Attacks on Indian Consulates and Emerging Trends in Indo-Pak Relations

South Asia, being the region of critical importance, has a greater role to play in the world politics. But, its prospects to exert its influence are marred by the high level of mistrust between the states in the region. Inter-regional trade is just paltry when seen in the trade relations of other world regions. It is also a heavily-guarded region with the forces always alert at the borders.

Though all South Asian countries share the responsibility of progress and development of the region, Pakistan and India, being the most prominent regional players ‘owing to their demographic and geographic importance ‘have to be the torchbearers in this regard. Nuclear arsenals make the backbone of their military power and might. But, due to her bigger size and superiority in military and economic realms, India has resorted to manoeuvring and due to the sinister designs, she wants to pursue, the region’ peace is at stake.

The relations between the two neighbours, historically, have been topsy-turvy, and are mostly event-based. The mist of suspicion and mistrust has always blanketed their relations. Despite aspirations and efforts to harness peace from different quarters, both sides are always at daggers drawn.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Great Britain in 1947. Every time something wrong happens in India, and places like Afghanistan where her interests are at stake, Indian political and military leadership as well as media start blaming Pakistan right after the first second the incident comes to light. Whether it is the freedom movement of Kashmiris or the uprising of Sikhs or other Indian nationalities, so much so that even a protest call by the Kashmiri leaders against gross violation of human rights in Kashmir, is considered the brainchild of Pakistan’s security establishment.

The coming of BJP government at the helm of affairs in India has changed the regional scenario. Pakistani premier Mr Nawaz Sharif not only congratulated Mr Modi on phone but also participated in his oath-taking ceremony at New Delhi. Ruling PML (N) government wants to proceed forward with India in terms of promoting trade between the two neighbours. But, meeting between the two premiers seems another routine photo session as nothing concrete has come out of it.

During Mr Sharif’s visit to India, Afghanistan’s outgoing President Hamid Karzai strengthened Modi’s hands when he blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the May 23 attack on Indian consulates in Herat. This vicious attack has resurrected the spectre of another war in the region as it is being considered by diplomatic fraternity that karzai said this on the behest of India’s new leadership that mainly consists of nationalists and RSS warmongers.

S. Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, recently said, ‘Our consulate and our diplomatic presence in Afghanistan have been under threat.’

But the facts delineate a different picture. Afghans never let foreigners to carry on their nefarious agenda at their soil. They were born free and they love to die for freedom. Indian establishment instead of blaming other countries should also revisit their policies in the region.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also spoke to Narendra Modi after the assault on Indian consulate at Herat and termed it ‘an attack on Afghanistan, India and our shared interests (Afghan-India strategic partnership).’Islamabad strongly condemned the attack and issued a statement, saying, ‘no cause justifies targeting of diplomatic missions.’

Herat lies near Afghanistan’s border with Iran and is considered one of the safest cities in the country. Taliban had earlier launched a similar assault on the US consulate in this city in September 2013. Similar attacks were made in August 2013 at Indian Consulate in the Afghan city of Jalalabad. Two more attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul were also reported in 2008 and 2009. Indian stakes and designs in this country are high as she has invested more than $2 billion in different projects in Afghanistan

Foreign embassies and consulates are the favourite targets of insurgents in Afghanistan. Pakistani citizens have been targeted in Afghanistan at a number of times; would it be realistic if Pakistan puts blame on India for the causalities of its innocent citizens in Kabul?

Pakistan always reacts in a balanced manner though there is substantial evidence of Indian involvement in promoting insurgency in Balochistan, FATA and other parts of the country. Here, the question is what so many Indian consulates do in Afghanistan along its eastern borders? Simple, to strike at Islamabad’s interests from both eastern and western fronts; and counter its influence in the regional politics.

These brazen accusations will not, at all, serve Indian interests; rather it will further aggravate the situation. Moreover, it would be a setback to sincere efforts from Pakistani side, and aspirations of maintaining peace and stability in the region could dash. The future of peaceful bilateral relations will always depend on peaceful mutual coexistence. In this regard, the response of Modi’s new government and the level of its sincerity for meaningful dialogue will be of critical importance. So, there is a dire need of sincerity from Indian side to turn the dream of peaceful South Asia into reality, and for the welfare of billions of inhabitants of the region.

By:M. Rizwan

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