That two Rangers were killed by the Indians when they went to attend a flag meeting on the other side, on the Line of Control, shows not just how matters are going out of control, but also how India is violating the most ancient principles of warfare, in which emissaries’ lives are respected. This has been followed by Indian firing killing civilians. This is yet more evidence that the BJP is taking an aggressive position, and is stepping up pressure, testing Pakistani resolve. The resolve to keep quiet seems unshakeable, for it has certainly held in this incident. The decision not to hold any more flag meetings, or any other negotiations, does indicate concern, but more of a concern for the safety of our forces than for the prestige of the country.

These incidents may well be coupled with the accusation that the Peshawar massacre, as well as the Wagah suicide blast at a flag-lowering ceremony on November 2 at which over 50 people died, were caused by India. This accusation indicates a belief that the militants, who carried out both attacks, were supported by India. This fits with the military’s view of India as the eternal enemy. However, India has been emerging as the US’s policeman in the region, and the BJP’s emphasis on business-friendliness fits in with this. This also indicates that the American accusation that the Pakistani military supports militants is wrong, and that India is also the wrong horse to back. Additionally, it shows that the militants are so out of the agencies’ control (which they were during the Afghan Jihad) that they fell into India’s hands, but this would be a small price to pay for Pakistani agencies if US approval could be obtained.

That these accusations are circulating, and that there have been no moves to protest this except the calling in of the Indian ambassador to the Foreign Office over the LoC incident, indicates that this accusation is meant more for Army opinion rather than civilian. This implies that Army opinion against the militants must be united, which in turn means it is divided at present. While this is probably not the main reason behind the attack, it was such a cataclysmic event, that it inevitably had effects on all dimensions of Pakistani policy.

The BJP government is engaged in a dangerous game under the guidance of the Hindutva hawks. It would be too much to characterize its policy as anti-Pakistani, because that would neglect the recent conversions of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. The BJP is engaged in rampant Indian nationalism, and also a vicious Hindu-isation of India. This is not an aberration. Congress was committed to this, and the appeal to a ram Rajya (Ram-rule state) was introduced by the late Rajiv Gandhi in his 1989 and 1992 election campaigns. As Pakistan is the only country which challenges this, and indeed came into being because of this, this policy encompasses an anti-Pakistan plank, but is not limited to it. The danger lies in the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state. If it can be made to accept Indian hegemony in the region, one very important obstacle can be removed. It should not be forgotten that India does not just wish to establish hegemony over the Subcontinent. It also wishes to extend its influence to the entire Indian Ocean littoral. That implies dominance over the Gulf, which is also important because it supplies India the oil it needs to keep its industrialization drive going.

The only country that could work against this is Pakistan, but it would not like to upset the USA, which at this point is doing what it can to promote India. The US may well have its eyes on China, but the support it is giving India, the latter is using in its own backyard, to resolve its various disputes with its neighbours. All these neighbours are much smaller, with Pakistan and Bangladesh the largest. The fate of the latter indicates the fate of Pakistan if it fell in with India’s wishes. Despite Bangladesh’s subservience, which goes back to Indian support for the creation of Bangladesh, the Farakka Barrage issue has become a stumbling block. Already, on top of the Kashmir issue, India has added water issues to its problems with Pakistan. It seems that if at all Pakistan was to fall in with Indian wishes on existing disputes, India would merely create some more. Already, it seems, the two countries are posturing against each other prior to a visit to them by US Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently with a view to complaining to him of the other’s bad behaviour.

Aside from the impropriety of independent countries seeking a third’s help in bilateral disputes, there is the problem of what India would like to do about Pakistan. It is the mote in India’s eye, which must be plucked out if India is to achieve its goals. It is not merely that it has been hived off from an India united in 1947. There is no Indian hostility against Myanmar, which was conquered by the British Indian Empire, and formed part of British India until 1947, when it continued as a British colony until it too became independent in 1948. However, Myanmar has kept itself to itself, and is not seen by New Delhi as any sort of obstacle to its great-power ambitions. Pakistan, on the other hand, does.

The problem has become circular. Pakistan cannot accept Indian hegemony because India is such a bad hegemon. It is only by being part of something larger that Pakistan can fulfil the aspirations of its people, which are to avoid exploitation. It was this desire that led to the wish for independence from the British, and in turn to the wish for a separate nation, as the Muslims of the Subcontinent saw no reason to submit to the Hindu Raj. It was the same wish that led to the creation of Bangladesh, as East Pakistan saw no reason to submit to exploitation from the West. As the Indian establishment still harbours exploitative great-power ambitions, and as this fits conveniently into US plans for the region, it is clear that Pakistan needs a paradigm shift the most. At the moment, it should be noted that if such a shift was to include the redrawing of borders, any state including the Pakistani people would wish for a settlement of issues with India, including the Kashmir issue, because without that, no state would meet their aspirations. And a state not meeting those aspirations, would not be a state worth belonging to, no matter how convenient an arrangement that might be. The Pakistani people have proved this in the past, and have shown no sign of having been cowed down since.

The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as executive editor of The Nation.