On May, 15, 2011, Pakistan’s ISI Chief, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was called upon to address an in-camera joint session of the Pakistani Senate and National Assembly to submit a report on the incident involving the killing of Bin Laden in Abbotabad. In the course of his address, the ISI Chief also warned India that any Abbotabad like attack by it would invite a befitting response from Pakistan as targets inside the country “had already been identified” and “rehearsal” carried out. Earlier on May, 05, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir, had also stated that any country that attempts to “mimic” the unilateral act of the US will find it has made a “basic miscalculation”. “We feel that sort of misadventure or miscalculation would result in a terrible catastrophe,” Bashir said rather emphatically. By “any country” he meant India and the “catastrophe” he was referring to was a nuclear riposte should India attempt to target terrorist installation in Pakistan territory. Even in its blackest hour the country could not ignore its anti-India sentiment and concentrate on its internal problems.
It would be worthwhile to analyse the reason behind this rabid anti-India sentiment. Is it concentrated only in the Pakistan Army or does it have a larger base? How is it fuelled and how is it sustained? The creation of Pakistan was based on the two nation theory which was propagated to Indian Muslims by their ruling elite, who were feudal and were not very sure about their future in a democratic India. They exploited the leadership vacuum of 1940’s when most of the Congress leaders were in jail and managed to ignite a movement for a separate Muslim homeland. After partition, the common Muslim remained in India but the elite went to Pakistan. This Aligarh generation, as they were called, used the Punjabi and Sindhi feudal society to garner support of the Pakistani people for their brand of politics which were based on a proactive anti-India stance, after all, hate binds people more than love. The Pakistan army was not solely responsible for the fast developing anti-India sentiment in the era of the forties and early fifties of the last century. It had its roots in the politics of partition. As time passed, the idea of a thousand years of war and ‘we will eat grass but will have nuclear weapons’ was given by Zulfikar Bhutto, Pakistan’s civilian Prime Minister. Even today, no political leader in Pakistan gives a positive statement on India. Politicians in Pakistan win elections on anti-India and Kashmir rhetoric. The only political party which is pro-India is the Awami National Party, which is labeled as Indian agents.
So where does the Pakistan army fit in the scheme of things? While making assessments it should not be forgotten that the Pakistan army and Indian army both were derivatives of the British Indian Army. The officers were trained in the same academy, served together and fought wars together. The division of India also divided the army. It was the Indo-Pakistan war for Kashmir in 1947-1948 which sent the first message that Pakistan’s national interest could be defended only by the Pakistan army. The first demand of Pakistan government to the US was to strengthen its army. Even this relationship between US and Pakistan armies was initiated by the civilian leadership. As time passed the main difference that became evident between the two forces was that the Pakistan army comprised of manpower that was predominantly Muslim and that also from the Punjab region whereas the Indian army evolved a multi religious and multi ethnic character. Secondly, within a decade of Pakistan’s existence the Pakistan Army rose to prominence, began to rule the country and became the custodian of whatever Pakistan stood for. Two reasons attributed to this turn of events. First, defence was a primacy in the wake of delusions of a potent threat from a much stronger India. Second, the Pakistan Army gave credence to a thought process that it was the only institution in Pakistan which had the intellect, the means, the motivation and the patriotism required to chart out the destiny of the nascent country..
On the basis of the foregoing argument it is indisputably established that the Pakistan army did not start the anti India movement and neither is it the largest entity that opposes India. It is merely riding a political wave that helps it in maintaining its position of prominence in the affairs of the country.
Now let us look at the common man, who is darling of all peaceniks. Mostly Indians who go to Pakistan for short visits come back singing paeans about the large heart and hospitality of the Pakistan people as also their desire to bond with the Indian people. The question is – what is the view of the common man in Pakistan about India? Kashmir has the support of every Pakistani whether he is a liberal, a fundamentalist or a Jihadi. With such an overwhelming sentiment for the Kashmir issue, regardless of it being righteous or indoctrinated, where is a constituency which wants peace with India? The liberals may look for a rapprochement should the Kashmir issue be settled (Which, in any case, is a distant dream) but then we will have to deal with the extremists who are fast gaining a majority and who have a pathological hatred for India. The warm welcome and generous hospitality of Pakistani’s does win hearts, however, this is a case of personal experiences being predominant in painting a nation of 18 crore in the same colour.
Let there be no doubt that a large section of the Pakistani population, including its army, is highly intolerant about the very existence of India. A major portion of this segment is not willing to build cordial relations with a Hindu majority nation. The hatred of India has become part of their ‘Iman’. In this scenario, the Pakistan army exploits its role as savior for its own gain. This apart, it has a core group with fundamentalist leanings which is ideologically opposed to India. We should not miss the woods for the trees and live with false illusions