13 December 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the attack on the Indian Parliament – an event that instantly gravitated global attention towards a brazen attack at the heart of the world’s “largest democracy”: India. As designed, it also ended up putting Pakistan in the crosshairs of international opprobrium.
What changed for the worse, back then, were the already strained bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. The attack led to a month’s long military standoff between thousands of troops belonging to the two nuclear nations. What hasn’t changed since then – 20 years, no less – is India’s sinister and rather a successful statecraft: staging false flag operations to malign its archnemesis, Pakistan, in an attempt to lower its global stature – at just about the right time.
The blame game begins
Instantly after the attack, and before even the death toll could be ascertained, India blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayaba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for the attack. In a flash, the Indian government had an instant buy-in from its media as they jointly based for Pakistani blood. What was lost in the Indian calls for revenge were Pakistan’s requests for a joint investigation before blame was attributed to its security establishment.
Also lost in the Indian braggadocio was another crucial fact: the eerie closeness in time between the attack and the 911 attacks – a cataclysmic event that changed the global lens through which non-state actors and terrorist groups had been viewed until then.
Did India jump on the global bandwagon of the newly seeded collective outrage against terrorists? Yes. But, thankfully, in doing so, it also did itself and the world a favor: it revealed its monstrous incompetence in planning and executing such attacks. Yes, “such” attacks because many similar false flags and staged attacks followed that were poorly executed and left more questions in their wake than answers.
Let’s, first, get the Parliament attack out of the way
To any neutral observer of facts, the attack was an engineered obfuscation of facts with the ultimate aim of creating a pedantic sense of misdirection that left everyone in a room full of mirrors. Arundhati Roy, in her article titled “And His Life Should BecomeExtinct, The Very Strange Story of the Attack on the Indian Parliament”, shreds the Indian narrative to smithereens. In a seismic statement, she notes: For all these reasons it is critical that we consider carefully the strange, sad, and utterly sinister story of the December 13 Parliament attack. It tells us a great deal about the way the world’s largest ‘democracy’ really works.”
What followed was a pattern of similar attacks obsessively spun around the same theme: that Pakistani “deep state” was malignantly predisposed towards India. The Samjhauta Express attack in 2007, which was initially blamed on Muslim groups, was later discovered (and admitted by India)to be the brainchild of the Hindu extremist group, RSS – the nucleus of India’s BJP government.
The naked Indian chutzpah continued unabated. Come Mumbai attacks in 2008 – made to appear as India’s “911 moment” – which was the single biggest (and, to India’s credit, a successful) Indian attempt to pull the wool over the world’s eyes.
Mumbai was a watershed event
The world watched in awe a grisly terrorist attack unfold in the city’s commercial hub in which some 175 innocent souls lost their lives. To this day, several unanswered questions remain: how a bunch of 10 odd terrorists, allegedly trained and sponsored by Pakistan, managed to make it to Mumbai from Pakistan on a measly boat; how these 10 superhumans managed to fight off hundreds of trained Indian commandos for some 60 odd hours and, lastly, if India had “clean hands”, how come Pakistan’s repeated requests to India for a joint investigation into the attacks was brushed under the rug by the Indian establishment.
In his book titled “The Betrayal of India: Revisiting the 26/11 Evidence”, German author, Elias Davidson, through cogent evidence, explains that the Indian security establishment’sMumbai false flag operation was designed to ostracize Pakistan and pave the way for Hindutva forces to pivot their political position around a security narrative.
The Uri and Pathankot attacks – immediately blamed on Pakistan like previous attacks – were further attempts to tighten heal albatross around Pakistan’s neck. From the fantastic fables spun around the Balakot strikes (including the shooting down of an F-16) to last year’s EU Disinformation Lab report that uncovered India’s state-sponsored attempts to malign Pakistan, we see a trove of evidence that should leave no doubt in a discerning mind that India’s lawfare against Pakistan has one singular objective: to draw global ire towards Pakistan and make it appear a failed state.
Given that India has its hands tied with China breathing down its neck in Ladakh– something that is not affording it an opportunity to adopt an overt posture –its lawfare against Pakistan now continues in other forms. I see both a constructive and deconstructive lawfare simultaneously panning against Pakistan as follows: continue to denigrate Pakistan in the global eye by amplifying incidents like the Sialkot lynching to draw attention away from India’s own chaotic internal fault-lines increasingly visible through attacks on minorities including Muslims and Christians.
Read more: Fake terror attack on Indian Parliament?
What is better than offsetting your own costs by amplifying those for the adversary?
Where does all this leave Pakistan? I’m afraid, not in a very comfortable position. Consider this: Pakistan neither has the global media clout to counter India’s attacks nor has it institutionalized lawfare across the national security, foreign policy and diplomacy verticals to ward off the never-ending Indian blitzkrieg on its sovereignty and reputation. Instead, Pakistan’s approach, thus far, has been to respond to Indian attacks on an ad-hoc basis by drawing deep into the reserves of whatever little remains of its state power and clout.
The urgent need of the hour is for the state of Pakistan to come up with a robust lawfare strategy that is assimilated within its military command structures and woven into the fabric of statecraft across the diplomatic and foreign policy dimensions. This lawfare must be offensive as well as defensive in nature. But, this will first require understanding the entire gamut of threats faced by Pakistan (cyber, legal, media, global perception and others) as well as the capabilities and capacities of the adversaries. It is only then that Pakistan can think about gaining an asymmetrical advantage over its adversaries – the ultimate objective of lawfare. It is time that Pakistan attempts to seize back some of the vital strategic space that it has, over the years, ceded to its adversaries such as India.
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In the absence of a meaningful institutionalization of lawfare by Pakistan that effectively chips away at entrenched global perceptions about the country and presents alternative facts which remain buried deep underneath the burden of institutional inertia, the world can be expected to take India’s word at face value – something that we have seen consistently happen over the years.
Hassan Aslam Shad is a practicing international lawyer and a graduate of Harvard Law School, U.S.A. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School with a specialization in international law. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.