Strategic stability in South Asia tenuous because of Indo-Pak differences 

Gen Ehsan Ul Haq calls for vigilance against the ‘rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva’. He said ‘the good news is that ours has been a success story’.

“We must be vigilant to the existential challenges of the rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva in India.” This was stated by retired General Ehsan Ul Haq, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, while concluding his lecture on Pakistan: National Security Challenges, the Way Forward at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Tuesday evening. Gen Haq said Pakistan has been striving to create conducive environment for its citizens to live with dignity in accordance with the wishes of its founding fathers. “Unfortunately, ever since our creation, we have been confronted with challenges in the realisation of our objectives. These challenges have external and domestic dimensions.” He said Pakistan’s strategic environment has been moulded by its location. Mentioning some of the [external] problems, he said that there is the extended strife and consequent destabilisation in Afghanistan, the stunning developments to ‘‘our immediate west, unrelenting hegemonic aspirations of India aggravated by the rise of Hindutva and the unresolved status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir’’.

He said emergence of China as a global power has unfolded a new paradigm, shifting the geopolitical centre of gravity to the Asia Pacific or Indo-Pacific, triggering strategic realignments. The most important of these strategic understandings is between a rising China and a rejuvenating Russia which has projected a new vision of cooperation for development and stability in Eurasia and beyond. Gen Haq said Pakistan shares religious, cultural and social bonds with Afghanistan. No country has suffered more on account of the continuing strife in Afghanistan than Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan are vital for Pakistan’s long-term prosperity and progress.

Pakistan has been unwavering from day one in its support for a peace process in Afghanistan. The recent rounds of talks in Qatar have raised hopes for peace there. “However, we have to be cautious in our optimism. There’s also a legitimate concern whether a US-Taliban agreement will merely end the 18-year US intervention or will it also bring peace to Afghanistan.”

Gen Haq said regional strategic stability in South Asia remains tenuous because of the differences between India and Pakistan: a history of conflicts, unresolved disputes — particularly the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir — and India’s relentless arms buildup continuously haunt Indo-Pak relations. In its effort to subdue Pakistan, India has unleashed a covert campaign by fomenting terrorism and insurgencies.

Over the last five years of the fanatic Hindu-dominated Modi government, Indian attitude has become increasingly belligerent; it repeatedly spurns Pakistan’s offers for resumption of dialogue on some pretext or the other.

Modi’s admission of intervention in East Pakistan, references to Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, disruption of the Saarc summit process, escalation along the LoC, claims of phony surgical strikes, and generating a domestic hysteria of confrontation have escalated tensions in the region. With a mass uprising in held Kashmir and Indian atrocities in the valley since 2016, operationalisation of CPEC, and thaw in US-Pak relations, India has become even more frustrated and jingoistic.

The stand-off in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Aug 5 measures to end the historic status of Kashmir did not come as a surprise. For quite some time some international circles and sane elements in India were expressing alarm that Modi and his fascist allies may go to any limit to promote their agenda of a Hindu rashtra (administration).

Gen Haq said India has been a beneficiary of the West’s double and triple standards of disarmament and non-proliferation. On the back of this support, India continuously challenges the credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. Pakistan on its part will not move away from its policy of peaceful coexistence, while ensuring the defence of its sovereignty and vital interests. In recent past emboldened by its economic growth and “egged on by patronage of the Indo-US nexus”, India’s strategic ambitions against Pakistan have magnified, he said.

Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 environment of Islamophobia, there has been a dilution of national consensus on the existential threat from India within Pakistan. “I hope the fascist mindset of the Modi regime will be a wake-up call for us in Pakistan. As for our western border, we cannot lose sight of the Indo-Afghan security agreement and India’s military and security presence in Afghanistan”.

Gen Haq said Pakistan is hit the hardest by extremism, and “with no regard for our sacrifices we are blamed as the epicentre of global terror”.

Highlighting the internal challenges, he mentioned the following: identity and nation-building, political instability and rule of law, poor governance, provincial disharmony and economic security.

Gen Haq said that for the last two decades the most ominous aspect of internal challenges has been the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan has been a victim and in the frontline in the struggle against extremism. He said:

The good news is that ours has been a success story.

Giving figures to back up his claim, he pointed out that in 2009 there were 11,704 fatalities in terrorist acts in Pakistan. In 2013, the number came down to 5,379. In 2016, it dropped to 1,800, and in 2018, the number was 600.

Shedding light on the way forward for Pakistan, Gen Haq said there should be clarity on national interests, national cohesion and consensus on core issues, political stability, internal security and economic self-sustenance.

Published in Dawn 28 August 2019, author Peerzada Salmaan

1 Comment

Filed under Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Peace building, PIIA, Politics

One response to “Strategic stability in South Asia tenuous because of Indo-Pak differences 

  1. theagha

    Considering our Prime Minister, during this amplified and potentially final phase of the Kashmir conflict and the Indo-Pak conflict in general, de facto praised Nehru courtesy of an impulse as shallow as trying to single out Modi and the Sangh Parivar as being what’s wrong with India in Kashmir – as opposed to all of India’s regimes – we can safely say our opposition to Hindu supremacism is non-existent compared to what it should be. From 18 August:

    “The Hindu Supremacist Modi Govt poses a threat to Pakistan as well as to the minorities in India & in fact to the very fabric of Nehru & Gandhi’s India. To understand the link between Nazi ideology & the ethnic cleansing & genocide ideology of RSS-BJP Founding Fathers just Google” – PM Imran Khan on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ImranKhanPTI/status/1163001439175811078)

    Real Pakistani opposition to it would, as a bare minimum, involve being cognizant of the fact that Nehru was a Hindu supremacist as well, just a more presentable one than Savarkar or Golwalkar or Thackeray. Nehru was the original occupier of Kashmir, and to actually praise him and his politics is to commit suicide from the perspective of upholding the judgement of Jinnah and our founding fathers and also to spit in the face of Kashmiris and their 70+ years struggle for Azaadi.

    A real Pakistani leader, which we haven’t had for maybe 2-3 decades, would not have such a blunder enter anywhere near his thoughts. The question is, if we can expect nothing of our politicians, media and intellectuals, why is not our military’s upper brass more urgent about re-emphasizing the Two Nation Theory and counter-attacking India via support for other groups who are sick of Hindu supremacism, like the diaspora separatist Sikhs?

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