Asian geopolitics and Self Preservation

Most of the times, the analysis of geopolitics and national interests are often couched in “my-transgressions-are-strategy-yours-are-machiavellian-actions” language.  So, when Pakistan uses Kashmir as a whipping rod against India and kills both Hindus as well as Muslims – its bad from the Indian side and a matter of Muslim pride for Pakistan.  When India responds with its Army and hits back and in the process tramples the Muslims, while Hindus just move out as no one even protects them – then it is India’s pride and in Pakistan its like all hell has broken lose!  Fact is that both sides are just trying to move on the chess-board and playing their games.  Bringing morality into this chess world is so facetious.


This was a decade when whatever move that Pakistan played was right in every way.  On the other hand, India ended up on the losing side consistently.  Pakistan not only used Soviet War to build a powerful ally in Taliban in Afghanistan, but do three things right for themselves:

– Make China their strongest ally and provide with a launching pad against India to them
– Fund and empower Sikh terrorist and make Khalistan a serious issue for India
– Step up the Kashmir issue.

Operation Bluestar, although one of the most difficult events in India’s religious history since independence was prompted by a last-minute nation saving move from India.  Pakistan forces were ready on the border, and Bhinderanwala et al were ready to annouce freedom for Khalistan.  If the next morning had come uninterrupted, everything above Punjab would have been almost gone!  What Pakistan’s Army had attempted to do in 1965 – cut India’s throat from that Punjab strip – was finally to come true, so they thought.  If, and huge if, that night Russian intelligence had not helped India by playing a tape with the planning of the impending doom! And Indira went on offensive… But that move turned to have very complicated future ramifications.

India’s failed attempts at taking measure of Pakistan were frustrating!  From courting Najibullah to helping Northern Alliance – we consistently bet on the wrong horse.  Now, if you keep fighting the wrong battles, and someone else wins, then so bad for you!!  There was a need to stop Taliban and weaken it and possibly have a better relations with US to force Pakistan’s hand to give up their support of Taliban post Soviet war, but it never happened.


This was the decade of complete turnaround!  A few serendipitous things occured:

– Zia-ul-Haq, the real grand-master of Pakistan’s stable, died.
– India’s technological industry started preparing itself for Y2K and finally made a killing!  It was a god-send and never has ever a situation been used so well as Y2K was.  That was the turning point.  Suddenly, notwithstanding what the US diplomats wanted, Jack Welch’s one small gamble changed the entire game in this region.  If Rajiv Gandhi had not been visionary enough to start a whole new area and if that visit to see DLF’s Singh hadn’t happened?!
– Punjab’s terrorism was put a plug on by ruthlessness never seen before and probably the first time that a terrorist movement was finished by force!
– BJP came to the scene as a viable option and threw out the age-old useless and archaic policies of Congress that were at the basis of India’s failure in 1980s!  It opened upto Israel and still engaged the Arab world, it did the Nuke blasts to bring out the closet Nuke trade between Pakistan and China and still engage with US and make Clinton and others realize their error of estimation!  Soon, the old questions had changed!  We were never same!

So, the decade that had started with a low self-esteem India and highly proud Pakistan – and in fact the latter had a higher per-cpaita GDP than India, ended with a complete reversal.  What was to come would even change the game further!

2001 onwards

9-11 and the US blitzkrieg made Pakistan change their direction but it was a compromise to start with – and although the disaster was averted, it was merely straightening the deck of the Titanic!  What was required was NOT to keep the same game on, but to completely change the game and move to take the High road and use India as an ally as it made great strides in business and technology.  Whatever India gained, Pakistan lost due to a consistently adverserial game.

Now, US went away to Iraq and Taliban was in Pakistan and trying to recover, while India was back at its old game – of going back to Afghanistan to obviate Pakistan’s push later on.  Since end of 2001, India has invested USD 1.2 billion in Afghanistan – ostensibly for “reconstruction”.  Pakistan is obviously mad and raising hue and cry at the growing influence of India – so it again whips out its favorite joker – the Taliban!

Same board… same moves… except the game has changed.  This time US is interested in wiping out Taliban, Pakistani Army is NOT!  And US considers India as a bulwark against China.  So, where Pakistan was in 1980s, that’s where India is today.  And despite the fact that India refused to help US in its war on terror, India and US are still playing a strong role in Afghanistan.  Of course, India was careful to not give US the power to use Indian soldiers as canon-fodder as it did with Pakistan against the Soviets and in other areas.

Is it any wonder then that recently, amidst the calls to “step up”, Pakistanis feel cheated as US is pushing Pakistan further into crisis by attacks inside their territory.  Again, it is geopolitic.  You have to make your moves properly… there are no friends and no enemies.

There was a case in late-1990s for Pakistan to really and honestly be-friend India and change the geopolitic game!  Agra’s summit and that fateful night when the flamboyant Mushrraf’s entourage decided that it will telecast the message of Musharraf against the decided norms and guarantees to announce a one-sided agreement and force India into something favorable… which effectively made Vajpayee mad beyond words and stopped it all in the tracks.. THAT NIGHT could have changed the Asian chess game forever.  But the Punjabi ostentatiousness was too drunk on its own success of the 1980s.

What now?

It is easy to blame Pakistan and its Islam.. but the truth is that its rulers and the Army’s heart beats for Islam as much as George Bush’s does!  Islam and its tools have been a nice weapon to fire the poor up to be used as canon-fodder for a larger game and for making money for the Generals, so it serves them to use it.  On the other hand, it serves India’s interest to keep blaming Pakistan and its religion, so we will use it to keep making our case in the market.  Ultimately its the chess game.  If we two countries could have played together – on one side, not necessarily as friends – then it could have become a different middle game and ending, but it hasn’t been so.

Like it is said, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.  It is the same with Pakistani Army and Intelligence – their answer to geopolitical chess game is – Islamic militancy.  But its a game that Indian diplomats have played before and lost terribly.  Over the last two decades, they have changed the game altogether.  Its a completely different game… and different players.  Musharraf is no Zia, but then Sonia or Dr. Singh is no Indira Gandhi either!!

From the Indian side, I see only two leaders capable of taking India through a successful game ending – LK Advani and Narendra Modi.  Again, I am not going into secularism, communalism and other useless words.. for they mean nothing!  For alll we know, Kashmiri militants have killed 10 times more believing and practising Muslims than those killed in Gujarat or after Babri Masjid.

So, lets get the useless and totally facetious emotions and moralistic rhetoric out of the way – for that is NOT how the politicians (however Godly, including Gandhi) ever think or act.  They simply weigh options and choose one where THEIR OWN loss (in money and person) is less and other’s is more.  The question is who is this “Other”???  In case of Gandhi for example, it was sometimes the British and sometimes it was Subash Bose, and at one point it was Sardar Patel.  Similarly, for the Islamic minds, in Pakistan, sometimes it were the Russians, sometimes it were Indians, and then it were the Americans, at one point it was Northern Alliance, and at other it was Benazir and then Musharraf!!

Hence, its NOT about emotions, or religion or God, or good of the people – it is about preservation of PERSONAL interest!  And in this one, the Indian establishment seems to be doing a better job than the Pakistani establishment.  That essentially means, they will be able to build bigger mansions, and have fatter Swiss accounts.

Oh the common man?  Hahahaa… still haven’t got the game???

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