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Indian Press ( 20 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Press on Forced Withdrawal of Tanishq Ad Promoting Communal Harmony, Pakistan Theatrics and Bangladesh: New Age Islam's Selection, 20 October 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

20 October 2020

• Withdrawal of Tanishq Ad Indicates A Larger Malaise in Our Society, Where the Love Jihad Bogey Runs Riot

By Zakia Soman

• It’s Bollywood; Religion Is Just Not Part Of The Plot

By Anupama Chopra

• Pakistan Interested In Theatre, Not Popular Welfare Or In Normalising Ties With India

By Vivek Katju

• Bangladesh’s Rise Is an Opportunity for India, But Is Overshadowed By Negative Domestic Politics

By C. Raja Mohan

• Pakistan Army Emotionally Blackmails Its Population with Its Own Idea of India

By Amarjit Singh


Withdrawal of Tanishq Ad Indicates A Larger Malaise in Our Society, Where the Love Jihad Bogey Runs Riot

By Zakia Soman

October 20, 2020



The withdrawal of the Tanishq ad celebrating interfaith marriage and harmony is symptomatic of the larger malaise that afflicts our society today. It highlights yet another failure to act on part of the law and order machinery. It makes a mockery of policies such as ease of doing business as one of our biggest industrial houses is made helpless in the face of violent threats. It signifies what a deeply patriarchal society we continue to be in the age of internet. Lastly, it shows how helpless we, the citizens of India, are in the face of rising fanaticism.

Critics said it would have been OK if the ad had featured a Muslim woman married to a Hindu man! Many politicians also seem to be caught up in medieval notions of communities’ ownership over women. The actress and MP Nusrat Jahan was hugely trolled for marrying her beloved who belongs to another faith. In the Hadiya case, a Kerala court made constitutionally unacceptable and deeply patriarchal observations while nullifying the marriage of a 26-year-old woman and handing over her custody to her parents!

Responding to a question in Parliament, the junior home minister has stated that there has not been a single registered case of love jihad. And yet this bogey is deployed time and again with impunity by those who have nothing substantial to offer to the electorate. Going by the recent utterances of a senior minister, it is scheduled to be the next election plank in Assam. It comes in handy to demonise communities and polarise the social climate to gain votes. The beneficiaries are those who are fond of labelling others as anti-national while they do immense harm to the fabric of the nation.

Increasingly, such politics is at loggerheads with the world view, ideas and practices of many empowered Indians. Surely, the Tanishq ad must be backed by market research to portray interfaith harmony as a cherished ideal of upwardly mobile consumers. As the economy advances and the middle class expands, more and more young Indians would acquire education, knowledge, newer experiences and come to hold liberal views. More and more young women and men would study and work together. Some of them may fall in love and marry even as they may continue to practise their own religion individually.

Many interfaith couples have come forward to share their stories of harmony post the Tanishq episode. This would be the lived secularism of empowered modern day Indians. Or are we now going to insist that young adults must check the antecedents – religion, caste, sub caste, gotra etc – before falling in love? Clearly, those raising this bogey know nothing about love. Nor are they aware of the aspirations of young India.

The question arises as to what is New India that the prime minister frequently refers to. Is it an India where self-appointed guardians of religion won’t allow a positive message of interfaith harmony being portrayed in an ad? Is it an India where corporates or artists or young adults have to seek the permission of hate-mongers to be able to live freely? We remember the bullying by fanatical forces in the past. We remember events such as the ban on The Satanic Verses, the hounding of MF Hussain and the arrests of cartoonists. The government would do well to give protection to business entities and to all citizens against such onslaughts. The bullies on social media and in society cannot be allowed to hold everyone to ransom. They can’t be deciding which ad or film can or cannot be released. Such a scenario would be a case of multiple governance failures.

The Special Marriages Act must be strengthened and popularised to enable Indian citizens to marry as per their free choice. The problematic provisions of this law, such as one month notice for objections by third parties, should be repealed. Clearly, these provisions are violative of the constitutional principles of equality and privacy. Young lovers being hounded by bigots out to protect community honour must be given legal protection. The police must apprehend and jail those lumpens who in the name of love jihad intervene in the private matter of marriage between consenting adults.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is amongst the flagship schemes of the government. Clearly, the government must do more to protect the girl’s right to autonomy over her life choices. And yes, she could be a girl from any faith.


