By Hrishikesh Utpat
Historically, India and Pakistan have shared strained relations. It can be argued with some merit that the fundamental ethos of Pakistan is Indophobia itself. The following table summarizes some of the key issues between the two nations:
|Military Confrontations||1947-48, War for Kashmir; 1965, “Operation Gibraltar”; 1971, Bangladeshi Independence; Kargil War of 1999.|
|Terrorist Attacks||Prominently, 26/11 in Mumbai and Parliament attacks in 2001. Besides this, almost every (but not all) terror attack and bomb blast post-1993 have been traced to Pakistan (or proxy groups).|
|Terror Modules||Support to groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Proxy organizations within India like Indian Mujahideen. Links with Naxalites, North Eastern Insurgent groups, Khalistani terrorists, Kashmir Separatists. Sanctuary to terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafeez Sayeed.|
|Territorial Disputes||Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek.|
|Economic Issues||MFN Status, Larger negative list in trade, lack of reforms in visa norms.|
|River disputes||Indus Water Treaty, Kishenganga and Baglihar dams.|
The year 2013 has been unique in the history of India-Pakistan relations. Two significant events have altered the dynamics between the two nations, namely:
- Regime change in Pakistan via a democratic process for the first time in its history.
- Impending pull-out of US forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
Both these events have seen increased activity by various power centres within Pakistan. It is no secret that within the State of Pakistan, power is shared between the Civilian government, the Army, ISI and various fringe fundamentalist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
With the US pull-out from Afghanistan, emphasis on the Western front of Pakistan will decrease; without US assistance, the Pakistani establishment will have neither the resources nor the inclination to regulate the wilderness of the North Western Frontier Province. Consequently, the non-civilian establishment will revert to the supposed threat from India as both their raison d’être in politics and as a centripetal force within Pakistan. Hence, India can expect periodic provocations from Pakistan.
Furthermore, all bodies loathe sharing power with the civilian government. As a result, the civilian government is the weakest leg of the Pakistani State – it has to periodically depend on the army’s support for its political survival. This situation is being challenged with the democratic transition in Pakistan and the election of Nawaz Sharif who openly made better ties with India a part of his election manifesto. To undermine talks with India and stall the peace talks, the non-civilian establishment is initiating frequent cross-border infiltrations.
The infiltrations in 2013 began in January, with Pakistani forces crossing the Line of Control (LoC), attacking an Indian outpost, killing and beheading Indian soldiers. The cross-border firing and infiltrations reached a new high in August, with as many as 19 incidents between August 8 and 18. On the 6th of August, 2013, an Indian patrol on the Indian side of the LoC was attacked by an ambush party of Pakistani Special Forces and killed.
Naturally, the frequent attacks by Pakistan have sparked outrage throughout India. The principle opposition party, the main stream media and social media have all been critical of the Indian government’s approach towards the entire issue. There have been frequent demands to cancel peace talks between the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in New York, to be held on the 29th of September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet. Indeed, in a desperate attempt by the Pakistani non-civilian establishment to forestall these talks, another terror attack was launched on the 26th of September, 2013.
However, suspension of talks is not the solution. It is apparent that the civilian government is not in control of the non-civilian establishment, and that it is the non-civilian establishment which is responsible for carrying out these attacks on India. It is the non-civilian establishment which poses the biggest threat to India’s national security. By suspending talks with the civilian government, India will not be finding a solution to the issue of cross-border infiltration and attacks; rather, India will be playing straight into the hands of the non-civilian establishment. India should recognize this division of functionality within Pakistan and utilize the divide between the civilian and non-civilian establishment towards achieving its own ends.
The most sustainable way of weakening the non-civilian establishment is by strengthening the civilian one. Talks and better relations are a way of empowering the elected governments. Similarly, the relations between India and Pakistan can be improved only by increased social, cultural and economic interaction. India should leverage the opportunity created by increased infiltration to get greater concessions and access to Pakistani markets, and address long-standing issues like the MFN status.
India-Pakistan relations cannot be centred on the single approach of talks alone. Furthermore, suspending talks in response to military attacks is a soft response to hard provocation. The Indian approach towards Pakistan must be a multi-pronged one. This multi-pronged approach may consist of:
- Appropriate military response to armed provocation by Pakistan.
- Conducting covert operations within Pakistan, along the same lines as those conducted by Pakistan in India. These operations can especially target the restive regions of Sind and Baluchistan.
- Exerting greater pressure on Pakistan to open up access to the Pakistani economy.
- Increased cultural and sporting relations. This will increase people-to-people contact, and weaken the non-civilian establishment’s propaganda machinery, thereby weakening their support base.
- Raising the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in international forums and lobbying with the international community to bring pressure on Pakistan to hand over known terrorists. This policy can be pursued much more rigorously after 2014, when due to the US pull-out from Afghanistan their dependence on Pakistan will decrease.
A stable, prosperous Pakistan is in India’s national interest. Improved ties are essential to both nations’ welfare. However, addressing India’s legitimate issues is a prerequisite for improved ties. India should leverage the opportunity provided by the regime change in Pakistan towards achieving this end.
Has completed his BE (Computer Science) from MIT College, Pune, and his currently pursuing a masters degree in Economics. He particularly enjoys social sciences, and has chosen to study Economics because it provides the “perfect blend of Science and Social Sciences”. Currently preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Exam, Hrishikesh hopes to serve the country by joining the bureaucracy – having cleared the Preliminary exams for the Civil Services in 2013, he will be appearing for the Mains exams in December. His passions include reading, writing, travelling, mountaineering and teaching. Currently affiliated with the prestigious Chanakya Mandal Pariwar organization in Pune, Hrishikesh teaches a wide range of subjects such as History, International Relations, Economics, Mathematics and Statistics.
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