The most damning fight is that of the words.
The most fundamental misfortune of mankind was when belief became the proxy for spirituality. Only on the basis of verbal shenanigans.
The distance between seeking and dictatorial beliefs of religions was blurred only by the strength of narratives.
And, narratives, which have no existential quality, can wipe out any argument even when it is based in reality.
So when the stakes are high and the opponent is crafty, shameless, double-faced, and willing to fall as low as the situation demands, words are the worst tools.
Action is what matters.
Genocidal Champions of the "Rule of Law"
So spoke Benazir Bhutto in March 2002.
About the former Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan - General Tikka Khan.
Then a Lieutenant-General, Tikka Khan, was the Commander of Eastern Command in 1971. He was the planner and architect of the genocide perpetrated under Operation Searchlight.
But before that, in 1960s, when General Ayub Khan decided to impose Urdu on all the provinces, the Balochis had stood up against the actions of the Pakistan Army.
The Baloch leader Sardar Atullah Mengal was jailed. General Ayub Khan declared martial law and pronounced Balochistan as a "disturbed area".
The General sent Major-General Tikka Khan to stop the protests and Baloch resistance. Tikka Khan unleashed genocide on the Balochis and was known as the "Butcher of Balochistan."
Tikka was later sent to Bengal and what he unleashed there goes beyond all imagination! Fatima Bhutto, Benazir's niece, and Bilawal's cousin wrote about Tikka's crimes in her book "Songs of Blood and Sword."
Operation Searchlight really started in March 1971, one fateful night. In Ramna. The village around the 700-year-old Ramna Kali temple in the heart of Dacca was inhabited by 250 Hindu men, women, and children. On the night on 28 March 1971, all the Hindu inhabitants who lived in and around the Ramna Kali Bari were massacred. The priest of the Temple was 'cremated’ alive by the Pakistani Army. Over a hundred other Hindu men, women, and children were burned alive in the temple that night.
The operation unleashed by Tikka Khan left 3 million dead. Mostly Hindus.
200,000-300,000 women were raped (Source: Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection). Again mostly Hindus.
In fact, 200,000 women were kept in "Rape Camps" bythe Pakistani Army!
The Pakistani Army would rape the women brutally and mercilessly. Until they conceived and it was ascertained that they could no longer terminate their pregnancies.
This was the evil that was perpetrated by Tikka Khan.
The man whom Benazir Bhutto eulogized for having "respect for rule of law."
Tikka Khan retired from Pakistan Army in 1974. In 1976, he joined Bhutto's Pakistan's People Party (PPP). He was the secretary-general of the party and Benazir Bhutto made him the Governor of Punjab in her first administration.
But eulogizing and giving a place of importance to the Butcher of Balochistan and Bangladesh is not the only sin that Benazir Bhutto indulged in - in her rather sorry life. She also instigated the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits.
This is the speech that started the genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.
This absolute hatred for India and Hindus and a love for genocides and widespread mayhem via terror runs in the family. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir's father had been instrumental in creating Khalistani terrorism post-1971.
Perpetrators and backers of genocides and terrorism. This is the legacy that Bhuttos have crafted over their lives. Lives that have been ended by the very establishment for whom they carried the water.
Far from being a "victim of terror", Benazir Bhutto was killed by the very forces that she and her country's Army had worked hard to create and empower.
Major Haroon was the spearhead of the Mumbai Attacks. Osama Bin Laden was of course found living in a safe house called Waziristan Haveli just 1300 meters from the Pakistan Military Academy in Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, a high-end suburb where many retired military officers live (Source).
So Bhuttos - Zulfiqar and Benazir - were not martyrs. They were killed by the very Frankensteins they created and empowered.
Frankensteins for whom they were constantly planning and instigating genocides and mass murder of Indians. Specifically targeting Hindus!
That is who Bhuttos are.
Apart from being one of the top corrupt families in Pakistan.
A decade after she led this impoverished nation from military rule to democracy, Benazir Bhutto is at the heart of a widening corruption inquiry that Pakistani investigators say has traced more than $100 million to foreign bank accounts and properties controlled by Ms. Bhutto's family. (Source: HOUSE OF GRAFT: Tracing the Bhutto Millions -- A special report.; Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption / New York Times)
Bilawal Bhutto, son of Benazir Bhutto, was in the US running his shenanigans in media. His other outbursts were pushed back by Dr. Jaishankar. But then this entitled brat of a swindling family turned unprecedently vituperative.
