How to deal with Pakistan, India’s western neighbor, is a puzzle that has kept Indian policy makers confused for last sixty years or more. Created by severing India in 1947, Pakistan had been the most difficult neighbor to handle. Pakistan has fought four declared wars with India, and countless undeclared wars in the form of terrorist attacks in India. Most recent Pakistani offensive had been Pakistani Prime Minister dubbing Indian Prime Minister a “Dehati Woman” in the presence of Indian and Pakistani journalists in an informal off the record meeting in New York. Although denied vociferously, damage has been done to already fragile India – Pakistan relationship.
Pakistan lost part of her territory, erst while East Pakistan, in 1971. Bengali speaking East Pakistanis lead by Sheikh Mujiboor Rahman wanted independence. Pakistan responded by unleashing military might on unarmed population of East Pakistan. Civil war erupted in East Pakistan. With India’s help and intervention East Pakistan was liberated and an independent country named Bangladesh was born. Pakistan suffered a military defeat, where general Niyaji had to surrender with close to 100, 000 Pakistani soldiers.
Power in Pakistan is concentrated among northern Punjabi speaking people, who control top positions in politics, administration and all powerful Pakistan armed forces. On an informal level, Pakistanis can be great friends, fun loving people, that enjoy finer things in life. Pakistanis want to play and win cricket matches againist India, enjoy Indian movies, want to get a share of massive Indian market and so on. Indian visitors to Pakistan can attest to great hospitality from Pakistanis familiar or otherwise.
Underneath benign Dr. Jekyll like exterior, is lying Mr. Hyde the monster. Like a true uber competitive Punjabi, Pakistani ruling elite wants to get even with India for the ignominy of having to part with their territory. The war of 1971 and the role India played was neither forgotten nor forgiven. Pakistan will not likely rest till it make India lose a state. Every trick in the book has been employed by Pakistan to engineer secession in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. A low intensity war was also unleashed on India where explosive devices were detonated in public places in different towns and cities. Many unarmed and innocent people lost their lives or maimed for life. The whole idea was to create civil war in India by instigating communal violence.
In her effort to damage and dismember India, Pakistan has employed a very ingenuous tactics. Poor and jobless from Pakistan, were given training in urban warfare and unleashed on India. One such person was Ajmal Kasab, caught alive during Mumbai seize. Pakistan have consistently used alibi, despite evidence otherwise, that Kasab was a terrorist, terrorist have no nation, and Pakistan herself is a victim of such terrorism. Pakistan has also indoctrinated and trained Indian youth, with a feeling of being persecuted, in acts of terrorism against India. Again, Pakistan have claimed that acts of terror in India is homegrown, Pakistan has no role in the process.
India has extended olive branch of friendship many a times. Each apparent bonhomie at political level was responded with either military attack or terrorist strike. As always, Pakistan had denied any involvement inspite of proof shining on their face. Rare occassions when Pakistan accepted proof given by India, they failed to act on them. War between two nuclear powered neighbors may be out of question. India is under US pressure not to engage in any unilateral military action, even when harmed. India cannot stoop to the level of creating urban warfare in Pakistan. Atleast there is no evidence to that count, till date. At least Pakistanis have not raised it.
India recognizes that as a neighbor Pakistan cannot be wished away. Challenge, however, is how to deal with good Pakistan and keep bad Pakistan at bay. Pakistan, an Islamic state, looks towards Saudi Arabia for spiritual lineage. Pakistan, however, cannot shakeoff her 3000 year plus history as part of Indian subcontinent. Somehow, in her psyche Pakistan always want to equal or do better than India in every facet of life. If India explodes a nuclear device, Pakistan will do the same. If India wants a seat in security council, Pakistan must get one. If India wins a world championship in cricket, Pakistan has to win one too. While India abhors such blatant parallelism, I think India must recognize this competitive spirit of Pakistan and capitalize in her dealing with Pakistan.
I think, internally India must strengthen her defences and not let her guard down when dealing with official Pakistan. India must modernize her police force and give them autonomy. A modern force that is accountable to public will function better that that is accountable to politicians carrying out electoral calculation. Police must use human intelligence as well as using technology to intercept terrorist activity before they strike. The same goes for armed forces. A case in point is terrorists that attacked Mumbai, sailed through 500 km of Indian waters undetected. Mumbai is the head quarter of Western Naval Command. If this is the status of security of naval command centre, we can imagine what happens in less important areas. At the same time, India must improve people to people contact between two nations, allow commerce to grow between two countries. A prosperous Pakistan, with stake in her economy, will be less likely to attack the hen that lays golden eggs.
Tags : India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, War, Terrorism, Commerce, Competition