Pathankot and Mazar-i-Sharif Consulate attacks came soon after the Indian PM Modi’s visit to Pakistan, where he met Nawaz Sharif for a tea session, wished him on his birthday, gave blessings to his grand-daughter on her marriage and touched his mother’s feet.
The situation for Modi is further accentuated by the fact that Modi’s BJP Government is NOT naming Pakistan as the aggressor openly. Rather, it is being quiet about it. Strange and ironic!
“Back-stabbing”, Foreign Policy failure and meek government dealing is what is being talked about. Which to me, who has been looking at the history of Modi and Doval – the two main architects of the Indian policy towards Pakistan – seems foolish if not imbecile. Doval is not a dove. He isn’t a raging idiot like Musharraf or trigger-happy like Bush, but he knows how to engage and take the fight to the enemy. So why is he being such a dove?
More importantly, there is one aspect that everyone seems to have completely missed! Nawaz Sharif. Remember Vajpayee’s Lahore bus journey? And the Kargil attack? Yeah yeah… so Modi was stupid to do the same.. right? Hold on. Not so quick on your rudimentary analysis skill, Watson. What happened after Kargil? Musharraf kicked Sharif out.
Deja vu all over again, huh! So, did Nawaz Sharif and Modi – and above all, Doval – miss the implications of history? Three idiots in one sub-continent? That’s way too much coincidence! Ok, so let’s say Modi and Doval are idiots. They want to play doves. What about Nawaz Sharif? Modi and Doval may lose their posts. Sharif can lose his life!! If history repeats itself. And history has repeated until now.. hasn’t it? Well, again, not so quick, Watson!
Here are some things that happened make this situation a lot more interesting. But for that, we have to assume and admit that these three aren’t such idiots as we would like to believe they are. After all, for us, its a vicarious “feel-good” analytical AHA (however rudimentary it may be) moment, but for these three folks it could mean far more. Including their lives. And, to do what happened, it meant Modi and Doval courted death when they landed in Pakistan. So, the visit would have been worth a reward far bigger than the immense threat to their lives. And, last I checked, these aren’t the suicidal type of leaders. So, what makes the whole thing interesting?
Pakistan has one power center – the Army. It dictates everything. Politicians don’t particularly like them, but they have no way to counter them either. So ZA Bhutto is killed by Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir is murdered by Musharraf and gang, and Sharif was almost killed by Musharraf as well. It must have taken political skill, money and outside help for Nawaz Sharif to turn the tables on Musharraf so conclusively! The Army chief Rahil Sharif is still the defacto ruler. The ISI (or part of the Pak Army) still dictates what the media says, writes and discusses. In short it sets the narrative in public. So much so that Pakistani “analysts” seem like robots reading out of the exact same script!
At this time, however, Pak Army – like always – cannot rule like they did earlier. US is the biggest ally of Pakistan and also its greatest enemy. It is in the hands of the US hegemony and dependent on the US. Despite the Chinese interest and work in Pakistan, the US has made sure it holds the strings. Through money as well. And, central to the US-Pakistan relationship is the Kerry-Lugar bill. That bill makes sure that Civilian control of Pakistan Army is in place for the US-Pak relationship to sustain. The Army and ISI have hated this bill obviously. However, Zardari loved it. And, so does Nawaz Sharif. Obviously! It is their lifeline!
The then US envoy to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, heard a hot criticism over the Kerry-Lugar bill from Pakistani COAS Gen Kayani and DG ISI Gen Pasha in a two-hour meeting on 6th October 2009. Gen Kayani had made clear to the Ambassador and accompanying Gen McCrystal, during that urgent meeting at GHQ, about his concerns. Gen Crystal understood the viewpoint of Pak-Army and was not at all happy when he left the GHQ. Gen Kayani told them that there were elements in the bill that would set back the bilateral relationship, and critical provisions were al-most entirely directed against the Army. The General was particularly irritated on clauses of civilian control of the military since he had no intention of taking over the government. ‘Had I wanted to do this, I would have done it during the long march [of March 2009]’, Gen Kayani had told the US Ambassador clearly. The reported remarks of the American envoy were that rejection of the bill would be taken as an insult and smack of arrogant attitude but, contrarily, some clauses of the bill could also be termed as insult to the entire Pakistani nation. (source)
Now, look at history and today’s world again. Kargil happened in 1999. Nawaz Sharif was shown the door in October 1999. This was a decade before the Kerry-Lugar bill. The entire steps of Vajpayee in Lahore and Kargil (Pak Army’s adventure) could be repeated, but not Nawaz Sharif’s dismissal!