It’s Bollywood; Religion Is Just Not Part Of The Plot

By Anupama Chopra

Oct 16, 2020


In Mee Raqsam, released this August, a Muslim teen learns Bharatanatyam, a marker of cinema’s inclusivity.


“I can very proudly say that I’m a part of this community,” actor Vikrant Massey said of Bollywood, in an interview last month. “We are the most liberal, we are the most democratic, we are the most inclusive society.” I’d agree.

The Hindi film industry may be guilty of nepotism, elitism, sexism, colour-bias, stereotyping and a dumbing-down of things, but the ecosystem has never been communal or exclusionary. In the nearly 30 years that I have been a film journalist, I can’t recall one conversation in which an artist or technician’s religion was mentioned. Or hearing that anyone got or didn’t get a job because of it.

Diwali is usually celebrated at parties thrown by both Aamir Khan and the Bachchans. I remember the industry converging at a lavish Eid celebration at Shah Rukh Khan’s house right after the release of Chennai Express. Many film families, including Salman Khan’s, bring a Ganpati idol home during Ganesh Chaturthi.

Bollywood’s is a syncretic culture. Which might be due more to pragmatism than progressiveness. Everyone here is chasing the Holy Grail — a blockbuster — and will work with whoever serves the cause. The supreme deity worshipped is the box office.

Secularism has a long history in the industry. In his biography, Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet, author Akshay Manwani quotes the writer Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, who, like Sahir, was part of the Progressive Writers’ Movement.

Abbas is writing about a procession for communal harmony organised in Bombay on the eve of Independence, in 1947. In the procession were members from 52 film industry associations. As it moved from Gateway of India to Bandra, Abbas writes that the procession passed “through exclusively Hindu and Muslim areas, thus removing the unseen barriers that were dividing Bombay into little bits of ‘Hindu Bombay’ and ‘Muslim Bombay’.”

In the procession, which Abbas describes as a ‘grand success’, were Prithviraj Kapoor and his young sons Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, Balraj Sahni, Chetan Anand and Dev Anand; in another truck rode the writers Kaifi Azmi, Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri.

A show of strength like this seems impossible today. Bollywood is polarised along political lines. The economic impact of the pandemic and almost four months of battering following Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic death have left the industry fractured and devastated.

Conversations are thick with dread and paranoia. But the essence of inclusion remains the same. As Javed Akhtar said to me recently: “When it comes to movie-making, communalism or regionalism or any bias will not work... They can’t afford to be communal. Only those people who don’t have direct stakes can be communal.”

Is this what makes the powers that be so nervous? Is that why there is such a focused effort to muzzle artists with fear and trolling? Which has been effective, at least for now. Artists are lying low because they are interested in telling stories, not in getting caught in cultural crossfire that results in shrill abuse on social media and calls for bans on the work they have created.

But in the long run, this approach cannot work. Because film is a collaborative art built on talent. In the film Mee Raqsam (released this August; directed by Baba Azmi, presented by Shabana Azmi and dedicated to their father, Kaifi Saab, who was an ardent advocate of India’s composite culture), the protagonist Salim puts it eloquently. Defending the right of his teenage daughter to learn Bharatanatyam, Salim says, “Kala ka koi mazhab nahin hota.” Exactly.


Pakistan Interested In Theatre, Not Popular Welfare or In Normalising Ties with India

By Vivek Katju

Oct 20, 2020

Moeed Yusuf, special assistant to the Pakistan PM ‘on national security division and strategic policy planning’, gave a long interview to a well-known Indian TV personality last week. Yusuf, an academic with a background, inter alia, in India-Pakistan studies, has been in his job since December last year. Earlier, he had a long stint with the US Institute of Peace, a US Congress funded think-tank in Washington DC.

