Reap what you sow?

The Pakistani establishment was full of glee in the 1990s, when they were able to deflect the mujahideen, created with the help of money and expertise from the US, which had helped oust the Russians from Afghanistan, to operate in Kashmir. After having lost the war*, which Pakistan declared on India in 1971, the then Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared that it will “bleed India with a thousand cuts”.

Pakistan had deemed that with this ‘proxy’ war it will kill many birds with one stone. It will have deniability of waging a war, and the battle hardened mujahideen will bleed enough of India’s vastly superior armed forces (Pakistan was not yet a nuclear power; it became one in 1998) so they don’t pose a threat to Pakistan. The ensuing mayhem, they felt, would also keep India occupied enough to slow its advance to become a regional superpower. For them, it was a win-win situation.

Pakistan had thought that it could carry on this third-party guerilla warfare forever, or until it is able to wrest Kashmir from India, after having lost three wars it started for this purpose.

However, every action has unintended consequences as well. Nobody foresaw 9/11, and how it would change the whole geo-political dynamic. Pakistan had to make a u-turn in its support for the Afghani Taliban at American behest, and rein it many terrorist outfits that had linkages with al Qaeda and were having international ambitions although they were supposed to operate exclusively in Kashmir.

This created a backlash which progressed rather unchecked. The Pakistani establishment was unable to stem their activities since it had nurtured them for years, and had indoctrinated the population that India is a mortal threat, and that the use of violent methods to achieve goals in the name of Islam are legitimate. Little did they realize that these terrorists will bite the hand that fed them, and create anarchy in the Land of the Pure itself.

There have been reports of another vengeful group emerging in Pakistan, the Ghazi Force. Unlike many other Pakistan-based terror groups, the targets of this band is solely within the country. Suicide bombers have recently attacked a Sufi shrine in Lahore, because these extremists consider the orthodox strain of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, Wahabism, as the only true face of the religion. And no surprise, Pakistanis are blaming the US after this shrine attack, because America is “killing muslims” all over the world.

*Mr. Bhutto’s vow was to avenge the re-partition of Pakistan by the creation of Bangladesh. That India’s involvement was mainly because of millions of refugees from ‘East’ Pakistan crossing the border and creating chaos, and that Pakistan had itself declared the war, was summarily forgotten.

It was also overlooked that the one of the ¬†reasons of dissent in that wing of Pakistan was the denial of the ‘West’ Pakistani establishment to honor the election of Mujibur Rehman, an ‘East’ Pakistani whose party had won the majority of seats in the Parliament in the 1971 general election, making him eligible to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, both ‘East’ and ‘West’.

Another reason was the coercion of the Bengali speaking populace of the ‘East’ to only use Urdu, a North Indian language, as their lingua franca, and systemic assaults of their distinctive culture. The ‘East’ Pakistanis were growing tired of constant intimidation and oppression meted out by the ‘West’.

Apparently, religion (read Islam) was not a strong enough glue to hold them together, as it had been the supposed reason for Partition from India.

These fractures are visible even in the current day Pakistan, where Baluchis and Sindhis rebel against hegemony from Punjabis. One of the four provinces, Punjab is the most populous and dominant, and Punjabis still command the upper echelons of power in the establishment, including the armed forces. These disturbances were ignored until they started happening in Punjab itself, by outfits like the Pakistani Taliban and now the Ghazi Force.

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