The writer is a free lance columnist and an ex tank corps officer and editor who has written two books on Pakistan’s Army. He is presently researching a book on Afghan War of 1979-89 which incorporates a balanced point of view of both sides. He has visited Russia twice.
Palmerson was one of the greatest masters of strategic bluff in the 19th century once the British empire was at its greatest height. Many a times however Palmerson's strategic bluffs were checked by more resolute leaders of smaller or weaker states.
This century remains the century of strategic bluffs and single phone calls have reduced leaders of nuclear states into docile lambs. The first strategic bluff which was successfully practised happened in September-October 2001 when Pakistan’s military leadership was reduced to Czechoslovakia after Munich with one telephone call. This bluff was however a partial success, since Pakistan retains its nuclear arsenal.
Marshal Foch defined two key principles of strategy as preservation of freedom of manoeuvre and economy of force. As long as Pakistan retains its nuclear offensive potential, it is strategically strong in the light of the two principles of Marshal Foch !
The pattern is the same . A terrorist outrage. Fixing blame and hanging the dog. A repeat of the twin trade centre game after which the USA with some minor losses gained freedom of manoeuvre with great economy of force the only loser being the aviation industry ! Now India comes with a mini world trade centre outrage which gives it the moral justification to behave like a confused woman with hysteria ! Thus the aftermath of the so called terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. India's top leadership has assumed a highly aggressive posture and are seemingly all bent to settle what they call the Pakistan question once and for all ! The Indians three decades after 1971 feel that they can do what their Durga devi failed to do in 1971. In 1972, as per Indian general Jacob, Mr Z.A Bhutto fooled Mrs Gandhi and India lost at Simla all that it had gained in war !
The Indians have a reason to be more confident. Pakistan is in a tight corner despite all the appeasement that general Musharraf practised since September 2001. The USA, a good student of Mackinder, achieved in one stroke all that it had failed to achieve in 1991, i.e. a central position in the geopolitical heartland of world, i.e. Central Asia, a potential base to launch strategic forays into the Chinese and Russian Heartlands. A position which is right next to the soft under the belly of China and Russia. A position from where China can be subjected to a strategy of indirect approach in an area of potentially hostile Muslim population of Chinese Singkiang with a willing minor ally in shape of India which may do the dirty work of mopping up. The next few years may again see the USA misusing Islam once again in the name of an Islamic Jihad in Chinese Singkiang with bases in India and possibly Central Asian States and possibly Pakistan, if they succeed in their present strategic castration exercise.
The only discordant notes in this otherwise harmonious scenario are Pakistan and Iran, both being the outer strategic bastions of China and Russia respectively. Thus, enters India with a mock attack on its parliament, a repeat of an old tactic, similar to one staged by Hitler before attacking Poland. The Americans, in an outwardly angle, like the mediator role while India is in a secret league with the United States leadership. A repeat of 1971 , when Pakistan was cut to size, China embarrassed after being cultivated via Pakistan, and Pakistan also reduced to gratitude by staging the drama of Nixon telling Indians not to threaten West Pakistan. Thus, the Indian leadership justified, it is not attacking West Pakistan which, in any case, was a hard nut to crack . All the ingredients of the present strategic situation are the same. An allegation of being a terrorist state (in 1971 it was one which practised genocide ), the ethnic card of potential Pathan separatism and Tajik/Uzbek hatred in Afghanistan for Pakistan and an army which can be divided into two fronts ! A military leadership which is fighting for legitimacy ! What is the strategic aim of reducing a potential outer bastion of China to a castrated state stripped of its nuclear potential. The scenario developing in the following manner: India threatens, the Americans, such good human beings that they are , mediate and appeasement is rationalised by the Pakistani military government. Nuclear weapons are dismantled and the policy of aiding a righteous and just ongoing armed insurrection in Kashmir is dropped. In one stroke Pakistan is reduced to a Thailand type subsidiary state ! More docile, strategically impotent and more divided. Step two would be balkanising China and dominating the Central Asian Heartland ! The Indian bluff is based on the premise that Pakistan will not react to small ingresses that it may make in Kashmir and the US would ensure that Pakistan behaved like a good son, albeit an illegitimate one . One who is shamelessly obedient ! A damsel who is ready to sell herself to the highest bidder for a very cheap price ! What options does Pakistan have ? If our leaders possess strategic coup d’oeil, they have options ! Optimists see an opportunity in every calamity ! Pakistan’s leadership has to be resolute ! Running to China like a hare is not the solution ! The situation demands resolute solutions! Promise the Indians that “we would strike first with nuclear weapons, we did not attack the parliament, but if you resort to strategic brinkmanship we would reduce Delhi into what Hiroshima was in 1945!” You come an inch inside and we are trigger happy with our nukes. Mediation, especially United States’ mediation in this situation, is a poison for Pakistan. Our leadership must penetrate through the fog of strategic deception. This is a game that India is playing in league with a so called superpower!
General Musharraf must counter this bluff so that posterity remembers him as the only man whom the Pakistan army produced at its highest level. Audacity, audacity and again audacity ! Better die sword in hand rather than float like a stinking carcass on grounds that we had to bend and crawl in order to survive. If Pakistan is condemned to darkness let there be no light in India too !
I have always been fascinated by movies and television shows depicting the exploits of con artists. Many of these have a "Robin Hood" type of theme...