Dealing with Pakistan-Time to Face Realities

Over the last six decades India has tried various policies to make Pakistan see the benefits of a rancor-free relationship. Every Indian Prime Minister made liberal conciliatory gestures in the mistaken belief that he could make a place for himself in the history of the sub-continent as the harbinger of peace. One went to the ridiculous extent of banning Indian secret agencies from operating in Pakistan. All were doomed to fail for the simple reason that they were based more on emotion, hope than hard ground realities. In the end, the Indian leadership had to throw its hands up in sheer frustration due to Pakistan’s anti-India intransigence.

A few years ago a group of Indian ladies visited Pakistan under a social exchange program. One of the ladies sustained a wrist fracture in an accidental fall and was taken to the nearest medical facility. The orthopaedician on duty treated the lady diligently and to the best of his ability. While bandaging the wrist, he engaged the lady in small talk. When the lady referred to commonality of Indian and Pakistani cultures, the doctor flared up and blasted the lady for her ‘flawed views’. “What is common between us? We eat cows and you worship them. We asked for a separate nation only because we are totally different in all respects. I suggest you Indians should stop fooling yourselves”, he thundered.

The above incident has been recalled here to show the extent to which Pakistani citizens have been brainwashed. Their deep-rooted hatred and venomous mindset defies logic. When some well meaning enthusiasts talk about Track-II diplomacy and initiatives like ‘Aman Ki Asha’, they forget the fact that Pakistan lives and thrives on anti-Indian policy. The day Pakistan sheds hostility towards India and adopts a conciliatory stance, it would amount to negating two-nation theory, the raison d'être for its very existence. Therefore, it will be naïve to expect Pakistan to have a change of heart.

‘Be patient with a bad neighbor: he may move’ is a famous Egyptian proverb. Unfortunately, such hopes cannot be entertained with respect to a bad neighboring country. It is a great misfortune that India has been cursed with a neighbour like Pakistan which does not mind harming itself only to harm India. Kashmir is merely a manifestation of Pakistan’s infinite hostility towards India. Were India to hand over Kashmir to it on a platter, Pakistan will invent newer issues to keep the pot boiling? Discord and acrimony would continue as always.

India’s policy of extending a hand of friendship and accommodation has been a total failure. On the contrary, it has emboldened Pakistan into considering India to be a soft state and increased its intransigence and hardened its anti-India attitude. How to deal with an unreasonable and hostile neighbour continues to be a convoluted dilemma for India.

Ground Realities

Before embarking on a fresh initiative, Indian policy makers will do well to analyse underlying reasons for Pakistan’s anti-India stance and antagonistic attitude while keeping the following ground realities in mind:-

a)    Negative Core Values
Every nation has certain core values. These are fundamental traits that provide sustenance to it for its existence. Normally, these are positive attributes which are considered non-negotiable and unalterable. In many countries, the core values are enshrined in the opening chapter of their written constitution. In India’s case, it is to secure for all its citizens justice (social, economic and political); liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship); equality (of status and opportunity); and fraternity while assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.    

On the other hand, despite high sounding assertions in its frequently rewritten constitution, Pakistan’s core values are based on the warped political principles of ‘hate and hurt India’ at all costs, even if its own existence gets jeopardized in the process. Pakistan was created on the ideology that the ‘pure’ cannot coexist with the infidel. A nation born out of hatred needs hatred to feed itself on for continued sustenance and to justify its existence. Anti-India stance fulfills this need and cannot be shed. 

b)    Deep Rooted Prejudices
Bhutto’s ‘1000 year war’ and Zia’s ‘bleeding India by 1000 cuts’ are indicative of innate prejudices. In its school text books, Pakistan’s existence is claimed since the time Qasim captured Sindh province in the 8th century. Muhammad-bin-Qasim and Mahmud Ghori are portrayed as great heroes who were instrumental in the establishment of Muslim rule in India. When a leading Pakistani paper claims that Pakistan is destined to defeat India because Pakistan’s ‘horses in the form of atomic bombs and missiles’ are far better than Indian ‘donkeys’ and boasts of re-conquering India, the level of percolation of anti-India venom can well be gauged. 

In the wake of 1962 Indo-China conflict, Pakistan tried to fish in troubled waters to extract concessions from India. Subsequently, it decided to befriend China to spite India. Today, it swears by its camaraderie with China. It is an unprincipled marriage of expediency against a common adversary. Anti-India attitude has compelled Pakistan, a nation owing its existence to religious fundamentalism, into embracing communist China.

Anti-India feelings are so pervasive that the Pak cricket team conspired to lose a cricket match during the last World Cup to ensure India’s elimination. Yet, the Pak players had the temerity to complain about their non-inclusion in the IPL tournament. Even a casual visitor to Pak websites and blogs gets shocked to see venality of comments against India. There is hardly a sane voice that advocates need to promote amity. Strangely, every comment considers India and Hinduism to be synonymous. India bashing always degenerates into Hindu bashing by painting every issue with communal colour.  

c)    History of Deceit and Duplicity
One may not fully agree with former Australian Test umpire Darrell Hair’s description of the Pakistani cricketers as ‘cheats, frauds and liars’. But the fact is that the whole world considers Pakistan to be an untrustworthy and deceitful nation. Independent Pakistan started its track record with treachery. Starting with the Kashmir betrayal; Pakistan has made deceit and duplicity to be its national policy.  Despite having signed a ‘stand-still agreement’ with the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan unleashed Pashtun marauders on the hapless Kashmir valley with the active participation of Pak army.

Breaching undertakings given to the US, it surreptitiously used American equipment to launch a surprise attack on Kutch in April 1965. Even before the ink had dried on the Kutch agreement, Pakistan was back to its treacherous ways. Covertly, it infiltrated its forces into Kashmir, expecting a local uprising against India. Under the Tashkent agreement, India agreed to return the strategic Haji Pir pass to Pakistan, in exchange for an undertaking by Pakistan to abjure the use of force to settle mutual disputes and adherence to the principles of non-interference. However, Pakistan continued its proxy war through its notorious secret agencies. Sanctuaries and safe passage were provided to underground elements of North-Eastern India.

Without learning from the past experience, India agreed to release 96,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War (PoWs) after 1971 war. In exchange, India accepted a solemn verbal undertaking by Bhutto that Pakistan would accept LOC as the de facto border. India once again let Pakistan bluff its way through. Bhutto never intended to abide by his word. Worse, to avenge its defeat, Pakistan redoubled its efforts to create turmoil in India.

Under the Simla agreement, all PoWs were to be exchanged. