Silent war is a kind of warfare with another state in which the ruler and his ministers— and, unknowingly, the people— acted publicly as if they were at peace with the opposing state, but all the while secret agents were busy assassinating important leaders in the other state, creating divisions among key ministers and classes, and spreading propaganda and disinformation with the ultimate objective of weakening and subjugating it”.
–Arthashastra by Kautilya
The quotation given above, more or less, accurately describes Narendra Modi-led Indian government’s current policy towards Pakistan. This is not entirely surprising. We are all aware of the extremist ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its commitment to Hindutva or the revival of Hindu nationalism. Besides being the head of BJP, Narendra Modi has been a lifelong member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a well-known extremist Hindu militant organization which is also deeply committed to Hindutva. BJP and RSS in fact are the political and militant arms respectively of the same extremist ideology which was summarized by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalker, the second RSS supreme leader in the following words in his 1938 work entitled “We, or Our Nationhood Defined”:
“The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture……In other words, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—-not even citizens’ rights.”
The demand for Pakistan as a separate homeland to enable the Muslims of the subcontinent to lead their lives in accordance with the tenets of Islam and their distinct cultural values was their legitimate response to such bigotry that was responsible for the communalization of politics in South Asia rather than the other way round. RSS, after all, was established by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 much before the Muslims of the subcontinent voiced demand for Pakistan. As the steady deterioration of the condition of the Indian Muslims since 1947 shows, the Indian polity, despite its claims of secularism, has in actual practice pursued discriminatory policies against them. This is proved beyond any doubt by the findings of the Sachar Committee Report of 2006, sponsored by the Indian government. It is also worth remembering that the outlooks of Islam and Hinduism on life and about life are widely divergent. Islam establishes a society based on the principles of human brotherhood and social equality whereas Hinduism establishes an oppressive system that divides the society into castes precluding vertical mobility. The Muslims and the Hindus, therefore, are culturally far apart. This factor and the fear of the domination by an oppressive Hindu majority constituted the rationale for the Pakistan movement.
The principles of Hindutva were on display in the large scale massacres of the Muslims in Gujrat in 2002 when Modi was its Chief Minister. Keeping in view the ingrained anti-Muslim bias of the Modi-led BJP government, it would be logical to assume that it would pursue an anti-Pakistan agenda in the implementation of its foreign and security policies. But from a long-term point of view, an even more important factor is that the Indian leaders, officials and analysts consider Pakistan as a serious obstacle in the realization of India’s strategic goals and quest for hegemony in South Asia, as pointed out by me in my book “Pakistan and a World in Disorder—-A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century” published by Palgrave Macmillan from New York in June, 2016. C. Raja Mohan, a noted Indian security analyst, pointed out in his article “India and the Balance of Power” published in the Foreign Affairs issue of July-August, 2006 that the partition of South Asia and the creation of Pakistan had prevented India from the achievement of its strategic goals. The acrimony caused by the festering Kashmir dispute is an additional important factor responsible for India’s inimical policies towards Pakistan.
Apparently, the Narendra Modi government has chosen the strategy of a “silent war”, as defined above, for bringing Pakistan down on its knees. In pursuance of this strategy, India has a launched a veritable campaign to destabilize Pakistan internally through sponsoring acts of terrorism, fomenting political dissensions, undermining Pakistan’s economic progress, aggravating the civil-military divide, making use of the social media to weaken the different state institutions by propagating baseless rumours, and diluting Pakistan’s distinctive Islamic cultural identity to bring in question the very rationale for its creation. In accordance with Kautilya’s advice that a wise ruler chooses his allies from among his neighbour’s neighbours, India has made enormous investments in political, economic and security sectors in Afghanistan to squeeze Pakistan from both sides.
A few examples would suffice to drive home this point. Our authorities, from time to time, have made allegations about RAW’s involvement in acts of terrorism in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and Karachi. These allegations were rejected in the past by the Indian authorities. But the arrest of Commander Kulbhushan Yadav, an officer of the Indian navy, in Balochistan in March this year on charges of working for RAW and involvement in acts of terrorism has established conclusively the Indian government’s nefarious designs against Pakistan. A clear signal of India’s intention to destabilize Balochistan was sent by Narendra Modi on 12 August when he publicly warned that “the time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Balochistan.” India’s strong opposition to the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project betrays its desire to undermine Pakistan’s economy and block its economic progress. The use of print and electronic media to question Pakistan’s distinctive Islamic cultural identity aims at weakening the very rationale for the creation of Pakistan.
What is even more tragic is that our politicians, senior officials, analysts, and some sections of the public, probably unwittingly, have fallen easy prey to the Indian stratagems. In view of India’s resort to “silent war” against Pakistan, the need of the hour is for national unity and resolve to frustrate and defeat India’s wicked designs. Instead, what we see is a state of disarray and chaos in the country in which the politicians in total disregard of the gravity of the situation are virtually at one another’s throats on account of petty issues. Vested interests are again busy, through rumour mongering on social media, reviving the demon of a military take over as if the country had not suffered enough in the past because of such adventures. It goes to the credit of Pakistan’s current military leadership for having resisted wisely such ill-motivated and unconstitutional suggestions to involve it in non-professional activities and further over-stretch its already over-stretched resources, both human and material.
The government also needs to put its act together in view of the grave situation confronting the country by taking steps to strengthen national unity, find a political solution of the disturbed conditions in Balochistan, promote religious moderation and tolerance, defeat the monster of terrorism, accelerate economic development and make its benefits available to the poor and the weak, and promote harmony and understanding among the various institutions of the state. The nation can overcome the threat posed by India’s “silent war” only by putting up a united front. Internal dissensions simply would be a recipe for disaster.