His Heath Ledger histrionics notwithstanding, Bhutto's performance was most pitiful in its structure and facts.
Most importantly, the statement that "Osama Bin Laden is dead but the butcher of Gujarat lives" is chilling from a diplomatic standpoint even when it comes from an unelected and installed Foreign Minister of a country. Remember, he is speaking about an elected leader of another nation.
The most critical takeaway from this abusive performance, devoid of facts, should be evaluated as a grave terror threat coming from another state.
Before we proceed, please read this detailed discussion on the Gujarat Riots and the action by the Modi administration in the context of the actual situation facing the state government at that time.
Once you have done that, you should proceed with the rest of the newsletter.
Empowering a Bully
The Pakistani narrative has been shaped by the space that was provided by all the Indian administrations until the Modi government.
Despite Pakistan's diminutive size, stature, and unsustainable economy (high unelastic imports and low elastic exports), successive Indian governments allowed Pakistan to dictate to India in terms of hard politics and statecraft.
Whether it was the misleading narrative on the UN Security Council resolutions (3 Arguments on Kashmir Terror by Liberals and Their Rebuttals!); the attacks in 1947 and 1965; the deal on 93,000 PoWs in Shimla; the bullying of Rajiv Gandhi by Zia ul Haq in the so-called "cricket diplomacy", or the Kargil attack.
Pakistan has always acted like a self-absorbed bully who had no idea of reality!
The most glaring example was that of the 1965 war. The Pakistanis attacked India based on two main assumptions:
While it has repeatedly been beaten up badly on the battlefield and in most wars run away or surrendered, its establishment has been able to mentally put the Indian administration down.
All are based on bullying statecraft and outright Punjabi aggression.
When you are facing an enemy who is hopelessly fixated on his imagined superiority, however fanciful, and has a record of starting and losing all wars, then you need to understand that this enemy is not just too full of himself but a lying rogue.
Don't ever give him a quarter.
But that is precisely what India did!
In a session where India wanted to showcase its geopolitical power for a seat in the UN Security Council, the Indian side foolishly allowed the Pakistani delegation to enter the event which was designed as an "open debate".
We must realize that this joker from Pakistan has nothing to lose. The likes of him go around living off the poor people while being oblivious to their pain and suffering.
Humanity or sensitivity is nowhere to be found.
Giving stage to such a sociopath is inviting trouble.
For, a battle of words can never be won by the rightful person. It is used by one who is shameless and has nothing to lose to bring the more powerful one down.
India won every war but lost it during negotiations.
Indian administrations believed they were dealing with people who lived within the same framework of humanity and rule of law that the rest of the world lives in. Not the type that fashions a genocidal war criminal like Tikka Khan into a champion of rule of law.
Therefore, the Modi administration has had the right idea.
Action. No words.
The threat that emanated from Bhutto needs to be countered. With the right defense and a punishing offense.
That offense cannot be verbal. It has to be telling, public, geopolitically relevant, and such that makes an example out of this abusive brat of a penniless nation with successive administrations of pathological liars. (Source: Richard Clarke on Pakistanis)
Bankrupt Economy and a Collapsing Nation
Pakistan is collapsing. There is no other way to put it.
There are many indicators to share the hopeless situation that Pakistan is in, but this sharing on Reddit by an overseas Pakistan visiting his country puts things in context in the best way.
His biggest worry? The government will not allow international airlines to work from Pakistan anymore.
His most tragic experience? A mother selling her malnourished baby outside the mosque!
In a country where the poor are selling their babies and kids while they have no recourse to a life worth living, the middle class is also increasingly being reminded of the storm that is now right over them.
Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) employees have not received their salaries for over a month now. And the Finance Ministry has turned down the file for any funds "due to financial constraints". And, this is not the only department or organization that is not being paid.
Meanwhile, sources in the ministry of science and technology said that Minister Agha Hassan Baloch had personally taken up the issue with finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar, but eventually the file related to the release of funds for PCSIR was turned down by the joint secretary of budget in the finance ministry. Sources said that the ministry had been conveyed by the JS office of budget that salaries of some other departments of the ministry of science and technology might be delayed next month, too. The departments include Pakistan Science Foundation, Pakistan Museum of Natural History and Pakistan Scientific and Technological Information Centre. Meanwhile, pensions of around 4,000 retired employees of Radio Pakistan have been released after a gap of more than three months, but the information ministry was unclear about the payment of pension next month. (Source: Under-funded PCSIR, other departments delay salaries / Dawn)
In December 2021, an employee of the Pakistani Consulate in Serbia had tweeted (which was brought down later) about how they had not been paid for 3 months and their kids had been forced out of the schools.