Yusuf had sought an Indian media platform since some time to assert his establishment’s propagandist views to an Indian audience. His offer was ignored till he was interviewed recently. He used the interview to peddle the themes in a highly offensive manner that Pakistan has been pursuing against India, especially since the constitutional changes in J&K in 2019. These themes are: the illegitimacy of the constitutional changes, allegations of India supporting Pakistani Taliban and Balochi nationalist groups that Pakistan claims have undertaken terrorist acts on its territory, the nature of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology, which it claims is casting a malign shadow on the region, and Pakistan’s adherence to the International Court of Justice’s ruling in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

After spouting venom against India on all these issues, Yusuf claimed that Pakistan had received Indian messages expressing a desire to have a conversation between the two countries. As he put it ‘…in the past year, we’ve got the messages about a desire of (sic) conversation….’ He said Pakistan would like to first ascertain ‘whether there is intent to talk to get somewhere’. He expressed the apprehension that India only wished to talk to show the world that everything is ‘settled’ between India-Pakistan. In addition, he laid down the condition that talks would only take place if Kashmiris were a party to them. The Ministry of External Affairs did well to set the record straight by categorically denying that messages for talks were sent to Pakistan.

Yusuf is being lauded in Pakistan for succeeding in strongly conveying ‘home truths’, and at substantial length to India, and that too on an Indian programme. While this may give the Pakistani establishment some satisfaction, will it succeed in effectively pushing forward globally the Pakistani line on India? This is doubtful, not only because the facts are at odds with Pakistani assertions, but also because Pakistan lacks credibility on issues relating to terrorism, social harmony and democratic values and on J&K-related issues as well. This also applies to the follow-up on the Jadhav matter in the ICJ.

Pakistan has, for long, emphasised that India is involved in sponsoring terrorism on its soil through disaffected Pathans and Balochis. It wishes to do so to dilute the international focus on Pakistani terror in its neighbourhood. The entire purpose of the Jadhav abduction and putting him on display was to convince global opinion that India was undertaking terrorist acts against Pakistan, but it has simply made no headway in this propaganda exercise. Now, another attempt has begun with direct allegations that Yusuf made in the interview, including the charge that Indian representatives were in touch with the mastermind of the horrific Army Public School terrorist attack in 2014. This particular reference is an attempt to shift attention from the Mumbai attack and Pakistan’s continuing sponsorship of terrorism through tanzeems like the LeT and JeM that are based on its soil.

Pakistan’s continuing anguish is that except for China, all major countries have not been bothered by the J&K constitutional changes, and except for Turkey and Malaysia, no important Islamic country has spoken against it. The Arab peninsular states have ignored Pakistan’s desire for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting at the foreign minister level on Kashmir. The administrative steps that were taken in J&K after August 5, 2019, attracted adverse attention, but now that too has muted. It is unlikely that any country will pay attention to the wild assertion that the Kashmir situation is imploding. The Pakistani establishment has succeeded only in instilling this belief in its country’s public for its own institutional interests and to divert attention from the sharpening of the domestic political situation.

Pakistan’s claim that it has fulfilled ICJ’s order to ensure that consular access is given to India to meet Jadhav is simply wrong. The meetings of consular officials and their nationals in a foreign state’s custody cannot be monitored by officials of the foreign state. If they are, the purpose of giving an opportunity to the national to be able to talk to his government’s representatives freely and in confidence is lost. The Jadhav case is before the Islamabad High Court, but its judges too have not ordered such access, despite all their attempts to show that they are acting impartially. It is impossible to believe that any Pakistani court can show the courage to do justice in the Jadhav case; certainly, the Pakistani judiciary’s track record is largely one of bending before its country’s establishment.

Pakistan is taking comfort in the unhappiness in some liberal global circles at the social and cultural direction of the Modi government. It obviously wishes to align the liberals’ criticism to its own stands on the J&K issue, and also on terrorism. What Pakistan is overlooking is that there is, to put it mildly, scepticism about its internal and external policy choices. This will be enhanced by it giving a clean chit to China on that country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.

As long as Pakistan does not change course fundamentally, it has no real future. The Yusuf interview is a confirmation that the Pakistani establishment is interested in theatre, not popular welfare or in normalising relations with India, despite his repeated claims that it seeks peace with India.


 Vivek Katju is Ex-secretary, Ministry of External Affairs


Bangladesh’s Rise Is An Opportunity For India, But Is Overshadowed By Negative Domestic Politics

By C. Raja Mohan

October 20, 2020

The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook published last week has triggered much outrage in India. The provocation was the IMF’s prediction that Bangladesh’s per capita GDP will overtake that of India this year. The projected difference is rather small — $1,888 to $1,877 — and unlikely to last beyond this year. But it offered enough ammunition for a political attack on the NDA government’s economic record.

