12:25 am - Thursday February 20, 2020

Should India Deal Independently With The Four Power Centers In Pakistan like China, USA etc .

Should India Deal Independently With The Four Power Centers In Pakistan like China, USA etc .

Rajiv Upadhyay

rp_RKU-263x300.jpgPrime Minister Modi as well as the late ex Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj have often expressed the Indian exasperation in dealing with the multiple power centers in Pakistan ie the Civilian government headed by Prime Minister , Army Chief , ISI and the Jihadi orgainsations . Each of these organisations control some area of vital  interest to India but there is no central authority which controls all the organs of Pakistan . India has been playing by the book and dealing only with the civilian government which is notionally in charge of all organs of state . But in the current  most unusual circumstances when  the former President Zardari , Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif , his brother and the former CMof Punjab  Shahbaz , daughter Maryam, all are in jail it has ben made  obvious to the whole world where the real power lies . All these politicians have one thing in common . They all had once challenged the mighty army . Zardari did it when he threateningly  declared that army chiefs come for three years but PPP will always be in power . Nawaz erroneously thought that he could also mobilise Pakistani population behind him like Erdogan of Turkey but forgot that when Bhutto was hanged only eleven people reportedly came to his funeral . The nation was totally terrified  and mummified by Zia ul Haq . Shahbaz Sharif thought that he could control and decide the location of CPEC projects and control land allocation. Inspite of Nawaz having appointed the current army chief , the institution has punished all concerned in a manner that for many decades, no one in Pakistan will ever challenge the army’s writ .

ISI is theoretically under the army chief and reports also to the prime minister . But it has been glorified by the success in Afghan war and is involved in so many clandestine operations that it is beyond any ones control. It  is virtually independent by its use of  drug money for finances that  it is often beyond the control of army chief itself . The Mumbai operation was not sanctioned by the government or the army chief but carried out by the rogue elements of ISI which include retired army officers  . It is really a Frankenstein beyond any ones control .

The jihadi groups operating freely are the fourth center of power in Pakistan . Imran Khan has publicly estimated their number as around forty thousand . They too are not under any one’s control . But ISI finances them and keeps leash on them . But beyond a point they cannot be controlled even by ISI. It was demonstrated clearly when Musharraf ordered police action on Lal Masjid . These groups plotted an assassination attempt even on President Musharraf  who incidently was saved by a timely intelligence input given by Indian RAW. But these groups know that army can destroy them so the remain respectful and useful to the army and ISI. These groups get funding from many countries particularly Saudi Arabia in the garb of religious madarsas and charities  they run .

America , UK , China and even Russia have recognized this reality long back . President Trump, in a gross violation protocol , held a discussion with Imran , Bajwa and ISI chief  in White House . General Raheel Sharief had dinner with the British PM in 10 Downing Street . Afghan president visited GHQ in Rawalpindi and held independent negotiations with army chief . General Raheel Shreef had stopped saluting Nawaz Sharif publicly thus  making his position clear. But these countries mainly need only the support of army and ISI. The rest of the government is not very vital for them .

But the international law recognizes only the Prime Minister as the head of the government for contracts, treaties etc . So the army wants a dummy as PM . But dummies are not respected by any nation and ultimately Pakistan loses respect as a sovereign nation .

India has a special problem . It deals with Pakistan at every level in multiple situations like sharing river water ,trade, energy, fishing , prisoners , climate , tourism etc . So it is right in following the protocol by interacting only with the civilian government . India is the only major country that ignores  the illegal power centers ie army, ISI & terror bodies. This annoys them . All civilian governments in past , driven by their concern for people’s welfare,  had genuinely tried normalizing the  relations including trade with India but were stopped by the army . ISI still wants to avenge Bangladesh and was the behind Punjab and Kashmir insurgency , Mumbai , Parliament attack  and actively helps infiltration of terrorists in India .

The question that haunts our policy makers is that will we be better off  by following the US example in dealing directly with all power centers in Pakistan?

The short answer is no , the present principled and formal approach is better in the long term interests of India.

Even if India occasionally cajols the army chief , supports army run commercial enterprises, it cannot make it accept the fundamental Indian position that India will not give an inch of its territory including Kashmir , Siachin , Sir Creek etc ..Status quo does not suit Pakistani army whose existence is justified only by changing the status quo .

USA , CHINA, UK have no such problem. So cajoling army chief as done by UK ,USA or Afghanistan will not work for India. Similarly as India marches into a regional super powerhood, it will become beyond match or approach for Pakistan army in conventional war . Terror threat will be the only small power Pakistan will have over India after 2030 . Therefore ISI will try to work and make it larger in the years to come and cannot give it up by any friendly overtures. So cajoling ISI will not help India in getting safety from terror .

India cannot deal with Pakistan based terror groups directly in the hope of defanging them . There are too many of them and as per Imran Khan’s own admission forty thousand ex terrorists are still roaming free in Pakistan . They are the terror reserves which can be used by ISI through these groups . Any attempt to bribe some groups will only make others bolder and outlandish and will be counter productive . Moreover with Afghan war and glorification of jihad, extremism has made deep inroads in the main Pakistani society . Even the civilian governments cannot ignore it .In fact world over muslims are feeling under seize and it is making extremism attractive in Islamic societies. Due to Subcontinent’s troubled hindu muslim history , India cannot escape it but has to face terror threat with greater determination .

China has a limited objective of keeping jihadis away from repression of muslims in XINJIANG . It can finance them to pursue vigorously the more popular beliefs like Ghazwa e hind .

India can only hope that if the Pakistani economy keeps going down , some day the civilian government will be able to persuade  army and ISI to let it  take the benefits of better trade and other relations with India  .But here too China will become a big spoil sport and nudge the army and ISI to wage the covert war against India with greater intensity . As India succeeds in becoming a major economy and challenge Chinese expansionism, China will be tempted to use the Pakistani terror card more and more .

Therefore the Indian approach of offering sincere friendship to civilian leadership and encouraging greater people to people contact will be more useful in checking any big  misadventure by the rogue ISI under the Chinese influence .

In the ultimate analysis India has to come to terms with living with its troubled neighbor irrespective of costs . Our righteous  approach with liberal dose of Dovalism has to continue till Pakistani army finds a bigger enemy than India.



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