Sub-continental twins, India and Pakistan, have shared a troubled relationship since their birth in August 1947 amid the tumultuous labour pangs of partition.
The two countries have charted different paths since the beginning – India has taken its place at the high table of the world as the largest democracy and amongst the largest, fastest growing economies, while Pakistan has been struggling with internal contradictions.
This 70-decade-long journey has been succinctly documented by Lt General Kamal Davar in his book, Tryst with Perfidy – The Deep State of Pakistan.
With his combat experience in the wars with Pakistan, and subsequently having set up India’s Defence Intelligence Agency as its first Director General, Lt General Davar’s credentials for undertaking such an analysis are impeccable. He defines ‘Deep State’, as “a state within a state”, which determines the policies and operations of the government, akin to the shadowy Military Industrial Complex of the US.
The book traces the roots of the ‘Pakistani Deep State’ to its national psyche, which is still rooted in the two-nation theory. An artificial state conceived in the drawing rooms of Delhi and Bombay in the run up to Independence, Pakistan had no historical or cultural identity apart from India.
In order to justify its very existence, it has had to strive to establish a persona distinct from its Indian roots. In the process, Islam became the rallying point, and India a convenient enemy to rally against.
Hidden Hand of ‘Deep State’ Amid Rise & Fall of Regimes
Kashmir’s hesitant accession to India, and the continued dispute over the state, has served to keep the narrative of India as an adversary alive.
The book describes the birth of Pakistan’s infamous Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), and diligently chronicles its evolution and development as a power unto itself, at times even surpassing the army that otherwise it is an organ of.
It traces Pakistan’s political journey through military rules punctuated by occasional spells of democracy, highlighting the role played by the army and ISI during both the regimes.
Through the rise and falls of regimes, wars in the subcontinent, and the emergence of the two neighbours as nuclear powers, the hidden hand of the ‘Deep State’ has been ubiquitous.
Intermittently, the great game in Afghanistan – from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to the US led Global War on Terrorism – bolstered Pakistan’s position, and further strengthened the Deep State that wielded actual power. It shows how the army and ISI have used every opportunity to bolster their own position, and concurrently build a multi-billion dollar industrial empire controlling a major portion of Pakistan’s economy.
A Comprehensive Primer on Regional Dynamics
From the 1980s, the ‘Deep State’ has been resorting to using non-state actors as force multipliers, waging a proxy war of ‘a thousand cuts’ to bleed India in Punjab and Kashmir.
The book serves as a comprehensive primer for anyone who wants to understand the regional dynamics, from Independence to the present times. Given the author’s credentials, personal experience and knowledge of the subject, some insight into the possibility of alternative power centres within Pakistan challenging the ‘Deep State’ anytime in the foreseeable future would have been a welcome addition.
Another aspect that needed elaboration was the manner in which successive regimes in India have strategised to deal with the ‘Deep State’, and what proactive countermeasures, if any, would be advisable.
Maybe a sequel could be written, to deal with these issues.
(The writer is a retired colonel of the Indian Army and currently a research fellow at the Ministry of Defence, writing the official history of India’s participation in World War I. He can be reached @ragarwal. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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