Caption: Effigy of Pakistani foreign minister set aflame during protest
India suffers from a curse of geography with a neighbour like Pakistan. It is not a normal neighbour as it has been excised from India’s body politic only 75 years ago. It has no historical memory, no civilisational past other than that linked to India, with which it is uncomfortable and which it seeks to deny. Islam was the reason for its creation and Islam has become the reason for its survival. It is the glue it needs to remain united, given its internal ethnic and linguistic diversities, resentments that are bred by the domination of Punjab and separatist movements in Baluchistan and in the frontier areas of the country.
The Army has acted as the other adhesive. Both Islam and the domination of the Army has prevented Pakistan from developing into a credible democracy, as both these forces are incompatible with democratic functioning, as both demand obedience under pain of punishment. That the Pakistan armed forces have become more Islamic and have jihad as part of their motto is a double consolidation of what Pakistan requires for its survival.
Pakistan was separated from India and wants to remain separated. As it was born of religious hate, intolerance and divisiveness, it is a victim of that pathology towards India till today. This has led it to war with India, and failing to achieve its objective of wresting Kashmir by force, it has for the last several decades used terrorism as an instrument of state policy towards us. The most egregious terrorist attacks have been those against the Indian Parliament and the horrendous 26/11 Mumbai mayhem.
They struck a boat, then hit 6 sites — hotels, train station, hospital, café, Jewish center.
~164 people from 17 nations, mostly from India, were killed. 100s more were injured.
I stand with India 🇮🇳. pic.twitter.com/Omj0njX4U3
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisNY) November 26, 2022
Pakistan has been the epicentre of regional and international terrorism for decades now. Even the 9/11 attacks against the US had a Pakistani connection. No wonder Osama bin Laden was given refuge in Pakistan. Pakistan has given safe havens to the Taliban. It has been instrumental in the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban two times now. All this while, however, it has resorted to blatant lies in denying its terrorist affiliations.
— Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) February 26, 2012
It is a different matter that while recognising its role in regional and international terrorism the West has been indulgent in not sanctioning or acting against Pakistan in the same manner as Iran or North Korea, or for that matter Iraq, Libya and Syria. Apart from UN listing some Pakistani organisations and individuals as terrorists and putting Pakistan on the FATF grey list, the West has eschewed sanctioning Pakistan. China has even blocked the UN listing of known Pakistani terrorists. Today, Pakistan is off the FATF grey list too, in the hollow belief that Pakistani jihadi organisations will no longer be able to raise money for terrorist purposes since steps on paper have been taken by the Pakistan government.
Pakistan’s nuclear status has ostensibly protected it from any serious sanctions, but then North Korea’s defiant nuclear status has not shielded it from western sanctions. It boils down in part on who the target of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is. This has given Pakistan a lot of margin of manoeuvre against India.
India has changed the rules of engagement with Pakistan on the terrorism issue with our surgical strikes and, more importantly, the Balakot operation. Politically, the revision of Article 370 and making J&K a Union Territory have drastically altered the terms of engagement with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, much to the frustration of Pakistan as, barring China and the OIC Secretariat, the UN and the international community in general has ignored these changes.
IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on #AirForceDay: Strategic relevance of this (Balakot airstrike) is the resolve of political leadership to punish perpetrators of terrorism. There is a major shift in govt’s way of handling terrorist attacks. pic.twitter.com/2FXDVWtiLf
— ANI (@ANI) October 8, 2019
With the war on terror losing its earlier salience in US foreign policy, India has steadfastly sent the message internationally that even if the US concerns about terrorism directed at it have diminished, India’s concerns have not lessened. US and Pakistan may have reached a modus vivendi on the issue with Pakistan, India has not. India has therefore in every forum, be it bilateral or multilateral, flagged the terrorism issue. In joint statements with countries, including the US and France and others, in formats such as BRICS and the SCO, not to mention groupings on Afghanistan led by Russia and others, and our own initiatives at the NSA level with Central Asian states, we have kept a razor sharp focus on the terrorist threat, including “cross border” terrorism, which is a code word for Pakistani involvement in terrorism against India. In the UN Security Council under our presidency we have successfully organised sessions on terrorism. In October 2022 we hosted a special meeting on counter-terrorism and in November the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Countering Financing of Terrorism.
All this has no doubt led to deep frustration in Pakistan about India gaining the upper hand diplomatically at the international level and in the UN on the issue of terrorism on which Pakistan feels vulnerable. This explains why the juvenile and callow Foreign Minister of Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue in the UNSC meeting on Reforming Multilateralism in order to put India on the defensive. He elicited a dignified and firm response from Minister Jaishankar about- without naming Pakistan- a country with known terrorism links that hosted Osama bin Laden and was involved in an attack on Indian parliament.
Bhutto’s venomous response, calling Prime Minister Modi the butcher of Gujarat, who unlike Osama bin Laden who was dead is alive and is the Prime Minister of India, and recalling also how he was on the US’s visa denial list that was lifted only when he became PM, encapsulates the deep-seated Pakistani mindset of hate and hostility towards India. Immature and infantile that he is, lashing out against Prime Minister Modi in gutter language that exceed all bounds of restraint, decency, propriety, and dignity, degrades his official position, which is not surprising when he represents a degraded country. He thinks the SS in RSS is linked to belief in Hitler.
This pent-up animus towards India, its leaders and its successes in contrast with Pakistan enveloped in economic and political gloom and floundering on all fronts has burst out. If Bhutto believes that what he has said will resonate internally in Pakistan and he will be admired for the sleaze in which he rolled himself, it says a lot about what his country has become. Will Sehbaz say Shabash? And Bilawal, a Hindustani raga after which he is named, will be music to the Pakistani political class and public, it will only confirm how tone deaf that country has become.