That one employee in Serbia was forced to back down. But it was just the throttling of one outlet of doom.
This December the situation has become far worse. Employees in missions in countries like France, Germany, the United States, Oman, Iran, Turkey, and even Afghanistan (apart from other countries) have not been paid salaries for the past 3-4 months!
The foreign missions cannot even pay their utility bills now.
Pakistan's deteriorating economic conditions are giving a blow to its embassies overseas, especially in Europe and the US, with missions finding it difficult to even pay their staff and service providers. In one of the incidents, Pakistan Embassy in Rome has reportedly been recently sued for non-payment of telephone dues. The embassy was sued by Vodafone, the telecom operator for Euros 11,300 in unpaid invoices. (Source: "Pak embassies in US, Europe struggle to pay dues due to economic crisis" / Business Standard)
These are the foreign missions.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not paid the salaries to their employees since October now. (Source: Pakistan: KP govt's financial health deteriorates, fails to pay salaries to employees /ANI News) The teachers have not been paid their salaries since November.
The situation has since gotten worse.
Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Balochistan are unable to pay salaries to the government employees. (Source: Balochistan joins chorus of miffed units over resources / Dawn)
The Pakistani government has not paid the salary of the Dutch coach of the national Hockey team in the last year! He is owed 130,000 Euros.
Despite the passage of more than a year, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has not paid the salary to national hockey team’s head coach Siegfried Aikman, Dawn has learnt on authority. Aikmen, 63, was hired by the PSB on the recommendation of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in November 2021 till November 2022 as head coach of Pakistan’s national senior and junior teams. Aikman’s monthly salary is 10,000 euros and it was to be paid by the PSB, a source in the PHF said, adding “but so far the PHF could not release the salary”, which is denting country’s reputation in the world of hockey. The Dutch coach is now entitled to receive a salary of Euro 130,000 for a 13-month period. (Source: Aikman not paid salary for over a year / Dawn)
The foreign exchange reserves in Pakistan have hit a new low. The total reserves with the Central Bank are now $6.7 billion!
The lack of forex reserves has forced Pakistan to stop payments for games and apps on phones being used by Pakistanis.
International in-app purchases have been halted in Pakistan, including those sold through video games. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (via Bloomberg), telecom service providers in the country were violating regulations by letting customers make purchases in entertainment apps, including video games, via direct carrier billing. (Source: Pakistan stops overseas payments for mobile games and apps / Games Industry)
And Google Play Store has stopped its services in Pakistan from December 1, as the State Bank stopped payment of $34 Million. (Source: Tribune)
So what is the solution?
Assets Fire Sale!
Pakistan has a building owned by the consulate but not used for the last few years. This building is now on sale. Apparently, the consulate will have to pay $1.3 million in fines and taxes which they cannot afford.
Roosevelt Hotel which is owned by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), permanently closed in December 2020 (Source: "Roosevelt Hotel closed for good" / Express Tribune).
Despite denials from Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique (statements from the Pakistani government are never trustworthy anyway), the fact is that many now believe the Roosevelt Hotel has been sold already.
As the economy tanks, the political class keeps moving on to newer levels of national destruction.
Political March towards disaster
In April 2022, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan - Imran Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote (Source: BBC)
On October 28th, Imran Khan started a long march to Islamabad.
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and thousands of supporters started a long-promised march on Friday to the nation’s capital, Islamabad, to challenge the government of his successor and demand early elections. (Source: Pakistani former leader Imran Khan starts march to Islamabad with supporters by his side / PBS)
This march with rallies in every city was called the “Haqeeqi Azadi March” (Real Freedom March). Barely after a month, it was stopped in November.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced that his partys ‘Haqeqi Azadi’ march will not head towards Islamabad as he does not want to spread chaos and anarchy in the country, local media reported. “They [government] cannot afford Islamabad march… they cannot stop millions from entering Islamabad. We could have created a Sri Lanka-like situation,” he said while addressing the party’s gathering in Rawalpindi on Saturday, Express Tribune reported. But, Khan added that the party has decided to quit all the legislative assemblies in the country in a bid to force the incumbent rulers to announce early elections. (Source: "Long march will not head to Islamabad: Imran Khan" / Siasat)
Imran Khan has been pushing for a new general election, which the new government that was installed after Khan was thrown out is opposed to.
