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Who really benefits from terror?


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THE Indo-Pak whodunit has been getting clichéd, so much so that you can almost predict the pattern of events before they play out.

Take two examples. The then foreign minister of Pakistan was visiting Delhi in November 2008 when the Mumbai terror attack was staged. Now it turns out the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers were preparing to meet in New York next month when a mysterious incident occurred on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir on Monday.

Not for the first time Indian soldiers were reported to have been killed in a bizarre attack that, relying only on Indian headlines, throws up a familiar, overdone narrative.

It is not unusual for terror attacks to come at a moment when mutual bonhomie looks nigh in South Asia. Is Pakistan’s deep state the only beneficiary of these disruptions?

Or is there someone rejoicing in the Indian establishment too when militarism, buoyed by terrorism, is accorded the front row in our daily lives regardless of the prohibitive costs?

It is of course a given that Pakistan’s army has a stake in keeping several quarries off balance. These may include the Americans and the Indians, but they do not exclude the civilian rulers at home.

The deep state, as the army and its intelligence apparatus is often called in Pakistan, is self-confessedly anti-Indian. That is the nature of the beast.

Therefore, it is plausible that the men from whichever Islamist militant outfit are said to have attacked the Indian patrol this week, were not hindered by the security establishment.

One likely trigger for the LoC incident could be that the country’s civilian commanders are more ready to give India a greater role in Afghanistan than the generals may be willing to grant.

In an interview to Voice of America, Pakistan’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz uncharacteristically stressed and also welcomed India’s role in Afghanistan’s future reconstruction.

Is that what was shot down, or was sought to be derailed, on the LoC? Or, as some news reports suggest, the killing of five Indian soldiers may be linked to a recent incident in which a clutch of Pakistan-based militants were ambushed by Indian forces as they tried to sneak into Indian Kashmir.

In the big picture too the Pakistani security establishment gains from any windfall of tensions with India, but increasingly this has less to do with its traditional interests in reheating the Kashmir issue. Its current drive is tethered to the elusive “strategic depth” in Afghanistan, if Afghans will permit such a concept.

Who are the Indians that benefit from, say, a Mumbai-like attack or from the latest LoC incident? I think at the current count, perverse though it may sound, there are more political beneficiaries in India from any incident involving Pakistan than Pakistan can ever have.

As of now, to the best of my knowledge, there is hardly a political group in Pakistan — from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party to the PPP, from Imran Khan’s group to the MQM — to benefit from whipping up anti-India sentiments. In India, on the other hand, even the leftist parties are often seen following right-wing jingoists in the nationalist pursuit.

Take Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh with his unflinching support of Indian Muslims. He rarely spares an opportunity to berate Pakistan. As a former defence minister he may have other constituencies to look after too.

The fact that harmless-looking Rahul Gandhi can readily recall, apropos of little electoral gain, how his grandmother, the late Indira Gandhi, broke Pakistan into two, reflects his eagerness to keep pace with the holy cow called the national interest.

The other day he was applauding the paramilitary forces for keeping democracy alive in India, insisting it was they that crushed the Sikh militancy in Punjab.

The communist-led Left Front on its part has been so badly trounced in recent village-level elections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerji, the lady who has pulled the Muslim vote from under the Left’s feet, that the Marxists seem to have surrendered their traditional tempered tone on Pakistan. Count it as an erroneous attempt to compensate for the electoral losses.

The irony is that the best chance that peace ever had with Pakistan came from the Hindutva banner of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

True to form though, it was Hindutva’s recklessness that was equally eager to start a dangerous war with Pakistan in May 2002. Atal Behari Vajpayee sought peace but he also nearly led us to a nuclear exchange.

The wide spectrum of political support that India thus offers to unbridled jingoism is matched by its largely opaque intelligence set-up. This aspect of India’s own ‘deep state’ is just getting to be somewhat discussed in the newspapers. Still, very few Indians see their external or internal spy agencies, much less the military, as a source of concern.

