THE CRACKS IN THE EDIFICE

Pakistan was created as a result of the Two-Nation Theory. When Pakistan did come into being, it feared that it would be looked upon as a ‘lesser India’. It was exactly like India, just smaller and poorer. So, Pakistan embarked upon a mission to project itself as a nation that identified itself as ‘we who are not India’. It rewrote history. It created Arab and Central Asian ancestry for its people out of thin air, and convinced its citizens of their non-existent foreign origins.

Therein lie the foundations of the first cracks in the edifice of the State of Pakistan. Urdu was imposed and this was one of the many reasons that lead to the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. But the “Urdu problem” as Bengalis would sometimes refer to this imposition as, was planned in 1947-48, with Mohammad Ali Jinnah traveling to Dhaka in what was then East Pakistan, to announce his grand plan to have Urdu as the only national language of the “moth-eaten” state of Pakistan. No one realised the irony of it then. Jinnah was selling a language that he did not speak, to a people who did not understand it. The Bengali language is more than fourteen hundred years old. Some believe it carries nuanced sophistication on one shoulder. Others believe that it carries a chip on the other, but that is open to debate. Oh, the Bengalis love a good debate.

Created to be a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims, it was believed that Islam was the glue that would hold Pakistan together. On 16 December 1971 that glue unraveled. In the first partition of its kind, a majority broke away from a minority. Punjabi sub-nationalism was simply too heavy handed to permit co-existence. That you were Muslim was not good enough. You had to be Sunni Punjabi Muslim.

Pakistan was to be an Islamic welfare state, based on the Riyasat-e-Medina model, the first Muslim state set up by Prophet Mohammad after his Hijrat, or migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. That did not happen. There were simply too many pulls and pressures.

Muslims are not a homogeneous entity. Pakistan’s two hundred million people follow a staggering variety of ‘sub-faiths’ and each ‘sub-faith’ is followed with a passion that can sometimes border on the terrifying. The Deobandis have a fundamental difference of opinion with the Barelvis. Together, they share a visceral hatred for the Ahl-e-Hadith. This often results in blood baths and bombing of mosques of the other sect. Interestingly, these three sub sects of Islam were created in North India, before partition. Most Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Fiqh. Salafism and Wahabism, born in the deserts of Egypt and Arabia, are fast finding their feet in Punjab and Sindh, once the nurseries of Sufism.

The two branches of Shia Islam in Pakistan are the Twelvers or Imamiyyah and Ismailis, with the Twelvers being the most widely practiced Shia faith. Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and by Ordinance XX.

These are the broad schisms in the Pakistani Muslim landscape. Muslims form a staggering total of 96% of the population of Pakistan. By one estimate, the breakup is – Shia (Twelvers) 18%, Ismailis 2%, Ahmadis 2%, Barelvis 50%, Deobandis 20%, Ahl-e-Hadith 4% and other minorities 4%.

Students of sub-nationalism in Pakistan know about the Baloch freedom struggle and the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. They lament the dying out of Jiye Sindh movement and the brutal suppression of the MQM. The Baltistani movement is picking up steam and we hear angry voices from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. But clearly, there is no constant and consistent momentum. There cannot be, not without outside support. India has steadfastly maintained a policy of not supporting secessionist movements in Pakistan or other countries.

A cursory look at the Pakistani society reveals a nation that is forever at the edge of implosion. It is not the strain that comes with the ebbs and flows of a democracy, because whatever its veneer might be, Pakistan is not a democracy. The war within is religious, ethnic and social. For India, this has provided a window of opportunity, which has been ignored for too long. Indians worship passivity. We take great pride in saying that we have never attacked any country, ever. This has been our undoing; this and the entire narrative of ours being a non-expeditionary army.

For seventy-two years we have either been fighting Pakistan and its proxies or have been in a state of no-war-no-peace. Our conflict with Pakistan is existential. Let us, as a nation, accept the fact that Pakistan will never allow India to live in peace. Pakistan thrives in a synthetically created eco-chamber in which the mere existence of India is anathema and Kashmir, the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

