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Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

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Dealing with Pakistan – Are you a Hawk or a Dove?


Terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase after PM Modi’s Birthday Diplomacy has once again brought to spotlight challenges of dealing with Pakistan. Successive governments have tried to engage pakistan. PM vajpayee’s Bus Yatra to Lahore, Manmohan-Musharraf talks, PM Modi’s shawl diplomacy at the swearing in ceremony are some of the examples. Successive govt have also failed in their attempts to normalise relations with Pakistan. Question remains as to, what should be the best way to deal with Pakistan?

In this article, we try to answer some of the pertinent questions related to India’s Pakistan policy through the perspective of dove and hawk.

Some strategic commentators like to point out that there is a pattern to attack. Every attempt by India to improve relations with Pakistan has evoked this kind of response.

  1. Lahore bus trip of Vajpayee was followed by Kargil attack.
  2. Parliament was attacked after failed Agra summit.
  3. When indian forces were deployed at border in response, attack at Kaluchak.
  4. After Musharraf manmohan talk ran into rough weather, Mumbai serial train bombing and 26/11.
  5. Ufa meeting was followed by Gurdaspur attack.

#1. Who are the elements within Pakistan who do not want normal relations between two countries?

Dove- Apart from jihadists, there are elements within the army who do not want any sort of movement towards any sort of rapprochement. But attacks do not necessarily imply that they were sanctioned by the top brass of Pak military.

Hawk- No evidence of split in Pakistani army. There may be differences of opinion but army remains a professional force controlled by army chief. Attackers must at least have the tacit approval of generals. Pakistani generals including Musharraf have been on record saying they use terrorists as instrument of state policy. This is part of their security doctrine.

#2. Are these attacks timed to prevent normalisation of relations?

Dove- Yes, certainly. Attackers do not want normal people to people relations. Pattern of their attacks bear testimony to this. They want to derail bilateral talks,

Hawk- They attack India to bring us to accept their agenda i.e. talk on Kashmir, Baluchistan etc.   They believe,unless there’s terrorism, India won’t discuss the agenda Pakistan wants.

#3. What about talks? Should talks be cancelled?

Dove- There are no other options available and calling off the talk would be playing into the hands of terrorists. They should not be allowed to derail the peace process.

Hawk- Talks can not be an end in themselves. What is more important is what do we talk about? Pakistani generals have responded to all the concession given by PM in this manner. Now talk has to be on terror and terror only.

We also need to keep in mind, any talk with political establishment will not be successful until Pakistanis themselves are able to bring military on board

#4. If not talk, what are the other options?

Dove- Army is not a monolith,not everyone want bad relations with India. we should cultivate relations with the moderate elements within Pakistani establishment and civil society, create vested interests in favour of normal ties. War does not serve any purpose. There’s no alternative to talks.

Hawk- Only answer we have been able to devise to Pak provocation is to call off the talks. 

Answer to low intensity warfare is low intensity warfare and it’s not bomb for bomb but emasculation of state structures. India should be prepared to hit pakistan where it hurts at the time and place of its choosing. There are so many internal fissures inside pakistan. We can exploit them.

#5. But wouldn’t unstable Pakistan be even more of a problem for India?

Dove- Destabilizing Pak doesn’t serve India’s interests. Creation of Bangladesh hasn’t necessarily helped our security. Instability there will lead to chaos which would spill over and would be disastrous for our security and other interests.

Hawk-  Our problem is our fear that instability in Pakistan will harm us irreparably and our premise that stability of Pak is in our interest and the fond hope that political class and civil society will one day come up. If Baluchistan, frontiers were not there, what would remain is Punjab and it would be a  weakened Punjab and its Punjab that’s creating problems.

Let’s not discuss whether a strong Pak is good for India, or weak Pak is good for India, of course no Pak is best for India.

#6. But why does Pakistan do it? What does it tell about the nature of Pak state?

Dove- Defiance is essential to ensure normal disparity never fully operate. Military obviously control its pak policy and elements within military and Jihadist groups carry out such attacks to maintain control over Pak society.

Hawk- It’s not a state with an army but army with a state. They have gone on a completely different trajectory. It is virtually becoming a theocratic state. Also there is deep criminalization of Pakistani state. Madrasas, jihadist groups, sectarian groups, organized crimes they have all become interlinked.

#7. What should India do to prevent such attacks?

Dove- Strengthen our own security. Carry on with talks to build positive momentum in bilateral relationship. Strengthen the hands of civilian govt there.

Hawk- Strengthen our security. Complete the fencing. Drug smuggling is rampant which can’t happen unless there is connivance on both sides. If smugglers can sneak through, so can terrorists.

We also need to improve our  technical capabilities. They were using mobile phones and we were not even able to pinpoint exact locations.

We must also establish deterrence that mischief will be countered by robust action on the ground. Carrot and stick policy ie  carrot of talk and stick of robust punishment on the ground.

#8. Can we carry out Myanmar like hot pursuit or operation like Neptune spear?

Dove- It will only escalate tensions and won’t be in the interest of either side. There would be too much pressure from international community. There’s vast difference in the capabilities of India and USA..

Hawk- We need to get rid of monkey of being a soft state off our back. If we so decide, we can undertake Myanmar like operation. There is a role of violence in state craft especially when we are dealing with very very violent actors.

#9. What about the role of international community, external pressure?

Dove- We are responsible member of international community. We should try to put pressure on Pakistan to stoop its territory from being used as launching pad for terrorism. We should not do anything that sully our image.

Hawk- Pakistan don’t feel any pressure, why do we feel pressure of international community! Everyone knows Pak is epicenter of terrorism yet Pak cleverly plays its card of being a nuclear armed state and gets away with everything.

Finally, something both dove and hawk agree on –

Fact remains that Pakistan will have to come to conclusion that good relations with India are in their own interest. It’s a society in deep crisis. Frankenstein monster has come to bite its own master. There is an urgent need of a civil society movement to overhaul the whole power equation and social structure of Pak society.

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Profile photo of Arun Muradnar Arun Muradnar

    Amazing Man!
    Need of Smart dove and warmonger hawk..

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