EsinIslam Portal Media Network
15 February 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
The incumbent PMLN regime in Pakistan is striving hard
to normalize relations with neighboring India. It is
bending over heavily backward and ready to go extra
mile for a new beginning of peaceful and mutually
beneficial relationship with the big neighbor.
But such an earnest ambition and thrust may not
fructify because India would never be ready to part an
inch of Kashmir to Pakistan or to Kashmiris. It is
another matter if both agree to declare the line of
control as the permanent border.
Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif's outlook and
perception about friction-free relations between India
and Pakistan is laudable and promising for the
stability and progress of both the countries. During
his earlier two stints as the Pakistan's prime
minister he has addressed this prime issue very
diligently. As a result of that the then Indian prime
minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made an historic visit
to Pakistan in February 1999 to inaugurate the
Delhi-Lahore bus service.
The Lahore Declaration signed by Nawaz Sharif and Mr.
Vajpayee enshrined among others, such momentous
clauses as initiation of process for permanent
settlement of Kashmir dispute, expansion of trade
relations and denuclearizing South Asia.
Unfortunately the Kargil conflict watered down that
milestone accord as military under Musharraf did not
want a rapprochement with India. Furthermore, Mian
Nawaz Sharif was deposed on October 12, 1999 in a
military take -over throwing up the then COAS Pervez
Musharraf as the head of state.
The bitterness and the malaise of
strained relationship are spawned by the hardliners
and fanatics of all sorts on both the sides, most
notably the religious outfits. As such in a festering
animus loaded environment, it is difficult to presage
if Pakistan and India can forget their strife ridden
past and embark upon a path of abiding friendship.
Unfortunately, India and Pakistan thus far have failed
to sort out their mutual disputes for lasting peace
and good neighborliness. There is no precedent in the
past that they worked out a bilaterally acceptable
solution or agreement with regard to such thorny
issues as the demarcation of borders, mutual trade,
the apportionment of water from rivers flowing down
into Pakistan or the paramount lingering Kashmir
issue. The Indus Basic Treaty was breached by India
being the upper riparian.
There is no record of accomplishments
for the two neighbors liberated from the British
colonial yoke in 1947 of sitting down and coming up
with a recipe of veritable peace and friendship. India
will not give up her hold on Kashmir, nor will
Pakistan or Kashmiri nation relinquish or forego their
claim about holding a pledged plebiscite to elicit the
local population's opinion as to which country they
would prefer to join.
Indian deems Kashmir as an integral part of Indian
federation while Pakistan's standpoint is that Kashmir
is a disputed territory whose final status has yet to
be determined by the people of Kashmir though a
The three wars, in 1948, 1965, and 1971 followed by
brief skirmishes in Kargil in July 1999 have failed to
bring about change of hearts on both the sides. The
fact is that primarily it is Pakistan that would be
the major beneficiary of the illusive settlement of
the outstanding issues between India and Pakistan.
For that matter, India would not let Pakistan off the
hook lest it can move forward on a course of
stability, progress, and prosperity. By facilitating
cross border trade Pakistan would earn 12 billion
dollars per annum.
India's military intervention in Bangladesh in 1971
led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and a humiliating
defeat for the Pakistan's armed forces. The Simla
Agreement signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan,
binds both the countries to settle all contentious
issues via parleys to be conducted in the framework of
the UN Charter.
Now building of 22 barrages by India on rivers
emanating from Kashmir apart from being a violation of
the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, would give a complete
control to India to stop or release water to Pakistan,
which is a lower riparian. India agreed to sign Indus
Basin Treaty because it deprived Pakistan of three
rivers. Otherwise, she would have never agreed if such
a treaty had impinged upon her interests.
There can never be a consensus agreement on water
distribution and a workable arrangement for water
share to Pakistan because India would never do
anything that would even marginally benefit Pakistan.
Indus Basin Treaty or no treaty, Pakistan agricultural
sector would always remain at the mercy of India for
release of water that she would do after taking care
of her domestic needs.
If Pakistan doesn't get enough water, it would be
exposed always to a looming threat of drought and
famine. Tacitly India's preference has been to turn
Pakistan into a market for disposal of her products
both industrial and agricultural.
Both the countries have not been able to smoothen and
ease flow of cross border travel because of stringent
visa rules that bar the travelers from either country
to go beyond the cities specified in the passport. The
intelligence operatives chase and keep a strict watch
on the visitors until they depart. There have been
many instances when a visitor was apprehended on mere
suspicion and languished in Indian jails for years.