Since its creation, Pakistan has dedicated enormous resources to widen the fault-lines in India. It started the terrorist Khalistan movement in Punjab and followed it up with terrorism in Kashmir. It was able to do so because we were weak; diplomatically, militarily, politically, economically and socially. Specially when Kashmir blew up in our faces in 1989, foreign reserves were down to the last billion, we had a weak coalition government at the center, we were embroiled in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, operations in Punjab and the North East and with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the world was looking the other way. As astrologers would say, it was an ‘opportune moment’ for Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan is down on its knees. Economically it is staring at bankruptcy, politically it is unstable with Imran Khan taking a beating from opposition parties and widely believed to be selected by the army and not elected, and diplomatically it is isolated. A study of the socio-political landscape will tell you that the country has never been so fractured. Militarily, the Army Chief finds himself at odds with his own Generals. His three-year extension has sealed the fate of his first line. Sub-nationalism in Pakistan, which has never been fully dormant, raises its head again. It is often violent and put down even more violently by the Pakistan Army. The cycle of violence never ceases. Pakistan’s human rights record is only slightly better than Saudi Arabia and North Korea. The media, a section of which has managed to remain away from the direct influence of DG ISPR, is being browbeaten.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of all of Pakistan’s fault lines. We do not need to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s books and start arming and training disaffected elements. The Pakistani society is already well armed and trained. It is one of the most weaponised nations on earth. The country is a tinderbox. All it needs is a spark. Social media is that spark.

The low hanging fruit is the ideological schism between the Deobandis and Barelvis. Over a period of years, if carefully nurtured, it has the potential to bleed Pakistan. While the Ahl-e-Hadith are a small percentage of the Sunni Muslim population in Pakistan, like the Deobandis and Barelvis, their ‘Tanzeems” or armed groups have been deployed to devastating effect. Shia Tanzeems are active in Karachi and also in areas bordering Iran. While Pakistan Army has tried to disarm some of these groups, many remain in the woodwork, beneficiaries of the deep state’s largesse.

We would also do well to stop looking at Balochistan in isolation. The Pakistani Punjabi tendency to look down upon every other ethnicity as socially and racially inferior puts it at loggerheads with every other sub-nationality in Pakistan. Our narrative needs to be crafted in a manner that makes it Punjab versus the others. This emotion already exists in Pakistan. It is merely a function of reiterating it again and again. Punjabi hubris was on full display during the events leading up to the 1971 war and the eventual dismemberment of Pakistan. No lessons have been learnt. Nothing has changed.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Balochistan Liberation Army are very different in the way they operate. Their ideologies are different. The PTM is largely peaceful. The BLA is violent. The MQM, after being battered to the ground, is rising again. The common factor is that the people they represent have been marginalised, their resources stolen and their jobs snatched. Their homes have been razed, their women raped, their relatives killed and their culture destroyed by an overweening Punjabi establishment. Punjab is Pakistan. Pakistan is Punjab. This is what merits telling and retelling.

If there is an institution in Pakistan that has a veneer of strength and solidity, it is the Pakistan Army. However, it has its own skeletons. From the initial days of the creation of Pakistan to the years before and during the 1965 war, the turbulent years before and after the fall of Dhaka, the Zia years and then the rule of Parvez Musharraf has seen that despite its outward sheen, the Pakistan Army is vulnerable to factionalism and intrigue. Post the Kargil War; factionalism within the Pakistan Army was out in the open. Defeat does that. The incarceration of Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar and his forced resignation for opposing the three-year extension given to General Qamar Javed Bajwa is a case in point. That seven of the senior most generals of the Pakistan Army openly revolted against their own chief in the extension issue tells us that there are cracks in the Pakistan Army that can be exploited.

In the recent past, Pakistani Army Chiefs have made a habit of settling abroad. Generals Pervez Musharraf, Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani and Raheel Shareef are not in Pakistan. Most Pakistani senior military officials, bureaucrats and politicians have homes and investments abroad. In many cases, their children are foreign citizens. The widening chasm between the haves and the haves not is a sore point with Pakistanis who live without electricity, water and basic amenities. Rising inflation, the cost of food and the all-encompassing absence of hope are forcing the common Pakistani to rise against the system. In the past, this dissonance has often taken the shape of violence.

Media finds itself managed and controlled. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the former DG ISPR, ran a personality cult using the Pakistan Army’s resources. While the gist of his endeavours was anti-India, he established himself as the voice of Pakistan on social and mainstream media. Major General Babur Iftikhar, the current DG ISPR is expected to be more circumspect. Having said this, Pakistani media is generally expected to fall in line with what ISPR dictates. ISPR almost functions like the parent body of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority or PEMRA. The truth is that the Pakistan Army crushed PEMRA’s autonomy and spirit long back. In mainstream media, journalists and anchors have been intimidated, killed, beaten and shot at. Pakistan’s top TV anchor Hamid Mir carries two bullet wounds on his body, a reminder to him as to who the real boss is, in Pakistan.

