Dynamics of mutual destruction By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak Saturday, December 27, 2008
The Mumbai attack must be conclusively investigated so that it does not go into history surrounded by mystery. Since India has hurled unsubstantiated allegations against Pakistan, Mumbai must be jointly investigated.
Pakistan and India can trigger the dynamics of mutual destruction and perish simultaneously. India will perish too if Pakistan is harmed in any manner through machinations. The Indians must not forget what happened to the USSR and Yugoslavia.
India's population of 1.13 billion people has more than 2000 ethnic groups and consists of all major religions. Two thirty-one out of 608 Indian districts are hit by terrorist activity or insurgency. The 13.4 percent Muslims living there make India home to the third-largest Muslim population in the world. These and other diverse elements of nationhood which should become India's strength will become its vulnerability if it ever initiates or abets any harm to Pakistan's integrity.
While India can boast of a huge military establishment, nuclear military capability, and satellites in orbit it also has the world's largest number of people under the poverty line. In 2007, 236 million people--i.e., 76 million more than Pakistan's population and nearly 25 percent of India's population--lived on less than half-a-US-dollar a day.
The two countries can move forward only when neither needs to spend heavily on military preparedness. The other path--i.e., leaving the Kashmir issue unresolved and confrontation with Pakistan--will be disastrous for India too.
The extremist schools of political thought on both sides of the border need to accept reality. The extreme school of thought in Pakistan has to understand that the era when Muslims ruled India has long gone and the world has changed colossally, and that history will not repeat itself. On their part, the Hindu extremists of India ought to realise that India, which has so much strife within its own boundaries, can never subjugate or destroy Pakistan without India too being destroyed simultaneously. The 1.5 billion people of the subcontinent are tired of confrontations, wars and proxy wars and want peace and prosperity through regional cooperation.
India has to stop brandishing its weaponry and warplanes after the Mumbai attack. Pakistan and India need to conclude that the two countries can only be complimentary to each other if they have to survive as viable states. There is no other alternative for either country.
Today, two of the world's best trained and combat-ready air forces are on the highest levels of alert and just one incident can push the situation to an irretrievable point. The absolutely indisputable reality about Mumbai is that it actually happened but Mumbai should not be allowed to engulf the subcontinent in military conflict of horrendous magnitude. A war between Pakistan and India-- which have a wide disparity in conventional military potential, in India's favour--is not likely to remain conventional and should thus not be allowed to occur. Pre-emption is the best option for Asia, in particular, and the world at large, in general.
Let all the accusations, denials and reservations about Mumbai be put on the table and each one scrutinised. Then, wherever lies the blame and wherever lies the responsibility, be it with Pakistan or India, remedial measures must be taken to the satisfaction of all. Pakistan and India need to do this before the dynamics of mutual destruction overtake them both.
Taking charge of the situation the Pakistan government must announce a date, not more than a week from now, by which Indian warmongering and operational alertness must end and a joint commission on Mumbai formed. It should be said unambiguously that if this does not happen then Pakistan will be compelled to call off the unpopular war on terror in Pakistan's northwest and move all military formations to cantonments on the eastern borders as a precautionary measure. Pakistan cannot survive a knockout blow below its belt from the east while its military is facing westwards. It will then be worse than what happened in 1971. The guard must go up now. Pakistan need not worry about the northwest. Assuredly, the proud and extremely patriotic Pakhtuns will demonstrate their exemplary patriotism, as they did in 1947, 1965 and in 1971, by ensuring that the northwest of Pakistan remains peaceful. They will ensure this despite the maltreatment they have received from the state of Pakistan since 2003 but then this is something that should never happen again.
The writer is a former director general of the IB and former vice president of the PPP Parliamentarians. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org