The problems Pakistan is facing


Potpourri of prophesies


I have chosen to share extracts of views from my previous op-eds. Views that have turned out to be true as I am often reminded by friends. Views that need to come sharply in focus for our decision makers for outlining policy decisions.

In spotlight (again) are relations between India and Pakistan, “BJP carries a heavy Hindutva baggage. So much so that the BJP manifesto states: “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” Modi has a very limited experience of foreign policy. His appointment as the national security advisor has been Ajit Doval. Looking into Ajit Doval’s past and thought process is interesting as it reflects upon the shape of foreign policy India would like to map out with Pakistan. He has been part of a think tank with expertise in Pakistan and China affairs.

“The second he steps out of this ambit, he will have to heavily lean on others for expert advice. To say that Ajit Doval’s background is interesting is an understatement. He had infiltrated the Golden Temple reportedly in the uniform of an ISI officer, he was involved in negotiating the release of hijacked prisoners of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 in Kandahar in 1999 and “handed over insurgents” from Kashmir and Mizoram. Quoting The Hindu, “Mr Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. In a 2012 article, he defines these as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.” He notes, ominously, “Pakistan has its own vulnerabilities many times higher than India.” (Published June 23, 1014)

“Are we talking of an increased degree of Indian supported proxy war or/and terrorism in Pakistan in light of Ajit Doval’s preferred mode of combat? The reason why it’s important to know key players of Modi’s team is because policies depend upon their preferences. India’s hold over the Ayni Air Basealso called as ‘Gissar Airbase’ located 10km west of the capital of Tajikistan-Dushanbe and the Farkhor Airbase, a military airbase located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometres south east of the capital Dushanbe — can lead to worrisome results for Pakistan. One thing is clear. Modi does not intend to keep a friendly tone or move towards resolving of any existing issues with Pakistan.” (Published July 7, 2014, in Pakistan Today)

The closeness of India and Tajikstan took another step with both countries signing four agreements in the field of culture and human resource development after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon for 2016-8. (Published July 13, 2015)

In another op-ed for Pakistan Today, I had quoted Wajid Shamsul Hasan, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, “The rapidly emerging sub-continental scenario is very threatening. Modi seems to be on the dangerous path of conjuring an axis of evil against Pakistan. We should beware. Modi has hinted/warned of yet another Bangladesh like situation. All good people need to unite and be objective to get the nation prepared for any eventuality. Never in the past, any of our ‘friend’s’ Enterprise came to our aid. We shall have to be on our own in future too. Blaming one another is divisive. Pakistan’s political dispensation had better hurry up in finding an efficacious remedial solution for healing what has come to be Pakistan’s bleeding Achilles heel. Please do not live under the perception that Balochistan is not East Pakistan, its territory is not contagious as was the case with the Eastern Wing and that it has just seven million people who can be sorted out by us any time.”

I had spoken of the “Pakistan’s bleeding Achilles heel” aptly coined by Wajid Shamsul Hasan in my op-ed “Understanding Balochistan”. If one recalls, a report released to the parliamentarians sometime in early December 2010, by former Director General Military Operations Ahmed Shuja Pasha, shared that Russia and India were also involved in the insurgency in Balochistan. Pasha had shared the presence of nine training camps dotting the Afghan border for the training of members of BLA. “He also claimed, “India and the UAE (reportedly due to opposition to construction of the Gwadar port) were funding and arming the Baloch. Pasha also claimed that the Russian government was directly involved in funding/training/supporting the insurgency.” (Newspaper report published December 3, 2010) The mention of UAE is interesting as Dubai Port’s strategic interests may be hurt with a fully functional Gwadar Port. The government plans to make Gwadar a free port thereby exempting it from excise duty. One need to be reminded here that the Jabal Ali Port in Dubai is also a free port. The completion of Gwadar Port will be an economic elixir not only for the country but also for Balochistan that will provide jobs for the locals thereby improving their economic condition.” (May 11, 2015)

Regarding the water issues that I foresee hitting Pakistan in greater force by 2017, yet our government is not being proactive about this life and death issue. Accusation is one thing, taking measures to counter a looming situation another.

In my op-ed of December 23, July 2013, I had written, “The Times of India reports that Pakistan has accused India of violating the Indus Water Treaty 1960. In an editorial, titled ‘Games They Play? India’s Water Infringement’, claims that India is in the process of building as many as 67 dams on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty (IWT). India has built and is in the process to construct big and small dams, hydropower projects and reservoirs, numbering as many as 67, on the principal rivers — Indus, Jehlum and Chenab — that were allotted to Pakistan under the IWT.” (Published September 24, 2013) This is only one example.

Hence the importance of Kashmir.

In yet another op-ed for Pakistan Today (March 10, 2015) I had written, “The importance of Kashmir is intrinsic to Pakistan’s survival. The dispute over water is inextricably interlinked with Kashmir. If one recalls, soon after Independence, India had shut off the canals of Central Bari Doab. The result was damage to crops, it being the sowing season. I quote from an article by historian Naveed Tajammal, “Two sets of laws govern the water disputes, first is the Harmon Doctrine, named after “Judson Harmon”, the Attorney General of USA in 1895, when dispute arose between Mexico and USA over the usage of Rio Grande waters. Mexico was a lower riparian, the doctrine above cited gives “absolute territorial sovereignty” to the upper riparian, as goes the usage of water resources passing through its lands. Though the matter was resolved by a convention held between USA and Mexico on May 21, 1906, by which Mexico got its share of waters… Indus valley river system is an ‘International Drainage Basin’, as the geographical area extends and covers the administrative boundaries of more than two states, from Afghanistan to Chinese administered Tibet, in the North East and to Indian Occupied Kashmir. Technically India cannot claim sovereignty over Kashmir as it remains a disputed state, and matter in reference before the world courts, having over a million troops holding it.” (March 6, 2012)

The government, some government, needs to own these issues and work on proactive solutions including long- and short-term goals for the country. Not raising pertinent issues with the UN or at any other relevant forums is not the answer.