It bears admission that we are years behind Pakistan in Information Warfare. They became better than us not because they had more talent and money, but because they had no choice. After having lost every war to India, they became experts in hybrid warfare. They looked for non-investment heavy solutions and found them.

We have far more money and talent than Pakistan will ever have. What we lack is the realisation that media and social media are weapons of war. Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. It Facebook had existed during Sun Tzu’s time, the philosopher would have smiled in satisfaction. In the end, all war is deception.

What we need is an Information Warfare organisation, which comprises of experts. I have seen no proof of the military having the talent for Information Warfare, or even the simple realisation that a few credible Twitter handles are far more dangerous than a battalion of soldiers. We need an Organisation that is run by the military but manned by writers, singers, video editors, musicians, content creators, historians, social media experts, hackers, theological experts, geo-strategic experts and host of other talent that exists outside the military. This organisation must be supported by intelligence agencies. The scale and scope of this organisation must be large enough to take this e-war to Pakistan.

This organisation will be tasked to create narratives through videos, songs, stories, blogs, Vlogs, articles, video games, documentaries, social media accounts and will also serve as a feeder to the mainstream media. It will function through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. It will create content that will directly address the fault lines in Pakistan. It will reiterate, constantly and consistently, the narrative that Pakistan is tearing itself at the seams. Pakistan ranks 25th in the global Internet penetration list. Only about 15% Pakistanis have access to the Internet. But with China investing heavily in Pakistan’s telecom infrastructure, the number of users is expected to increase exponentially by 2025.

If we are innovative and consistent in our approach, the fault lines in Pakistan will begin to haemorrhage. It is only a matter of time before Pakistan again goes to war, this time with itself.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring Issue 2020 of SCHOLAR WARRIOR the magazine of CLAWS (Center for Land Warfare Studies), India’s premier Security Think Tank. You can also read this article at

ZAFARNAMA

We ignore our past. We ignore what our ancestors taught us. Therefore, we are condemned to live in mental slavery.

The Sikh Gurus died defending us. They sacrificed their children so that we could live with honour. When we are spineless, we insult their sacrifices. When we don’t stand up to tyranny, we lose the right to call ourselves the inheritors of that great legacy.

This is life and such is our fate.

There will always be an Aurangzeb Alamgir. And there will always be a Guru Gobind Singh Ji. These are not just historical figures. These are manifestations of evil and good within our hearts. This is the battle for the soul. To stand on the sidelines is to owe fealty to the enemy.

The Battle of Chamkaur Sahib is not just history. It rages even as I write these lines. Look carefully…it is all around us.

Zafarnama is not just an Epistle of Victory, written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj. It is the soul of India, an India that will not live on its knees, an India that chooses death before dishonour.

A man can live without food for months and water for days. He can even live without air for a minute or two. But how can a man live without honour, even for a second?

Zafarnama is a roadmap to what should be our Foreign Policy. It is time for us to step forward and claim our great heritage. It is time for us to be worthy of being called the sons and daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

“Chun kar az hameh heelate dar guzasht,
Halal ast burdan bi-shamsher dast.”

All modes of redressing a wrong having failed, raising of the sword is pious and just.

It is time to be counted. For the ashes of our fathers.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

THE CRACKS IN THE EDIFICE

Pakistan was created as a result of the Two-Nation Theory. When Pakistan did come into being, it feared that it would be looked upon as a ‘lesser India’. It was exactly like India, just smaller and poorer. So, Pakistan embarked upon a mission to project itself as a nation that identified itself as ‘we who are not India’. It rewrote history. It created Arab and Central Asian ancestry for its people out of thin air, and convinced its citizens of their non-existent foreign origins.

Therein lie the foundations of the first cracks in the edifice of the State of Pakistan. Urdu was imposed and this was one of the many reasons that lead to the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. But the “Urdu problem” as Bengalis would sometimes refer to this imposition as, was planned in 1947-48, with Mohammad Ali Jinnah traveling to Dhaka in what was then East Pakistan, to announce his grand plan to have Urdu as the only national language of the “moth-eaten” state of Pakistan. No one realised the irony of it then. Jinnah was selling a language that he did not speak, to a people who did not understand it. The Bengali language is more than fourteen hundred years old. Some believe it carries nuanced sophistication on one shoulder. Others believe that it carries a chip on the other, but that is open to debate. Oh, the Bengalis love a good debate.