Why is that important? Because, to dismantle the Jehadi machinery in Pakistan, it is imperative to impose and install the superiority of the Pakistan Political class over the Pak Army. Once it is done, it will also ensure that India can handle the Pak Army much more easily. It will be easier to bring the rogue Army down without a war. A wedge between the Army and Politicians was always there. Modi and Doval simply took sides when taking sides was possible! Due to the Kerry-Lugar bill!
The Army cannot take Nawaz Sharif out. He cannot be replaced either. He will let Indians work with him and his establishment in a way to undermine the ISI and the Army such that their ascendancy is not possible. Without any threat to him.
The aim of Modi-Doval doctrine is NOT to start another war. But to prevent any from happening. For that a monster that is the Pakistan Army and the ISI needs to be contained. And, it has to be done from inside. Until now, it wasn’t possible. One, because the Pak dynamics didn’t allow it. Two, because most of the Indian establishments until now had many senior people on the ISI roll itself. And, that includes the Indian media stalwarts.
If you have played chess, you will know how this move was played. Repeat a failed opening and middle game, except that you have a strong position to save your king this time and lure the other guy into committing the mistake out of his own obsessive aggression. The funny thing is that Pakistani Army is too predictable. It just played into the hands of Modi-Doval. It did exactly as per their own script. But could do the damage only to the extent that Doval and Modi allowed them to. It is instructive to note that this squad of Jehadis (or Fidayeens) were far more lethal than those sent for 26/11.
After initially refraining from blaming the country, a top government official said on Monday that the terrorists behind the Pathankot airbase attack appeared to have received training from a “professional armed force in Pakistan.” The fidayeen (suicide) squad was more lethal and better trained than the 26/11 Mumbai attackers. They had enough arms and ammunition, including under barrel grenade launchers, for a sustained operation of more than 60 hours against a professional army.
What’s more, India had prior intelligence of the attack 5 days before!
Pakistan Army and ISI knew of the stakes involved in this “repeat of Kargil type attack” and wanted to inflict a damage so bad that Modi-Sharif partnership was derailed, so it sent its ace Jehadi team. Doval was well aware of the stakes as well. He had to let the attack happen, but work to contain its impact and damage. Which he did (Doval’s actions saved critical air assets in Pathankot) successfully!
Yes, it has cost us lives. Very brave, precious and promising ones at that. But a war has always taken many many more like the brave men and women who died in Pathankot. The alternative was far more dire and scary for millions in the sub-continent.
One more thing – I have followed the Pakistani-US dynamics for long now. And, one thing is not clear to me. The obsession of the Republicans with the ISI. They are besotted by the Pakistan Army and ISI to a point of betrayal to US itself. To know more about the utter and shameful betrayal of US by the combine of Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney and George Bush, please read “Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons“. No matter who the President, the underlying establishment in the US when Republicans are in power remains with the same clique. That is why, despite Bin Laden living in plain sight – next to Pakistan Army HQ in Abbottabad, CIA didn’t get him. It was left to a Democratic President to do it, who did it under great risk.
The window of opportunity going forward for the containment of the Pakistan Army and ISI – with the help of Pakistan’s political elite is not very long. In the coming months, Modi-Doval-Sharif combine will seek to rewrite the sub-continent’s future. And, Pakistan’s Army will not figure in that scenario. The only bad thing is it will not go down without a fight. And, that is where Doval’s immense intelligence smarts and knowledge of Pakistan will come in handy for Sharif’s life. Short of a water-tight guarantee, Sharif would not have gone along with the whole plan.