‘Pakistanis are in Denial’: India’s Hybrid War

INSIGHT: “The enemy is clear on how to deal with us, only we are in denial,” says a senior Pakistani military official. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he’s not authorized to comment officially.

The Pakistani military official was asked to comment on Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat’s recent speech at a webinar titled “Indian Security Horizon” on the occasion of Diamond Jubilee of National Defense College.

The Indian Army Chief said, “Pakistan’s current economic crisis, its inability to come out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, rising religious and ethnic fundamentalism, and internal power struggles will push it further into instability in the foreseeable future”.

India and Pakistan are arch rivals –both became nation-states in August 1947 as the British Empire wrapped up colonization of the sub-continent post World War II. A new world order was taking shape.

“Since their becoming two nation-states on the fulcrum of Jinnah’s “two-nation theory”, the two countries have been warring neighbors with territorial disputes to settle for decades,” says an observer.

While Pakistan is a Muslim majority country, India’s majority populace is Hindu. Muslims, however, remain the largest minority group: nearly 14% of 1.3 billion population. “Which means their number is huge, nearly as large as Pakistan’s 200m population” on its west.

Bangladesh, another Muslim majority nation, is on India’s east. Both countries have been enjoying good relations until last year when PM Modi-led government in Delhi took steps to make India a “Hindutva nation”.

The Economist wrote: “Intolerant India”.

“And as long as Pakistan exists, the validity of the Indian foundational concept would come under challenge”, says an analyst based in Asia Pacific who specializes in South Asia and US-China relations.

There’s an uptick in the two neighbor’s rivalry. “Pakistan forged as the ‘homeland of South Asia’s Muslims’, presents a fundamental challenge” to India, says the analyst.

“It’s a threat India faces”, says the observer.

There’s a huge Muslim population in India. “Back in 1947, they voted for Pakistan as a separate homeland for Muslims of the sub-continent”.

“While Pakistan and India became independent as a two nation-state –with territorial boundaries, the two-nation theory has no boundaries and remains an existential threat to India,” says the observer.

According to the analyst, India’s founding principles as a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic secular state based on historical association of contiguous populaces is (also) under threat from its Hindutva-centric ruling elite’s drive to consolidate control.

This perpetual conceptual threat must be undermined (by the Hindutva elite) for legitimizing the Indian state-narrative,” the analyst points out.

India and Pakistan are thus entwined in a philosophical ‘dance to the death’, the analyst adds, “as each seeks to validate itself by questioning the other’s philosophical legitimacy”.

According to the Pakistani military official, “the enemy’s line of attack is 1. Economic 2. FATF 3. Sectarian 4. Ethnic and 5. Internal”.

“Can’t be more specific,” he adds.

Indian Army Chief Rawat has alleged that Pakistan is now increasingly resorting to non-kinetic means by launching vicious anti-India rhetoric on social media and propagating false communal narrative to create social disharmony within India.

He also spoke on the ongoing with China in Ladakh.

Rawat asserted that “India will not accept any “shifting” of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border with China. Larger conflict with China could not be ruled out if tensions along LAC triggered friction and confrontation between the two countries”.

Rawat’s military posit comes amid reports that India has lost more land in the Ladakh region of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to China’s troops.

The trouble began early in April when New Delhi said Chinese troops intruded deep into what it claimed was ‘India’s side’ of the LAC in the Ladakh sector, which adjoins the Tibetan plateau.

Beijing claimed the area to be its territory and blamed Indian road construction activity in the area for ‘destabilizing the situation’.

So far, there has been no sign of a troop pullback even though winter is approaching, and the area is considered uninhabitable.

In October, Indian and Chinese military commanders said they held “positive, constructive” discussions on disengaging troops locked in a months-long standoff at their disputed Himalayan border.

“Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible,” the two sides said in a joint statement.

However, the on-ground situation seems to be different.

“Galwan Valley will remain under Chinese control”, says an observer. “Disengagement in Ladakh has been agreed on Chinese terms”.

Rawat also clubbed China and Pakistan in his talk, saying the two “iron-brothers” “were acting in collusion…meant the danger of regional instability with the potential for escalation”.

He pointed out military’s reform and modernization as the “Need of the hour”. (Indian) armed forces should embrace change, adopt cutting edge technology and theaterize for greater operational efficiency, he said.