Friday 30 July 2010

Why “hawks” carry the day in India (PO)

M D Nalapat

Although many within the subcontinent point to the simillarities, the reality is that by the dawn of the 21st century, at the least the Indian and Pakistani militaries have developed two very different cultures. Especially from the 1970s, the effort in Rawalpindi has been to look westwards, at the Arab countries, Turkey and Iran to bring together the elements of a Pakistan identity. India and its culture and history have been left behind, even while elements of it - such as Mohenjo Daro and Taxila - show that the land of Pakistan has hosted civilisations that were world leaders two millenia ago. Since the period of General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, there has been a steady congruence between the culture of Saudi Arabia and the ethos of the Pakistan army, even though in Pakistan as a whole Sufi remnants remain strong. Even these days,in the local cultures, there is an emphasis on Pirs and Makhdooms, concepts alien to Saudi Wahabbism.

Even had he been denied any assistance from Washington, General Zia would still have sought to help the Afghan mujahideen. Indeed, there is evidence that units of this Pashtun militia were formed in Pakistan soon after the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The plan of then US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezesinski to defeat Moscow by the giving of assistance to the mujahideen was based on advice given by GHQ Rawalpindi to contacts in the Pentagon in the beginning of 1980. Of course, Brezezinski may never admit to following any advice not given by his friends from Europe!.