The Pak-India equation


    The desire to expand relations



    India and Pakistan were separated from the same geographic and ethnic cloth back in 1947. Both countries have traditionally been part of the same administrative unit from Mughal times and into the Raj. It took more than a century of struggle and swedge for the Hindus and Muslims of Hindustan to finally attain independence from the mindset instilled by the British “Divide and Rule”. India was conceived as a secular democracy by the National Congress lead by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru as it guaranteed all the people on South Asian subcontinent political and religious freedom. Whereas Pakistan was the brainchild of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and other Muslim Congress leaders who progressed independence talks with the British in the inter-war years to convince the British that Muslims would become second-class citizens in a predominantly Hindu India and therefore needed their own state to be truly free.

    Today, the differences between India and Pakistan still have the power to tear South Asia apart. India and Pakistan are neighbouring countries that share much in history and culture. The difference between the two does not appear to be in law. Both have constitutions that enshrine parliamentary democracy as the law of the land. It does not appear to be in people. Both have talented, thoughtful and deeply patriotic populations eager to see their nations thrive. The difference appears to be a culture of democracy that has evolved in India over the last 57 years, while in Pakistan, democracy remains stillborn.

    How India is following a policy of sandwiching Pakistan

    “India” and “Pakistan” are often used in the same sentence and the two nations are often compared to each other. While they did at one time form a single country, to compare the two now is like comparing the proverbial apples to oranges.

    India is several times larger than Pakistan in both land area and population. India is a predominantly Hindu country whose religious traditions bear a greater similarity to countries further east. Pakistan is a Muslim country whose religion is shared by countries to its west. The centuries of “divide and rule” by the British is surely playing a huge share to obscure the mindset of two South Asian giants.

    India has a very significant Muslim minority and that is where the similarities to Pakistan begin. However, there are many shades of gray. Geographically, Pakistan is sandwiched between Afghanistan and India, and India being a predominant player in the region has the resources to press Pakistan from both fronts. Knowing that a peaceful co-existence is an obvious way forward for Pakistan, the arch rival does its best to thumb its true potential. May it be violation of the Line of Control (LoC), sectarian riots across the border or even cheating in a game of Kabaddi (local sports) the superior state never lets go of an opportunity to avenge the 340,403 square miles divided from its territory.

    On the political front, since partition the two South Asian countries have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, as well as many border skirmishes and military stand-offs. The dispute over Kashmir has been the main cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). As Kashmir remains an undisputed territory Pakistan and India are held at the helm by United Nations. It is in favour of both the countries to be an ally of United Nations and its members (USA in particular being the uno-dominating player). This friendship comes with a cost, Islamic extremism. USA overtime has developed a reputation of utter hatred amongst most Muslim countries around the world, owed to a number of one-sided wars with Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Pakistan being an Islamic state itself finds it hard to openly support the world’s biggest super power. We always “do-more” but fail to do enough. Even after supporting USA in the war versus Russia on Afghan territory, being an ally to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing aerial and land routes to NATO supplies, Pakistan has failed to be the apple of America’s eyes. India on the other hand capitalises this relationship to the max against its bitter neighbour.

    Even after supporting USA in the war versus Russia on Afghan territory, being an ally to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing aerial and land routes to NATO supplies, Pakistan has failed to be the apple of America’s eyes

    There is nothing wrong in Pakistan’s desire to improve and expand relations with India, including trade and economic ties. However, its India policy suffers from incoherence and a failure to recognise the new dynamics of this relationship. Since the Mumbai terrorist attack (Nov 2008) India has reduced the Indo Pak relations to a single-issue relationship. That is, Pakistan must satisfy India on the terrorism issue before taking up the resolution of other issues. India, supported by the United States, blamed Pakistan based militant groups for the Mumbai incident and violence in Kashmir.

    India’s notion of “limited war” and “punitive action”, short of triggering a full-war, is now manifesting itself in the shape of repeated violence on the LoC. The previous and the present Indian army chiefs have talked of adopting a tough line towards Pakistan, reflecting the growing role of the Indian army in shaping India’s Pakistan policy. The bilateral relations deteriorated to such an extent despite Pakistan’s best efforts to salvage the bilateral dialogue process, it is stalled since the end of 2012.

    Hate speech

    The insurgents, who initially started their movement as a pro-Kashmiri independence movement, have gone through a lot of change in their ideology. Most portray their struggle as a religious one. Indian analysts allege that by supporting these insurgents, Pakistan is trying to wage a proxy war against India while Pakistan claims that it regards most of these insurgent groups as “freedom fighters” rather than terrorists.

    Internationally known to be the most deadly theatre of conflict, nearly 10 million people, including Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, have been fighting a daily battle for survival. Cross-border firing between India and Pakistan, and terrorist attacks combined, has taken its toll on the Kashmiris, who have suffered poor living standards and an erosion of human rights. There have been several instances of standing armed conflicts on land, air or water in Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen and the maritime boundary. The nuclear conflict is of passive strategic nature as well with nuclear doctrine of Pakistan stating a first strike policy, although the strike would only be initiated if and only if, the Pakistan armed forces are unable to halt an invasion (as for example in 1971 ) or a nuclear strike is launched against Pakistan, whereas India has a declared policy of no first use.

    More recently, it is a matter of grave concern that for a country that is extremely sensitive to controversial material, 8.5 million Facebook users from inside Pakistan have access to messages from local extremists banned organisations and militants with complete impunity. More worryingly, it seems hate speech against minorities such as the Hindu community is resonating with a majority of local users, along with demands for jihad and making Pakistan an Islamic caliphate. The Facebook page My Ideology is Islam & My Identity is Pakistan (MIMIP) stands at 581,990 likes and a whopping 491,154 talking about the page. The page averages about one share every two minutes, up to 10 hours a day. It carries latest statements by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief (formerly Lashkar-e-Taiba) Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, generic religious messages, anti-Ahmadi hate speech, faces of Pakistani TV anchors, politicians and senior members of the judiciary photoshopped with dogs, demons or Hindu/Jewish symbols, etc.

    India’s notion of “limited war” and “punitive action”, short of triggering a full-war, is now manifesting itself in the shape of repeated violence on the LoC. The previous and the present Indian army chiefs have talked of adopting a tough line towards Pakistan

    The other side of the border is pretty much competing on equal hatred. One instance being the National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah. During his election campaign in Budgam last year he said those who vote for Modi should jump into the sea. He claimed he was reacting to BJP leader Giriraj Singh’s statement that people who don’t support Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan (Singh was subsequently banned from campaigning by the Election Commission). Azam Khan on another instance, a leader from the Samajwadi Party, was banned from public rallies by the EC after he insinuated in a campaign speech that the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan had been won by India on account of Muslim soldiers in the army.

    Open threats

    The weapon which is most disparaging for both sides on the economic and business front is terrorism. Indian media reports have repeatedly alleged that terrorism in India is sponsored by Pakistan. In 2012, the US accused Pakistan of enabling and ignoring anti-India terrorist cells working on its soil, however Pakistan has denied its involvement. “Terrorism continues to be a great threat to India, particularly now, when Pakistan is frustrated. They cannot wage an open war against India and they have been unable to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Thus, the only recourse open to them is to create internal problems, be it fighting a proxy war in the Kashmir Valley or causing problems further inside,” Lieutenant General (retd) Kadyan is quoted here talking to Indian media.

    More recently, in the wake of the biggest terrorist attack in the history of Pakistan (the attack on Army Public School) India was branded by usual conspiracy theorists as the mastermind. In response to this, as many see, IHC (Islamabad High Court) issued release orders of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who is accused of planning, financing and executing the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai’s landmarks that had killed over 160 people.

    Moreover, after the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, between 1990 and 1996, the Pakistani establishment continued to organise, support and nurture mujahedeen groups on the premise that they could be used for proxy warfare in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and in support of the doctrine of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. The same militant wing is now divided into several groups, chasing different marks. From the same hood, the Mullah Fazlullah Group is said to be funded by Indians to create insurgency within Pakistan.

    Economic strangling

    Current figures put the Indian population at approximately 1.2 billion, of which ten percent, or 120 million, is Muslim. India hosts the third largest Muslim population in the world. Pakistan has a population of 169 million, most of which is Muslim. This means, that despite the fact that India is a secular nation and Pakistan is a Muslim one, both host comparably sized Muslim populations.

    The CIA World Factbook reports that the 2014 official exchange rate GDP of India is $1.80 trillion while that of Pakistan is $250 billion. By 2030, India will become the world’s third largest economy with projected Purchasing Power Parity GDP at $13,716 billion. India is developing into an open-market economy. Economic liberalisation measures, including industrial deregulation, privatisation of state-owned enterprises, and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, began in the early 1990s and have served to accelerate the country’s growth, which averaged under seven percent per year since 1997, whereas decades of internal political disputes and low levels of foreign investment have led to slow growth and underdevelopment in Pakistan. Terrorism alone being the sole menace for the Pakistani economy has left the country in the clutches of foreign debt and liabilities.


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