08202017Headline:

India-Pakistan relations by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

In one of my articles recently I had written that it was the plan of All India Congress to separate Muslim majority areas from Indian Sub-continent. Congress leaders had memories of Mughal rule. They were not ready to deal with a Muslim population that constituted almost 25% of the population and could have become a formidable political force in alliance with low caste Hindus. They were concerned about high birth rate among Muslims that would have been a political headache for them in few decades. This fact is now evident when populations of Muslims in Indian Sub-continent i.e. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are combined. In a united and democratic India this would have now become a 35% vote block and possibility a parliamentary majority in coalition with other minority communities.

The formula presented by Muslim leaders, including Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was formation of Union of Indian States in which Muslim majority areas would be ruled by them while in the center Presidency and Prime Ministers’ post is held on reciprocal basis or any other agreed formula. But Congress leaders were not seriously interested in any of these proposals. Their plan was to create a group of smaller states on its Western and north-eastern borders which would not be able to pose a serious threat to them. We can call it a balkanization proposal. Quaid understood this plan well. A British high official once asked him, how you will deal with ethnic diversity in Pakistan. Quaid brushed the question aside as unimportant because Islam provided a strong link between these separate identities.

Around 1945, when Muslim league demanded a separate and sovereign country Pakistan, it took Congress leaders by surprise. Since they could not stop it altogether they did everything in their power to ensure that the new state gets as small piece of land as possible. Gurdaspur and Amritsar should have been part of Pakistan but were given to India. Kashmir and Sir Creek were other examples of this truncation of Pakistan. For India hanging on to Kashmir is a matter of national unity as acceding to UN resolutions could give aspirations to separatist movements in other parts. Since independence, India has not given up on its desire for balkanization of Pakistan. Unfortunately our political leaders have not disappointed them either by using ethnic cards in politics as well as creating provinces on ethnic lines.

It is in the strategic interest of Pakistan to improve relations with India. PML N, PTI and PPP, top three political parties, are on the same page in this regard. Few years ago I wrote an article about India-Pakistan relations in which I proposed improving relations between these two neighbors. An Indian intellectual and writer responded via email and as usual blamed All India Muslim League as a divider of India. I responded with counter arguments and offered a deal that if he agrees both of us can work together for creation of an Indian Union on the same pattern as European Union. He never responded to take up that offer. Indian intellectuals understand the risk associated with normalizing relations with Pakistan.

The other strategy adopted by India is that they understand that being 10 times larger their military strength will always be larger than Pakistan. As a percentage of GDP it is not a heavy economic burden for her. But keeping a comparable army will be an unbearable burden for Pakistan thereby arms race is to their advantage. Frequent escalation of tensions on the border is part of this strategy. Does it come as a surprise to anyone that as soon as PM Pakistan Nawaz Sharif expressed his desire to normalize relations that tensions rise on LoC? I don’t think it is a surprising behavior. Normalizing relations with Pakistan is not in the interest of India.

Unfortunately our security establishment has diverging views as they feel maintaining status of a security state is in their institutional interest. They need to realize that considering the burden on the economy it is better for Pakistan to focus inward than outward and reduce military spending as percentage of GDP. It is in the national interest of Pakistan that military has to maintain defensive posture and walk away from the doctrine of strategic depth. India made a strategic blunder by detonating a nuclear device in 1998. It provided Pakistan legitimate right to test her own nuclear device. This has enabled Pakistan to create a nuclear deterrence that is to her advantage. Even in a nuclear combat it is more likely that Pakistan will be wiped out before it could inflict a fatal blow to India. The prudent approach for Pakistan is to use the nuclear deterrence for defensive purposes while reduce its military expenditure to allow a breathing room for the economy to grow. Eventually a growth economy will be able to finance a defense budget that will be much higher in rupee terms but sustainable in terms of percentage of GDP.

Anyone who has spoken to an Indian Muslim will realize that they blame Pakistan for discrimination against them. Their arguments are based on distorted historical facts that Pakistani Muslims divided India and it was All India Muslim League that was solely responsible for it. Keeping tensions alive with Pakistan and Bangladesh is to prevent development of a political nexus between the Muslim communities in these three countries. Any affinity between them will be against the interests of India.

Pakistan has adopted the correct strategy of improving relations with India. But she has failed to initiate diplomatic efforts that highlight the negative role played by India in supporting separatists and terrorists. Pakistan has failed to defend herself against allegations of terror incidents on Indian parliament and Mumbai Taj Hotel. Recent revelations by Indian intelligence officials create an impression that it was an inside job. Pakistan should press for further investigation on these incidents. Pakistan has to also put her own house in order by improving the relations between provinces to alleviate allegations of social injustices and unequal distribution of national resources. Pakistan’s future is bright if only a creditable team emerges that has the resolve and the support of the nation to tackle all these issues.

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