Why does Pakistan support Jaish and Lakshar? [updated]

I have a most un-mutinous confession to make – there are lots of things in the world I don’t understand, yet I still blog about them. One of these things is the Pakistani government’s continuing support of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, two Pakistan based militant/terrorist groups that claim Kashmiri independence as their goal. As I mentioned earlier, the Pakistani government has a very soft policy towards these two organizations:

Some security analysts in Pakistan have been critical of the government’s seemingly soft stance in relation to Harkat and Jaish – wondering why they have not been dealt with as severely as some of the other groups. [BBC]
These two groups were implicated in the attack on the Indian Parliament that came just a few months after the 9/11 attacks in the USA:
The atrocity of 13 December [2001] when five terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament, killing eight officials and a gardener, has given New Delhi the high moral ground. New Delhi insists that the five were Pakistanis and belonged to two Pakistan-based terrorist groups – Jaish-e-Mohamed (Army of the Prophet Mohamed) and Lakshar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pious). Islamabad has denied the claim and refused to accept the bodies. [cite]
They’re also the only terrorist group linked with the first group of British bombers:
Not only is there no clear link between the two sets of suspects, there is no established link between either group and al-Qaeda or any other known terror network, say British officials. There are lots of tantalizing links back to Pakistan from the July 7 gang, three of whom had parents born there. When Shehzad Tanweer — who killed seven on a train near Aldgate station — and Mohammed Sidique Khan — who killed six at Edgware Road station — left Leeds to visit Pakistan in 2004, they were frequently seen with members and recruiters of the banned militant organizations Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, according to several people in Samundri, a town near the village where Tanweer stayed with his uncle. [cite]

Here’s the question – why does Musharraf continue to support these two groups, given the high costs involved?

One answer might be that it’s part of his ideological support for a free Kashmir, or perhaps part of the political necessity of supporting movements that claim to be fighting for Kashmiri independence. But that’s a very limited way to look at it. He could advocate very strongly for Kashmiri independence without providing material support to these groups and letting them roam around. [BTW, I’m assuming that the GoP actively supports these groups – am I wrong?]

Another answer might be that the ISI is committed to supporting Jaish and Lakshar, and Musharraf needs the support of the ISI. This raises yet further questions – why does the ISI support them – is this geostrategic or ideological? How much control does Musharraf have over the ISI?

A third answer could be that they’re a bargaining chip to be traded in at some later date. Perhaps the GoP doesn’t actively support them, but they have enough popularity that they see no reason to crack down unless they get something in return. Right now, the USA doesn’t care about this issue, and even with Afghanistan they reneged on their promises to cut textile tariffs so they have little credibility. Similarly, unless India negotiates harder, there is little reason for the GoP to give them up. In this case, it’s not about actively supporting Jaish and Lakshar, it’s about the costs involved in cracking down. I suspect this third answer is a large part of the story, but I don’t know for sure.

I’m letting my ignorance hang out like a tidh on a middle aged desi guy eating paranthas in a wifebeater because I’m hoping that our readership will constructively enlighten me. That is, I’m hoping that people will excuse my laziness in not researching this further, and each contribute enough in the way of facts and references that this is a mutually beneficial conversation for all.

How much support do Jaish and Lakshar get from the GoP? In what form? What’s the political rationale for the current policy towards them? What would it take for this policy to change?

I’m requesting a mature political discussion here. Ad-hom statements will be deleted, although perhaps not as promptly as I’d like. What say you?

UPDATE: The Council on Foreign Relations has this explanation:

Why did Pakistan support Islamist terrorists in Kashmir? To use them against India in the fight over Kashmir. Through its Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI), Pakistan provided funding, arms, training facilities, and aid in crossing borders to both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Experts say ISI aid, modeled on its support of the mujahedeen fighting the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, helped introduce radical Islam into the longstanding conflict over the fate of Kashmir.
Has Pakistan moved to stop Islamist terrorists in Kashmir?Yes. Under intense pressure following the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Musharraf banned Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and banned five other Pakistan-based radical groups, sealing their offices and rounding up about 1,500 Islamist militants, many of whom were later released. Musharraf has also promised to force madrasas in Pakistan to moderate their extremist teachings. In June 2002, after a terrorist attack that killed more than 30 Indians raised the prospect of war between the two nuclear-armed countries, Musharraf said Pakistan would work to end cross-border infiltrations into Indian-controlled Kashmir. However, India says Musharraf has not honored his pledge to end such raids, and urges the United States to view Pakistan as a rogue state that sponsors terrorism.
Why hasn’t Pakistan done more to stop Islamist terrorists in Kashmir? Experts say Musharraf has had to balance international demands to stop terrorists in Kashmir with internal pressures that threaten the stability of his regime, as well as his life. Some Pakistan-watchers note that Musharraf is an unlikely figure to crack down on the Kashmiri militants; he came to power in a 1999 coup triggered largely by the decision of Pakistan’s then-president, Nawaz Sharif, to yield to U.S. pressure after a major Kashmir crisis and rein in the militants. After ousting Sharif, Musharraf’s Pakistan continued to support these groups up through September 11 and the attack on the Indian parliament. Some key Pakistani constituencies, including Islamists and elements of the ISI, remain supportive of Islamist fighters in Kashmir and are livid with Musharraf for moving against them. Moreover, many Pakistanis see a distinction between the international terrorism of the al-Qaeda network and militancy in Kashmir, which they consider a domestic issue and a legitimate fight for freedom.

