By Nayyar N Khan
Although both India and Pakistan never had friendly relations since their creation in 1947. The persistent mistrust between the two neighboring countries over various key issues has defied numerous international attempts at resolution and entered its most dangerous phase when both India and Pakistan openly blaming each other for supporting and funding the terrorist activities across the Radcliffe Line.
Both are well aware of this material fact that they cannot change their neighbors even then both hesitated to exercise their diplomatic muscles to ease the bilateral tensions. No serious efforts has ever been made in this regard to create a fear free environment in the world’s most thickly populated region. Fog of fear and mistrust are as old as the political age of both the countries. There were several occasions in the history when both could have negotiated a peaceful resolution of the conflicts and have progressed forward to establish trust instead of bullying. If there were some measures taken in this regard, they were merely on piece of paper under international diplomatic pressure but these accords were never accepted from either side passionately. For instance, Tashkent agreement of 1966 lost its credibility and validity only after six years when both fought another war in Bengal in 1971 and as a result Bangladesh came into being and Pakistan Army had to surrender amid defeating and humiliating circumstances.
1972 Shimla Accord between Z.A. Bhutto and Mrs. Indra Gandhi also could not prove to be a lasting and defining doctrine as the definition and explanation of the articles and clauses have different meanings in the diplomatic and self-explanatory lingo across the Radcliffe line. 1989 uprising in Indian held Jammu Kashmir again fueled the mistrust and both confronted each other internationally through their diplomatic muscles by the harsh words of intervention in the internal affairs, terrorism support, human rights violations and so on. 1998 proved to be another catastrophic year in bilateral rigidities when both tested their nuclear weapons one after another thus blowing the whistle for a deadly catastrophe in the region. Soon after the nuclear experiments both take the U-Turn and signed another treaty at Lahore, Pakistan declaring to move forward theoretically but ended up fighting a war at the Peaks of Kargil in Jammu Kashmir in 1999. Again During the Vajpayee and Musharraf regimes both countries came close to each other for a short period of time but the Confidence Building Measure could not last longer and 26/11 Mumbai attacks swept the dust of friendly relations under the old carpet of animosity. All the blames for the attacks were leveled against both the State and non-state actors from the territory of Pakistan.
Recent military operations to curb the extremism amid civil and political unrest in Karachi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and insurgency in Baluchistan activated the war mongers and fingers were again pointed towards Indian Security and Intelligence apparatus for supporting the cross-border terrorism. Pakistani authorities and media are continuously suspecting the involvement of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India in the ongoing state of affairs Pakistani State has been going through during the recent months.
And now the statement of Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar that “We have to neutralize terrorists through terrorists only. Why can’t we do it? We should do it. Why does my soldier have to do it?” resonated some serious concerns across the Radcliffe line. The statement further said “There are certain things that I obviously cannot discuss here. But if there is any country, why only Pakistan, planning something against my country, we will definitely take some pro-active steps. Speaking openly, the Minister used the Hindi saying “kante se kanta nikalna” (removing a thorn with a thorn) and wondered why Indian soldiers should be used to neutralize terrorists. He said the proactive steps could include pressure tactics.”
This time the resonance echoed aloud in the diplomatic enclaves in Islamabad. Pakistan on Saturday expressed its serious concern over comments made by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar where he said that India will use terrorism to counter terrorism from other countries. In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Parrikar’s statement confirms Pakistan’s apprehensions that India is involved in terrorism in Pakistan. “It must be the first time that a minister of an elected government openly advocates use of terrorism in another country on the pretext of preventing terrorism from that country or its non-state actors,” Aziz said Pakistan is pursuing a policy of good neighborly relations with India. “Terrorism is our common enemy and it is vital for the two countries to work together to defeat this menace, from which Pakistan has suffered much more than almost any other country.”
The political question now arises when terrorism is the most dangerous and common threat for both the countries and both are realizing and admitting the fact then why they are unable to combat the threat in a systematic way? Political authority of controversy centers nowhere more acutely than in this question. This is one of those challenging questions upon which it is potential for many mordantly divergent views to be held outwardly with almost equal weight of reason. Its central exertion is this, that it is a question which can be answered, if answered at all, only by authorities and policymakers of the region sitting at Delhi and Islamabad and careful wisdom whose inferences are based upon the broadest possible initiations from the facts of political experience in all its aspects. Such wisdom is quite beyond the capacity of political actors and policymakers in the field of contemporary politics of the region; and the consequences have been that this question, perhaps more than any other in the whole scope of political analysis of the Indo-Pak relations, has provoked greater mistrust in the political landscape of the region. The central difficulty that hampers the wise diplomacy to ease the tensions is the muffled and forged identity which is being painted and coated with the religious doctrines instead of the political ones. The phony identity crisis is deepening across the Radcliffe Line with the high magnitude of gaffes that “Beef” has also become an identity icon shackling the relations.
Although sub-continent is a region of great opportunity and progress but characterized as a place that has historically suffered from territorial conflicts due to mistrust created by Delhi and Islamabad. Even divided, still the region has lot to share due to the history of cohesion in many spheres of life. The bilateral tensions and mistrust are rooted only in the phony identity crisis propagated by cultural and ethnic divisions. Due to these identity crisis that have social and political economy dimensions, this abundant region suffers from the extensive waves of extremism and terrorism; a trans-boundary concern that has given rise to tribulations from religious militancy to the suppression of civil liberties.
Both countries need to avoid the Doctrine of Conflict. This doctrine should not be a wishful thinking from both side and a Doctrine of Peace is the need of hour for the entire region. Terrorism does not have any solidified shape that can be used for a limited time against a particular community or region. Its consequences are always dangerous and even self-destructive. It creates a mindset that becomes out of control with the passage of time. It spreads like an epidemic and if not cured at the beginning decomposes the entire societies and regions in its decaying cycles.
Progressive political forces, secular intellectuals and civil society activists across the Radcliffe Line should come forward and envision the common peaceful future of the region by urging Delhi and Islamabad to come out of the fake identity issues and move forward with their political identifications instead of the religious and holy ones. Religions are commonly shared and practiced in both the countries and both the countries have a shared history of cultural evolution. Only wise decisions to negotiate the peaceful resolution of conflicting matters could pave the path for peace and prosperity in the region. Otherwise, inflammatory faith based speeches, hostile talk-shows and unnecessary spy interferences will be imperiling the very existence of both the nation states. Both the nations need to focus on the equality and social justice issues where half of the population in both the countries is living below the poverty line due to unnecessary defense expenditures.
(Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, human rights, peace activist and a freelance journalist of Kashmiri origin. His major focus is International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)