India/Pakistan — Dealing with Pakistan: Time to Face Realities

India’s pol­i­cy of extend­ing a hand of friend­ship and accom­mo­da­tion has been a total fail­ure. On the con­trary, it has embold­ened Pak­istan into con­sid­er­ing India to be a soft state and increased its intran­si­gence and hard­ened its anti-India atti­tude. How to deal with an unrea­son­able and hos­tile neigh­bour con­tin­ues to be a con­vo­lut­ed dilem­ma for India. Every Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter has made lib­er­al con­cil­ia­to­ry ges­tures in the mis­tak­en belief that he could make a place for him­self in the his­to­ry of the sub-con­ti­nent as the har­bin­ger of peace. One went to the ridicu­lous extent of ban­ning Indi­an secret agen­cies from oper­at­ing in Pak­istan. All were doomed to fail for the sim­ple rea­son that they were based more on hope than hard ground real­i­ties.

This arti­cle is pub­lished with the kind per­mis­sion of “Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) Mag­a­zine” New Del­hi-India

Defence and Security Alert (DSA

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Over the last six decades India has tried var­i­ous poli­cies to make Pak­istan see the ben­e­fits of a ran­cour-free rela­tion­ship. Every Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter has made lib­er­al con­cil­ia­to­ry ges­tures in the mis­tak­en belief that he could make a place for him­self in the his­to­ry of the sub-con­ti­nent as the har­bin­ger of peace. One went to the ridicu­lous extent of ban­ning Indi­an secret agen­cies from oper­at­ing in Pak­istan. All were doomed to fail for the sim­ple rea­son that they were based more on hope than hard ground real­i­ties. In the end, the Indi­an lead­er­ship had to throw its hands up in sheer frus­tra­tion due to Pakistan’s anti-India intran­si­gence.

A few years ago a group of Indi­an ladies vis­it­ed Pak­istan under a social exchange pro­gramme. One of the ladies sus­tained a wrist frac­ture in an acci­den­tal fall and was tak­en to the near­est med­ical facil­i­ty. The orthopaedi­cian on duty treat­ed the lady dili­gent­ly and to the best of his abil­i­ty. While ban­dag­ing the wrist, he engaged the lady in small talk. When the lady referred to com­mon­al­i­ty of Indi­an and Pak­istani cul­tures, the doc­tor flared up and blast­ed the lady for her ‘flawed views’. “What is com­mon between us? We eat cows and you wor­ship them. We asked for a sep­a­rate nation only because we are total­ly dif­fer­ent in all respects. I sug­gest you Indi­ans should stop fool­ing your­selves”, he thun­dered.

The above inci­dent has been recalled here to show the extent to which Pak­istani cit­i­zens have been brain­washed. Their deep-root­ed hatred and ven­omous mind­set defies log­ic. When some well-mean­ing enthu­si­asts talk about Track-II diplo­ma­cy and ini­tia­tives like ‘Aman Ki Asha’, they for­get the fact that Pak­istan lives and thrives on anti-Indi­an pol­i­cy. The day Pak­istan sheds hos­til­i­ty towards India and adopts a con­cil­ia­to­ry stance, it would amount to negat­ing two-nation the­o­ry, the rai­son d’être for its very exis­tence. There­fore, it will be naïve to expect Pak­istan to have a change of heart.

‘Be patient with a bad neigh­bour: he may move’ is a famous Egypt­ian proverb. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, such hopes can­not be enter­tained with respect to a bad neigh­bour­ing coun­try. It is a great mis­for­tune that India has been cursed with a neigh­bour like Pak­istan which does not mind harm­ing itself only to harm India. Kash­mir is mere­ly a man­i­fes­ta­tion of Pakistan’s infi­nite hos­til­i­ty towards India. Were India to han­dover Kash­mir to it on a plat­ter, Pak­istan will invent new­er issues to keep the pot boil­ing. Dis­cord and acri­mo­ny would con­tin­ue as always.