I’m not quite satisfied with this explanation though, and it feels a bit out of date. I feel like my earlier questions still hold. How much does the ISI support these groups now? What’s the political calculus for Musharraf here? What would it take for policy to change?


India’s army corps commander in the Kashmir Valley says Pakistan has failed to honour its commitment to stop militants crossing the Line of Control. Lt Gen SS Dhillon told the BBC there had been more attempts to cross from Pakistan- to Indian-controlled Kashmir in July than in the past three years.

He said Pakistan had gone back on its assurance that its territory would not be used for militant activities against India. “Infiltration cannot happen without the knowledge of Pakistani troops,” Gen Dhillon said.

Gen Dhillon acknowledged the Pakistani army no longer provided cover to infiltrators by firing across the Line of Control. But he said the infiltration took place close to Pakistani posts. Pakistan has consistently denied providing any material support to insurgents opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir. [BBC]

18 thoughts on “Why does Pakistan support Jaish and Lakshar? [updated]

  1. Because them hates us, silly :-).

    Seriously speaking, the psychosis of Pakistani ruling classes can be easily understood once you analyze how their entire existence is predicated on their being delusions of being superior to and/or different from India. Also known as putting lipstick on the pig, this is the same rationale that drove communist countries to go to any lengths and do all it took to keep convincing themselves that they were ideologically superior to the Free World.

    Substitute communism for two-nation theory and Pakistan for the former eastern block to see literally the same paradigm at work. Pakistan has not confronted the ugly truth that two-nation theory is, in fact, morally and intellectually bankrupt and that just like the Free World, India has indeed managed to create a far superior society based on a much better ideology of tolerance, democracy and inclusion. Today, the whole delusional premise of Islamic rule leading Pakistan to emerge as a model muslim nation to lead the ummah to glory and unfurl the green flag of Islam on the Red Fort in the process is ajust an amusing footnote to the history of the subcontinent, but unfortunately it is still very much the dream that many Pakistanis continue to dream, and make their own lives miserable. Jihad in Kashmir, seen in this context, will continue to be supported forever by Pakistan and the bet we can hope for are short-term tactical retreats like the one at present when it comes time to reap the fruits of all the hatred they’ve sown.

    Therefore, in order to keep proving their raison d’etre for Pakistan’s existence, they must continue to do all it takes to manufacture reality in their world image. One of the enduring fallacies in Pakistani power circles is that India is a weak country subject to many centrifugal forces and it’s only a matter of time before it falls apart like a domino, starting with Kashmir. Since the reality is the exact opposite – it is Paksitan that is falling apart because of baing based on the idiotic notion that religion will create a pan-national identity while India continues to become stronger keeping its civilizational heritage intact – they must indulge in activities that they hope will disintegrate India. Hence the continuing support for JeM and LeT.

  2. Pakistan’s Role in the Kashmir Insurgency – Op-ed by Rand’s Peter Chalk http://www.rand.org/hot/op-eds/090101JIR.html

    Inside Jihad – How Pakistan sponsors terrorists in India http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/2001/0205/kashmir_sb1.html

    Seymour Hersh Interview where he describes the mollycoddling of U.S. Defense Department with the ISI/Pak military. They let go of top Al-Queida leaders even after being surrounded by Delta special forces. http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_hersh.html

    Bonus article! Nuclear Enabler – Pakistan today is the most dangerous place on Earth by Jim Hoagland http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8422-2002Oct24.html

    Hope these links help in establising the unambigous support of the Pak. establishment in supporting terror not only in India but worldwide.

  3. Gujjubhai, your arguments are fallacious at best, and woefully ignorant at worst. Pandering to ideology, regardless of whether it’s Pakistani or Indian, remains pandering, and your rather callow dismissal of the issue at hand has nothing to do with the actual reasons behind what happens. In all fairness though, your assumptions of what Pakistan’s “power circles” think are pretty amusing. I had no idea you were so well-connected! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And Laks, articles post-2002 may be useful. Three years is a long time.

    Ennis, to respond to your questioning however, the simple truth is that it’s not a large enough issue for the Pakistani government to care about. Any government in Pakistan is historically required to take note of the ISI and avoid pissing it off, but for the most part, Mush is so busy trying to keep military forces involved in US-shared/sponsored “anti-terrorist” organisations, that it’s not worth his while to crack down on anyone else unless a concrete link can be proven. While it’s difficult to document conversations and provide references for them, I’d have to point out that Musharraf’s political calculus is simple: as far as he’s concerned, allowing non-governmental sponsorship such groups is acceptable as long as they don’t interfere with his primary political agenda. The problem is, he’s not quite sure of that agenda himself.

    Despite what many conspiracy theorists would like to believe, most (i.e. almost all) Pakistanis couldn’t really give a crap about the (dis)integration of India, or about terrorist activities in India itself, not because they’re particularly callous, but because they don’t have a worldview that allows for speculation on things outside their own lives. It’s more a sense of apathy than anything else, sadly enough. And quite frankly, anything that keeps the ummah and its extremist members satisfied and out of Musharraf’s hair is good in government books. After all, why should they complicate their lives by getting involved in a potential no-reward-for-this scenario? Their logic is understandable, if not particularly likeable.

