We are an easily offended nation. Those perturbed by every criticism, real or fake, may be accused of having a fragile psyche. It need not be this way. I often adjure more cynical friends to consider our genuine and undeniable national strength, and strengths. No nuclear powered, emerging market of 200 million people should have buttons that are so easily pushed. Yet, we remain, pricelessly princessy.
Sometimes however, our dishonour meter (like our air defence systems in the early hours of May 2, 2011) gets mysteriously switched off. Like it doesn’t even exist.
The frequent citation of RAW as a driver of the discourse, a killer of Pakistani citizens, a controller of our streets, a manipulator of our minds, and a dominator of our national being is a most perplexing and confounding thing.
How can we endure the undulating waves of insult, to both our honour and our intelligence, that is the constant citation of RAW as the conspirator that is successfully tearing our social fabric apart, and deciding on what is or isn’t news? More astonishingly, how can the greatest patriots in the nation continue to repeat, ad nauseam, that RAW, like a can opener, can do whatever it wants here, unmolested?
First, let us establish some facts. India has a track record, of which it is incredibly proud, of using every dirty trick in the book, to weaken Pakistan. Moreover, in recent months, India has made a democratic choice that has produced a leader uncertain of what to do with Pakistan, except to flex its otherwise malnourished muscles on the working boundary with Pakistan. That same leader chose Ajit Doval, an aggressive anti-Pakistan hawk, with a shadowy black ops history, as its national security adviser.
India has officially protested with Beijing at the emergence and ambition of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), thereby officially confirming it is incapable of digesting even the hint of any good news for Pakistan. In short, no one should be arguing that India and its intelligence community are innocent babes in the woods being unfairly maligned. Indeed, no one serious would make that argument.
The argument to be made is much simpler, and much, much more nationalistic and patriotic. Its starting point is not to argue whether RAW is behind all the terror and trouble in Pakistan. Neither can we issue certificates of innocence to RAW, nor certificates of guilt. Arguing known unknowns is an unholy and unproductive endeavour. Let us take the accusations against RAW, given that they have been made by some of the highest fora in the country, at face value.
The argument then is simple: how has Pakistan allowed the Indian intelligence community to wreak such havoc across this land that was bequeathed to us by the Quaid?
Some quarters would respond to this not by answering the question, but by formulating a response to the havoc. Some, quite understandably, are demanding that Pakistan take this up in international fora. That certainly is the right response, if you are a dove who likes to cower in fear before the enemy.
Other quarters would respond to the havoc by demanding that Pakistan respond in kind, and creating havoc in India. As we know from recent experience, even the remote association of terror incidents in India linked to Pakistan produces extraordinarily high costs for Pakistan. Unlike our sorry lamentations, Indian accusations against Pakistan not only stick, they also produce a more global, and widely shared narrative that damages Pakistan’s standing in the world. So responding to India in kind may be an option. But it has to be said, it represents an option only for the incredibly stupid and suicidal.
The only viable option, if RAW is indeed behind all the violence and carnage in Pakistan, is to find its agents, shut them down and prevent them from succeeding. This would mean outsmarting the enemy. This obviously is a job for our intelligence and counter-intelligence people. Are they up to the task?
This goes back to the original question that we tried to avoid a couple of paragraphs ago. Let us repeat the question then: how has Pakistan allowed the Indian intelligence community to wreak such havoc across the land?
Maybe this is framed unfairly. Obviously, we did not ‘allow’ India to establish a network and begin to churn out industrial-strength terror in all four provinces. There was no NOC that we issued. However, clearly, if RAW is indeed behind the carnage, then somehow RAW has been successful at hurting Pakistan. And by simple logical deduction, this also means that Pakistan has been unsuccessful at preventing RAW from succeeding.
Now, either we must revisit the original assumption, about the truth about whether RAW really is behind all the terror and trouble, or we must seriously examine how we became vulnerable to enemy designs.
Is it good enough to simply trot out the ‘RAW did it’ line without asking either one of those questions? Is this the standard and quality of our national discourse now? Are we really now so collectively lacking in pride that we will accept the enemy’s attacks, with only lamentations as our response?
There are two streams of consciousness we must explore, with vigour and self-confidence.
First, assuming RAW was behind the mass murder of Ismailis in Karachi, was RAW also behind the mass murder of Hazaras in Quetta? Or Shia doctors in Karachi? Or unrest in Parachinar? Or in Gilgit Baltistan? Did RAW create Haq Nawaz Jhangvi? Or the TNFJ? Or ASWJ? If so, how long a tail does RAW have in Pakistan, and what all else does it wag?
Second, assuming yet again, that it was RAW that was behind the mass murder of Ismailis in Karachi, what role did RAW play in the weakening of Pakistan’s criminal justice system? Is RAW behind the corruption in our police services and thaanas? Are RAW officials in cahoots with district and sessions judges, delaying and denying justice to victims of criminal enterprises?
Does RAW have the capacity to create unemployment and unhappiness in southern Punjab, thereby producing large masses of young men vulnerable to being told that their salvation lies in hatred for landowners that belong to a different sect? Did RAW help engender large landholdings in southern Punjab that help perpetuate class and sect-based hatreds? Is RAW able to finance and sustain an illicit arms trade across the breadth and depth of the country? Has RAW successfully penetrated Customs, ANF, ASF, Immigration and other institutions responsible for the safety of our borders from illegal entrants with illicit designs on this nation? Has RAW been writing the hate-laced sermons that infect the gullible minds and sensibilities of our extremists?
Just how much can RAW be accused of, and for how long, before we take a long look in the mirror and decide that we like what we see enough to have some pride and dignity?
A proud and dignified response to the various conspiracies that are afoot against Pakistan would be to asphyxiate those conspiracies by denying them the oxygen upon which they feast in Pakistan. Unjust, unequal, divided societies that are breeding grounds for extremist views make for a petri dish of conspiracies. RAW may well be fomenting all that is messy and unpleasant in Pakistan, but where does the agency for what happens in Pakistan rest?
It rests here at home, in Pakistan. The ability to change our current stature then also rests here, at home, in Pakistan. Strong capable nations don’t complain about being abused by others. They simply change their circumstances, so that such abuse is no longer possible.