Pakistan’s India syndrome

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    The Pak-India NSG debate, for one thing

     

    “At the beginning of the Cold War, while India decided to join the non-alignment movement by carefully calculating its national interests, Pakistan’s leaders remained fixated with the country’s foundation as a “necessary milestone on the journey towards the ultimate goal of universal Muslim solidarity.” Hence the country decided to carry the holy mission of saving the Muslim ummah against the “Hindu India” that posed a threat to Pakistan, and therefore to Islam.”

     

    At the time of the partition, Pakistan’s first major challenge was to secure its borders from its bigger enemy, India, whose leaders back then believed that the subcontinent’s partition was temporary and Pakistan’s return to India was inevitable. Nehru is known to have said that “a partition would be temporary that Pakistan was bound to come back to us.” He even described the day of Pakistan’s creation as “a day of sorrow and destruction for India.”

    A few years after the partition, besides the historic baggage of not accepting the partition principally, India’s only hope of devouring Pakistan came down to Pakistan’s own internal unraveling with the breakdown of its civilian institutional structures which put the military on the driving seat of the state.

    Over the decades, the military’s gradual dominance of the state and the civilian leadership’s inability to provide any semblance of vision to the country, have turned Pakistan’s hollow perception of Indian threat into a national dilemma which it has dug so deeper into that it cannot eject itself from unless the country was truly ready to change the way it has always defined itself: a Muslim state formed against a Hindu state.

    Pakistan’s perceived threats from its bigger neighbour have been more about perceptions rather than actual threats. Regionally and beyond, Pakistan’s policy makers have always attempted to portray an outdated argument of an imminent Indian threat that poses an existentialist challenge to the country’s existence. Although it is true that like any other state, Pakistan needs to defend itself from all outside threats, the idea that India still considers Pakistan a “temporary outcome,” is a lie and points towards other interests whose dominance and control of the Pakistani state has been build along this argument.

    Before asking any question about India’s intervention in the East Pakistan, one should reflect on the following though: why Pakistan’s leaders refused to Hanover powers to a democratically elected leader in the East? Why an economic and political alienation have always been played down by castigating Bangalis as agents of India?

    Pakistan’s fixation to be counted equally with India in the international world has cost Pakistan not just economically but culturally and socially as well. We have always tried to complete with a country whose size, resources and diplomatic reach have always been miles ahead of us. Furthermore, to achieve this objective, we have raised demons and befriended with devils (the support for different non-state actors is a one example). Our curriculum of hate that casts not just our neighbouring countries as evils but also the communities living there – Hindus in India – as the worst creatures which ever walked this planet, have devoured our state internally.

    At the beginning of the Cold War, while India decided to join the non-alignment movement by carefully calculating its national interests, Pakistan’s leaders remained fixated with the country’s foundation as a “necessary milestone on the journey towards the ultimate goal of universal Muslim solidarity.” Hence the country decided to carry the holy mission of saving the Muslim ummah against the “Hindu India” that posed a threat to Pakistan, and therefore to Islam.

    Over the decades, this thought of “pan-Islamism” was embedded in the national narrative of the country – and by and large in opposition to India. While India was confined with projecting its “Soft Image and Power” abroad, Pakistan’s leadership was occupied with radicalizing and Islamising its own country. And now while India is all set to breakout as a regional economic and military power, Pakistan’s leadership is busy in lamenting how the international world has forgotten its duty of treating Pakistan equally with India.

    Besides whether New Delhi merits the membership of the Nuclear Supplier’s Group or not, India’s call for support in this regard has resonated internationally. While, on the other hand, Pakistan has relied on the same rhetoric of victimhood and discriminatory treatment against India, rather than explaining why it merits the membership as well. Although India’s prime minister has been aggressively lobbying to convince the world in this regard, Pakistan’s “minister less” foreign office only woke to this development only after it came to know about the Indian intention to join the powerful club.

    Pakistani leadership’s “victimhood” mantra has lost ears internationally. India is investing more in Afghanistan and Iran than Pakistan could ever dream off. If Pakistan is so concerned about the India centric public opinion in Afghanistan, it should, too, try to win the hearts of the Afghans by investing economically in the country and supporting any government in Kabul rather than banking on non-state actors to win the country for it. Modi’s proactive policy of reaching out to Afghanistan and India has further isolated Pakistan: unlike Pakistan, which has sheltered its neighbour’s enemies as guests, Iran and Afghanistan understand their interests well and have responded by formulating an economic block with India.

    The Gulf States and Pakistan’s closest ally, Saudi Arabia, have opened its arms towards India which as they believe – or as they should – have more economic, political and diplomatic clout than Islamabad. Unlike Pakistan, these Muslim states are calculating their interests not from an Islamic perspective rather by following the simple line of national interest.

     

    “Although India’s prime minister has been aggressively lobbying to convince the world in this regard, Pakistan’s “minister less” foreign office only woke to this development only after it came to know about the Indian intention to join the powerful club.”

     

    Rather than working to construct a stronger state internally, by making it prosperous economically and culturally, all Pakistan has done is to follow the trail of a giant that considers the former a “bleeding wound” which has even arrested its own development. Pakistani cannot compete with India unless it’s ready to define its interests more systematically and pragmatically; defining interests in opposition to India and lamenting over the “unequal treatment” won’t find solace anywhere now.