    I’m sure that this would have made more sense if I’d slept in the last few days, but you’ll indulge me ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Gujjubhai, your arguments are fallacious at best

    Well, prove it. Show me any evidence/rationale/alternate theories.

    Pandering to ideology, regardless of whether it’s Pakistani or Indian, remains pandering, and your rather callow dismissal of the issue at hand has nothing to do with the actual reasons behind what happens.

    Lest thee fret that I am just another Islamophobic Gujju Hindu member of Mr Modi’s neanderthal army, let me point you to this analysis backed by solid research quoting Pakistani sources. Educate thyself, brother:


    Evidence in favour of my arguments is the long history of Pakistani leaders, their own words and actions. Assuming that you know what you are talking about, I am not going to waste time in quoting Ayub, Bhutto, Zia, Hamid Gul and so on in support of my rationale.

    most (i.e. almost all) Pakistanis couldn’t really give a crap about the (dis)integration of India

    1.Not true. How do these groups operate out in the open otherwise? How would they be successful in running widespread fund-raising and jihadist recruitment campaigns? Why do people keep lining up to wage jihad in Kashmir? Might that have something to do with learning about how vile the kafir Hindus are in their 5th grade history classes?

    The rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan in since Zia’s Islamification days and support for terrorism in Punjab has, if anything, increased popular support for these groups. LeT’s founder was, in fact, an engineering professor in Lahore. How do such presumably middle-class, mainstream people become part of a terrorist movement without ideological brainwashing?

    2.Even if i were to suspend my belief and agree with you, most Paksitani rulers anyway don’t give a crap about what most Pakistanis think. In order for them to do so, you’d need this little thing called democracy which Paksitan seems to be a slight challenge. Sans democracy, it is views of the delusional elite wielding disproportionate power that shape Pak’s policy.

    Exhibit A : Hamid Gul, the man who ran the Kashmir and Punjab terrorism enterprise for many many years. Clearly, the guys is a certified lunatic, but that’s exactly my point : such lunatics, driven by fundi Islamic philosophy and rabid anti-India and anti-Hindu hatred are the ones pulling the levers of power in Paksitan. This is exactly like the soviet system where the communist apparitchick, collectively brainwashed into Marxism and Leninism pursued lunatic policies in their countries.

    So, am I pandering to Indian ideology or are you refusing to see the truth?

  5. I don’t think it’s your ignorance — no one really knows the full answer to the question of the government of Pakistan’s exact involvement with these groups. Everyone just speculates and speculates.

    For me the simplest solution is, the Government of Pakistan is not supporting these organizations. Perhaps it’s the ISI, which Musharraf either can’t or won’t control (i.e., your third option).

    On the other hand, Bush never made Musharraf pay a political price for A.Q. Khan and the leaked nuclear weapons materials. Perhaps something similar is afoot at the current moment — Musharraf is playing everyone, including the Americans.

    This is a more complex scenario, because it assumes everyone is intelligent and calculating gains and losses.

    (I prefer the simpler solution; I get skeptical whenever intelligence is presumed…)

    1. Musharraf, and the Pakistani military establishment want Kashmir. They cannot snatch Kashmir by conventional military means. Proxy war is therefore an essential component of its Kashmir policy.

    2. Musharraf, and the Pakistani military establishment do not like living next to a ‘strong’ India. Perhaps they feel it diminishes their own stature. Supporting jihadis in Kashmir not only keeps the Indian army engaged but also helps Pakistan keep India down at polite international circles. Additional note: Pakistan supports terrorists in Punjab, Assam and the Dawood Ibrahim crowd operating in Mumbai.

    3. Lashkar and Jaish are just public manifestations of a militant apparatus loosely linked to seminaries and religious political formations. These come in handy to settle Pakistan’s domestic problems — cutting the Gilgit Shias down to size, for example.

    4. Most importantly the Lashkar/Jaish-ISI-Taleban-Al Qaeda continuum was responsible for 9/11. The last thing Musharraf would like is for this link to come out into the open.

    It is not that Musharraf cannot clamp down on Jaish and Lashkar. But he won’t do so in the same way as he won’t cut off his right hand (Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is the left).

  6. Council on Foreign Relations :

    “Some Pakistan-watchers note that Musharraf is an unlikely figure to crack down on the Kashmiri militants; he came to power in a 1999 coup triggered largely by the decision of Pakistanร‚โ€™s then-president, Nawaz Sharif, to yield to U.S. pressure after a major Kashmir crisis and rein in the militants.”

    Major Kashmir crisis?? This is absolutely ridiculous …. 1999 Kargil illegal invasion of Kashmir was masterminded by Musharraf behind the back of Nawaz Sharif. It was not a crisis… it was a full fledged war. Thats why, I think it is wise to completely dismiss the Council on Foreign Relations “explanation”.

    — This was the reason then PM Atal Bihari VAjpayee refused to shake hands with Musharraf in a following SAARC meeting.

    — I dont think Nawaz Sharif would have gone thru’ with the Kargil mis-adventure. (there is lies the argument about more democracy for Pakistan)

    — There is talk that Bill Clinton’s fly by trip to Pakistan right after Musharraf’s coup, was a reason Nawaz Sharif is still alive.

    — Its noteworthy that past Pakistan rulers are either dead/killed or are taking refuge in other nations.