So to preempt the election, Imran Khan has dissolved the assemblies in the two states where his party has the government - Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday announced that his governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will dissolve their assemblies on December 23 to pave the way for fresh elections. Imran made the announcement in a video address with Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan by his side. (Source: Punjab, KP assemblies to dissolve on Dec 23 : Imran / Dawn)
He held a rally to announce the dissolution of two state assemblies (Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
Now here is the rub - a country that cannot even pay its own foreign missions, its government employees, and its sports coaches will now have to pay for an election!
And, elections don't come cheap.
In Pakistan, that would set its economy back by over Rs 50 billion given the way inflation is rising!
There seems to be a complete disconnect between the real financial and economic situation of Pakistan and the way its inhabitants, leaders, and supporters are behaving.
Reminds one of the band that kept playing on the Titanic as it continued to sink!
In such a scenario, Pakistan's brand of Diplomacy reeks of a certain mindset, which we called out in September.
The Pakistani establishment believes that in collaboration with the Indian opposition parties, it can bring down the Modi administration such that the "good old times" of India's bullying, looting from India's economy, and money-making can continue.
Because they see it as an existential battle, they have removed all stops to hit at the Modi government and its leaders.
Threats as Diplomacy
With no rules to follow and gutter language replacing any diplomatic sensibility, the Pakistani establishment is back to what it knows best.
Specifically the nuclear ones.
After the Heath Ledger-style performance by the scion of a family that has instigated and backed genocides and terrorism, the ruling party functionaries are now issuing nuclear threats to India.
Shazia Marri, a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader (currently Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety) has threatened India with a nuclear war openly.
It is obvious that this will not go down well with the Indian administration.
Antagonistic Taliban changes the arithmetic
Afghanistan was seen as a source of "Strategic Depth" by the Pakistani establishment (Army and the ISI).
With the Taliban in there, it was assumed that it was a closed deal.
Well not quite.
Now Taliban in Afghanistan, and not just Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has started attacking the Pakistani forces.
Now Pakistan has a war staring at it from two borders.
And, this is just the borders.
Internal Polarization and Extrapolation on World Stage
It is the internal polarization that can break Pakistan much faster than any external force can.
The political elites usually work towards national unity, order, and solidarity ensuring the progress and development of the country. In Pakistan, the elites have quite opposite agendas. They tend to fracture societal formation through religious, ethnic, and ideological lines. With the majority coming from a feudal-tribal background, the political elites have encouraged values that “run counter to nation and state building” in a demographically diversified country. Simultaneously, the rise of an abusive culture in society is taking away patience. It starts from the acrimonious speeches by a party leader, addressing the opponents with indecent remarks reflecting hatred, and this trickles down onto their supporters. Very recently, the visuals in Punjab Assembly on April 16th mirrored the level of intolerance that, unfortunately, turned into violence inside a provincial assembly. (Source: Political Polarization in Pakistan and the 2022 Floods / Paradigm Shift)
The differences within. Exacerbated by the abusive political class that thinks hatred and abuse are a great political strategy. Pakistan is intolerant of its own people!
And, it is this mindset and sense that its leadership carries to the world stage.
Thinking that what works against a local opponent is the recipe for dominance on the world stage.
Some brownie points may be possible, but the world does not have patience nor tolerance for such juvenile ways.
So, while that Bhutto joker may have fancied himself as a great mass terror champion in the guise of a diplomat - quite in the lineage of his grandfather and mother - the fact is that India and its leadership of today are very different.
The strike back will be telling, quiet, precise, and (if the tea leaves can be read) - existential!
Here are the documentation and links that I saved as part of my research for an article. Many of these links I may have shared in my article and many I would have used in understanding the topics at hand. Beyond this newsletter, I tend to collate all my research even in the future into these sub-pages. So bookmark them for future reference. Please feel free to dive in and use it for your own analysis.
Video Corner: The World in 2050
Not that one agrees with all the things that he says and shares here, but the discussion is quite insightful and informative.
Dr. George Friedman, Founder, and Chairman, of Geopolitical Futures shares his views on "The World in 2050: Characteristics of New Rising Powers."