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After Pathankot

Published Jan 10, 2016 02:14am

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The writer is a member of staff.
The writer is a member of staff.

RIGHT. The bright side first. At least nobody’s pretending this didn’t originate in Pakistan. It’s all about actionable intelligence and resolve and whatnot. But it isn’t about denial.

That’s a kind of progress. Remember when Mumbai happened? False flag! Kasab was an Indian, and a Hindu to boot. It’s impossible for a bunch of armed men to get in a boat and sail to Mumbai. More Indian lies!

This time it’s been different. Sure, there was the usual derisiveness when Pathankot began. The smarty-pants logic was quickly trotted out: how can the Indians already know who did it when they weren’t even able to figure it was about to happen?


After all, every good citizen loves a good jihadi. New friends could be regaled with wondrous stories in the corner teashop at night.


But the pantomime seemed half-hearted. If it looks like it’s from Pakistan and sounds like it’s from Pakistan, then it’s probably from Pakistan. The powers-that-be haven’t been keen to push a different story or line of denial.

Pathankot originated here and talk has quickly turned to what we’re going to do about it. It is a kind of progress. Same goes for the other side.

Go over it again. Some chaps hopped across the international border — the international border! — and waged war on a full-fledged Indian military base and India hasn’t threatened to wage war on us.

Instead, Indians are beating up on their government for its incompetence in killing off the attack. And still the Indian government — this Indian government! — hasn’t tried to deflect attention by beating up on Pakistan.

It makes so much joyous sense that you can scarcely believe it. Two mature responses by two sides from whom you expect anything but. Now, to the not-so-good news: nobody really knows what to do about this.

The possibilities are several, but also rather straightforward. The chaps who hopped across the border did it on their own. Mad men, angry and feeling betrayed. Wanting to let the world know they weren’t going to get away with this fake peace business.

Or they had help — someone, somewhere in the state apparatus either helped them or looked the other way while they went about their business. A rogue, ideological operation — Modi is a thug and Kashmir will never be forgotten.

Or it was authorised directly. The damn civilians are up to their tricks again and they need to be put back in their place. Hence an attack on a hard target; hit something soft and there may be all kinds of backlash everywhere.

But those possibilities also don’t really matter. It could be any of them and it still wouldn’t address the original problem: what do you do about the anti-India lot running around the country?

To assume it’s just a matter of will is to miss the point. Even if the will is there, there’s no real thinking been done about it. You can’t exactly NAP your way out of this one.

So far, the best the state has been able to come up with is cold storage. It is a halfway house, an approach forged by necessity in the Musharraf era. It works until it doesn’t — or it’s decided otherwise.

So you have long dry spells. Then, sometimes, you have a Mumbai or a Pathankot or a slight ratcheting up or down of cross-LoC infiltration. Cold storage works as long as the dry spells are long enough and the breaks aren’t too long or too damaging.

But it isn’t a policy. The policy options are two. The first is the one that you hear about occasionally: mainstreaming. Get them into politics, make them run after votes and office and the like and, in time, politics will do its magic.

You can see the lure of it. Politics makes you think you can influence policy while it forces you to shed the more overtly unpalatable stuff. So you can howl about religion and Kashmir being in the country’s DNA, but you can’t run training camps in plain sight.

The problem is that it’s hard to get them to bite. The jihad lot look down on politics and think poorly of democracy. Plus, they don’t want to be part of the mainstream — they want to make bend the mainstream to their will.

The other option is dissolution. The groups that we have out there, get the majority of the rank and file to slip back into society. Make them go back to their families. Give them a job or a stipend. Let society work as a balm.

Respect and honour would come their way. After all, every good citizen loves a good jihadi. New friends could be regaled with wondrous stories in the corner teashop at night.

For the leaderships, dissolution would mean keeping most of what they’ve collected. The money and funds and front offices. But not the literature and the training manuals and the stuff to execute it with. That would have to be deposited with the state.