    — About reason, I think your reason no.3 (ISI’s jihadi nature and lack of Musharraf’s control on it) could be a major one. One sure reason is the Pak leadership’s interest in bleeding India thru’ proxy war.

    — Note that 1988 Punjab seperatist problem was completely solved by Indian actions (sometimes heavy handed) and 1989 Kashmir unrest starts.

    Pakistan’s leadership DOES NOT APPEAR INTERESTED in peace with India. If there was peace with India then next thing you know people will want democracy.

  7. Amardeep, What is the Govt of Pakistan? During the Zia years and earlier, it actively and openly built up the networks which form the present day jehadi organizations. This continued with Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Even Pakistani school textbooks have the jehadi philosophy in them, taught one way or the other. The present “President” of Pakistan masterminded the incursions into Kargil, and sent in combinations of terrorists from Jehadi groups and the regular Army in 1999. These groups raise money and recruit openly in Pakistan, with key elements of the Army taking part.

    Also, the ISI is not some separate entity, it is their country’s intelligence service, and very much part of the Government of Pakistan. It remains active in this business because the rest of the Govt of Pakistan lets it, else the only other conclusion is that it IS the Govt of Pakistan.

  8. Gujubhai, The two-nation theory recieved all the validation it ever needed when Narendra Modi got re-elected.

    But Sin is right, you very seriously overestimate the importance of India to Pakistanis. The integreation, disintegration or diffrentiation if India is pretty irrelevant. Even vaunted Kashmir is more a notion — even educated Pakistanis are unaware of the differences between Azad Kashmit and Gilgit-Baltistan, despite the fact that maps are shown on PTV weekly.

    My own theoryy — the army in Pakistan needs a copnflict with India to justify its own regime. Without Kashmir, what’s the justification in military officers getting nice houses in Defence? Supporting LeT and others costs Musharraf nothing. It ensures a low level conflict with India, appeases the more Jihadi Mullahs (fight India, not the USA) , and preserves a bargaining chip to use if Kashmir is ever negotiated.

    Yoy could answer your own question, ennis. If you were Musharraf, wouldn’t you support the LeT and Jaish?

  9. Ikram – armies survive all over Latin America and Africa without having international wars or long term rivalries with their neighbors.

    Pakistan also needs an army for reasons of domestic pacification.

    More broadly though, I don’t know if I would support these groups if I was in Musharraf’s shoes. Do my key supporters care any more about Kashmir than the average Pakistani? If not, then why support them when it makes Pakistan an international pariah? Sure, Musharraf has been able to stay on the good side of the USA but only at a high price. While the US doesn’t care about Pakistani terrorism against India in particular, it still damages Pakistan’s reputation overall. What are the benefits?

    Do they do my bidding, or are they just a loose cannon? In general, groups like that are only useful if they operate like proxies. If not, you don’t want to feed them.

    Once upon a time, these groups made sense as part of a strategy to keep India off balance, to say you might be able to defeat us in an all out war, but we can make your life more or less miserable. They were bargaining chips then. Are they still?

    Cracking down on them, once they exist, is a different matter. The costs involved can be high, so Musharraf might tolerate them rather than shut them down.

    But the logic isn’t clear to me, which is why I’m inviting people to think out loud and contribute sources that discuss the question of how much support these groups receive and why …

  10. Sin said:

    I’d have to point out that Musharraf’s political calculus is simple: as far as he’s concerned, allowing non-governmental sponsorship such groups is acceptable as long as they don’t interfere with his primary political agenda. The problem is, he’s not quite sure of that agenda himself.

    So right now it’s mainly non-governmental support? Or are they still receiving training, aid and logistical support from the ISI? Cites are useful, but so are comments from people in Pakistan who know what’s happening on the ground ๐Ÿ™‚ Please, continue to enlighten us SinSahib!

    Nitin said:

    Lashkar and Jaish are just public manifestations of a militant apparatus loosely linked to seminaries and religious political formations. These come in handy to settle Pakistan’s domestic problems — cutting the Gilgit Shias down to size, for example.

    So there is a strong domestic militant constituency that produces Lakshar, Jaish, and is now training a new Taliban, right? OK, but are the interests of this domestic constituency aligned with those of Musharraf? Do they do his dirty work directly, or do they just oppress inconvenient groups in Pakistan controlled Kashmir?

    Nitin also said:

    It is not that Musharraf cannot clamp down on Jaish and Lashkar. But he won’t do so in the same way as he won’t cut off his right hand (Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is the left).

    Again, this raises the question of control. Are they receiving direct assistance from the government? If not, are their aims the same? How unpredictable are they? Pakistan is bearing some international cost for this; are Jaish and Lakshar anything more than bargaining chips to be tolerated now and traded in later?

    I apologize if my questions are naive to those of you who have thought about this more. This is how I learn, by openly constructing and exploring an argument. And while most of my posts here try to be pithy and snarky, since this is (in part) my blog, I figured I would abuse my privilege and use it for my own enlightenment rather than the amusement or edification of our readers …

  11. Ennis:

    As a 1990 ISI report on the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations concluded: “It was important to maintain the impression of widespread anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistani society, which could be assured by periodic demonstrations by Islamists. This would create sympathy for Pakistani military and intelligence officials among their US counterparts.” Flash forward to 2005: Gen Musharraf’s regime bans the protest rallies of journalists, feminists and members of the Pakistan People’s Party, headed by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Meanwhile, Islamists manage to hold anti-American “million man marches” throughout the country. How little times have changed.