Besides, since the inception of both the states in
1947, Pakistan has remained under unrelenting
diplomatic, military, economic, and psychological
pressure from India. So the talk of CBMS (confidence
building measures) is a mere ploy to obfuscate the
real issues. Both countries have varying and different
interpretation for CBMS.
For Pakistan, primarily it is the easy movement of
citizens of both the states without much of harassment
and strict conditions. For India, it is to allow India
to export her goods to Pakistani without any let or
hindrance. While Pakistan has ever remained ready to
talk on substantive issues India's priorities and
prerogatives have been focused on pushing them to back
burners or keeping in a state of limbo.
Good neighborly relations between Pakistan and India
have remained elusive because there is no overwhelming
goodwill or an earnest desire to resolve the
contentious issues bedeviling their relationship for
almost seven decades. At people's level, the
deep-seated animus can be witnessed when a match is
being played or a situation of tension like the attack
on a Bombay hotel arises.
The Hindu extremists have been demonstrating the
anti-Muslim vendetta by lynching and burning the
Muslims and their houses in ethnic and communal
clashes. One such horrible mayhem happened in Gujarat
and Ahmadabad when Muslims suffered a kind of carnage
and mini genocide at the hands of Hindu extremists.
These anti Muslims riots continued for three months
causing unspecified number of deaths and casualties
and loss of property.
The hate and the animosity have a history of a
thousand years between the Muslims and Hindus. Hindus
think that Muslims were primarily aliens and intruders
into the sacred Hindustava or Bharat Mata and they
have no right to live and survive in the Indian
Muslims, though, have been rulers in India until the
British came, seldom indulged in the persecution or
ethnic cleansing or proselytizing their religious
minorities. The Muslim rulers like Akbar married with
Hindu women and invariably treated Hindu population
well and on equal level.
While Pakistan is caught in the throes of a civil war
at home front and also has been fighting a proxy war
for the west, it cannot afford to ignite a crisis
situation that can lead to a war and military
confrontation with India. Given the Indian expanding
role and interest in Afghanistan, Pakistan is
genuinely worried that it night get a push both from
the eastern and western fronts once the foreign
occupation troops leave Afghanistan.
Only the time would unravel if the future Afghan
government would allow India to carry on its anti
Pakistan activities and be able to incite pro-Indian
Afghan and tribal militants against Pakistan for an
insurgency. There are rumors that India was backing
the insurgency now going on in Balochistan for
separation. However, hopefully Pakistan would be able
to stem the extremists' militancy in Balochistan as it
did in Swat, Dir, and Malakand and of late in South
India is more interested in dislodging China in
Balochistan. India is deeply incensed over the Chinese
running the Gawadar port. Moreover it would not want
an increasing influence of China by way of a motorway
linking Karachi with Kashgar or establishment of
industrial zones on Pakistani territory.
However Chinese presence in Pakistan in a way would
also be a redeeming feature for Pakistan. India may
not venture creating further troubles for Pakistan or
military action for fear of Chinese reprisals in
safeguarding here own commercial interests.
Therefore, in the backdrop of this endemic and
seething hostility, any goodwill visits to other
country by politicians would hardly make any
difference in generating genuine and sincere
cordiality between India and Pakistan.
The former Indian External Affairs Minister, S. M.
Krishna came to Pakistan on a three-day visit in July
2010 with a "message of peace and friendship from the
people of India". Yet that proved to be another futile
attempt in mending fences even marginally between two
Since then four years have passed and there doesn't
seem to be any demonstration of goodwill. As the past
betokens the possibility of a far reaching or
watershed breakthrough at present or in future looks
remote. Such visits have been window-dressing and
cosmetic without throwing up tangible outcome for
fostering a real era of friendship and peace between
India and Pakistan.
However one would wish that China, India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan and even Iran can join hands through a
regional treaty to work for the uplift, peace and
economic cooperation of this part of South Asia. Wars
and military engagements are not lasting answer to the
stability and advancement of this thus far neglected
region especially war-torn Afghanistan.
One can hope that better sense prevails. The first
giant step towards lasting peace, enduring goodwill
and abiding mutual understanding between Pakistan and
India is the dire need to resolve their lingering
disputes. One such paramount bone of contention is the
The writer is a senior journalist,
former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former
diplomat. His blog is www.uprightopinion.com