Created to be a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims, it was believed that Islam was the glue that would hold Pakistan together. On 16 December 1971 that glue unraveled. In the first partition of its kind, a majority broke away from a minority. Punjabi sub-nationalism was simply too heavy handed to permit co-existence. That you were Muslim was not good enough. You had to be Sunni Punjabi Muslim.

Pakistan was to be an Islamic welfare state, based on the Riyasat-e-Medina model, the first Muslim state set up by Prophet Mohammad after his Hijrat, or migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. That did not happen. There were simply too many pulls and pressures.

Muslims are not a homogeneous entity. Pakistan’s two hundred million people follow a staggering variety of ‘sub-faiths’ and each ‘sub-faith’ is followed with a passion that can sometimes border on the terrifying. The Deobandis have a fundamental difference of opinion with the Barelvis. Together, they share a visceral hatred for the Ahl-e-Hadith. This often results in blood baths and bombing of mosques of the other sect. Interestingly, these three sub sects of Islam were created in North India, before partition. Most Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Fiqh. Salafism and Wahabism, born in the deserts of Egypt and Arabia, are fast finding their feet in Punjab and Sindh, once the nurseries of Sufism.

The two branches of Shia Islam in Pakistan are the Twelvers or Imamiyyah and Ismailis, with the Twelvers being the most widely practiced Shia faith. Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and by Ordinance XX.

These are the broad schisms in the Pakistani Muslim landscape. Muslims form a staggering total of 96% of the population of Pakistan. By one estimate, the breakup is – Shia (Twelvers) 18%, Ismailis 2%, Ahmadis 2%, Barelvis 50%, Deobandis 20%, Ahl-e-Hadith 4% and other minorities 4%.

Students of sub-nationalism in Pakistan know about the Baloch freedom struggle and the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. They lament the dying out of Jiye Sindh movement and the brutal suppression of the MQM. The Baltistani movement is picking up steam and we hear angry voices from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. But clearly, there is no constant and consistent momentum. There cannot be, not without outside support. India has steadfastly maintained a policy of not supporting secessionist movements in Pakistan or other countries.

A cursory look at the Pakistani society reveals a nation that is forever at the edge of implosion. It is not the strain that comes with the ebbs and flows of a democracy, because whatever its veneer might be, Pakistan is not a democracy. The war within is religious, ethnic and social. For India, this has provided a window of opportunity, which has been ignored for too long. Indians worship passivity. We take great pride in saying that we have never attacked any country, ever. This has been our undoing; this and the entire narrative of ours being a non-expeditionary army.

For seventy-two years we have either been fighting Pakistan and its proxies or have been in a state of no-war-no-peace. Our conflict with Pakistan is existential. Let us, as a nation, accept the fact that Pakistan will never allow India to live in peace. Pakistan thrives in a synthetically created eco-chamber in which the mere existence of India is anathema and Kashmir, the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

Since its creation, Pakistan has dedicated enormous resources to widen the fault-lines in India. It started the terrorist Khalistan movement in Punjab and followed it up with terrorism in Kashmir. It was able to do so because we were weak; diplomatically, militarily, politically, economically and socially. Specially when Kashmir blew up in our faces in 1989, foreign reserves were down to the last billion, we had a weak coalition government at the center, we were embroiled in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, operations in Punjab and the North East and with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the world was looking the other way. As astrologers would say, it was an ‘opportune moment’ for Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan is down on its knees. Economically it is staring at bankruptcy, politically it is unstable with Imran Khan taking a beating from opposition parties and widely believed to be selected by the army and not elected, and diplomatically it is isolated. A study of the socio-political landscape will tell you that the country has never been so fractured. Militarily, the Army Chief finds himself at odds with his own Generals. His three-year extension has sealed the fate of his first line. Sub-nationalism in Pakistan, which has never been fully dormant, raises its head again. It is often violent and put down even more violently by the Pakistan Army. The cycle of violence never ceases. Pakistan’s human rights record is only slightly better than Saudi Arabia and North Korea. The media, a section of which has managed to remain away from the direct influence of DG ISPR, is being browbeaten.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of all of Pakistan’s fault lines. We do not need to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s books and start arming and training disaffected elements. The Pakistani society is already well armed and trained. It is one of the most weaponised nations on earth. The country is a tinderbox. All it needs is a spark. Social media is that spark.