    WSJ review of Hussain Haqqani’s book Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

    Ex-Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad has invited President Pervez Musharraf to a celebration of his son’s controversial wedding to a fugitive’s daughter. Junaid Miandad married Mahrukh Ibrahim, daughter of Dawood Ibraham, a man the US suspects of al-Qaeda links, at a lavish ceremony in Dubai on 23 July. Dawood Ibrahim is also wanted by India over a series of bombs that killed 300 people in Mumbai in 1993.

    BBC link

    The Sikhs realised how completely terrorism was in conflict with the tenets of their faith and that is how the Khalistani movement was defeated. The Pakistan-backed movement in the name of their religion would be finally eliminated only when the Muslims openly and forcefully reject this perversion of Islam For four years now, I have argued repeatedly that the footprint of every major act of international terrorism passes inexorably through Pakistan, and I had an extended list compiled of hundreds of incidents that confirm this thesis, which was widely circulated. Many Pakistani commentators and sympathisers attacked this evidence as ‘Indian propaganda’. But in his address to the nation on July 21, 2005, spurred by the second series of terrorist attacks in London in two weeks, Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, finally conceded, “Wherever these extremist or terrorist incidents occur in the world, a direct or indirect connection is established with this country (Pakistan).”

    KPS Gill on Outlook India

    Musharraf (aka the Mullah-Military complex) gives a damn about international opinion. When pushed, he pulls yet another Al-Queda No. 3 (mostly low lives!) out of his deep pocket, while U.S. military aid (F-16s, naval destroyers, etc. to capture Al-Queda leaders!) has been dramatically increased post-9/11. I think Bush made a deal with him NOT to attack U.S. in exchange for these sops. Even after 7/7 attacks, he blamed the UK for it’s “home-grown” Islamist problem. Watch out for more aid pouring in from UK to “reform” Pakistan’s madrassah system. Don’t expect him to crack down on Kashmiri terrorist group.

  12. Gujubhai, The two-nation theory recieved all the validation it ever needed when Narendra Modi got re-elected.

    Hahaha…I didn’t realize you could resurrect its ghost from the bottom of the Bay of Bengal :-).

    In any case, justification for TNT using Modi’s re-election is a classic Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy (http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/posthoc.htm).

    Even if I were to let that one slip, TNT would still be validated only if

    1.Gujju muslims were lining up to immigrate to Pakistan or Bangladesh OR 2.Muslims from other parts of India were suicide-bombing or indulging in other terririst acts against Gujju Hindus OR 3.Indian society at large had condoned or supported the acts of Modi government OR 4.Indian government had unleashed a muslim genocide like Yahya did in East Bengal OR 5.The BJP government had fought an election campaign on the basis of upholding Modi’s actions as heroic AND won the Indian general election.

    Callous as it may sound, less than thousand people dying in communal riots with almost one third of them being Hindus, inspite of the grave provocation of a dastardly attack by Muslims on Hindu pilgrims is just a blip on the subcontinent’s bloody history. Let’s just imagine for a second what would’ve happened if the tables were turned and a bunch of Hindu radicals in Pak or Bangladesh had burnt a train carrying Muslim hajis returning from Mecca or something. The resulting genocide would’ve eliminated whatever few traces of Hindu civilization that are left in those benighted lands.

    Try again, buddy…you’ll need a lot more illogical contortions to justify TNT. Anyway, this is almost off-topic so I am not going to debate this any more. If you believe in TNT, more power to you. Just one request : please teach TNT to all the South Asia-wallahs, especially Indians, around you and educate them how justified the existence of Pak on the basis of the morally superior theory of TNT is and how Paks and Bangladeshis hailing from model secular democracies can have no truck with the vile infidels hailing the from terribly communal country of India – unless, of course, they subscribe to the TNT themselves.

  13. Gujubhai, The two-nation theory recieved all the validation it ever needed when Narendra Modi got re-elected.

    You mean after it got eviscerated when the Pakistani army commited the biggest anti-Muslim genocide of the twentieth centruy against its own Muslim Bengali brothers?

    Say what you like about India my friend – the RSS can only dream of slaughtering as many Muslims as the Two Nation Theory Republic of Pakistan has – dont forget that genocide – ever – and what it means about the TNT

  14. Re: Ikram’s comment (#11), specifically the first sentence about the two-nation theory being vindicated by Modi’s re-election, I thought the two pieces below (written in 2003) were pertinent to the discussion.