There are many reasons for anxiety about India’s economic slowdown in recent years. But in using Dhaka’s impressive economic performance to attack Delhi’s, India is missing the bigger story about the strategic consequences of Bangladesh’s economic rise.

International development institutions are convinced that the rest of the subcontinent and developing countries around the world can learn much from Dhaka’s experience — the so-called “Bangladesh model”. Our focus here is different. It is about the regional implications of Bangladesh’s economic success — five of them stand out.

First, rapid and sustained economic growth in Bangladesh has begun to alter the world’s mental maps of the subcontinent. Over the last five decades and more, South Asia, for most purposes, has meant India and Pakistan. The other countries were generally described as the “smaller” states of the region. Bangladesh was never really small; its population today stands at about 160 million. It is demographically the eighth-largest nation in the world.

But it did not seem to matter. The global interest, of course, was riveted on Pakistan — its nuclear weapons, claims on Kashmir, wars with India, role in Afghanistan and its cosy relationship with international terrorism. The economic rise of Bangladesh is changing some of that. If there is no end to bad news from Pakistan, Bangladesh provides a positive narrative about the subcontinent’s prospects.

The second implication is about the changing economic weights of Bangladesh and Pakistan in South Asia. This year, Bangladesh’s GDP is expected to reach about $320 billion; the IMF did not have the 2020 numbers from Pakistan to report but in 2019, Pakistan’s economy was at $275 billion.

Even more consequently, while Bangladesh continues to grow, the IMF suggests that Pakistan’s economy will contract further this year. A decade ago, Pakistan’s economy was $60 billion larger than Bangladesh. Today, Bangladesh’s weight is bigger than Pakistan by the same margin.

A US dollar today gets you 85 Bangladeshi taka and 162 Pakistani rupees. The trend line is unlikely to change in the near future — for Bangladesh has controlled its population growth and Pakistan has not. Dhaka has a grip over its inflation and Islamabad does not.

There is no question that Pakistan’s negative geopolitical weight in the world will endure, thanks to its muscular foreign policies driven by the army. Bangladesh does not have an atomic arsenal like Pakistan nor does it weaponise violent religious extremism; but its growing economic muscle will help Dhaka steadily accumulate geopolitical salience in the years ahead.

Third, Bangladesh’s economic growth can accelerate regional integration in the eastern subcontinent. Whether one likes it or not, the region’s prospects for a collective economic advance are rather dim. Thanks to Pakistan’s opposition to economic cooperation with India and its support for cross-border terror, the main regional forum for the subcontinent, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), is in a coma.

Instead of merely praying for the revival of Saarc, Delhi could usefully focus on promoting regionalism among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. The BBIN sub-regional forum — involving the four, activated in the middle of last decade — has not advanced fast enough. It is time for Delhi and Dhaka to take a fresh look at the forum and find ways to widen the scope and pace of BBIN activity. Meanwhile, there is growing interest in Bhutan and Nepal for economic integration with Bangladesh.

Fourth, the economic success of Bangladesh is drawing attention from a range of countries in East Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. The US, which traditionally focused on India and Pakistan, has woken up to the possibilities in Bangladesh. That the US Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, travelled last week from Delhi to Dhaka rather than Rawalpindi, says something about Washington’s changing South Asian perspective. Bangladesh does not want to get into the fight between Beijing and Washington, but the great power wooing of Dhaka is bound to intensify in the new geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.

Finally, the economic rise of Bangladesh could boost India’s national plans to accelerate the development of its eastern and northeastern states. Consider this: Bangladesh’s economy is now one-and-a-half times as large as that of West Bengal; better integration between the two would provide a huge boost for eastern India. So would connectivity between India’s landlocked Northeast and Bangladesh.

Undoubtedly, there has been some progress in strengthening economic ties and connectivity between eastern India and Bangladesh in recent years. But so much more is possible — those prospects are overshadowed by negative politics in India.

In Punjab, the chief ministers of both Congress and Akali Dal have often demanded greater economic engagement with West Punjab. This sentiment was reciprocated by the Sharif brothers in Lahore, but crushed by Rawalpindi’s strong resistance. In the east, Delhi and Dhaka are eager to promote greater cooperation; but there has been little political enthusiasm in Kolkata. In Assam, the issue of migration continues to impose major political constraints.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves much political credit for getting parliamentary approval of the boundary settlement in 2015, despite the opposition in his own party. The UPA government, which negotiated the boundary pact in 2011, could not muster sufficient political support. Modi also accepted the 2014 international arbitration award on the maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh.

