Luck Must Go

America’s war in Afghanistan is not going well. Robert Taber summed up why America will lose in Afghanistan, “The guerrilla fights the war of the flea, and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend, too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with.” The same fate awaits an Indian incursion into Pakistan.
At best, Pakistan may be destroyed but never defeated. The true war would only begin once the fighting is over. Indian gains on the battlefield will be lost in the blood lust that would ensue as entire religions and populations collide. And this would happen even if a nuclear conflict is avoided.
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LET THERE BE PEACE, HERE, THERE AND EVERY WHERE

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by Zafar Hilaly

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India has also commenced the process of taking on board Kashmiri groups fighting for independence in discussions on the future of Kashmir. These are nascent but welcome steps. Nevertheless, they are not enough. India should restart the composite dialogue process

Even the most foolish must know by now that the greater the turmoil, the higher the casualties, the more intense the indignation, the larger the media coverage, the deeper is the satisfaction that terrorists derive from their actions. And, as happens so often, an unwitting accomplice of the terrorists is their enemy. Today it is America and tomorrow perhaps India too. Only the Israelis have done better than America in antagonising an entire religion, nay civilisation.

Seeking revenge, rather than justice, the US has waged war on Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and is about to do so in Pakistan and perhaps Yemen. In its search for a handful of terrorists, the US has destroyed countries and caused the death and dislocation of millions. Not content, Washington is preparing to wreak havoc in Pakistan. Harassed and on the run, Al Qaeda terrorists are the quarry, and so is the leadership of the Taliban — an assortment of hitherto defeated, demoralised and unpopular antediluvian fundos that have prospered, gained respect and, to a large extent, become popular as a result of a lethal mix of American folly and Afghan xenophobia.

The misguided crusade begun by the doltish Bush against militant Islam continues under the stewardship of the opportunistic Obama. Soon America may be joined by India. The latter’s fanciful doctrines, such as ‘Cold Start’ and ‘Three Front War’, are reminiscent of Cheney’s ‘One Percent’ and the Petraeus’s ‘Surge’ theories. Spawned in the military classrooms of India’s indolent soldiers, they are being trotted out for airing as lynchpins of Indian military strategy. Presumably, the Indian establishment will indulge these military fantasies if another attack is mounted by terrorists whose provenance is traced to Pakistan. This only provides further incentive to the lashkars and jaishes, which seek to profit from the turmoil, to launch yet another attack on India. Encouraging a war that the enemy craves for is surely the height of folly.

America’s war in Afghanistan is not going well. Robert Taber summed up why America will lose in Afghanistan, “The guerrilla fights the war of the flea, and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend, too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with.” The same fate awaits an Indian incursion into Pakistan.

At best, Pakistan may be destroyed but never defeated. The true war would only begin once the fighting is over. Indian gains on the battlefield will be lost in the blood lust that would ensue as entire religions and populations collide. And this would happen even if a nuclear conflict is avoided.

The US and India would do better to heed to the desire of their respective populations which, in the case of the former, shows a steady erosion of support for the war in Afghanistan and a decisive shift in favour of an American withdrawal and in case of the latter, was revealed by what a recent poll conducted by two media houses of India and Pakistan discovered. Only a tiny minority, 17 percent in India and 8 percent in Pakistan, it discovered, are opposed to the idea of consigning their hostility to the dustbin of history. An overwhelming 66 percent of those polled in India and 72 percent in Pakistan said that they desire a peaceful relationship between the two countries.

These encouraging results were supported by the observations of an eminent Indian doctor holidaying in Indonesia whose contacts with most segments of Indian society are intense. “Indians do not buy their government’s line that the regime in Pakistan or the people were involved in the attack on Mumbai. They favour greater people-to-people contacts and are appalled at what the public in Pakistan were being subjected to at the hands of the terrorists. They genuinely wish that Pakistan is able to tide over the crisis and defeat terrorism. They feel that India must help where it can,” he wrote.

Of course, the next al Qaeda sortie from Pakistan may drown such friendly sentiments, at least that is what the terrorists count on. Manmohan Singh, who has dragged his feet in engaging with Pakistan after Mumbai, may find himself compelled to let the desire for revenge replace reasoned judgment. America too may seize on the additional pressure another Mumbai would exert on Pakistan’s brittle regime to obtain Islamabad’s concurrence for American forces to fan out looking for jihadists in Pakistan. That, of course, would be a recipe for disaster. A Pakistan invaded, weakened, divided and even defeated might bring temporary relief, but eventually permanent ruin to India. There seems no reason for India to play fortune’s fool. India and Pakistan can determine their own fate although time is not on their side.

Following their unsuccessful attempt to blow up Margaret Thatcher and other members of the British Cabinet at a hotel in Britain in 1984, the Irish Republican Army called the police to say, “Today we were unlucky. But remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always.” The Nigerian student Omer Farooq Abdulmuttallab caught trying to blow up an American airliner over the Atlantic might have said the same thing, and so too other suicide bombers prevented by luck or good intelligence from reaching their targets. But luck, like chance, is a fickle friend. Eventually it runs out.

Manmohan Singh has begun what could prove to be the first step in a long process of the demilitarisation of Kashmir by withdrawing 30,000 Indian forces from Indian Kashmir. Pakistan has reciprocated by transferring an equal number of her forces to the Western border with Afghanistan. Sensibly, India has also commenced the process of taking on board Kashmiri groups fighting for independence in discussions on the future of Kashmir. These are nascent but welcome steps. Nevertheless, they are not enough. India should restart the composite dialogue process, conclude a number of agreements that await signature and begin once again the process of building confidence.

Because how far India and Pakistan are down the path of peace will determine their response to the next terrorist attack. Hopefully, negotiations would have advanced far enough to ensure that they can make their own ‘luck’ and not let the terrorists do so. In fact, the object should be to banish luck as a determining factor in relations. That surely is also the mandate that their respective peoples have given to two democratically elected governments. It is not ordained that the poisonous, clinging ivy of the terrorist should smother and suffocate the tree of peace. “We may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets,” rightly said Karl Popper.

Zafar Hilaly is a Pakistani political analyst and diplomat who has previously served as an ambassador to YemenNigeria and Italy.
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

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  3. […] unbending Iran 2. Luck Must Go 3. Losing […]


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