    Umair Ahmed Muhajir

    1) I have been asked several times over the last year– by Pakistani acquaintances and relatives, by supporters of the BJP– what I thought about “the status of India as a secular democracy in light of what happened in Gujarat.” Now, I’ve thought a lot about this, since the 1992 Babri masjid demolition, the 1993 pogroms, and in a more focused way since the Gujarat pogroms, and I have to say at the outset that this is a very difficult question. Part of the difficulty lies in the extreme
    partisanship that underlies so much of the debate over this issue over the past year– indeed I think it no exaggeration to say that most of what has been said on Godhra and the subsequent pogrom is very rarely considered on its merits, but is instead dismissed as “anti-Hindu” by many, “fascist” by others, and “an attempt to justify/excuse/overlook violence” by yet more. I must confess that I find it somewhat shocking that so many should have asked the question “is secularism dead?” in the wake of Gujarat. Consider: two thousand people have been massacred, a hundred and fifty thousand have been rendered homeless (some have put the figure even higher), and some people seem to mourn the “death” of “secularism” far more than the indisputable deaths of such large numbers of people. This is characteristic of the vacuousness, and even callousness, at the heart of so much debate in India– many Indians from the “educated classes” have always concerned themselves far more

    with abstractions (like “secularism,” and in recent years, “Hindutva”) than with flesh-and-blood people [Case in point: contrast the outrage evoked by mistreatment of Muslims, because it implicates “secularism,” with the relative indifference to caste- based atrocities, because that “merely” implicates “caste-ism,”
    understood simply as a form of “backwardness” or prejudice by many]. The first question to ask is what one means by the term “secularism.” There are several possible answers to this question. Let’s start with something like a dictionary definition: as applied to politics, government, and statecraft, secularism would mean the absolute separation of religion from these aspects of life. In this sense secularism is certainly dead in India, but this begs the question as to whether it was ever “living” in any meaningful sense of the word. It can hardly be disputed that since 1947 India has never been a secular state in this sense. A more interesting
    question is whether ANY state would pass the test were the bar set so high. For instance, Britain is not even formally a secular state, given that it has an official religion, the head of state also heads the religion, etc.. In the United States, which is formally secular, Christian imagery, symbolism, and rationale pervade political discourse (far more in some parts of the country than in others, obviously)– it’s even debatable whether any Presidential candidate could win these days without professing his religiosity, and it’s highly unlikely that a hard-core atheist would win even at the state- level in the USA (which serves as an interesting contrast to India, where at least one state– Tamil Nadu– has several times elected militantly anti-religious political figures since 1967). Having
    said that, certainly Britain “feels” like a secular country, as does the USA for the most part. But this is not because of any British legal or conscious political commitment to secularism, but simply reflects the fact that organized Christianity has withered away in Britain (and many other Western countries); i.e. Britain, I would argue, “feels” secular more because the majority of the “Christian” population doesn’t care much for religion one way or

    another (compared to the USA, church attendance, to use one barometer, is extremely low. Given that Indians (at least in my
    experience, though I am aware that I am generalizing here) tend on average to be more attached to their religions than Britons are, it is to be expected that religion will play a greater role in public life in India than in Britain (when Brits were more attached to the Church of England, it was not particularly pleasant to be either a Jew or even a Catholic in that country, or for instance a Jew or a Protestant in France). In short, Britain is a “secular” country mainly for HISTORICAL reasons (which histories were of course not inevitable), and India, taking my “hard” definition of secularism as the benchmark, never has been. In the US, the founding fathers made a willed decision in favor of secularism, that is to say a POLITICAL decision. The same sort of political decision was made by at least two of India’s most prominent “founders,” Nehru and Ambedkar. But Nehruvian secularism (in the sense of how Nehru saw the issue, not the term-of-abuse the Congress has transformed it into) and even moreso Ambedkarite secularism was always (well, at least for the foreseeable future) going to be a minority viewpoint in India.

    The above definition of secularism does not interest me all that much–more accurately, since I would certainly like my government to not be mixed up in religious matters, I should say that DEBATE on this issue does not really interest me very much, as it seems pretty much like an open and shut case: a country either professes this sort of secularism, or it does not; if it does profess this sort of secularism, various historical/social/political reasons will determine the “secular” nature of its society (think Britain: formally not secular, but “actually” far more secular than many theoretically secular countries like India), and of its polity. Gujarat or no Gujarat, this sort of secularism has not existed in a meaningful sense in India since the founding itself. There is another sense in which people use the term “secularism,” namely that secularism does not mean the absence of religion from politics and government, but that on the whole no one ought to be disadvantaged on account of religion. By whatever label we wish to call the latter, it seems to me a very worthy idea. Now where does this idea of secularism stand after Gujarat? Certainly in the violence-affected parts of Gujarat it would be a cruel joke to tell a Muslim that he/she has not been disadvantaged in the most extreme way because of his/her religion– that is simply not true, and all this talk of post-Godhra “reaction,” and all the various obfuscations
    cannot hide that fact. Gujarat is not a secular state. Period. As was true of the Sikhs in 1984, or Bombay in 1993, minorities are grievously disadvantaged, because the state itself turns against them in times of crisis, and the very signs of citizenship– voter registration lists being a prominent example–are used to hunt them down, often with active police and politician participation. If this were all that could be said about the position of minorities in India, then even the question of secularism could not arise. But Gujarat is not contemporary India’s only communal reality. This is not to underplay Gujarat– it is certainly A reality of Indian life, but it is not the ONLY reality. Obviously, the media is structured to report the exceptional, the sensational, and has little incentive to report the innumerable ordinary instances of peaceful co- existence. It is important to assert that Gujarat is the heinous exception to the rule, but also to remember that it is in the heinous exception that disadvantage on the basis of religious affiliation manifests itself in the most extreme way possible. Yet there are also other realities: when I was growing up no state seemed to me more notable for communal violence than U.P.; when my parents and grand-parents were growing up perhaps no city was more famous for communal violence than Calcutta– and yet today both places compare very favorably to Gujarat. There is nothing in Gujarati, Bengali, or U.P. culture that makes communal violence more or less likely– what is different, and what made a difference, in U.P., Bihar, and West Bengal was a certain sort of politics, a politics that actively has tried to lessen the extreme disadvantages of massacre and mayhem based on religious affiliation, and (in U.P.) of systemic disadvantage on the basis of caste to some extent (though not yet on the basis of religion). Take the Left Front in West Bengal– one can criticize that government on a number of fronts (and that would be the subject of some other musing of mine), but I think it is beyond dispute that they have made the fostering of communal, relatively peaceful, co-existence one of their aims. What name shall we give this politics, or the politics of the Samajwadi Janata Party, or Laloo’s RJD, or the BSP, or of the Telegu Desam, or the current Congress government in Delhi, etc.? One such name, I believe, is “secular.” If Gujarat is India’s reality, these other examples are equally “real.” If Gujarat

