“The world will find us frank and honest in our dealings with it. An undertaking, once given, shall be honoured whatever the cost. Pakistan expects the same from others.”
F.M. Muhammad Ayub Khan (Former President of Pakistan)
Border skirmishes escalate, mutual blame game is on and a zero-sum game thrives — India-Pakistan hostility is on the rise and the statements from both the sides ‘keep the pot boiling’. One should not be optimistic about the establishment of cordial Pak-India ties in the presence of intermittent provocations and warmongering from Indian side as well as an unrealistic policy of non-acceptance towards Pakistan.
The Indo-Pak ties had changed for the better after the famous Ufa rendezvous between Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that took place in the Russian city during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. That was a gesture of goodwill between the nuclear neighbours and archrivals. However, the cancellation of meeting between National Security Advisors (NSA) of both countries and escalated border skirmishes brought uncertainty to the recent commitment of negotiations.
Both the states have been facing a number of mutual concerns from the very first day of their independence: the princely states issue, the division of assets, and most prominently the long-unresolved Kashmir issue. The 1965 War, the 1971 War and the resultant separation of East Pakistan, and the conduct of India’s first nuclear tests in May 1974 —after only three years of the 1971 War — raised alarms for Pakistan’s security. Nevertheless, besides the mutual differences and concerns, Pak-India ties have been the victim of the policy of non-acceptance from the Indian side, which is the root cause of the distrust and exasperation between the two countries.
Historically speaking, it is more than evident that the Hindus could not digest the establishment of the All India Muslim League. And, the policy of non-acceptance has bloomed in the minds of the Hindus since then. Now, when the poison tree of animosity towards Muslims (or more rightly Pakistan) has been watered for more than a hundred years, how on earth one can expect that India will be making efforts to harbour friendly and cordial relations with Pakistan.
At the time of the creation of Pakistan, India believed that the nascent country will not survive for long and sooner or later it will have to cede to India. But, with the blessings of Allah Almighty, Pakistan not only survived but will also survive forever, Insha Allah. Then, India made all-out efforts to establish hegemony over the region and especially to make Pakistan subservient to it through its destabilizing manoeuvres.
After failing many attempts for overwhelming dominance over Pakistan, India’s conduct of nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1974 was a huge step towards realizing this unrealistic goal. It is worth-mentioning here that till that time, Pakistan had no plans to make its own nuclear bomb. However, the disturbed balance of power in the region through this aggressive move by India compelled Pakistan to start its own nuclear programme to neutralize Indian threat to its security and even survival.
In recent weeks, the cross-border violence between India and Pakistan has been on the rise whereby Indian forces targeted civilians. This intermittent display of aggression on the part of India must be stopped, once for all. Although the NSA-level talks have been cancelled, the meeting between the Directors General (DGs) of Rangers and both countries held in New Delhi. Amidst escalating tensions and continuing cases of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s 16-member delegation, led by Rangers Director General (Punjab), Major General Umar Farooq Barki, went to India. However, like many past meetings, this too proved only to be a photo session as nothing solid came out of it.
Although informed circles claim that implementing confidence-building measures, avoiding interference in one another’s affairs, economic engagement and reducing hostile perceptions can lead to smooth Indo-Pak ties, yet there is only one thing that can pave the way for future negotiations as well as cooperation between both the states: India should abandon its policy of non-acceptance towards Pakistan. That is a prerequisite for all these measures.
Mian Nawaz Sharif sent a positive message to Indians when he participated in Narendra Modi’s inauguration in May last year. However, this gesture of goodwill from Pakistani side was not reciprocated by the Indians. At that time too, the new Indian premier did not refrain from sending a message to the world about India’s aspirations for hegemony over the region by saying that “the presence of the regional leaders had sent a clear message to the world about India’s strength.”
India’s incumbent Advisor for National Security, Ajit Doval, has admitted that he had spied on Pakistan and that he spent 7 years as a secret operative in Lahore. Does it suit a country that claims to be the world’s biggest democracy to appoint such a person to a high level seat? How can we expect a shared and realistic vision from India to guide its policies towards Pakistan?
Mutual matters of concern and disputes are not the root causes of ever-sour Pak-India ties. India’s flawed psyche towards Pakistan is the root cause that must be addressed at the earliest. One should not be optimistic that the arrangement of negotiations and dialogue will resolve core issues like Kashmir, mutual interference, water and border conflicts, etc. Cordiality in relations will only come once there is a change in the psyche and mindset of India’s arrogant establishment and jingoist leadership towards Pakistan.