If India seems to have an unusual affinity with Israel – they increasingly share trade and technology links and so on – it might partly be because their recent histories are oddly similar.
Both had the experience of declaring statehood as secular democracies at roughly the same time (India in 1947, Israel in 1948).
Then, immediately afterwards, both were attacked by Islamic neighbours: India by Pakistan; Israel by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and whoever else had a hammer. Israel was again attacked by Muslim neighbours in 1967 (the Six-Day War) and yet again in 1973 (the Yom Kippur War). Stridently Islamic Pakistan attacked India again in 1965 and yet again in 1971.
The defining feature of all these wars against both India and Israel was that the Muslim aggressors got whipped every time they started something. Conflicts have endured and sporadically erupted with their religious neighbours over the years since then – Lebanon most notably and recently for Israel, Kargil in 1999 for India – when yet again Pakistan was sent home with a bloody nose.
Since the big wars never quite worked out for Pakistan the way it planned, it decided instead to enforce a policy of ‘death-by-a-thousand-cuts’ on its hated neighbour India: the secular democracy that encoded equal rights for women, freedom of speech and other things both provocative and insulting to the religiously pure. The way the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI, and the Pakistan military decided to do this was by funding, training and supplying terrorists to chip away at the Indian polity and keep the democracy ‘off-balance’. The main gangs are Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. Pakistan could beg for money from the USA and elsewhere by lying that it was trying to curtail the very terrorists it was nurturing. The USA knows this very well but doesn’t seem to care – or didn’t, until about last week.
It is a clear example of how, as the writer CS Lewis said, if you’re not brave or strong enough to beat a man, kick his dog instead. This is exactly what Pakistan’s cowardly jihadi strategy resembles, with its terror attacks against civilians and institutions, together with bloody border infiltrations by hired jihadi cannon-fodder targeting Indian soldiers (jawans) of the BSF (Border Security Force).
This fact needs repeating: Pakistan knows full well that if it actually attacked India again, conventionally, it would be humiliated as it was in 1947-8, 1965, 1971 and as a minor finale in 1999. Note, however, that the Pakistan government always trumpets these disasters as victories to its wretched and long-suffering population.
Its real-world vulnerability means that an aggressive Pakistan – its military is 1/9 the size of India’s despite wasting half its GDP on it – must rely on the pusillanimity of the Indian government but most of all on the Delhi media, which till now has been ever-indulgent of its warlike and cowardly neighbour. Indeed, the tenderness and sympathy with which the Congress party and its allies among India’s English language press excuses the Pakistani assassins is one of the wonders of the modern world. Secondly Pakistan relies on blackmail and threats, namely the madman option of promising to use its nuclear capability should India ever show a more robust response to the deadly nipping at democracy’s heels.
Although clearly a bluff, somehow it has worked – again, till now – and Pakistan has been recklessly emboldened to believe it can do as it pleases and kill Indians with impunity, even unto the time of the new Modi administration. But it now appears, at last, that this epoch has ended.
Recently the jihadis have been striking more boldly across the border or the LoC (Line of Control). In January they attacked a military airbase at Pathankot in Himachal Pradesh. Then on 18 September they launched another murderous excursion in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.
Now, when PM Modi was elected he promised a more robust response to the Pakistani military and ISI after actions into India by its salafi proxies. To begin with the jawans were able to respond, raining fire down onto Pakistani positions across the LoC. Then the Indian media and its allies among the shroud-waving ‘humanitarians’ of cocktail-circuit international liberalism began to pick away at the moral rights of India’s response (although never at the immorality of Pak-sponsored terror, of course).
Modi at the time was trying to re-shape India fast and in all sorts of ways. He was also attempting to create an effective government with whatever un-ideal talent he had to hand. I think he allowed things to soften and slip a little because he couldn’t do everything at once. (A major cabinet reshuffle since then has made a huge difference to the effectiveness of Modi’s administration). There was also the fact that every time India attempted to defend itself, its own press, hand in glove with the Western media, would rush to condemn big bad India as aggressor against poor little Pakistan.
But India’s defence – or rather what is now revealed as its offensive defence – was being well looked after and re-crafted under the masterful direction of the man Modi had personally appointed as the new National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval. I won’t say too much about him here except that he is one of my heroes, that I could write a book about him, but that anyway he will be the subject of an upcoming post in which I hope to do him some small measure of justice. Modi delivered a speech last week that the media interpreted as describing India’s response to Pakistani terror yet again as ‘strategic restraint’ – mere defence. But they misheard, or rather heard what they wanted to hear: in fact Modi said ‘strategic ambiguity’ – offensive defence. It is now Pakistan’s turn to be pushed off-balance.
The Pakistan terror institutions of state are terrified of Ajit Doval. Pakistan TV produces documentaries denouncing him as the devil. For decades he has run rings around the ISI, the military and the ‘civilian’ government. After the Pathankot atrocity, he was almost ready to unleash the new tactics to deal not only with border incursions, but also to begin throttling the life out of India’s neighbour terror-state, as the always excellent Minhaz Merchant details here. This operation has now begun, combining military retaliation (after the attack in Uri Indian special forces projected deep into Pakistan along a 250 km length of border) with diplomatic, economic, cultural and strategic measures.
- As an example of things starting to move, last week US secretary of state John Kerry left Pakistan out of the new US-India-Afghanistan regional security grouping. He also refused to condemn (after first criticising it – thanks for sorting him out, Obama!) India’s cross-border retaliations.
- India simultaneously announced its renewed support and solidarity with the oppressed citizens of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which wants to secede – and if it does will reduce Pakistan to a Sindhi rump of international insignificance.
- The recent G-20 meeting bigged-up India’s pivotal role in South Asia and beyond – and even the Chinese agreed. The US likes it because India is a foil to China throwing its weight around; China likes India as its main export market and bulwark against Western power. This puts India in a bit of a sweet spot for the next decade or two.
- China’s the bad guy as far as its regional neighbours are concerned, acting like a bully that owns the place. Look at its wingmen: North Korea and Pakistan. Eeww! All the countries of the region are allying with and standing behind India as Modi stealthily and generously develops its Pacific/Asia democratic and free-market commonwealth.
- And China, of course, is attempting to encircle the region with its silken hangman’s rope of ‘one-belt-one-road’ (OBOR), in which a major partner is Pakistan. OBOR needs to build roads and pipelines through Balochistan to get to the port of Gwadar it’s trying to develop to choke India (although Modi has already thwarted this with the help of the increasingly civilised Iranians – see here.)
The whole ‘China-Pak Economic Projects’ (CPEC) will be discussed in a future post. But suffice it to say that China expects Pakistan to provide security for the entire route through the country from Pak-Occupied-Kashmir (POK) down to Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. This boondoggle is already bankrupting Pakistan, or at least making it more bankrupt: C Christine Fair in fact joked that CPEC stands for ‘Colonizing Pakistan to Enrich China’.
In an article on the Pakistani website Dawn, Khurram Hussein says, ‘[Pakistan’s] Security expenditure has been growing at an alarming rate over the past couple of years [due to CPEC], and all of it has been in the dark. Having blown the fiscal framework, they are now being offloaded directly onto the public through electricity bills.’
One lives in hope that the Pakistani people, the vast majority of whom are not bloodthirsty fanatics and just want to get on with their lives without all the murder and orthodoxy from above, will look at those electricity bills (if they are even lucky enough to have electricity) and decide very soon that enough is enough.