But dissolution can’t be done by stealth. It would have to be something grand. Not an amnesty — that would be a humiliation. Something akin to a grand jirga — where past sacrifices are eulogised and future peace is welcomed.

See anyone around who can make that happen? Nope.

Which is why we’re still stuck with cold storage. Independent, rogue or directed — it matters only to the extent of what Pathankot was.

Beyond that is the bigger problem — if we ever do come to the point that we have to wrap up Jihad Inc, how the hell are we going to do it? And who’s going to do it?

The writer is a member of staff.

cyril.a@gmail.com

Twitter: @cyalm

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2016

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Comments (52) Closed



Akhill Jan 10, 2016 02:25am

simply superb.. and it really hits hard to those ppl who it intends to. kudos man.

ROFL Jan 10, 2016 02:41am

A sensible and thought provoking article.

IFTIKHAR KHAN Jan 10, 2016 02:43am

All bases well covered in this piece.

A combination of Chinese pressure to legalize Gilgit-Baltistan status for CPEC to move forward and now Pathankot terrorism have provided the best opportunity to Nawaz Sharif for his legacy. He may never be in this powerful position again.

Akram Jan 10, 2016 03:03am

As usual, straight to the heart of the matter.

wasim Jan 10, 2016 03:32am

finally something to talk about

Mayank Jan 10, 2016 03:56am

Great article in plain words and clear options! No beating around the bush anymore. Now we will see if this opens any eyes in the civil and military establishments!

avtar Jan 10, 2016 04:24am

As usual it is a balanced account of events so far!

yarana Jan 10, 2016 04:45am

This year's best article about indo-Pak relation

Mukul Jan 10, 2016 04:49am

A voice of logic and reason- Really appreciate the honesty expressed Great article.

rahul Jan 10, 2016 05:37am

Absolute straight forward article.

sm08675 Jan 10, 2016 05:39am

Nice article as always. Someone explain to people up there the dividend of peace. Else whats the point in having an economic corridor with bombings everyday. Who will come to invest? Arent there industrial areas already with no takers?...

aga khan Jan 10, 2016 05:48am

As usual a great article.

Vg Jan 10, 2016 06:06am

Meticulous analysis and daring but obvious conclusions drawn. Always luv ur work

Bengaluru Jan 10, 2016 06:08am

As usual brilliant stuff!

uskumar Jan 10, 2016 06:21am

It is easier to mount a tiger but much harder to dismount with out help.

mayuresh Jan 10, 2016 06:30am

The man writes it as it is. Thank you.

Deepak Talwar Jan 10, 2016 06:37am

Nailed it Cyril.

Prasad Jan 10, 2016 07:02am

Good write-up

Srinath Jan 10, 2016 07:20am

Incisive and brilliant!

Rathore Jan 10, 2016 07:23am

The last paragraph!!

schal Jan 10, 2016 07:37am

You hir the nail on the head, as you do most often.

Venky Venkatraman Jan 10, 2016 08:31am

Great article! If the majority of Pakistanis (and especially those in power) thought like Cyril, then no terrorists would be sneaking across the border, business would be booming between the countries and I would be in front of my TV in Dallas watching an Indo-Pak cricket match in Lahore!!

Dheeraj Jan 10, 2016 08:48am

Appreciate Author's courage to speak on uncomfortable facts

Vikram Jan 10, 2016 09:00am

Hopefully people like the author can influence political opinion in Pakistan to act against the terrorists and the two countries can finally see some peace. Fingers crossed

JM Jan 10, 2016 09:07am

What do you mean who is going to do it and how to do it? You started an operation and had set up courts to deal with groups working against pakistan. Do exactly the same with groups working against India!