The Congress party, led by then head of the opposition Manmohan Singh, had asked some searching questions of the Hindutva rulers when parliament was mysteriously attacked in December 2001. But the party chose to remain silent when the war drums came on.

Today the Congress’ defence minister is on the mat for suggesting that the men who attacked the Indian soldiers on the LoC may have been Islamist militants in army fatigues.

The BJP wants his head for not directly naming the Pakistan Army. The truth is that, with the nod of the intelligence set-up, the BJP is trying to nip any peace talks with Pakistan before the coming elections.

The prime ministers of India and Pakistan plan to meet in New York to discuss many issues.

Do they have the courage to take on their respective deep states though? At least then we can know the real truth about terrorism and its strange beneficiaries.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (14) Closed

Iyaz Ali Aug 08, 2013 10:18am

Jawed Naqvi - I knew you hated India, but never knew you hated this much. Almost all facts you presented are baseless and you take the statement of a retired low level officer on the staged Mumbai attacks who has taken back his statement as well. Its a waste publishing your articles. I just wanted to see the level of hatred you have while still living in India and much safer than your own country, you know this is a fact. Moderator - please publish my comment

Javed Aug 08, 2013 11:26am

For once, I liked what you wrote.

Anees Aug 08, 2013 03:51pm

After 3-4 years, expect some then-retired high official in India to disclose that this LoC "incident" was staged by the Indian government itself.

DR GN Seetharam Aug 08, 2013 05:08pm

Sir, There is no "deep state" in India. We are not a banana state like Pakistan. The Commandor in Chief of the Indian army removes his cap, salutes and takes orders from a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence. Please Naqvi Sir do not imagine things that do not exist. No group in India will "benefit" from a confrontation with Pakistan but confrontation may become inevitable given the machinations of the Pakistani "deep state" thank you

sunil Aug 08, 2013 07:38pm

Very correctly said! Hope the leadership of both the countries will have the courage to keep talking despite these attempts to sabotage the peace talks

Ridiculous Aug 08, 2013 07:56pm

"Mumbai terror attack was staged"???? Did I read that right?

surendra sukhtankar Aug 08, 2013 08:14pm

Lyndon Johnson used to say about Fidel Castro that, " he ever met Fidel, first he would shave him; then shower him and then would spank him"...When I read his columns that's the thought which first comes to my mind. These are his childish temper tantrums. Nobody should try to to made any head or tail out of them. If there were a "deep state" in India; it would have long "taken care of him". Jawed: Take a train to Pakistan and never come back to India!!!!!!!!!!

venky Aug 08, 2013 08:30pm

@Anees: Keep counting the dislikes dude...and alas, it is you own media

Dr. D. Prithipaul Aug 08, 2013 08:54pm

Why would a meeting between the 2 PMs be viewed as being so important when journalists like Naqvi are paid to represent a Caligari view of India to the Pakistanis?

Hulegu Aug 08, 2013 09:32pm

Another useless article by Naqwi based on his hallucinations. Why don't he and muslims like him just move to Pakistan

Sujith Aug 08, 2013 11:03pm

@Anees: You say that it may get disclosed after few years. Well, that itself is the guarantee that no one in Indian intelligent establishment may dare to do some thing like Mr. Naqvi (in his imaginary world) insinuates. Can you say same thing about Pakistan establishment?

observer Aug 08, 2013 11:19pm

Who really benefits from terror?

Mr Naqvi, do you even have to ask? Indubitably the Indians, specially the Hindu ones.

Happy now?

Kshitij Doshi Aug 09, 2013 01:29am

On the whole this article fails to reach any conclusion whatsoever. It starts by recounting why the deep state in Pakistan might well be responsible for the adventurism at the LoC, but then fingers just about every political outfit in India as a possible mischief-maker. Just wondering why the author failed to advance equally credibly that this might have been caused by extraterrestrials, peace loving Buddhists, or very astute dolphins.

Avtar Aug 09, 2013 03:59am

@Iyaz Ali: I agree with your views of Mr Naqvi. Unfortunately he is an Indian - trying to get a Pakistani citizenship.