India Pakistan Conundrum: What Next?
Politics of Hate
History has an uncanny ability to repeat itself. One remembers that when the earlier government of the BJP was in power in 1998, the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee embarked on a goodwill visit to Lahore in Pakistan by the newly launched India -Pakistan bus service. There was a lot of bonhomie and Vajpayee proved to be a gullible leader as unknown to him the Pakistan army and its shadowy wing the ISI was planning an operation in the Kargil heights of Kashmir, to overrun the valley. Just as Vajpayee returned to Delhi the perfidy of the Pak military establishment became apparent and resulted in a border war that ended when the Pakistan army realized that it was pyrrhic to fight India and retreated. Another facet of this short war was the fact that the then PM Nawaz Sharif was perhaps kept in the dark by the army chief about his nefarious plan to disrupt India Pak peace equation. This man General Mushraff later in a military coup deposed Sharif and arrested him. Later as events folded Musharraf himself went in the doghouse and is now facing treason charges.
A similar event has taken place again. This time again it’s the BJP government that is at the center of another controversy. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided on the spur of the moment to visit Pakistan and from Kabul flew to Lahore. By coincidence, the prime minister of Pakistan is again Nawaz Sharif and by all accounts, the two leaders hit off well.
However once again, just as the plane of Modi touched back to Delhi, the military establishment reared its head and dispatched Fedayeen attackers inside Indian Territory that targeted the Indian frontline air base at Pathankot. This airbase is a strategically located base and houses the Indian air force squadrons consisting of MIG 21(BIS) and the MI -25 and MI- 35 attack helicopters.
The Fedayeen not only were controlled by the Pakistan army and ISI but were directed by them. In addition, simultaneously an attack was launched on the Indian mission at Kabul and it was another long and bloody battle. These attacks show that the Pakistan army cannot allow peace between India and Pakistan. In addition, hardline Islamic parties cannot allow India to exist as they dream of an Islamic caliphate and the going back to history when the Muslims ruled India.
Can there be Peace
This is a question that looks simple and some people give simplistic answers. Many well-meaning intellectuals say sitting on armchairs that India and Pakistan after a few years and in case there is engagement between the Indian political leadership will be able to live as brothers. These armchair specialists and intellectuals are doing great harm to both India and Pakistan as they fail to realize the geopolitical equation.
It must be remembered that India was one entity but the British who ruled India for 200 years and had to leave after winning a pyrrhic victory over Hitler had to go. This realization was like a blow to them and they resolved to dismember India and leave it perpetually weak. They thus created a Hindu- Muslim divide.
This actually started with the Minto – Morley reforms of 1909 when separate electorates were created for Muslims and Hindus. The plan was further put into practice during the war years and the Muslim league leader MA Jinnah was egged on to ask for a separate Muslim state. Thus the Muslim state of Pakistan was created. It was an artificial creation as more Muslims were left back in India than the entire population of modern Pakistan.
Jinnah himself suffered defeat as his Hindu Muslim theory of two nations went in the dustbin, when Bangladesh a predominantly Muslim part of Pakistan broke away and opted for independence. Thus one can see that Islam alone cannot be a binding force.
Unfortunately, the military establishment of Pakistan seized power and created the bogey of Hindu power. They fanned the politics of hate and now the clock cannot be put back. The Pakistan masses are convinced that a Hindu Muslim conflict means Jihad. The Pakistan army has to sustain this hatred of India as in case there is peace their role will be diminished and they won’t know what to do and where to go. Hence the Pak army which having tasted power is loath to give it up. It has formed a devious plan to try and bleed India with 100 cuts as in 4 wars with India the Pak army has been defeated, with the icing on the cake being the surrender of 100000 soldiers to the Indian army in 1971.
What of the future? The India Pakistan equation remains at square one and right from 1947(when Pakistan was created) to the present time the politics of hate have dominated the region. This has been given a religious color as well and the seeds of a Hindu- Muslim conflict that started in the 9th century are kept alive by the Military and the extremists in Pakistan. The fact remains that Pakistan on its own cannot match India and so its resort to terror acts and fan the communal passion by talking of Hindu nationalism.
The question that must be faced is that so long as the Mullah- Army nexus continues in Pakistan there can never be peace. In addition, the politics of hate will prevail. So I have no doubt that an Armageddon, the last battle with Pakistan may be on the cards. One cannot run away from it.
The only way it can be avoided is in case the Pak army is rendered a minor player in Pakistan. This cannot happen as the army is now too entrenched in Pakistan. It has got used to being the man in the driver’s seat. Much of this blame must go to the USA which pampered the military elite and did business with arms and dollars to such bigoted generals like General Zia ul Haq. It is men like Zia who with American support ushered in the hard-line Muslim state where archaic laws like the act of rape in the Sharia were brought back and Islam debased. Even now the present chief of the Pak army general Raheel Sharif was treated more like a president on his last visit to the USA. He was lionized more than the Pak PM and this obviously allows the army chief to feel he is God in Pakistan.
I envisage no change and this politics of hate will continue. The USA has its ax to grind, but I am sure that the wheels of history will churn and sooner than later, the present state of Pakistan may not exist another 50 years down the line.