    is cited for the death of secularism, then these other places should be cited for the reverse, as places where a “secular” politics is struggling along (not always coherently, not even in a principled manner, but impossible to ignore nonetheless, trying to assert itself. So what does this say about India’s status as a secular country? My answer is another question: what sort of secularism is this, that dies in Gujarat, but seems alive and kicking in Calcutta? Is it fair to judge Calcutta on the basis of Gujarat? No, it is not. But one has to realize that many of those who say India’s claim to secular status is dead after Gujarat are not simply stating a fact, but they too have a political aim. The “two- nation theorists” are not really interested in answering the question “Is India secular or not?” at an

    empirical level; rather, they already have a set view of what India “is,”–namely, not secular– and given that view it is not surprising that they have seized upon Gujarat, not as a pogrom, not as a manifestation of fascist violence, not even as a tragedy: they have instead seized upon it as revealing the very ESSENCE of India. This is as true of Praveen Togadia–who insists that Gujarat represents a watershed awakening for “Hindu Samaj”– as it is for Musharraf, who insists that Gujarat “shows” that Indian democracy is

    simply a “bluff.” For both, then, Gujarat makes everything clear. Quite frankly, I have little patience with attempts to read an event as affording special insight into the essence of any country,
    culture, or religion, particularly of one as fantastically complex and diverse as India. To read Gujarat as revealing the essence of India says more about one’s own ideological position than it does about India. India does not need such champion exegetes to give the Gujarat pogrom meaning–such people are interested only in judgments, not in contributing to anyone’s understanding, because they have already made up their minds. To repeat, if Gujarat shows all of these things, what does Calcutta show? For those of us who feel that Indians have not yet made up their minds, who feel that the country’s future every which way is still up for grabs, Gujarat does not “settle” the issue of secularism, but shows that the way ahead is unknown, difficult, but not hopeless; those who throw up their hands and say “it’s all over after Gujarat” (unless one is talking about the victims: in their situation despair is perhaps the only natural reaction) never had much invested in secularism in the first place. The above should not be misunderstood as a call for complacency– one reason we are at this pass as a country is because, faced with periodic outbursts of violence, the Congress-style secularists often respond with some platitude, such as “the people are basically secular.” This is drivel. “The people” are “basically” neither secular nor intolerant– i.e. “the people” can be tolerant, but they can also be frighteningly intolerant. It all depends on what sort of politics is gaining ground, what politics is being created– and “the people” are not just passive recipients of politics, but “make” politics every day in their own lives. The way to oppose bigotry and fascism is not to resort to abstractions, but to articulate a vision of politics that can effectively counter fascism. If fascist politics spreads everywhere, then no doubt Gujarat can happen in Calcutta, in U.P., in short everywhere; but if we react to Gujarat as if such politics already had taken over everywhere in
    India, and that the succes of such politics is forever assured in Gujarat, then the latter will soon become a reality.

    There is a third way in which one can use the term “secularism” in an Indian context. This approach recognizes that there is no hard separation between religion and politics in India, and that minorities are often grievously disadvantaged on the basis of religion (as in Gujarat, by the state itself)– the crucial thing is that secularism on this view is not a fact but an aspiration. We might not be very secular, but we are trying to be moreso, would be its mantra. This is how I understand the Indian constitution’s commitment to secularism: the Framers knew that in several respects secularism only existed on paper– but the paper expressed an ideal, and by virtue of being enshrined as an official ideal, India became more of a secular country than it otherwise would have been. But ideals must be nurtured– all too often, in recent years “secularism” is a word Indian politicians like to trot out only

    in international settings, to taunt Pakistan and to show the West how much more enlightened and progressive India is compared to its neighbor. At home, the aspirational force of this ideal has certainly dimmed, and a stridency is in the air: “accomodation”
    and “compromise” have become dirty words where communal relations are concerned (unless it’s the Sangh Parivar insisting Muslims do all the compromising), but there are plenty of people in India (and Gujarat has only highlighted this)for whom secularism (however one defines it) is still a worthy ideal. Will this be enough? I don’t know. But as long as the aspiration exists in some significant way in society, secularism (as defined in this third way) is not dead yet. The day no-one cares about secularism, the day secularism only
    exists as a stick to beat Pakistan with in international fora, that day secularism will truly be dead. But as long as that day is not here in full force, let us not hasten its coming by writing secularism’s obituary.

