‘Doubting Thomases’: India’s ‘liberals’ remain believers

The Indian Army has more credibility than the Pakistani Army in the eyes of most Indians, but not this lot. So the voices of what the Defence Minister called ‘doubting Thomases’ have been heard across the land.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: October 16, 2016 10:20 am
india-pakistan, surgical strikes, PoK, pakistan occupied kashmir, CNN news 18, CNN News 18 interview, PoK police officer, Ghulam Akbar, interview forged, fake interview, india news, indian express Indian army soldiers take positions during their patrol near the Line of Control in Nowshera sector, about 90 kilometers from Jammu. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

As a consequence of India’s intellectual arena having been occupied since Nehruvian socialist times by a dictatorship of very illiberal leftists and liberals, English-speaking Indians have a self-loathing that is increasingly repugnant. This past week was a good one to see these self-loathing Indians in full fettle. This particular genre of Indian despises Narendra Modi, so they have been more than a little unnerved by the ‘surgical strikes’ in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, that the Indian Army conducted in retaliation for the murder of 19 soldiers. So a loud chorus has risen from ‘liberal quarters’ demanding ‘proof’ without anyone noticing that if we should be asking for proof, it ought to be from Pakistan’s military men. Proof that they have stopped using suicidal jihadists in their cowardly, undeclared war.

The Indian Army has more credibility than the Pakistani Army in the eyes of most Indians, but not this lot. So the voices of what the Defence Minister called ‘doubting Thomases’ have been heard across the land. Nothing happened at all, they say, and whatever happened has happened before so it’s wrong for the Prime Minister to try and take credit. In any case, the only solution is dialogue not a violent response on the border. None of them noticed that their voices sounded worryingly similar to the voices of military men from across the border. This is not surprising since many of these doubters have long been involved in a process that has come to be known on the subcontinent as ‘track two diplomacy.’

Having been on more than one of these cross-border junkets, let me describe what happens. Us liberals go to Lahore or Islamabad or wherever and our Pakistani hosts pay for us to stay in nice hotels and then introduce us to charming liberals and leftists whose hospitality so overwhelms us that we rarely speak of difficult things. We never meet the military men who control the Indian jihad. The civilian leaders we meet are usually full of friendship and love. I met Nawaz Sharif on one of these junkets and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but the only time I have met serving military officers is when I have gone to report on some election or coup. It is from meeting them many times that I have understood that, in their limited worldview, India will always be a hated enemy.

It is from conversations with these military men that I have learned that they believe that India will eventually break up and enable Pakistan to expand its territory and population by luring Indian Muslims to their side. So the real purpose of the jihadists, who the Pakistani army sends us, is to create communal tension by their acts of violence. Spokesmen for the Pakistani government like to say that once the ‘core issue’ of Kashmir is resolved, all tensions with India will end. This is rubbish and they know it. The only people who seem not to know it are the people I described in the first paragraph of this column.

This caboodle includes journalists, academics, bureaucrats, politicians, historians and even judges. They are bound together by the skein of their ‘secularism’ and their hatred of Modi. So they virtually constitute a fifth column of the Congress party without being its official spokesmen. When there is a Congress government in power, these worthies nearly always find (even in retirement) jobs that enable them to continue living in fine bungalows in Lutyens Delhi. Nothing inspires loyalty more than patronage of this kind, and because they hide behind the shield of secularism, they are able easily to disguise their self-loathing.

It is this self-loathing that Pakistan has manipulated very well in the many, many rounds of futile dialogue that began soon after the Islamic Republic was born. Have you noticed that most commentators in the Indian media refer to a ‘deep state’ within Pakistan as if it were constituted by people outside the government? Have you noticed how this disguises the harsh truth that the Pakistani military is the Pakistani government? Have you noticed how we keep talking on our side of the border about the need to strengthen Pakistan’s elected leaders, without ever acknowledging that, in Punjab, jihadist leaders like Hafiz Saeed would not exist without the support of Nawaz Sharif and his brother who is Punjab’s chief minister?

If we want peace with the Islamic Republic next door, India will need to continue proving that she is stronger militarily, economically and in every other way. Only this will persuade Pakistan’s military men to abandon their dream of a greater Pakistan that will, they hope, be powerful enough to match India in every way. For the moment it is just a sad, shabby little country full of hatred and violence. It is seen this way even by countries that once were its friends, but India’s ‘liberals’ remain believers!

This column first appeared under the title 'Fifth column: Doubting Thomases'. Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh