THEY call it a sequential approach. Let the good crazies run around and do the things they like while the boys go after the bad crazies first. Then, once all the bad crazies have been dispatched, it’ll be time to figure out what to do with the good crazies.
Sounds crazy, right? Think of it as a statist version of leaving for tomorrow what can be done today. Hence all those K-Day protests.
There is another possibility though: when you can’t say no, you say maybe. Essentially, the sequential approach is the polite way of telling the world what it wants to hear while merrily getting on with business as usual.
Too sceptical? Forget the history, forget the circumstantial stuff, set everything aside. And reverse the question. Instead of looking for reasons why things have changed or will change, ask why they should change in the first place. Or, to put it bluntly, why change a winning strategy?
We do know that at least three things have changed: Fata is on fire and 200,000 troops are fire-fighting; militancy across the Durand Line has become bi-directional; and the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network has exploded across Pakistan.
Much of that is clearly bad, whatever the strategy. But could that just be an acceptable price to pay for a winning strategy, the inevitable downside to a very big upside?
And, in the case of the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network, could that in fact be a necessary tool in a winning strategy, an inflammable substance to be handled with care rather than a toxic one to be buried deep underground?
Between the everything’s-changed and nothing’s-changed schools of thought, there is nestled the hawks’ perspective: at home, stuff has changed; outside, stuff is on track.
Start with India. If there’s one thing India doesn’t have an answer to it’s Pakistan-based, anti-India militancy. Nukes they can design. Missiles they can build. Planes they can buy. Submarines, guns and soldiers too. But they don’t quite know what to do about militancy. Which isn’t surprising. Because there’s not much anyone can do against the jihad complex that Pakistan has built.