But the very positive dynamic surrounding the bilateral relationship in Modi’s first term has, unfortunately, acquired a negative tone in the second amidst the poisonous rhetoric in India around the Citizenship Amendment Act. There is much room for course correction in Delhi and to shift the focus from legacy issues to future possibilities.

Bangladesh is getting ready to celebrate the golden jubilee of its liberation from Pakistan in March next year. Modi, who plans to join the celebrations, must use the special occasion to jointly develop and pursue with Dhaka an ambitious framework for shared prosperity. That would help India consolidate the golden chapter in India-Bangla relations that Modi has sought to script with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.


Pakistan Army Emotionally Blackmails Its Population with Its Own Idea Of India

By Amarjit Singh

19 October 2020

The idea of Pakistan rests on the elite Indian Muslims’ sense of being culturally and historically distinct to Hindus of India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah conceived Pakistan as an ideal democratic Muslim State and stated that the constitution of Pakistan should embody the essential principles of Islam, because the religion’s idealism preaches democracy, equality, justice and fair play to everybody. Poet-philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s idea of Pakistan was not based on a European model of a nation-State, but on “an acute understanding that political power was essential to the higher ends of establishing God’s law.”

Over 70 years after its birth, the harsh realities of the ‘idea of Pakistan’, contrary to the ideals of Jinnah, have emerged to make it a State which, in the words of Hussain Haqqani, “is a volatile, semi-authoritarian, national security state, which failed to run itself consistently and under constitutional order or rule of law”. It has become a “greedy state, unsatisfied with the status quo”. The Muslim League was oligarchic in nature and Pakistan’s elite embraced this structure, thus becoming a feudal society. To be in politics, one has to be a feudal lord, and to retain feudal lordship, one needs the protection or blessings of the army. In Pakistan, the nexus between the politicians and Generals is well established, and are easily interchangeable. Most Generals in Pakistan, after retirement, hold key positions in the civil economy. The third pole of power that has emerged is the fundamental Muslim clergy.

A few years after coming into existence, Pakistan’s leadership had an idealist outlook but with a Muslim ideology background. The failure of governance and deterioration of the economy brought about a debate — ‘who is a better Pakistani?’ This debate had to be away from the issue of governance or economy because the elite and leadership of Pakistan had no laurels to boast of. So, it veered to decide ‘who is a better Muslim’. From Zia-ul-Haq onwards, all leadership played around the sentiment of ‘a better Muslim’. In this process, the Muslim clerics gained prominence because the leadership sought reassurance of their being a ‘better Muslim’. From this rose fundamentalism. The clerics became a force to reckon with, and created an army of devout Muslims from their madrassas that later took shape as the jihadi movement and has culminated into terrorism.

Opposition to India is a factor that has forever grown as a major sentiment in Pakistan, benefitting these interest groups. There is inherent unification of the Pakistani population on the subject of parity with India in all spheres. The innate desire to wrest Kashmir from India overrides sanity and sagacity of military strategy, which reflects in the initiation of four wars with India— there is no victory to show but the distortion of history will continue to keep the myth of infallibility of the Pakistan army alive. In the ‘idea of Pakistan’, the term nationalism is defined by two factors — being Muslim and being different from India in a better sense. Acquiescing to India in any sense is tantamount to accepting that the ‘two-nation theory’, which forms the basis of the ‘idea of Pakistan’, was incorrect in the first place.

Assault On Constitution

Pakistan’s constitution was first approved in 1956, under Prime Minister Muhammad Ali, but stood abrogated in 1958 after a military coup d’état. The country’s second constitution, under General Ayub Khan, was approved in 1962. The revised document institutionalised the intervention of the military in domestic politics — the president or the defence minister of Pakistan must be a person who had held the rank of Lieutenant-General in the army.

The 1962 constitution was suspended in 1969 when Gen Yahya Khan was appointed as the chief martial law administrator. In 1970, there was a constitutional crisis, which ultimately led to the separation of East Pakistan into an independent state of Bangladesh. The 1969 constitution was abrogated in 1972. The 1973 constitution was the first in Pakistan to be framed by elected representatives under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Unlike the 1962 constitution, it gave Pakistan a parliamentary democracy with a very strong Islamic content. However, even this couldn’t stop Pakistan’s coup-hungry Generals.