    2) With all due respect to those who say that Gujarat vindicates the two-nation theory, according to me these people have never begun to understand the two-nation theory, except perhaps in a superficial way. Probing deeper, and looking past the obvious Hindu-Muslim distinction (in the context of the two-nation theory), what was Gujarat (in the interests of brevity I will use “Gujarat” for the events in that state of the last year, though I fully recognize that is an abstraction, and doubtless unfair; I assume I’m among friends here) “about”? I get the sense that to many Pakistanis–who were doubtless appalled at the violence and sympathized with its predominantly Muslim victims– I think Gujarat was re-assuring, because the pogrom re-affirmed a world-view that Jinnah was “right” after all (no doubt this is only unconsciously true for many, but I suspect this to be the case). However, my impression is that many Indian Muslims were incredibly affected, combining anxiety (“it could be us tomorrow”) with defensiveness (“hey Gujarat is not Hyderabad”)– but that not many of them (at least that I know of) saw this as vindication of the two-nation theory, but of how dangerous a BJP majority unfettered by the NDA could be. In other words, they located Gujarat in the political realm, seeing it as the manifestation of a very dangerous and disturbing type of politics, in contrast to the Pakistanis (whether acquaintances, relatives, or journalists, etc.) I have come across it,who saw it as a reflection of the essential relation– a conflictual one– between two nations, one Hindu and one Muslim. I am in complete accord with the view I have characterized above as characteristic of Indian Muslims (as opposed to Pakistanis, recognizing here that I am speaking of two abstractions). To put it bluntly: Gujarat does not vindicate the two-nation theory, because Gujarat is itself precisely a manifestation of the same sort of thinking as the two-nation theory is. Think of some examples: Modi’s relentless, albeit implicit, equation during the election campaign of Muslims with “Mian Musharraf”; Togadia’s “Let them take blood tests”; Savarkar’s “I agree with Mr. Jinnah– there are two nations in Hindustan”; the

    RSS’ support for the trifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir along religious lines; Thackeray’s telling Time magazine that the “solution” to the Muslim “problem” was to “kick them out.” The attitudes displayed by Savarkar (whose portrait now adorns Parliament), Modi, Thackeray, and Togadia is, philosophically speaking,precisely the attitude of those who said Pakistan was necessary–except that it comes from the opposite direction. Gujarat shows the violence lurking at the heart of the two-nation theory; Gujarat, in essence, shows the violence inherent in the foundational idea of Pakistan. Pakistanis
    cannot look at Gujarat and say “this is why we wanted our own country,” because it is only when we look at Hindus and Muslims as representative of distinct nations that Gujarat happens. What I’m trying to say is that the VHP/Bajrang Dal/RSS are the mirror image of the idea of Pakistan. Gujarat, then, is yet another reason to reject the Two-Nation theory (though of course, we had not been lacking for reasons to reject it prior to Gujarat). [Given what I’ve written above, it is also why I believe that the gentlemen whose words were quoted above are, in my view, and contrary to what Mr. Venkaiah Naidu had to say about organizations like the VHP, among the biggest
    traitors in India]. The Togadia dream– of an India for the Hindus, by the Hindus, ruled by Hindus, heck even called “Hindu-stan” as he said recently(i.e. in the religious, as opposed to the traditional geographical, sense) as opposed to “Bharat” or “India”– what does this sound like? Does it not sound more like Pakistan than anything else? Some of my interlocutors had already made up their
    minds on the issue. Some of them even gloat that Pakistan, with all its problems, does not have the sort of large-scale mob violence as happened in Gujarat. I never tire of pointing out to them that there are no anti-minority pogroms in Pakistan because Pakistan is already the kind of state that the VHP wants to make Gujarat, and then the rest of India. If the primacy– not only practical but also symbolic and intellectual–of Hindus AS Hindus above all else was conceded in India, Togadia too would not be so hysterical; but it is precisely because there is a democratic–even if violent– debate on this issue in India, it is precisely because not only the desirability of a Hindu rashtra, but even of what Hindutva means, and of what secularism means, are hotly contested,that the fascists in India try and “settle” the issue by creating “facts on the ground”– these pogroms serve a purpose for them, assisting them in their attempts to constitute a “Hindu nation.” If none of these things were in dispute– as they are not in Pakistan– then where would be the need for a pogrom? In other words, as I keep reminding my Pakistani interlocutors, there is no need for a pogrom in Pakistan, because minorities already “know their place”– i.e. out of sight and out of

    mind. What enrages the fascists in India is that we (i.e. people “like” me) refuse to “know our place” in India, which is one of the reasons they keep harping on the condition of
    minorities in Bangladesh, etc. Their anger, their rage, is a sign of some good: a sign that they have not won the war– as opposed to some battles yet. More atrocious than their anger would be the sort of complacency one sees among Pakistani politicians on this issue– complacency because, in Pakistan, the Modis and Jinnahs (incongruous though that juxtaposition is in many ways, it is apt in the context of this discussion) of the world have already won.

    Sincerely, Umair Ahmed Muhajir

  15. This saturday on C-span BookTV they had Hussain Haqanni’s Book event. Hussain Haqani is a Pakistani diplomat who has written a book about Pakistan titled “Pakistan : Between Mosque and Military”

    It was an interesting speech by Hussain Haqani promoting his book. He clearly mentioned : Pakistan’s leadership’s obsession with settling scores with India keeps them employing Jihadis in Kashmir. It was quite blunt actually.