India’s pol­i­cy of extend­ing a hand of friend­ship and accom­mo­da­tion has been a total fail­ure. On the con­trary, it has embold­ened Pak­istan into con­sid­er­ing India to be a soft state and increased its intran­si­gence and hard­ened its anti-India atti­tude. How to deal with an unrea­son­able and hos­tile neigh­bour con­tin­ues to be a con­vo­lut­ed dilem­ma for India.

Ground real­i­ties

Before embark­ing on a fresh ini­tia­tive, Indi­an pol­i­cy mak­ers will do well to analyse under­ly­ing rea­sons for Pakistan’s anti-India stance and antag­o­nis­tic atti­tude while keep­ing the fol­low­ing ground real­i­ties in mind:

Neg­a­tive core val­ues: Every nation has cer­tain core val­ues. These are fun­da­men­tal traits that pro­vide sus­te­nance to it for its exis­tence. Nor­mal­ly, these are pos­i­tive attrib­ut­es which are con­sid­ered non-nego­tiable and unal­ter­able. In many coun­tries, the core val­ues are enshrined in the open­ing chap­ter of their writ­ten con­sti­tu­tion. In India’s case, it is to secure for all its cit­i­zens jus­tice (social, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal); lib­er­ty (of thought, expres­sion, belief, faith and wor­ship); equal­i­ty (of sta­tus and oppor­tu­ni­ty); and fra­ter­ni­ty while assur­ing the dig­ni­ty of the indi­vid­ual and the uni­ty and integri­ty of the nation.

Rogue coun­tries like Pak­istan do not believe in inter­na­tion­al con­ven­tions and shame­less­ly flout them. The only lan­guage they under­stand is of strength and ret­ri­bu­tion. India must make it amply clear to Pak gov­ern­ment that every anti-India mis­chief would invite imme­di­ate reprisal and that no trans­gres­sion will go unpun­ished

On the oth­er hand, despite high sound­ing asser­tions in its fre­quent­ly rewrit­ten con­sti­tu­tion, Pakistan’s core val­ues are based on the warped polit­i­cal prin­ci­ples of ‘hate and hurt India’ at all costs, even if its own exis­tence gets jeop­ar­dised in the process. Pak­istan was cre­at­ed on the ide­ol­o­gy that the ‘pure’ can­not coex­ist with the infi­del. A nation born out of hatred needs hatred to feed itself on for con­tin­ued sus­te­nance and to jus­ti­fy its exis­tence. Anti-India stance ful­fills this need and can­not be shed.

Deep root­ed prej­u­dices: Bhutto’s ‘1,000 year war’ and Zia’s ‘bleed­ing India by 1,000 cuts’ are indica­tive of innate prej­u­dices. In its school text books, Pakistan’s exis­tence is claimed since the time Qasim cap­tured Sindh province in the 8th cen­tu­ry. Muham­mad-bin-Qasim and Mah­mud Ghori are por­trayed as great heroes who were instru­men­tal in the estab­lish­ment of Mus­lim rule in India. When a lead­ing Pak­istani paper claims that Pak­istan is des­tined to defeat India because Pakistan’s ‘hors­es in the form of atom­ic bombs and mis­siles’ are far bet­ter than Indi­an ‘don­keys’ and boasts of re-con­quer­ing India, the lev­el of per­co­la­tion of anti-India ven­om can well be gauged.

In the wake of 1962 Indo-Chi­na con­flict, Pak­istan tried to fish in trou­bled waters to extract con­ces­sions from India. Sub­se­quent­ly, it decid­ed to befriend Chi­na to spite India. Today, it swears by its cama­raderie with Chi­na. It is an unprin­ci­pled mar­riage of expe­di­en­cy against a com­mon adver­sary. Anti-India atti­tude has com­pelled Pak­istan, a nation owing its exis­tence to reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism, into embrac­ing com­mu­nist Chi­na.