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Quo vadis?


June 2, 2020

Among the big powers of today, there are two rabid countries: one is the United States under sociopath Trump and his far more evil cohorts. The other is India, under the history-avenging communal maniac Modi and the genocidal ideology which drives him and renders him a god to his besotted majority. The current Age of Global Corporate Capitalism and Demented Nationalist Ideology has transformed the 'oldest democracy' (the US) and the 'largest democracy' (India) into the monsters they have become today.

Pakistan, while not known for the sagacity, success or sincerity of its rulers has harmed itself far more than others. It did not have a nuclear weapons capacity when it surrendered its eastern wing and the majority of its own population, almost without a fight on the battlefield. Its rulers were, however, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 of its own citizens. Mukti Bahini may have killed as many according to Sarmila Bose, the author of 'Dead Reckoning'. But a state’s responsibilities can never be equated with those

of an insurgency.

What if Pakistan had nuclear weapons in 1971? Would they have deterred India and saved united Pakistan? They may have deterred India. But they would not have saved united Pakistan. This was because Pakistan’s ruling and governing structures, both de jure and de facto, have always ensured it could not be transformed into an equitable, inclusive, participatory and

stable democracy.

Donald Trump represents the culmination of a process of degeneration which began with the cold war soon after World War II. This process virulently mutated after the 'financialization' of the American economy in the late 1970s and the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. It culminated, after the US triumph over the USSR in the cold war, in the extreme concentration of political and economic power in the hands of fewer and fewer insatiably greedy and limitlessly aggressive global corporations. This led to 'the victory of Wall Street over Main Street' in the US and, externally, it meant perpetual war against China, Russia and the resource-rich and strategically located Muslim world, especially Iran. The US has been ably assisted by some oil-rich and utterly dependent Muslim monarchs who live in perpetual fear of their own people. Accordingly, they back Israel against the aspirations of their own people.

Trump in reality is little more than the froth of this pathological process which today confronts the world with several simultaneous and terminal challenges. He is the clown who distracts attention from the historically unmatched evil of the contemporary 'Masters of the Universe'. They are the New York and Silicon Valley centered Davos elite and the evangelically and economically driven white supremacists, racists and fascists. The 'Masters' are the top 0.0001 percent of the US population, or the 300 or so multi-billionaires who control the establishment and the US government. They were once known as the Military-Industrial Complex.

Today, they have become the Global Corporate-Technology-Military-Media Mafia (GCT3M), which directly and indirectly controls almost the entire political, economic, academic and social processes in the US and its cohort and dependent countries. Bernie Sanders was an outlier. He sought to be the first genuine reformer in the US since President Roosevelt and later Martin Luther King Jr. Sanders has been dealt with by the GCT3M. He was disowned by his own Democratic Party establishment which had long sold out to the GCT3M. As a result, the US presidential election of 2020 will now be a contest, if it is not postponed, between a dangerously dysfunctional degenerate who could unravel the US if granted another term, and a GCT3M owned fake progressive and pretend friend of the US downtrodden who is sadly entering his own world of dementia!

Modi is driven by two strategic obsessions. One, to become a lynch-pin of the increasingly deranged US strategy to militarily take down China before its ascent to the summit of global power and influence becomes unstoppable; and two, to outflank the Pakistan-China geo-strategic pincer which denies India its South Asia hegemonic aspirations. Modi dreams of resolving both his “Chinese nightmare” and his “Pakistan problem” more or less simultaneously. This obsession led him into a premature, unnecessary and humiliating confrontation with China. Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and not least the US have all taken note of India’s discomfiture along the Line of Actual Control (LAC.) India is now seeking to restore its injured pride.

The US, however, will not let India drag it into a war with China at a time not of its own choosing. Just as China will not allow Pakistan to draw it into a war with India that it seeks to avoid as part of its strategy to counter the US threat. In these circumstances, India may discern an opportunity to deal with Pakistan without risking another humiliating confrontation with China or banking on an unreliable US to pull its Kashmiri chestnuts from the fire.

This would entail avoiding any serious conflict with Pakistan while intensifying its murderous repression in IOK. The US would object to but adamantly refuse to obstruct India’s genocidal repression. Instead, it would resolutely “caution” Pakistan against any “irresponsible reaction” with threats of sanctions, FATF blacklisting, access to international financing, etc.

China would strongly support Pakistan in all international forums while also counseling that it was not ready to risk a conflict with the US or even India over IOK. Accordingly, India might calculate it could achieve a genocide assisted fait accompli in IOK which would leave Pakistan diplomatically stranded and facing the wrath of both the Kashmiri and its own people. There would be 'method' in India’s madness sufficient, in its calculations, to restore its standing in the Subcontinent and beyond.

How should Pakistan counter such an Indian strategy which, if successful, would completely undermine its credibility at home and abroad? There does not appear to be much serious thinking on this subject. Much of Pakistan’s strategic thinking has veered between romantic and delusionary narrative manufacturing on the one hand, and cynical defeatism on the other. Realistic strategies to achieve a principled and viable compromise Kashmir settlement that avoids both an India-Pakistan war and genocide in IOK are ruled out by the powers that be

and the liberal intelligentsia and “peaceniks” respectively.

While opposed to each other, praetorian and liberal intellectuals are in fact agreed that the only realistic options left to reach a principled and compromise Kashmir settlement that would be acceptable to Kashmiri opinion and would also safeguard Pakistan’s credibility, security and development are simply too “hard” and “risky” for a “soft state” like Pakistan to consider. Quo Vadis?

Any attempt to present yet another national disaster as yet another wise tactical retreat – a la Dhaka, Kargil, Abbottabad – to save the state and continue the good fight forever – especially after 70 years of denial of democratic development and good governance – would never wash with the people of Pakistan. But then how much have the people of Pakistan ever weighed in national decision-makingin Pakistan?

A totally different national and diplomatic course is, of course, always possible. But that would require a set of assumptions, qualities and policies that are never intended to be on offer. In Pakistan, in order to think small one has tothink big.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.

Email: [email protected]