Amar Jan 10, 2016 09:14am

Very well written and a very interesting question going forward

Dubya Jan 10, 2016 09:22am

Hits the Nail on the head ...

jm Jan 10, 2016 10:00am

The answer to the question is: People who created these jihadis in the first place.

pak indian humanity Jan 10, 2016 10:07am

Excellent , only word

Whats in a name Jan 10, 2016 10:24am

Good one. But is there someone in the pak establishment who can bell the cat? If pak can act now, that will change the face of pak in the world. So is there someone who can really bell the cat at least to get into good books of the world ?

rich Jan 10, 2016 10:28am

last paragraph say it all

who will bell the cat

Kris Jan 10, 2016 10:35am

Only Cyril can say it like it is.

pathanoo Jan 10, 2016 11:14am

Pretty fair assesment of the situation, I would say.

Anil Kumar Jan 10, 2016 11:26am

Honest,fair and clean as any piece of writing.Heard people say that solve the Kashmir problems and the next day these turbulent minds will go home and start working to become skilled workers ,technicians,engineers,scientists,eminent doctors and noble price winners for peace.No Sir,that will not happen.The culture that has been created will continue and some new issue will be picked up for the hate mission.

on looker Jan 10, 2016 11:31am

Bold and brilliant piece of writing!

Alam Jan 10, 2016 11:38am

Well written.

Raghu Jan 10, 2016 11:59am

Haven't seen any one put full spectrum of logics that work between our two countries better than this. Khudos Cyril.!

Its like mirror to current state of affairs between our countries!!

Thanks a Ton!

Krishna Jan 10, 2016 12:05pm

Cyril, Thanks.

Lot of sane voices can make a difference to this world- especially to the India-Pakistan ties.

We cannot live hating neighbors. Let us all do something about it.

Sunilsm Jan 10, 2016 04:20pm

Hats off to u Cyril. Worth waiting for a week, to read ur writing. Please translate some of ur thoughts in the main stream news and local languages also.

Nasiroski Jan 10, 2016 04:25pm

You had to burst the bubble!! I guess somebody had to. But really the question is still out there, what do you do with this monster you have created??

Apoorv Agrawal Jan 10, 2016 05:17pm

a very sensible article, indeed !

a_writer Jan 10, 2016 06:07pm

A logical and fine analysis.

Eramangalam Somapalan Jan 10, 2016 07:38pm

Honestly brilliant write up only this author can do. We can do very well with people like him on both sides, there is hope indeed.

Mustafa R. Jan 10, 2016 08:19pm

Cyril is right, we are not pretending, this really didn't originate in Pakistan.

Ajay vikram Singh Jan 10, 2016 08:53pm

I like the way Cyril simplifies the complex reality and present it in plain words. How does it able to do that? Well ...truthful and sensible. As Cyril would like to put it - Its as simple as that.

ArunRao Jan 10, 2016 09:53pm

Cyril, U R Da Man! I wish I had a magic wand to make all our news papers publish this article and our TVs to cover it too! You also compliment good behavior shown by our leaders like no one else! Like with all kids (and 'boys' too hopefully!) such positive reinforcement may be a stronger influence to continue in this direction. Hope the guys up there in power read your articles more often.

Rational Corp Jan 11, 2016 06:28am

Superb Analysis.

S.R. Jan 11, 2016 07:16am

Cyril I applaud you for your forthrightness and naked truth. The peace loving public from both sides of the border have to show their strength over the war mongers and troublemakers to expose them in the world court of public opinion. Eventually they'll slink away as the bullys and troublemakers always do. Let peace ring between India and Pakistan.

Ash20 Jan 11, 2016 12:06pm

Excellento. Please stay safe.

Anirban Roy Jan 11, 2016 12:43pm

Excellent analysis man... but the question remains that what's being done against the people who propagate these anti India feelings. Answer to this question will decide how the relation between India and Pakistan goes ahead.

Seeker of truth Jan 11, 2016 05:24pm

This article is most honest article I have ever read from Pakistan. Guys, take Kashmir and give us Cyril and Pervez Hoodbhoy :-)

Shehzad Jan 12, 2016 09:26am

First sentence jumps to a conclusion fairly quickly.

But a good analysis overall.