The low hanging fruit is the ideological schism between the Deobandis and Barelvis. Over a period of years, if carefully nurtured, it has the potential to bleed Pakistan. While the Ahl-e-Hadith are a small percentage of the Sunni Muslim population in Pakistan, like the Deobandis and Barelvis, their ‘Tanzeems” or armed groups have been deployed to devastating effect. Shia Tanzeems are active in Karachi and also in areas bordering Iran. While Pakistan Army has tried to disarm some of these groups, many remain in the woodwork, beneficiaries of the deep state’s largesse.

We would also do well to stop looking at Balochistan in isolation. The Pakistani Punjabi tendency to look down upon every other ethnicity as socially and racially inferior puts it at loggerheads with every other sub-nationality in Pakistan. Our narrative needs to be crafted in a manner that makes it Punjab versus the others. This emotion already exists in Pakistan. It is merely a function of reiterating it again and again. Punjabi hubris was on full display during the events leading up to the 1971 war and the eventual dismemberment of Pakistan. No lessons have been learnt. Nothing has changed.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Balochistan Liberation Army are very different in the way they operate. Their ideologies are different. The PTM is largely peaceful. The BLA is violent. The MQM, after being battered to the ground, is rising again. The common factor is that the people they represent have been marginalised, their resources stolen and their jobs snatched. Their homes have been razed, their women raped, their relatives killed and their culture destroyed by an overweening Punjabi establishment. Punjab is Pakistan. Pakistan is Punjab. This is what merits telling and retelling.

If there is an institution in Pakistan that has a veneer of strength and solidity, it is the Pakistan Army. However, it has its own skeletons. From the initial days of the creation of Pakistan to the years before and during the 1965 war, the turbulent years before and after the fall of Dhaka, the Zia years and then the rule of Parvez Musharraf has seen that despite its outward sheen, the Pakistan Army is vulnerable to factionalism and intrigue. Post the Kargil War; factionalism within the Pakistan Army was out in the open. Defeat does that. The incarceration of Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar and his forced resignation for opposing the three-year extension given to General Qamar Javed Bajwa is a case in point. That seven of the senior most generals of the Pakistan Army openly revolted against their own chief in the extension issue tells us that there are cracks in the Pakistan Army that can be exploited.

In the recent past, Pakistani Army Chiefs have made a habit of settling abroad. Generals Pervez Musharraf, Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani and Raheel Shareef are not in Pakistan. Most Pakistani senior military officials, bureaucrats and politicians have homes and investments abroad. In many cases, their children are foreign citizens. The widening chasm between the haves and the haves not is a sore point with Pakistanis who live without electricity, water and basic amenities. Rising inflation, the cost of food and the all-encompassing absence of hope are forcing the common Pakistani to rise against the system. In the past, this dissonance has often taken the shape of violence.

Media finds itself managed and controlled. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the former DG ISPR, ran a personality cult using the Pakistan Army’s resources. While the gist of his endeavours was anti-India, he established himself as the voice of Pakistan on social and mainstream media. Major General Babur Iftikhar, the current DG ISPR is expected to be more circumspect. Having said this, Pakistani media is generally expected to fall in line with what ISPR dictates. ISPR almost functions like the parent body of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority or PEMRA. The truth is that the Pakistan Army crushed PEMRA’s autonomy and spirit long back. In mainstream media, journalists and anchors have been intimidated, killed, beaten and shot at. Pakistan’s top TV anchor Hamid Mir carries two bullet wounds on his body, a reminder to him as to who the real boss is, in Pakistan.

It bears admission that we are years behind Pakistan in Information Warfare. They became better than us not because they had more talent and money, but because they had no choice. After having lost every war to India, they became experts in hybrid warfare. They looked for non-investment heavy solutions and found them.

We have far more money and talent than Pakistan will ever have. What we lack is the realisation that media and social media are weapons of war. Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. It Facebook had existed during Sun Tzu’s time, the philosopher would have smiled in satisfaction. In the end, all war is deception.

What we need is an Information Warfare organisation, which comprises of experts. I have seen no proof of the military having the talent for Information Warfare, or even the simple realisation that a few credible Twitter handles are far more dangerous than a battalion of soldiers. We need an Organisation that is run by the military but manned by writers, singers, video editors, musicians, content creators, historians, social media experts, hackers, theological experts, geo-strategic experts and host of other talent that exists outside the military. This organisation must be supported by intelligence agencies. The scale and scope of this organisation must be large enough to take this e-war to Pakistan.

