Bullets or Bread?
The adversarial situation has not allowed India and Pakistan to progress and develop on natural lines. Their arsenals have grown out of proportion over these years and they have fought many wars but millions in both countries have continued to starve.
The human race has been conflict-ridden since its creation and has followed the jungle rule which is established on the principle “Might is Right.” In the jungle there are numerous species varying in sizes and power potential while humans constitute only one type but are in constant struggle to establish their supremacy based on their power potential. In the jungle, lions are established as kings and will carry their honour on title while in humans this title keeps rotating in nations. It is often referred as wheel of fortune and human history shows evidence for this statement.
History also proves that the human struggle for supremacy is both reactive and proactive to other human groups or nations. Most historians conclude different conflicts on clash of civilizations, religious (crusade) expansion (empires), ideologies or even revenge (the Second World War was started by Germany in reaction to humiliation of the First World War when Germany was severely punished). One factor has often been ignored - the power differential between any warring groups that if increased to a certain level, causes war. Religion or ideological differences become totally irrelevant. In the last 1000 years, look at the wars between states of the same religion (Arabs, Christian states of Europe). It is always a stronger nation that attacks the weaker nation. ‘Weakness attracts aggression’ was coined on the basis of such events. Linked to this power potential is another important factor
which is predominantly economic. No power invades barren lands or resourceless territories.
In the earlier days, when powerful nations needed slaves or cheap labour, many countries were attacked (mostly African countries during expansion of British, French and other European powers). In the earlier days of Islam too, the military campaigns went to Europe, Iran and India while in Africa only the northern states were captured. Black Africa was left out. Allama Iqbal has summed it up nicely where he states:
It is the eternal decree of the Judge sitting in Judgement on destinies—
That weakness is a crime punishable by death.
The element of ‘power potential’ has been widely studied, researched and developed. Its dimensions include war-making ability i. e. military hardware and the will to fight, which is often referred as the ‘edge of the sword.’ Numerous wars have been won with lesser military hardware but a superior will to fight.
What becomes evident from the afore-stated is that man wants to dominate, enslave or subjugate man. In order to achieve this objective, weapons and wars are necessary. In reaction / response, man needs the same to protect its territories, assets, honour and people. The methodologies to implement the aggressors’ designs or defence mechanisms are now defined by scientific rules. The costs of wars have become so exorbitant that its affordability becomes the decisive factor.
With this introduction, let us examine the Indo-Pak scenario. The hatred between two major segments of the subcontinent i.e. Hindus and Muslims, started soon after 1857 when the British won the mutiny / war of independence. It was soon followed by the two-nation theory floated by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The differences between these two communities kept growing to an extent that caused division of the subcontinent in three parts (India and the two wings of Pakistan). The Muslims were happy to possess their own country while the Hindus were extremely unhappy over the division of their motherland. The most predominant feeling was hatred based on religious lines. The Muslim population that migrated from India was looted and slaughtered on their way to Pakistan. The same treatment was given to the non-Muslims who migrated to India. The dust of disturbance settled down but the hatred grew on both sides of the new boundaries. To add fuel to fire, one province was left disputed by the British who were in a great hurry to return home and that was Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan fought there and grabbed whatever area they could. While the international border between India and Pakistan remained unchanged, the line dividing Kashmir kept changing from Ceasefire Line to Line of Control in status and position.
Pakistan has remained insecure and threatened from the very beginning as India didn’t give Pakistan its due share in assets that were to be divided as per a pre-agreed formula. Instead, the Kashmir dispute started with forced annexation by India, causing an armed conflict between the two new-born states. The UNO had to intervene. At the political level, belligerent leaders like Valabhai Patel continued to spit fire against Pakistan. Pakistan became desperate and raised its armed forces, even to the extent of pleading with the US to fight on their behalf anywhere in the world. It took Pakistan almost ten years to get used military hardware for its armed forces. Pakistan had to join CENTO and SEATO, promised to fight the enemies of the US and give its military bases in Peshawar and Kharian to their forces and so on.
This was the first phase when Pakistan became confident of holding its ground if India ever invaded. 1965 was a big turning point in Indo-Pak relations. Both armies lost the war (technically) as both failed to achieve their objectives i.e. Pakistan couldn’t liberate Kashmir while India could not capture Lahore. Pakistan came out of the fear that India, despite its armed forces that were 3-4 times bigger in size, could be held at bay. Strangely, India also came out of the fear that any invasion coming from the North West had mostly succeeded in reaching Delhi but was halted well away from its other major cities. India gained confidence that Kashmiris would not favour Pakistan only on religious grounds, etc. Post-1965 a deadly period started. India started modernizing its armed forces massively and simultaneously started at multi-fronts to convert East Pakistan into Bangladesh.
