New Delhi: Pakistan is a military-jihadi state. Such a state needs an enemy to sustain and justify its military-jihadi structure and institutions. If such an enemy is not available, the state invents the enemy. India is Pakistan’s invented enemy. The enemy must be warred against (1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999), attacked through terrorist proxies (the most audacious being the sea strike on Bombay in November 2008), and bled (this week’s Mendhar barbarity). The cliche is true that the Pakistan state exists for the military and jihadis. Elections are grudgingly allowed so that Pakistanis have the false comfort of having elected rulers. In reality, nothing changes. The military enriches its own, gets all the fighting toys it needs and more at the cost of the people, grabs the deterrent and makes it a phony national symbol, and then defiantly and insolently applies the nuclear squeeze on allies and invented enemies alike. Pakistan’s ever-growing size of deterrent limits India’s military options. And the fear that some of Pakistan’s hundred or more nuclear weapons and large fissile stocks would fall into terrorist hands or be leaked to jihadis drives the United States and the rest of the West into insane placations of the military with more aid and weapons, strengthening the vicious cycle. This hasn’t stopped Pakistan’s state failure. Its economy is in ruins. Infrastructure has collapsed. Power and water shortages are endemic. And terrorists of various descriptions are slowly but surely taking over the country. Their ultimate aim appears to be to seize control of the nuclear weapons and make a confederate caliphate of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

What must India do about Pakistan?

Other than working towards the dismantling of Pakistan and denuclearizing it, there is no other solution. In the wake of the Mendhar atrocity, there have been cogent voices seeking targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders like Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed, who was reported in the area days before the Mendhar tragedy. As a short-term measure, this is unavoidable. But its overall success may not equal that obtained from the killing of Osama Bin Laden, even if one assumes that India is prepared for and can adequately handle the repercussions. Bin Laden was the Al-Qaeda. He represented the state the Al-Qaeda did not have or was dispossessed of when the Americans ran it out of Afghanistan. When Bin Laden was knocked off, this writer was alone to analyze that Al-Qaeda was finished, as it is. That is not the case with Pakistani terrorists like Hafiz Sayeed. The Pakistani military-jihadi state created Hafiz Sayeed and others to prosecute the state policy of terrorism against India. Among the others was Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammed who fell afoul of the Pakistan military and is rarely heard today. If Hafiz Sayeed goes, he will be replaced. Hafiz Sayeed is a deniable instrument. If India succeeds in or two targeted assassinations, successive terrorist leaders would come under military protection. If they have to be snatched like Bin Laden from a garrison town like Abbottabad, it is possible but potentially escalatory in military terms, which, because it can tip in the nuclear direction, is loaded with imponderables and thus self-limiting. The United States is thousands of miles away from Pakistan which cannot and won’t dare to attack its mainland for the reprisal would be quick and monstrously disproportionate. India is a neighbour which has still to reconcile to the presence of a rogue state on the west. In the short-term, targeted assassinations will be effective, but it is not the silver bullet to contain a barbarous Pakistan.

The only solution is to take Pakistan’s state failure to its logical conclusion. No country in the world save perhaps Israel would assist India in this process, but India has enough capabilities not to want any assistance from anyone. Pakistan has forfeited the right to exist as a state. It must be broken along its faultlines of Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and the aptly renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. India has the capacity to do so, which was exhibited in 1971 in another sector in more difficult circumstances. Assisting India is the internal collapse of Pakistan and the spread of terrorism throughout the military-jihadi state as a karmic blowback. With Pakistan broken, its most likely successor state, Punjab, would be unable to keep nuclear weapons, and that would commence the welcome denuclearization of the territory west of India. Four rump states is a tolerable proposition for India than a united, nuclear terror state. It will be a project that will require the best minds, treasure, executive audacity, and implicit national political consensus.

India needs to cleanse the sub-continent of Pakistan, and it must begin now.