This organisation will be tasked to create narratives through videos, songs, stories, blogs, Vlogs, articles, video games, documentaries, social media accounts and will also serve as a feeder to the mainstream media. It will function through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. It will create content that will directly address the fault lines in Pakistan. It will reiterate, constantly and consistently, the narrative that Pakistan is tearing itself at the seams. Pakistan ranks 25th in the global Internet penetration list. Only about 15% Pakistanis have access to the Internet. But with China investing heavily in Pakistan’s telecom infrastructure, the number of users is expected to increase exponentially by 2025.

If we are innovative and consistent in our approach, the fault lines in Pakistan will begin to haemorrhage. It is only a matter of time before Pakistan again goes to war, this time with itself.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring Issue 2020 of SCHOLAR WARRIOR the magazine of CLAWS (Center for Land Warfare Studies), India’s premier Security Think Tank. You can also read this article at www.claws.in

 

BLITZKRIEG: MODERNISATION V/S MANPOWER

Recent reports in the media suggest that the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) – Army, Navy and Air Force – have drastically reduced manpower and have decided to dive headlong into modernisation (largely mechanisation), use of Artificial Intelligence and cyber warfare. By this reduction in manpower, the distinction on being the world’s largest land force falls upon the Indian Army.


Is this a matter of celebration or contemplation? Should we be proud or worried?

The simplistic answer would be that the future is AI and we must have rapid modernisation at the cost of manpower. We would argue that we must slash manpower and go the American way.

The truth is somewhere in between. Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain talks about Modernisation v/s Manpower. His logic is simple, yet brilliant. A must watch episode.

WATCH HERE 👇

THE COVEN

That we are not interested in war is irrelevant. War is interested in us. And it has reached our doorstep. War is a many-fractured rainbow. It comes in many shades of screams and whimpers. Traditionally, we have been used to the kind of wars fought long ago. It was always honour against honour; flag against flag and to harm an unarmed enemy was simply unthinkable. Almost everyone in the Indian Army still believes in that code of honour. In these times of shrinking morality and widening grey lines, it is comforting to know that there are still some people who believe that soldiering is all about honour.

But war is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s many hues and colours are unrecognisable. It has acquired the subtlety of classical music and the sophisticated texture of aged spirits. No one truly knows what war is, any longer; at least not in its mind-boggling entirety.

We talk about non-conventional, non-contact, non-kinetic, asymmetric, grey zone and many other kinds of warfare. Each is different. Each is the same. Each basically means ‘war by other means’. What are these other means? Any, except the one that we conventionally trained for. Pursuing strategic ends just below the threshold of traditional armed conflict is one way of looking at this kind of warfare.

Conducting operations in the Grey Zone means recognising that there is space for ‘conflict’, just short of physical conflict, or war. There is realisation that there is ambiguity in international law, ambiguity in both instigation and action, that does not merit armed response.

But this kind of warfare is hardly new. Kautilya spoke about Saama, Daama, Dand and Bhedha. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Bhedha was practiced as an instrument of war in India, sanctified by Chanakya’s Arthashastra. Bhedha is the ability to achieve an aim by way of deception. But it was not just about employing spies and carrying out sabotage. It was also about creating political instability in the enemy’s kingdom by rumour mongering, whisper campaigns, poisoning the mind of the next in line to the throne, instigating riots and civil unrest, assassination attempts, and finally, also speaking highly of your own king’s capabilities, in the rival kingdom’s marketplaces.

Twenty-two centuries later, Joseph Goebbels spoke extensively about the virtues of repeating a lie. Repeat is so many times, he said, that it becomes the truth. This is the core of asymmetric warfare. The actions that follow cannot be separated from the core. Terrorism in Kashmir is part of Pakistan’s asymmetric warfare, but it starts with the lie that Kashmir will be part of Pakistan. This is exactly what Pakistan is doing in India. This, and a hundred other things, that are aimed at destabilising India from within. Lie. Act. Repeat.

I have often maintained that to question the government is not just your right but also your duty. Informed dissent is the soul of our democracy. There are people who protest because they know no other means of communication. I may disagree with them, but my disagreement counts for nothing. I did not give them the right to protest. The Constitution did.