Pakistan came under severe sanctions and military aid was snapped by the US, forcing Pakistan to look towards other sources in China, France and Canada. Chinese military hardware was free of cost but the other sources meant additional economic burden that Pakistan found hard to bear. Both the countries kept building their military arsenal. India had China in vision besides becoming a regional bully while Pakistan’s every step in the direction was India-specific. 1974 brought another dimension in the game of supremacy when India conducted a nuclear test near Pakistan’s border. Panic ran in Pakistan’s security echelons. Pakistan started its nuclear program on a war footing. All means were used. It was excessively heavy on the economy of a frail Pakistan. The country was determined not to allow India to dominate in political will or reduce its stature to that of Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or the Maldives, etc. Kashmir remained disputed. In 1984 India occupied the Siachen glacier, forcing Pakistan to raise units in the army capable of fighting in the snowclad high mountains; another burden on the economy. The spread of the war front increased for both the countries.
1989 saw another dimension to the Pak-India military race when Russia left Afghanistan. The Afghans found themselves fragmented and unsettled. Hundreds of thousands of Mujahideen suddenly became surplus and needed a
Pakistan came under severe sanctions and military aid was snapped by the US, forcing Pakistan to look towards other sources in China, France and Canada.
new enemy. Millions of Afghan refugees who had crossed over into Pakistan after the Russian Invasion found no reason to return to their homeland.
Pakistan diverted most of these freedom fighters to Kashmir which was quiet since 1971. A fresh wave of the Kashmir independence struggle started in Indian held Kashmir. The LoC became active and hot. Both India and Pakistan fortified their defences all along the LoC and the international border. Pakistan once again came under US sanctions in October 1990 through the Pressler Amendment. Pakistan was left high and dry.
1998 brought yet another dimension when India conducted 5 nuclear explosions in May. Pakistan’s nuclear policy till then had followed ambivalence. It was now compelled to reciprocate. India’s attitude and tone had become extremely harsh and bullying between May 11 and May 28 when Pakistan responded and India calmed down. Pakistan’s shut up call was wellacknowledged. This, however, brought economic sanctions from numerous countries. Pakistan was once again successful in deflecting India’s longwanted desire to subjugate Pakistan. By 2001 India became convinced that the military balance with Pakistan was even.
The September 11, 2001 incident of the twin towers in the US had its effect in the subcontinent. India projected to the world that the mujahideen and the freedom fighters in Kashmir were actually terrorists. India succeeded partially. The Kargil conflict (1999) and 10 months long deployments along the international border in 2002 did not develop into a full scale war because India was aware of the cost it would have to pay against Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear weapons.
India has now expanded its antiPakistan strategy to diplomatic and economic fronts too. It is trying very hard to isolate Pakistan on grounds of harbouring terrorism. It is trying to create a two-front war for Pakistan by using Afghanistan. RAW is actually involved in creating a law and order situation in Balochistan and Sindh through the dissident elements and political parties. At the economic front, besides so many minor actions (like banning trade), India is threatening to snap the Indus Basin Treaty (signed in 1960).
In short it is a multi-pronged threat that Pakistan is facing since 1947. India realizes its cost to Pakistan. People in both the countries continue to starve in food, health and all sorts of social development. India has no intentions of letting Pakistan off the hook. It has not behaved like a good neighbour and has created trouble for all its neighbours. Only Pakistan has stood against it. The key to return to some sanity rests with India. Kashmir remains disputed as a nuclear flashpoint. The UNO is impotent enough to play any role here. There is no solution in sight till the BJP, VHP and RSS like parties are in power in India. Pakistan has no option but to maintain a very aggressive posture. The cost of war has to be raised constantly so that India keeps away. Pakistan cannot lower its guard till India recognizes its responsibility to the 1.5 billion people of the subcontinent. Until then, Pakistan must follow what Allama Iqbal said
The destiny of nations I chart for you:
At first the sword and spear; the zither’s, the lute’s soft sighs at last.
War is a game between two unequals. The writer has served in the Pakistan Air Force for over 36 years. He was awarded Sitara-e-Basalat, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz. He appears on various TV channels as defence analyst.