Wars have Failed us, but so has ‘Aman ki Asha’

The idea of a sovereign Pakistan was based upon a hate-filled two-nation theory. The idea was realised by successfully executing a mass cleansing programme, called ‘Direct Action Day’. Even before the boundary lines could be drawn, Pakistan infiltrated into the independent kingdom of Kashmir. India rushed to Kashmir’s defence, when invited by Maharaja Hari Singh. Seven decades later, it is still the same story. They continue to infiltrate, and we continue to defend. A sum total of seven major terror attacks have been conducted against the Indian Armed Forces, in the last one year. This calls for introspection; for our policy vis-à-vis Pakistan, lacks coherence. The government has to stop flirting with the various possibilities that exist, and show some resolve. In simple words, it must act, keeping in mind a long-term plan.

When I say India must act, I do not suggest that we go for a full-scale direct war with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We have fought (and won) many of them. And Pakistan must remember, that were it to engage in any sort of territorial adventurism, India will treat it no less than an invitation to re-draw the territorial map of Pakistan. But the point is, a war (especially when one is the aggressor) cannot lead to a sustainable solution. Barring the satisfaction of having stood for Bangladesh’s freedom, there is not much that India has achieved. This is also because the ‘Indian’ advantage gained in the Bangladesh war (1971) was heavily compromised in the Shimla Agreement. Further, given the realities of today’s world (politics, economy, diplomacy), there is very little that India stands to gain from a full-scale direct confrontation. Given our aspirations, we cannot afford to be caught up with the economic and diplomatic consequences of a full-scale conflict.

We must, however, remember that if wars have failed, so have the attempts at peaceful cooperation. India-Pakistan relationship is a bit like business cycles, in the sense that it exhibits a predictable pattern. When we fight, we suspend all relations. Then, we get back to the ‘table’, with the utopian dream (Aman ki Asha), that all of our conflicts can be resolved by hugs, and handshakes. But even before plausible ideas can be discussed, we are forced to walk away, the moment India’s integrity is challenged once again. At some point, we have to ask ourselves, some very uncomfortable questions. Given all that India has set out to achieve, can we afford to drain our time, energy, and resources on restoring our relations with one failed state? Let us take a few examples. We granted Pakistan, the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tag, with the hope that trade, and commerce will usher in normalcy. Till date, Pakistan has not returned the favour. It has categorically stated that it has no plans of doing that, anytime soon. India invited Pakistan to investigate the Pathankot attack, hoping that it would yield something that sharing dossiers (on 26/11 Mumbai attacks) didn’t. But all in vain. From the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), to a seat on the UN Security Council table, Pakistan opposes every move that India makes, to realise its true potential. Sartaj Aziz openly takes pride in the fact that Nawaz Sharif wrote to 17 countries, to prevent India from getting the NSG membership. For him, all I have, is Vajpayee’s warning- एक नहीं, दो नहीं, करो बीसों समझौते, पर स्वतंत्र भारत का मस्तक नहीं झुकेगा |

This is not it. Some of Pakistan’s agents also work in Kashmir. They meet the Pakistan High Commissioner, but refuse to engage with the democratic leaders of their ‘home’ nation. Pakistan continues to sponsor them. On 5th February, each year, the state of Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day, as a national holiday.

It will be preposterous to assume that every Pakistani is an enemy of India. But facts prove that the Pakistani establishment is one, and should be treated as one. The ‘state’ openly allows the ‘non-state’ actors to do as they please. It is, therefore, complicit in the campaign to break India into a thousand pieces. And anyone who operates with a design of that sort, deserves just one ‘status’- that of an enemy. This is a fact that we should make it clear to the world by-and large, as loud and clear as we can.

Given that we are a responsible power, we will deal with Pakistan responsibly. Here are a few points, that could become a part of our Pakistan doctrine:

  1. Open support to the freedom struggles of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and Balochistan.
  2. Use of all available intelligence assets, to aid and support the achievement of the stated objective.
  3. Directing that the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, officially invite the pro- Balochistan leaders, for ‘meet and greet’, till the time his Pakistani counterpart in New Delhi does not stop doing the same with Kashmiri ‘leaders’.
  4. Re-assessing our economic, political, and diplomatic relations with each and every country, that knowingly or unknowingly, becomes a part of Pakistan’s anti-India designs.
  5. Reciprocity should be the norm on economic issues. ‘Most Favoured Nation’ tag should be revoked. That India will never be the first to blink the eye, on such concessions, should be made clear.
  6. Pakistan should not be invited to collect evidence related to terror attacks, till the time there is no visible progress on punishing the offenders of the previous ones.
  7. A strategic alliance with all major military, and economic powers, including but not limited to the United States, should be pursued more aggressively, to isolate Pakistan.
  8. The idea of joint control, and administration of ‘India-administered Kashmir’ should be dropped from the Indian diplomatic lexicon.
  9. Intensifying efforts to drum up required support for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, and use the occasion to segregate the rest of the world into terrorism-loving, and peace-loving nation-states.
  10. Pakistan Army positions that aid, and facilitate the infiltration of fidayeen groups, through the Line of Control (LoC), should be strategically targeted by the Indian Armed Forces, in a disciplined manner – to send the right message.

India has the capacity to absorb, and endure losses. But this is not enough. To be great, we have to show that we also have the courage to inflict punishment, in the most disciplined of all ways, should the need arise for the same. Ending this piece, by borrowing the following lines from Billy Joel:

We Didn’t Start the Fire;
No, We Didn’t Light it;
But We (Will Try) to Fight it.

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