Shifting paradigms: Disintegrating Indo-Pak ties

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    History keeps repeating itself and diplomacy keeps failing

    War is not the answer. Modern nation-states cannot fight full-scale military battles, and independent nuclear states cannot be conquered by military might. Pakistan and India should realise such brutal ground realities and smash the myth of ‘otherisation’ into fragments of nothingness. The perceived enemy is a manufactured entity and both countries have been wilfully clinging to the myths of the past. The enemy lies within and both states have often succumbed to socio-political pressures. Both these states have tried to maintain the meta-narratives of deep-rooted ideological warfare. The socio-cultural baggage of demagogues continues to erode their fickle-minded minions as these citizens of the state strive hard to resolve their respective identity crises. Political benefactors often just need to add fuel to the fire of victimisation so that they can reap the benefits of anarchy, and complete their politically motivated designs of disharmony.

    Recently, as always, bilateral negotiations pertaining to terrorism amongst other things were cancelled between India and Pakistan. These talks were scheduled after a sideline agreement in Russia and were made via a written statement between both the heads of the states. Sartaj Aziz, National Security Advisor, was all set to meet the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference during his visit to India. India discouraged Pakistan from this political endeavour. Pakistan refused to go further in the reconciliation process as this prerequisite somehow belittled its status as a powerful country. Heavy firing at the Line of Control and the loss of several innocent civilians added fuel to the fire. Then there was a bombardment of more statements from both sides about how they would crush the other if forced to go to war. Both nations started showing off their military potential and Pakistan was just too excited about the possibility of becoming the third largest nuclear power in the coming future. This exchange of fiery statements could be summarised in a way that does not belittle us because we have nuclear potential and the capacity to retaliate.

    War is not the answer. Modern nation-states cannot fight full-scale military battles, and independent nuclear states cannot be conquered by military might. Pakistan and India should realise such brutal ground realities and smash the myth of ‘otherisation’ into fragments of nothingness

    After several successive wars, both these nations have still not learnt their lessons, and the debate about previous so-called victories at the cost of civilian casualties and vast devastation remains ingrained in their boisterous claims. India and Pakistan are obsessed with the issue of Kashmir and there can be no progress in bilateral ties until this matter is resolved, which is highly unlikely. There is a lot of clamour about referendums and UN resolutions but they could never cure the problem in all these decades of existence, and might not be able to do it in the future. It has become a matter of inflated pride and the whole narrative of ideology has often been woven around it several times by several angles of misguided interpretation. The other aspect of this conflict is widespread terrorism and the harbouring of separatist elements by both countries, as they continue to engage in state-sponsored terrorism on a massive scale. Self-destructive policies and wars could not help these countries until now and a resolution would not happen until they decide to help themselves.

    Pakistan is fully equipped to go to war with India but it cannot bear the cost of such a war with its neighbouring country, which is also a nuclear state. There have been several vicissitudes during Nawaz Sharif’s regime pertaining to relations with India. Pakistan has several inner issues to handle and it cannot even contemplate the possibility of such a ridiculously self-destructive endeavour, as the repercussions would be extremely significant. Poverty, population control, illiteracy, military expenses, water shortage and corruption are some of the inherent socio-political issues faced by Pakistan, which means a war is not at all feasible.

    On the other hand, India is also facing similar challenges on its own soil such as poverty, illiteracy, and terrorism. India is also completely capable of going to war with Pakistan but the repercussions cannot be ignored by both the nations even though they often tend to indulge themselves in fiery exchange of words. The Indian army is equally responsible for the aggravating attacks at the border and it plays on the myth of ‘otherisation’. India is not the enemy but only a neighbour with the world’s third largest emerging economy which Pakistan cannot match in any way in the near future. Pakistan should embrace the shared socio-cultural history and enhance bilateral ties, while these egotistical nations should admit that cooperation is the only way forward. Pakistan needs economic cooperation more than ever as it tries to emerge as a key player in the geostrategic arena. There is no need to further inflate the mythical land of national pride as it is consistently self-damaging.

    This myth of India as the living enemy has often provided the Pakistani army with an excuse for a greater share in the country’s budget and massive weaponisation. The same reason applies to the Kashmir conflict…

    The pivotal aspect to this conflict is that General Raheel Sharif is possibly eyeing an extension to his rule as the Chief of Army Staff. In essence, the reins of the country are in the hands of the military establishment as the political regime’s power has been greatly minimalised already. In addition to stirring up trouble within the local political scene, the military needs to keep its powerful presence alive and reiterate its importance on international frontiers as well. The myth of India as the enemy has always been kept alive and the military has used it as a pawn in achieving its local political motives and curtailing the power of the real head of the state. This myth of India as the living enemy has often provided the Pakistani army with an excuse for a greater share in the country’s budget and massive weaponisation. The same reason applies to the Kashmir conflict because the military needs us to believe that the nation is in a state of constant war and surrounded by external enemies but the enemy lies within. State-sponsored terrorism is an integral part of this puzzle.

    Henceforth, the conflict has been aggravated by several players for their own gains and the pursuance of this conflict is highly detrimental for both the countries. Pakistan and India should benefit from neighbouring proximity and indulge themselves in positive economic endeavours while jointly eliminating the menace of terrorism rather than injecting national pride with the myth of the perceived enemy.