argue on the merits of the article. - Best wishes