How we manage differences of opinions and our fault-lines is up to us. But manage, we must. If we do not, the enemy will take advantage. In the recent anti-CAA protests, we saw riots and also the role of Pakistan’s ISI. While it may be romantic to talk about a ‘popular groundswell of public opinion’, such an animal is much like the Unicorn. It does not exist. Protests, sit-ins and riots have to be planned and nurtured.

I have nothing against the people of Shaheen Bagh, except the fact that they made everyone’s lives miserable for almost three months. And, suddenly like snowflakes in May, they have vanished. Where thousands of protestors promised to fight till the Day of Judgment or ‘Qayamat Tak”, less than twenty-five people squat on fading carpets today. Long Live the Revolution. The Revolution is dead. Lack of funds, lack of direction or lack of energy…whatever the cause, the Shaheen Bagh protests have flat-lined.

Celebrities too have disappeared. Those who would often take a flight from Mumbai, check into a five-star hotel, land at Shaheen Bagh to protest and then take a flight back to Mumbai to gather at the Gateway of India for another rendition of the national anthem, duly accompanied by much flag waving, have gone into hiding. Coronavirus anyone? It is much more complicated than that. Agitations require media attention. Just like terrorism. I am not equating both. Just saying that raging is good. But raging in front of cameras is far more lucrative.

Just as POTUS landed, riots erupted in Delhi. While some blamed the government for inaction or instigation, or both, it was soon clear that the design was far more sinister. The last thing that any government wants in the presence of a visiting President of the United States is a communal riot. There is simply too much at stake. This government may have its shortcomings but it is certainly not stupid.

Today, to a large majority of Indians, the face of the anti-CAA agitation are no longer the multitudes of women and men who sat in protest through the coldest winter that Delhi has seen in a century. It is Sharjeel Imam, the JNU student who went from town to city exhorting cheering Muslim audiences to revolt against India, and in one case to block the Chicken Neck Corridor, a 22 km broad land route that connects India to its North East. “Block it so that the Indian Army cannot reach Assam”, Imam said. Another face is Faizul Hassan, former Aligarh Muslim University student’s union president who made a statement to the effect that “Muslims can destroy any country”.

So, what is the truth?

The truth is somewhere is between. Most Twitter handles and Facebook pages that spread false news about CAA and NRC and fomented violence were created and operationalised directly under the orders of Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) of the Pakistan Army. There were Pakistani handles and pages with Hindu names that spewed venom against Muslims and fake handles and pages with Muslim names that spewed venom against Hindus.

Massive amounts of funds flowed into India to instigate riots and damage India’s reputation and economy. Think about it. India suffered massively and not one Pakistani Army officer or soldier was hurt. This is the new war we are facing.

International newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post carried scathing articles, trying to shred India’s reputation. A few Indian journalists, who have made a living out of abusing India abroad, spread venom to their hearts content. Treason is lucrative. Treason disguised as freedom of opinion is impossible to ignore.

There is no limit to asymmetric warfare. With its limitless permutations and combinations, it offers the enemy a rare opportunity to harm us grievously. That it comes gift-wrapped in plausible deniability is a godsend.

We must fight fire with fire. There is no other way.

A single Rafale costs 1600 crore rupees. With just 10% of that amount invested in the right opportunities, India can bring Pakistan to its knees. Pakistan is one-fifth of our size and is 96% Muslim. Strangely, it has far more fault-lines than we do. It is in between the gaps of Pakistan’s fault-lines that we must find our own strategy. It can be done. And it can be done in 12 months.

Fire will rage, and of that let there be no doubt. Whether it rages in India or Pakistan is up to us. The attached report (First Report: Committee of the Whole) was tabled in the Pakistani Senate in October 2016. Pakistan has a roadmap to destroy us. We need one, too…an aggressive plan that delves deep into the Pakistani psyche and releases a virus. Pakistan will never explode. But it can be made to implode.

If we are to live in peace, Jinnah’s artificial construct must be dismantled.

The Coven must be smashed.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

UNDAUNTED

The truth is that most people who write or comment about Kashmir have never been there. Srinagar is hardly Kashmir. A sprawling, urban mess, Srinagar has greyness written all over it. For a keen Kashmir watcher like me, going to Srinagar doesn’t qualify.

That is what makes Bhaavna Arora so different. She has been to South Kashmir, walked on the roads, smelt the anxiety, the fear, the longing and the expectation of the people. She has sat on the floor of a martyr’s house and cried with his family. From Army officers to taxi drivers, from local policemen to the ordinary Kashmiri, everyone has been part of her journey. This book is about that journey.

