Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rethinking India: The Pakistani Security Paradigm

The anti-Indian policies of Pakistani state from its inception were not due to any innate hatred of India but exercises in self-preservation by an insecure and vulnerable Pakistani state in its infancy. However, it was done so thoroughly and convincingly that even after securing our existence, we are still following the old policies. In effect, we have become slaves of our old policies which do not reflect our nuclear status.

Here is an explanation of the above.

The Chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan has quoted to have said that India is not the enemy at the present. 

In my opinion, this is correct. With Pakistan becoming a nuclear power, it is not vulnerable to state actors especially not from the ones which have large stakes and a lot to lose in the case of a conflict with Pakistan. Pakistan, however, is vulnerable to internal instability and from elements against which our nuclear power is not relevant.

In other words, our nuclear power is a deterrent against countries and states or concrete regional entities and secures us against them, including against India. But this big power of ours is not effective against internal discontents and elements. And, our challenge is thus not securing ourselves against India that we already have, but unconventional actors and internal discontents.

In this sense the statement of the Chief of the ISI is right on the money.

Pakistan and India were created amidst a bitter and bloody partition. That calamity and tragedy planted the seeds of distrust and insecurity in the minds of the Pakistani policy makers in the early years.

Pakistani establishment felt an existential threat from India which was not unjustified given the circumstances leading to the creation of Pakistan. Indeed, if there had been no distrust between the Congress (which embodied the Indian leadership) and the Muslim leadership headed by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, there would have been no need for Pakistan.

The distrust between the two sets of leadership continued into their heading two different countries and shaped the state policy thereafter. 

Pakistan's fundamental security concern was a threat from India. With a weak state structure and smaller size Pakistan was vulnerable or so its leadership felt. Pakistanis in order to secure their existence sought strong allies such as the USA and later China for help against India. Internally, Pakistanis perpetuated their fear and distrust of India into all spheres of policy including, the school and college curricula, defence policy, foreign policy priorities, trade policies, organisational ethos in security organs and the political expression.

This must be borne in mind by all those making policy for Pakistan now.

Today, Pakistan is no longer a weak and vulnerable state in the sense that it is an atomic power and no country including India should make it insecure or raise its concerns regarding its existence.

With its existence secure, Pakistani state can move away from policies centered on a threat from India. Since our existence is not threatened anymore, we no longer need to make policies centered around our security and the Indian threat.

India has accepted Pakistan as a reality. Indeed, India would or should prefer a buffer between itself and the dangerous Afghanistan. Historically, India has always been destabilised from elements coming from or through Afghanistan. Pakistan since its creation has given India a breathing space so to speak and India shall do well to preserve that.


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