In 1977, a military coup d’état was conducted by Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq, which deposed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and imposed martial law. Then again, in 1999, General Pervez Musharraf arrested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and imposed martial law till the time he appointed himself as the president of Pakistan. There were unsuccessful coup attempts in 1951, 1980, and 1995 as well.

Amid this continued struggle for power, violence has been a stark reality in the politics of Pakistan. The country’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was shot dead, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, his daughter Benazir was shot dead, Zia-ul-Haq died under mysterious circumstances, and General Pervez Musharraf survived two assignation attempts. The list of State leaders and clergy heads who have been violently ‘eliminated’ is endless.

The Threat Perception Cycle

Pakistan inherited 33 per cent of the British Army whereas it got 19 per cent of the population and 17 per cent of the revenue base. The disproportional strength of the army needed to be justified. So, the threat from India, Afghanistan, and USSR was made larger.

The oversizing of the initial threat perception, partly egged on by Western powers, has shaped Pakistan as a security seeking State, giving unlimited powers to the military. The fact that the Western powers were partly fighting the Cold War through Pakistani territory and their army, led to the Pakistan Generals internalising the Cold War as their own war. This belief rationalised their involvement in Afghanistan and legitimised increasing the size of the army.

Pakistan’s perceived threat to its existence from India on one side and Russia on the other, coupled with its false narrative of playing a party to the West in its the global war on terror, became a ‘justifiable’ reason for acquiring greater capabilities for the army. All this came at the behest of Pakistan’s social development and economy. The Pakistan army emotionally blackmails its population. The Ayub Khan doctrine exemplifies this aspect as it states:

Pakistan State is under siege constantly.

Pakistan military is the only guarantor of Pakistan’s survival.

India is Pakistan’s permanent enemy and, therefore, Pakistan has to outsmart India in all spheres.

Pakistan occupies a strategic location, and therefore, there will always be a power that will be willing to underwrite Pakistan’s economy and military action (making it a ‘Dependent State’ by design).

The Generations Of Pakistan Army Officers

The Pakistan Army officers have had varied influences that have shaped their ideology.

— The British generation (1947-55): These officers received their initial professional training in the British Indian Army and had served in combat by the time of Partition. Some had received their training at Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and some at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. Ayub Khan belonged to the former group, and his friend and successor as Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, Mohammed Musa, to the latter. It is often assumed that the Sandhurst-trained officers were superior soldiers. However, there is substantial evidence to indicate that the IMA officers were better qualified and more professional in their outlook. They shaped the Army into a professional unit with a secular outlook aka the British Army.

— The American generation 1955-71: After Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact (later Central Treaty Organisation, or CENTO) in 1955, the ‘American generation of Pakistan Army officers’ were fully exposed to the American philosophy, re-shaping its military strategy. The American generation had an exaggerated estimate of their martial qualities, with some believing that one Pakistani soldier equaled ten or more Indians. After long emphasising caution and the conservation of men and material, Pakistanis were exposed to mechanisation, the lavish use of ammunition, and an informal personal style. To be ‘modern’ was to emulate the Americans in their breezy, casual, but apparently effective and expensive ways. Local strategy gave way to global thinking and ‘grand strategy’ became the norm. This seriously distorted the army’s professionalism.

— The Pakistani generation (post-1971):  The outstanding characteristic of those who joined the Pakistan Army in the post-Bangladesh years was that they were the purist ‘Pakistani’ of all. They were representative of a wider society and class, had less exposure to American professional influence, and believed the US had let Pakistan down. They joined the army when its reputation and prestige had plummeted, and their professional careers and world outlook were shaped by the 1971 debacle. Zia’s emphasis on Islam, in an already conservative society, encouraged Islamic zealotry in the army. Zia’s second major contribution was the revival and legitimisation of irregular or covert warfare and the rise of the Mujahideen.

— The current generation: The next generation of officers comes from the middle-class and have joined the Pakistan Army simply to improve their standard of living and as a vehicle for social mobility and political power. Some of these officers tasted power during the Zia years; others have managed to enter a variety of civilian institutions — from airports to Pakistan’s power supply. They consider themselves to be less well-off, but no less deserving than their generational predecessors, and they appear to be as professionally competent, but lack the elan of their predecessors.