Bhaavna called me one fine evening, telling me that she wanted to write a book on Lt. Ummer Fayaz. I was puzzled. Why would someone want to write about a Kashmiri army officer who was murdered in cold blood in Kashmir? But write she did.

UNDAUNTED is not just a book about Lt. Ummer Fayaz. It is a book about the Indian Army. It is a book about the people of Kashmir. It is a book about the love and heartbreak of a family. And it is a book about heroes.

When was it ever easy for a Kashmiri to wear a uniform? Recently, there has been a spate of killings of unarmed Kashmiri army men and policemen. They are seen as legitimate targets; such is the level of radicalisation in the Kashmir Valley. It is in this environment that Ummer Fayaz decided to join the Armed Forces. Initially an Air Force candidate, he settled for the Indian Army after a small medical issue. His parents were so proud. The entire community looked up to him.

Bhaavna writes like she is silently watching young Ummer going to the market with his little sister, celebrating with the family, laughing and crying with them and when calamity strikes, grieving with them. The book is full of incidents about Ummer and others who were either a part of his life or enabled the writing of this book. Everything finds mentions. Nothing is left out. I couldn’t help but smile when Bhaavna writes about her first ride on a Tatra. It made me remember mine.

When young Ummer is returning from school one day, he refuses to be frisked at an Army check post. Things get a little heated and the soldier slaps him and then takes him inside the Army camp. There he meets a kind and gentle officer. The officer speaks to Ummer with respect and explains that there is information about terrorists moving around and that’s why the frisking is required. Ummer agrees to have his schoolbag checked. This incident leaves a lasting impression in young Umar’s mind. He tells the officer “I want to become like you”. While leaving, he sees the officer’s name plate. Ata Hasnain. Umar doesn’t forget and when the time is right, he starts preparing for the National Defence Academy exams.

There is another interesting incident from NDA. During the cross-country run, Ummer and Majid, another cadet, didn’t want to run as they were observing Roza. The officer asked them, “And where in the Holy Quran does it say to abandon your duties while observing Roza?”

So, Ummer and Majid ran. In spite of cramps and dehydration, they ran. They ran with such spirit that both managed to come in the second enclosure, out of a total of six. This speaks volumes about the spirit of Umar.

This book is not just a compilation of facts. It makes you laugh and cry. You feel the cramps in your legs when Ummer runs during Roza. You feel the guilt of Tahzun when she cries, thinking that she could have saved Umar if she had picked up his calls. You want to hold Lt Col Inderjeet Singh’s hand when he shaves off his head, in a typical Hindu mourning ritual, when he hears of Ummer’s death and then asks his wife Rajni to perform all the rituals that are performed when a member of the family dies. Bhaavna has walked with each of these people. As I said before, she has laughed, cried, celebrated and grieved with each one of them, especially Ummer’s family.

While this book, every now and then, touches upon the cauldron that the Kashmir Valley has become, it is also a paean to the DNA of the Indian Army…its ethos, its traditions and its values. Ummer had never offered namaz in a masjid in the NDA, but when his friends and family in Kashmir tell him that the Indian Army is against their religion, Umar requests officers at NDA that all Muslim cadets be allowed to offer Namaz on Fridays. Umar has suddenly not found religion. His loyalty to the Indian Army is such that he goes out of his way to tell people back home that in the Indian Army, there is space for all faiths. His request for Friday namaz is granted. He becomes the Namaz leader in NDA.

In this book, Ummer seems statesman like. He sees a larger role for himself in the context of Kashmir. When his fellow cadets tell him that both Burhan Wani and he were slapped by security forces, but Umar chose to fight for India, unlike Burhan who became a terrorist, Umar realizes that he could shape the life of other Kashmiri young men.

Lt. Ummer Fayaz of 2nd Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles was brutally murdered on 9 May 2017, while he was unarmed and on leave to attend his cousin sister’s marriage. His relationship with the Indian Army continued even after his death. They avenged him on 1 April 2018.

This book is also a plea for hope. Without stating the obvious, it is a cry for Kashmir, a prayer for young Kashmiris to take a deep look at who their heroes should be. It is Kashmir’s young who will decide what of the future of Kashmir will be like.

Thank you Bhaavna, for taking me on this magnificent journey of courage, hope, love, longing and fire.

Walk with Ummer here https://amzn.to/2EuHdbv

Major Gaurav Arya

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

Indian Army

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