|A Soldier's Diary||
Sunday, August 16, 1998
Psyche marred by insecurity
PAKISTAN'S economy is virtually on the brink of a collapse. To bail it out, the USA has decided not to block the sanction of a loan from the IMF. India too has expressed it's willingness to support this move. An IMF team is likely to visit Pakistan to negotiate a fresh loan package. Once it is sanctioned, Pakistan would be saved from the disastrous fallout of a default to service it's debts. The certainty and seriousness of these economic consequences were amply evident before Islamabad followed India with it's own nuclear tests. Commenting on the conduct of these tests, the out going US ambassador, Simon, in an interview to Pak daily Dawn says, "your Prime Minister(Nawaz Sharif) was undecided until the last minute because he was well aware of the sticks."
Despite the writing on the wall, Islamabad chose to go ahead with the tests in pursuit of a well established penchant to get even with India. It is quite apparent that Pakistan's long-term national interests would have been better served if it had not let it's nuclear capability out of the cupboard. In any case, Pakistan had been loudly proclaiming its possession of nuclear weapons since 1989. This was duly confirmed by calculated leaks by the CIA and some other US agencies. India could not have ignored this capability and consequently, Pakistan had already achieved a fairly reasonable degree of nuclear deterrence without openly showing it's hand. What then were the motivations that drove Islamabad to virtually commit economic harakiri? Notwithstanding the grave economic crisis facing the country, it's leaders, more especially the country's Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub, keep on making tall claims about their nuclear-missile capabilities and hold out threats of dire consequences for India.
Kashmir is still trotted out to be the core theme of any engagement with India. It could not escape Islamabad that legally and morally Jammu and Kashmir remains a part of India. Besides the country, India's secular credentials, are vital for the well-being of it's composite population with a Muslim component. The population is larger than the Muslim population of Pakistan. There is no room for any territorial maneuver.
Pakistan makes the acquisition of Kashmir by any means the focus of its foreign policy. Moreover, the formulation of its foreign policy and the alignments that flow from it, have invariably sought such patrons as would enable it to get military parity with India. The aim would be to get the better of it's far bigger neighbour. It may be argued that the sense of insecurity inherent in this very unequal geostrategic equation drives Pakistan to seek this military parity. The history of the last 50 years belies any aggressive designs which can be attributed to India. Whether it was the invasion of Kashmir in 1947 or in 1965, the armed infiltration into the Kashmir valley followed by the attacks in the Chhamb and Amritsar sectors or on December 3, 71, the attack in Chhamb accompanied by air attacks on a number of Indian airfields, it was Pakistan that committed aggression against India.
In the world today there are so many small and non nuclear states that are peacefully coexisting with their larger nuclear neighbours.
What is the rationale behind the actively aggressive Pak hostility towards India? We must look deeply into the national psyche of Pakistan to discover the key to this mind-set.
Pakistan has anchored the concept of it's national identity as well as estimation of it's power, in the historical memory of invaders and conquerors, who held sway over the sub-continent for nearly a thousand years before the advent of the British Raj. These Persian, Afghan, Mughal and Central Asian adventurers, though professing Islamic faith, came to India not to fight Islamic holy wars, but either to plunder wealth or to carve out their own kingdoms. Some invaders such as Nadir Shah and Abdali, made no distinction between the faithful and the rest. They raped and plundered them all.
In the early 1920s handful of Muslim leaders, to promote their own vested interests, conjured up the myth of Islam as a national identity to demand a separate homeland for the Muslim minority of the Indian sub-continent. It was a corruption of history that led to the belies that a homogenous Islamic state would be superior to the rest of India. This helped gather strength for Pakistan, the Promised Land of the pure.
After the Partition of the country, the new nation, invested itself with an aura of superiority anchored in the historic memory of the soldiers of the Islamic faith who invariably got the better of the non-Muslim indigenous forces. Unfortunately, this myth was soon shattered in Kashmir, followed by 1965 when the Indian forces got the better of Pak forces equipped with much vaunted US supplied armaments and finally by the decisive Indian victory in December 1971, which led to vivisection of bradari of our village societies. In our villages a shark (one who shares a common heritage including property) will go to any length to get the better of a contending shriek. Much of our rural violence and litigation flows out of this mind-set.
In such situations, it has been often seen that interaction on a level of equality often breaks down the barriers. However, Pakistan has invariably resisted any such approach. Pakistan fears that in the absence of a strong and an enduring national identity, free and close interaction of people may lead to the break-up of the country and it's assimilation into India.
In the interview quoted above, Simon goes on to say that Pakistan suffers from a sense of vulnerability. The sum total nearly amounts to a hysterical national insecurity driven psychological complex to always be one up on India. This illusion has been deliberately cultivated and sustained ever since partition. It has found deep roots in the national psyche of Pakistan.
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