Two of the largest countries in the world, in terms of population, have remained locked in a war scare for some weeks, merely because one of them misused a major terrorist act that happened within its territory. In the end, India will probably not go to war because it never really intended to, but the entire episode has exposed two flaws it suffers from, which make it an unreliable partner in the region, let alone the world. First, that it has a large religious minority that its majority religion mistreats, and that its majority religion includes as bad terrorists as any that afflict Islam, which it continuously excoriates. There is much the problem with Pakistan, but the bad things India claims to have identified are not the problem. Indeed, the position taken by India has actually helped the distortions within the system in Pakistan. The latest Indo-Pak war scare has been only partially fostered by the Indian media. They have only been reporting the situation as the media people see it, that the Indian government wishes to go to war because of an inability to solve the mystery behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks. The main thing to remember about India is that it has twice before attacked Pakistan, in 1965 and 1971, and both times it engaged in an elaborate deception plan. This military thinking was favoured by the USSR, which then had great influence in India, especially in its military, which it no longer has, but Indian military thinking has not found a different source of inspiration, so while there was an obvious attempt to use Mumbai as a base for a deception plan, India apparently had no other option to exploit to make an excuse for an attack on Pakistan. In other words, the deception plan had no other element. However, using Mumbai had a number of problems. First, India had no real reason to go to war with Pakistan. In 1965 there was the Rann of Kutch, in 1971 there was a culmination of the East Pakistan issue, and the creation of Bangladesh, while it also met the aspirations of East Pakistanis, also served as the Soviet-style deception plan favoured by the Indians. At this point in time, the Indians have no real reason to go to war with Pakistan, except the emotional. In 1965, and in 1971, which was essentially a continuation, Pakistan was cut down to size. However, while the Indian military victory in 1971 was comprehensive, the Kashmir issue was not solved, showing that that was not a subject between the two countries that could be settled by a war. Therefore, Kashmir is not a casus belli. The two countries depend on the international community to keep them apart. This preceded their acquisition of nuclear weapons. Basically, because neither India nor Pakistan have developed indigenous sources of production of weaponry or weapons platforms, they are dependent on outside sources of weaponry for all their armed forces. If a conflict occurs, the weapons would run out, so both countries look to the outside world to help stop a conflict before one or the other side runs out of weapons. Therefore, one way of limiting the 1965 and 1971 conflicts was an arms embargo. It was applied to Pakistan by the USA, as well as by those countries which had sold to both sides. The ultimate result of a prolonged conflict is that the people of the respective countries would not only have to sacrifice, but would also have to fight too. That is something that the armed forces, but especially the armies on either side dread. This is especially true for the Pakistan Army, which has long presented itself as the sole defender of the country. There is a movement for the military to take over again in Pakistan, and it can be safely predicted that, assuming this movement is not sponsored by the military itself, there is a definite exploitation of the sentiment that the armed forces are the ultimate defenders of the country, and therefore have an inherent right to rule. Though the USA has exploited this sentiment in Pakistan at the time of the signing of the Baghdad Pact, Nixon's overture to China, the Afghan jihad and the War on Terror, it must be aware by now that Bonapartism is alive and well in the Pakistani armed forces, and can always be exploited. The war scare has presented the PAF the ideal opportunity of reviving the 'spirit of 65', which presumably were achieved by some protective patrolling of Lahore's skies. The army also basked in the glory of being the nation's protectors. This has all revived the belief in Pakistan that an Indo-Pak War will have no effect on the lives of ordinary civilians. This is the image that the armed forces wish to maintain in Pakistan, of being the real protectors of Pakistan. But at the same time, the doctrine of foreign intervention seems to have been borne out: before the event, this time. The armed forces always rely on the UN to bail them out of a fight against India before they are reduced to using civilians to do the fighting. This time, the UN powers, or rather the USA, has already intervened, but the message that is being brought to Islamabad is not a congenial one. It is to cooperate with India. The latest visitor, the head of Interpol, has added some sense to the matter. In what is essentially a police matter, he has yet to be given evidence of the involvement of any Pakistanis. He was a better person to be given such evidence, for the Indians themselves want the Mumbai blasts to be treated as a police matter, as it deserves, and as do all acts of terrorism, including 9/11. The Indian propaganda over Mumbai has incidentally allowed it to duck the obvious question raised, how it treats its Muslim minority. It has also ducked the question of the killing of anti-terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, instead drawing obloquy on the (Muslim) minister who raised the question of how Karkare's death would act on the case that was being made out against a serving Indian colonel. Not enough people in India seem very concerned about that case, which lends support to the view in Pakistan that there are Hindu terrorists that the USA is ignoring. The war scare is being related by some to the desire of India, and some supporters in the USA, to make Pakistan even smaller bits than it was left in 1971. This is the party that wants war. But war has to be seen from the point of view of whether it would serve or harm the War on Terror. While a scare serves to give a big diplomatic role to the countries fighting the War, an actual Indo-Pak war, even if it does not escalate into a nuclear conflict, which is by no means certain, would harm the War. E-mail: maniazi@nation.com.pk