There is little doubt that India poses a real and enduring threat to Pakistan’s existence as an independent and sovereign nation. The gravity of this threat has been aggravated in the recent past by the radical transformation taking place in India because of the rise of Hindutva or Hindu bigotry in the Indian body politic. Modi-led BJP government’s re-election with a thumping majority on the slogan of Hindutva highlights the growing trend towards Hindu fanaticism and bellicose chauvinism which is taking root in India. This development is all the more ominous because of Modi’s life-long membership of and BJP’s close links with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu organization. This is bad news for the minorities in India, and a serious threat to India’s neighbours, especially Pakistan, and to regional peace and stability.

The growing Hindu chauvinism in India poses a particularly serious threat to Pakistan’s security because of the way India’s strategists and policy makers look at it. C. Raja Mohan, a well-known Indian security analyst and a former member of India’s National Security Advisory Board, in an article entitled “India and the Balance of Power” in the Foreign Affairs issue of July-August, 2006 made the point that the creation of Pakistan was a major obstacle in the realization of India’s grand strategic goals. According to him, this factor left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide, separated India from Afghanistan and Iran (also, one may add, from Central Asia), and created profound problems for India’s engagement with the Muslim Middle East because of Pakistan’s character as an Islamic state. It is not surprising, therefore, that India has exhibited abiding hostility towards Pakistan since its independence culminating in its invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh.

India’s hostility towards Pakistan is, therefore, a harsh reality which we can ignore only at our peril. Our bleeding-heart liberals, who tend to blame Pakistan for anything and everything that goes wrong in Pakistan-India relations, are way off the mark. While the Indian hostility should not be used as a pretext for condoning our own mistakes in managing our internal and external affairs, it would be a folly to overlook the seriousness of the threat that India poses to Pakistan’s security. If anything, with the passage of time the Indian threat to Pakistan’s security is likely to assume even more dangerous proportions because of the growing sway of Hindutva.

It is worth underscoring that the security threat posed by India because of its innate hostility towards Pakistan is exacerbated by India’s far-reaching strategic ambitions. As noted by well-known international scholars like Henry Kissinger, India is striving to establish its dominant position in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. C. Raja Mohan also stressed in his above quoted article that India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers in its immediate neighbourhood. Thus, the achievement of hegemony in South Asia remains India’s main strategic goal. The only country in the region which stands in the way of the fulfillment of the Indian strategic ambitions is Pakistan. This leads to two obvious conclusions: it would be India’s enduring strategic aim to reduce Pakistan to the status of a satellite; secondly, as long as India continues to pursue that goal and as long as Pakistan resists India’s hegemonic ambitions in the region, there would be structural stresses and strains in relations between Pakistan and India over and above those caused by outstanding disputes like Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachin, sharing of river waters, etc.

The situation becomes even more threatening from Pakistan’s point of view when one takes into account the fact that India’s strategic culture is expansionist and hegemonic as shown by historical evidence whereas Pakistan’s strategic culture is basically defensive in character. India’s strategic culture is deeply influenced by the advice contained in Arthashastra, written by Kautilya around 300 B.C. for the benefit of Chandragupta Maurya. The book is recognized by Indian foreign policy and security experts as an important guide on strategy. Writing about this book, Henry Kissinger says, “This book sets out, with dispassionate clarity, a vision of how to establish and guard a state while neutralizing, subverting, and (when opportune conditions have been established) conquering its neighbours.” Besides other recommendations contained in this book, it presents the concept of “silent war” under which a ruler and his ministers act publicly as if they were at peace with the opposing state, but all the while secret agents are busy assassinating important leaders in the other state, creating divisions among key ministers and classes, and spreading propaganda and disinformation with the ultimate objective of weakening and subjugating it.

Whereas the threat posed by India to Pakistan’s security is direct and real, the important question is how it will manifest itself in the Indian policies concerning Pakistan. Modi-led BJP government in India has adopted a hardline approach and a muscular style of diplomacy in dealing with Pakistan as exhibited by its decision to annex IOK by revoking articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The possibility, therefore, does exist that the tensions and strains in Pakistan-India relations may lead to occasional low intensity armed conflicts through minor skirmishes, exchange of artillery fire or, as was seen earlier this year, even the exchange of limited air strikes. However, as long as both Pakistan and India maintain a credible nuclear deterrent, it is doubtful that the tensions between the two countries would be allowed to escalate to an all-out war between them. Thus, while Pakistan must maintain a credible security deterrent and be prepared for any eventuality, the likelihood is that India would primarily use non-kinetic means to weaken, demoralize and defeat Pakistan.

Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese strategist, recommended long time ago that supreme excellence lay in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. America and the rest of the West implemented this principle of grand strategy to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War without fighting a war. India can also be expected to place reliance on non-kinetic means of warfare for defeating Pakistan. For this purpose, India will focus mainly on destabilizing Pakistan politically and weakening it economically.

In 2013, Pakistan crossed an important milestone when an elected civilian government handed over power after completing its regular five-year term to another civilian government after elections which were later found by the Supreme Court to be free of rigging. Pakistan was thus on the road to political stability. This process was effectively sabotaged by inimical forces in the subsequent years leading to the current deeply destabilized political scenario in Pakistan. Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest in Pakistan in March 2016 showed that besides employing its proxies in Pakistan, who wittingly or unwittingly served India’s purposes, New Delhi was using its secret agents also to foment political instability and terrorism in Pakistan.

On the economic front also, Pakistan is in a much weaker condition currently compared with India if one takes into account such indicators as GDP growth rate, GDP per capita, fiscal and current account deficits, inflation, and scientific and technological advancement. If we continue to mishandle our economy and fail to bring about the needed reforms, we will fall further behind India in the race for economic progress in the years to come. The net result of the foregoing developments is that while we have been able to maintain a credible security deterrent, our weaknesses in political and economic fields constitute our Achilles’ heel vis-à-vis India and a source of acute national insecurity.