As part of Infinity Foundation’s series of discussions with leading thought leaders on contemporary issues facing Bharatiya society, we present here Part 1 of a 4-part series which will cover a discussion with General GD Bakshi: “Bold Proposals on India’s Security Dilemmas” –
Edited transcript of Part 1 follows-
Rajiv Malhotra (RM) – Today’s topic is a very complicated but important one. It is about Pakistan. I would like to understand General Bakshi’s view on this matter because of his extensive experience in dealing with Jammu & Kashmir and his clear articulation of the central issues involved. Some of the themes I would like to touch upon are:
- How should Bharat deal with Pakistan strategically as well as operationally?
- Should Bharat be on a defensive and react and retaliate only when attacked, or should Bharat engage in offensive measures?
- How is one to assess the situation in Kashmir in the broader context of China playing an increasingly stronger influence on Pakistan?
General G.D. Bakshi (GDB) – It is generally believed by many that the problem in Kashmir is political in nature and the statement that Kashmiris are looking for azaadi is also a signature statement of many in the political dispensation. However the fact of the matter is that the Kashmiri issue is a rabidly communal conflict and we need to be fully cognizant of the real nature of the conflict. To understand the present situation in Kashmir, a little bit of background would be essential.
- In the late 1980s the Jamaat-e-Islami started an overt program of communalization where the people of Kashmir valley were indoctrinated into radical Wahhabism (Sunni Islam) in order to transform the valley into a rabidly virulent ghetto of hardline fundamentalists.
- In the 1990s the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front was formed with weapons and training assistance from Pakistan, in order to carry out armed warfare within Kashmir and as a result of this armed struggle against the democratic administrative setup, they carried out ethnic cleaning on 450,000 Hindu Kashmiri Pandits.
When similar ethnic cleansing was done in in Serbia, political leaders like Slobodan Milošević were held accountable by the International Court of Justice and placed behind bars, and the incident was rightly dubbed as a genocide. In the same way a number of Pakistani ISI directors should have been tried and put behind bars, because the Kashmiri Pandit massacre was ethnic cleansing.
RM – General, you are saying that the ethnic cleansing of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits by the radical Wahhabi groups is similar in scale to genocides in places like Bosnia and others.
- Is it not up to the Bharatiya government to correctly highlight this conflict as an international crime, start due process by taking it to the International Courts, initiate criminal proceedings against ISI and seek redressal?
- Why has the Bharatiya Government not done anything in this regard?
GDB – A large part of the political dispensation and the Bharatiya intelligentsia suffer from a problem of continual denial and in their efforts to be politically correct ignore the rabidly communal nature of the unrest in Kashmir. For them being “secular” means to ignore the rabid propaganda in the mosques and madrassas in Kashmir which is used to stir up the youth. They turn a blind eye to the separatists’ strategy of burning schools in order to force the children to join madrassas where they are brainwashed and indoctrinated with extremist ideologies like Wahhabism. With these radical anti-national elements it is possible to stir-up trouble and generate a riot anywhere in South Asia. So what one is witnessing in Kashmir is an extended communal riot and we have to be very clear in accepting it for what it is.
RM – This Kashmir conflict has been going on since the 1980s for almost 30 years.
- Is there enough factual documentation over the last 30 years such that a legal case could be made in order to implicate ISI and ISI leaders?
- Do you feel that it is solid evidence based documentation that Bharat could take to International Courts?
GDB – As far as the actual occurrence of armed violence and ethnic cleansing, there is a huge amount of records and documentation on:
- the details of the ethnic cleansing
- the houses that were burnt
- the Hindu temples that were destroyed
- the women who were raped and killed
- the people of different ages who were pulled out of their houses and shot
Apart from this there is the photographic evidence, testimony and eye-witness accounts of the survivors of the genocide, of the Hindu Kashmiri diaspora which has been living in exile, and languishing in inhuman condition in camps in Jammu and Delhi for the last three decades.
Linking the Kashmiri Hindu pogrom with the ISI per se through direct paper trail may be more difficult, but there is adequate evidence to know who backed them, who sent them and Bharat could certainly take a case. There were two issues involved. Initially the Bharatiya Government was very wary of the UN experience of involving any third party in such disputes. We now at long last have shed that hesitation by taking Kulbushan Jadhav’s case to the International Court of Justice where our lawyers have done very well and put Pakistan in the dock. I do think it is time to set the record straight, and to frame the struggle not as a freedom struggle, which Pakistan is trying to insist upon, but rather as a blatantly communal struggle involving clear evidence of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus.
RM – There are multiple parallel tracks in which this issue may be handled. One track is the legal track to put Pakistan on the defensive legally and to get the upper hand in terms of public relations and world opinion, by making allegations against them that Pakistani sponsored terrorists have been involved in ethnic cleansing of Hindus, a massacre much bigger in scale than Bosnia, one that has been going on for 30 years. What beyond, or in parallel with the legal measures, can Bharat do? What should we do militarily, or what else can we do to go after Pakistan on this matter?
GDB – The fact of the matter is that the real player behind this Kashmiri unrest is the Pakistani deep state which is the Pakistan army and the ISI. They are simply using the democratic dispensation as a façade and thus for any measure to be effective it has to unmask the Pakistani deep state. The other arms like the executive and judiciary are simply support functions with no say in the matter. Unless Bharat puts pressure on the Pakistani military and significantly raises the costs and consequences for the Pakistani military to engage in cross border terrorism, we will not find any solution.
Pakistan has become an international migraine and other neighbors like Afghanistan and Iran are sick and tired of the shenanigans of Pakistan in terms of organizing and orchestrating radical Wahhabi Sunni terrorism. Pakistan has once again rented out its territory for a CIA-Mukhabarat led campaign to destabilize the nation state of Iran. The Pakistani former army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif is now the generalissimo of the Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a state which will perhaps refight the Karbala war, and they hope to win this fault line war within Islam against the Shias, especially with Americans pushing them, and in my assessment the consequences for the region are going to be terrible.
RM – I think an important point that you are raising is that while the West’s strategy to fight radical Islam by encouraging one group of Muslims to fight against another group has some merit, the approach they are following is unsustainable in the long-term and self-defeating in the end. They are trying to divide the Sunni and Shia by exploiting their fault lines and in their effort to encourage these sects to fight each other, the West is indirectly facilitating a powerful unification of Sunnis globally. The idea that a unified Sunni coalition can easily attack a Shiite Iran is empowering the Wahhabi Sunnis as a dominant force and as an unintended consequence Pakistan gets the upper hand being a predominantly Sunni Muslim state. Do you feel that this Western-backed global Islamic Sunni versus Shiite conflict where Sunnis are given the upper hand because of Israel being more concerned about Iran and United States backing the same, is the reason why they cannot go after Pakistan, a Sunni state?
GDB – That is precisely the point. In his campaign trail rhetoric, President Donald Trump had often mentioned the terror network and how he would take energetic steps to destroy what he called Islamic terrorism. However in actual practice the first major foreign visit by Trump was to Saudi Arabia, the source of Wahhabism and the center of all the ideological support to terrorist activities all around the globe. The so-called Iranian terrorism is more focused on Hezbollah, towards Iraq, and towards gaining influence in the Middle East. Iranian terrorism is in no way comparable to Saudi backed terrorism which is global in scale and reach. Who backed 9/11? The Saudis, and today they are being rewarded.
RM – To understand Pakistan, we need to understand global Islam. To understand global Islam, we cannot avoid the issue of Sunni versus Shia. Within the Sunni Islam fold, the Saudi headquartered Wahhabis are the most influential group and in a way the brain of global Sunni movement today. The Sunni movement today is thus essentially in the hands of the Saudis and therefore we have to take to task both Israel and the United States because in the Sunni versus Shiite fight they are supporting the Sunnis far too much. This is helping them to further consolidate their positions, and spawning radical Sunni movements like Al-Qaeeda and ISIS. Pakistan is merely an extension of this policy of supporting the Sunni simply because they hate Iran far too much and they are willing to pay whatever price in order to defeat them.
GDB – The West built up the ISIS to dethrone Basher Al Assad and instead the entire experiment of supporting Sunni extremism for short term capital gains went horribly wrong with unimaginably brutal consequences. We can see what is happening in United Kingdom and Europe and this is nothing but a blow back of the tacit support of the West for Sunni extremism. As Einstein has said very rightly “madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
They did it in Afghanistan with the jihadis who were once the favorites of the CIA. The United States and the Saudi Mukahabarat laid out the money and funded the movement. Pakistan is paying the consequences for that and Afghanistan as a poor nation state has been virtually destroyed. Now the West is trying do the same thing to Iran and Pakistan has once again lent its territory for the destabilization of all its neighbors. This affects us because once Pakistan becomes a part of the CIA-Mukhabarat brigade, they pressurize Bharat not to retaliate when Pakistan backed terrorists attack Bharat.
After 26/11 the Bharatiya government was mulling some kind of a retaliatory measure against Pakistan. However, at that time pressure was put on Bharat by the CIA-Mukhabarat brigade to not engage in retaliatory measures claiming that Pakistan was fighting their war in Afghanistan and that they would tackle Pakistan in their own way, which incidentally never happened. Bharatiya soldiers and citizens lost their lives to Pakistani jihadis but the US could not care less. Effectively what it means is that Bharatiya lives were not as important as Western interests. The previous Bharatiya government went entirely along with this policy which gave primacy to American interests over Bharatiya national interests. I am certain that things will have to be different this time. Bharat is not a small state or a banana republic, and will push back hard to ensure harsh consequences for Pakistan.
..To be continued
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