Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War

I recently concluded reading the book titled:

Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War.

It is a succinct summary of Pakistan and it’s activities including it’s obsession with India. Written from a western perspective, it is particularly interesting as it eschews the wars before 1998 and starts with Kandahar hijacking. It has details of myths created by Pakistan around its various misadventures. A must read for any one interested in the subject. An excerpts about effect of ending of cold was and disintegration of USSR:

“While India had become more pragmatic and outward-looking, Pakistan had become more ideological and isolated. Pakistan had misread the collapse of the Soviet Union as having been caused by the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan and evidence of the benefits of Islamist proxies. Unable to see beyond its immediate neighbourhood, it disregarded the many other causes of the collapse—the Soviet Union had been rotting from within for decades for reasons quite independent of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s backing for the Taliban and Pakistan-based groups fighting in Kashmir through the 1990s had also deepened its well of support for Islamist militancy. It increasingly presented itself as a champion of Muslims worldwide, defining the defence of everyone from Kashmiris to Palestinians as a matter of national interest. Saddam Hussein, whose 1990 invasion of Kuwait had been defeated by a US-led coalition, was seen as a hero.”

Another excerpt about recent surgical strikes by India on terrorist camp inside POK:

“Shortly before calling the media to the news conference, the foreign ministry circulated—via the same WhatsApp group—a White House statement on an overnight phone call between Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his US counterpart Susan Rice. Condemning the Uri attack as “cross-border terrorism”; the Americans reiterated US demands that Pakistan take action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and reaffirmed “the robust US-India partnership”. It was one of the strongest official statements in favour of India ever from Washington, which for years had tried to balance pressure on Pakistan over its support for Islamist militants with quiet diplomacy to nudge Delhi on Kashmir. Notably it made no mention of Kashmir; nor called for India and Pakistan dialogue. The entire onus was on Pakistan to disarm its jihadi proxies. The US statement set India up well for the announcement at the media briefing, where the main speaker was, unusually, the Indian Army’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO). In an overnight operation, Lt-General Ranbir Singh said, the Indian Army had conducted “surgical strikes” against Pakistan-backed militants preparing to infiltrate into Indian Kashmir. These strikes on launch-pads along the LoC had inflicted “significant casualties”. India had no plans for further military operations, he added, and had already contacted the Pakistan Army to inform it formally of its action. The DGMO read his statement in English and Hindi, took no questions and saluted the media on his way out. Other military officials were on hand to tell journalists the Indian Army had crossed the LoC in several different places to target would-be infiltrators. For the first time since 1971, India had announced military action across the LoC.”

Generally concluding Para is a mystery in a fiction but in a non-fiction; it can entice interest. One may read the book as to how the author, namely Myra Macdonald, reached to following conclusion:

“India had come a long way from the lonely humiliation of the Kathmandu to Kandahar hijacking in 1999 to the public announcement of cross-LoC raids into Pakistan-held territory in 2016. The cross-LoC raids were a tactical rather than strategic success, since the old rules stood. Pakistan was unlikely to abandon its strategy of supporting some jihadis while fighting others—the ideology of confrontation with India had become too deeply embedded to be uprooted. Nor had India escaped the requirements of “strategic restraint”. Beyond skirmishes on the LoC, more significant Indian military action still faced the risk of escalation into a nuclear exchange. Inside the Kashmir Valley, India still needed to find the political means of addressing Kashmiri resentment. In the event of further attacks from Pakistan, moreover, India’s options for further unpredictable retaliation remained limited. If it had international support for its cross-LoC raids, it was precisely because Indian responses to attacks by jihadis from Pakistan had been so carefully controlled since 1998, thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s predecessors. It could not continue seeking ever more forceful retaliation without putting that at risk. Nor could it rely on international impatience with Pakistan—it was too useful a country for China and too worrying for the United States to abandon. Pakistan’s defeat in the Great South Asian War contained a warning for India too. Pakistan had been brought low by hubris, a chauvinist nationalism and an unhealthy obsession with its neighbour. As it emerged as the far stronger power, India needed to be wary of succumbing to similar sentiments, lest it neglect the need to tend to the domestic stability and restraint that had served it so well.
Nonetheless, in the short-run, India had added a new twist to the old rules. It had announced its cross-LoC raids without international objection and acted quickly to reassure both Pakistan and the outside world that it intended no further escalation. It had added this new twist using the very weapons that Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons and jihadis lacked—India’s diplomatic and economic strength. That it was able to do so was a product of multiple factors, many outside India’s control. Pakistan had failed to adjust to the more fertile environment for jihadis that emerged at the end of the Cold War and then to the international opposition to Islamist militants that coalesced after the September 11 attacks. After 2001, it had made the mistake of trying to take on India and the United States simultaneously. Preoccupied with its own domestic power struggles, and fixated on an ideology that required it to seek parity with India, Pakistan was blinded to the ways in which the world around it was changing. After their nuclear tests in 1998, the UN Security Council had issued a statement urging India and Pakistan “to avoid threatening military movements” and resume talks to remove tensions between them. “They were encouraged to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir,” the Security Council said. By 2016, Kashmir had been dropped from the international agenda, while India’s announcement of what once would have been condemned as a threatening military movement had been greeted with sympathy and support. The progress India has made between 1998 and 2016 is a victory that has many fathers. In Pakistan, torn between blaming its external enemies and the “traitors” of its internal power struggle, defeat is an orphan.”

P.S.: Surprisingly the Hard Back Edition was 4 time cheaper than Paperback, at Amazon.

However I would strongly recommend reading it for those interested in the subject.

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