I had posted a short version of this post on my personal website which quite unexpectedly drew the attention of several Indian internet warriors on their cyber-raths. It is a message that needs to be shared here. I have therefore decided to expand this and say what needs to be said. I have always supported India-Pakistan dialogue and the peace process and the purpose of this post is not to demean India or Indians but to express the shock that many of us – peaceniks – have experienced in the recent days. I have been accused of being ‘soft’ on India and constantly under attack by jingoists in Pakistan. Therefore it pains us to see such displays of insularity, indifference and isolates us with the remarks: “see we told you so….”
Manmohan Singh whom I have always held in high regard, disappointed millions in South Asia with his distastefully ill-timed hard talk during his Independence day address. As if Pakistan’s current misery was a time to blow India’s power-trumpet.
In fact the blackout in Indian media about Pakistan’s dire floods’ situation is amazing. Major newsmagazines such as India Today and Outlook are silent and the national newspapers have not covered much except the same old hackneyed stuff on terror, terrorism and what a major threat Pakistan is to shining India. In times of Pakistan’s crisis, the least Mr Singh could have done was not to indulge in jingoism. But he had to appease the arsenal of a nation-state (similar to what we have to do here at such occasions). Continue reading
Courtesy The Friday Times: — The elusive quest for peace between India and Pakistan remains hostage to the military-industrial complex at both the global and regional levels. Such is the dynamic unleashed by two imagined “nations” that their existence as states is dependent on a perpetual state of confrontation. More so for Pakistan, given its deeply embedded paranoia, which has assumed a reality of its own. Sixty-two years ago, it was hardly envisioned that the two states would erect an iron-curtain and fight forever. From actual wars to propaganda campaigns the task seems complete now. The oft-repeated phrase ‘trust deficit’ is a natural culmination of this ugly process. Of late, another dimension has been added, i.e. information-deficit as India had marched towards a new phase of its economic development, it has stopped taking interest in transitional Pakistani society and kept the time-warped framework of understanding Pakistan. However, the situation cannot remain static. Policymakers are slow to catch up on both the sides.
Mumbai factor: Twenty months ago, the Mumbai attacks changed the atmosphere created by President Zardari’s unprecedented offers of peace, dialogue and cooperation. The day Zardari made his remarks in a conclave organised by the Hindustan Times in 2008, many observers saw a Mumbai coming. The jihadis of Pakistan and perhaps their counterparts in India were quick to stop this process. Ironic that PPP, a party fed on the Pakistani nationalist rhetoric, thirty years down the road had read the writing on the wall. Pakistan’s future and survival is dependent on a reduction of hostilities with India. More importantly, this also holds the key to correcting the endemic civil-military imbalance.
Zardari’s stride: Why would a national security state apparatus bloated by an Indian threat not react to Zardari’s statements: “I do not feel threatened by India and India should not feel threatened from us…today we have a parliament which is already pre-agreed upon a friendly relationship with India. In spite of our disputes, we have a great future together.” As if this was not enough, Zardari declared that Pakistan will not be the first country to use its nuclear weapons, thus undermining a carefully constructed Pakistani nuclear doctrine of first-use. Continue reading
Today the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India will meet. This major development should be welcomed. Sceptical noises of distrust in both countries have been heard and the Kashmiri leaders have issued rejectionist statements.
Subcontinental leaderships have time and again floundered peace. Sometimes it is the recklessness on the Pakistani side and at other times the Indian officialdom chants the trust-deficit mantra. But this must end. Media wisdom about the BJP and the Pakistan military making a durable peace deal has not withstood the test of history. Democracy and peace are interlinked despite the compulsions of playing to the jingoists for electoral gains. In Pakistan, martial rule is over and a BJP government is unlikely in the medium term.
It is time for the two governments to take stock of their fast changing societies and economies. Unlike the mediatised versions, Pakistan is a transformational society. The old governance structures are decaying and power is now distributed among multiple centres, not unlike India. This is why the foreign ministers should negotiate the lifting of media restrictions and let the two countries and their people understand each other. Continue reading
It is a matter of public record that the founder of Pakistan had stated that Indo-Pakistan relationship will resemble that of the USA and Canada. Even before the Partition, Jinnah in a 1946 press conference stated, “the two states (Pakistan and India)… will be friends and will go to each other’s rescue in case of danger and will be able to say ‘hands off’ to other nations. We shall then have a Munroe doctrine more solid than America…” This vision along with other pronouncements by Jinnah is buried in the debris of Pakistan’s national security paranoia. The spectre of India and its ‘hegemonic designs’ to use an oft-quoted phrase remain central to Pakistan’s security paradigm.
The unwavering view on India is what explains the context for the discussion paper entitled, The Sun in the Sky: The Relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents -authored by Matt Waldman from the prestigious platform of the London School of Economics. Pakistan’s real power-centre, its security and intelligence apparatus are a self-sustaining reality. Other than the financing, of which plenty comes from the Western Capitals, there is a solid national opinion behind the xenophobic worldview carefully cultivated by a decades’ long well coordinated state policy. The centre of this argument is the ‘Indian threat’ and any conception of Pakistan’s security is linked to the evil designs of the powerful ‘enemy’ across the border. Continue reading