Pakistan’s Penchant For Grand Strategy

Pakistan’s strategic thinking has been greatly influenced by its association with the US. Jinnah, before the formation of Pakistan, told the Life Magazine, stating that it was his view that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location has made it imperative for the US policy makers to forge an alliance with the country. The US needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs the US. He said that Pakistan is the pivot of the world, placed on the frontier where the future of the world would revolve. Jinnah also said that the rising US interest in countries along the Soviet boundaries will be considered for military aid — “since Pakistan is not very far from Russia, the US would build our Army and give us the arms to prevent Russia from walking”. Then, true in his prediction, in 1947 came the Truman Doctrine, a US policy pledging aid to nations threatened by Soviet expansionism. Jinnah knew this through his genius or was party to this game plan even before Partition.

Pakistan inherited the nuances of the Great Game (Afghanistan) with the departure of the British from the sub-continent. It converted this inheritance into a strategic gold mine, which has kept it afloat with an un-proportionally strong army, funded by a strategic need of the US. Pakistan has been involved with the US in its global strategy and the US is constrained to involve Pakistan’s officials in parts of its planning because the execution of this strategy lies in the hands of the Pakistanis. This involvement has given the leadership of Pakistan an exposure to the planning and conduct of grand strategy, and in the conduct of large intelligence operations, especially in a proxy war, a war that is all about credible denial.

Pakistan’s leadership has developed a penchant to apply grand designs to all its endeavors. The concept of Strategic Depth, global pivot, the 1965 war, the Punjab insurgency, the designs in Kashmir and the Kargil war are all outcomes of this exposure. The fifth generation of warfare is all about grand designs and making people believe in the narrative. The inputs of this penchant for grand strategy to its strategic culture have led to overreach in both military and diplomatic alliances. The illusion of conducting a successful fifth-generation war against its adversaries exists in the minds of the military officers. Now, they have China on their side that balances the US. Pakistan is fully exploiting the new Cold War that seems to be developing between China and the US. Past experience with playing the buffer between the US and Russia will be of great importance to Pakistan.

The Emotion Of Humiliation

According to Dominique Moisi, (the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope Are Reshaping the World) humiliation means remaining confined to a future that is in stark contrast to the glorified past. Pakistan exemplifies an aspiration that has been lost. The strong revisionist nature of the Pakistan leadership has glorified a history of victories that never was. The humiliation in its unsuccessful search for parity with India is leading to despair. The despair of the ‘if I can’t reach you, I will drag you down’ kind can be noticed in Pakistan. This emotion, accompanied by hatred or anger, is the main cause of terrorism.

In Pakistan, there is an ingrained hatred and anger towards India (a key ingredient for violence as per Carl von Clausewitz’s Trinity of War). The emotion of humiliation disorientates the leadership of Pakistan from making rational decisions. Suicidal tendencies and extreme impoverishment with a sense of humiliation are ideal candidates for terrorism. The two — emotion of humiliation amongst its leadership and the available recruits for terrorism — make for a violent and unethical environment, which is regressive for development. Somehow, rather than understanding the serious consequences of distressing the society as a whole, the leadership in Pakistan is considering this to be a strategic asset.

Revisionist Approach

Pakistan does NOT seem to like its history. It refuses to acknowledge any history prior to 1947 because it connects it with India. It has continuously attempted to change its historical discourse through revising text-books, military literature and a hostile media blitz. American political scientist C. Christine Fair describes Pakistan as a persistent revisionist because the dynamics between the army and domestic politics do not allow any change in current policies even when there is positive evidence of its failure. There are serious attempts to revise the status quo with India in its quest to attain parity. It is aggressively pursuing expansionism in its policy towards Kashmir and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s persistent revisionism has cost it dearly to the extent that it has threatened the security of the State. The lessons of history are being lost.

The whole basis of a nation and a State are the people and their core beliefs. In Pakistan, the army’s core beliefs are projected as nationalism and the people have to conform. For prosperity, people must be happy and the army is there for their security, to pursue economic development. In Pakistan, the prosperity of the army is paramount and the people are working to secure its future.


Major General Amarjit Singh, VSM (Retd) commanded a Division in the Northern Sector. He writes on defence matters and is a visiting faculty at Panjab University. Views are personal.



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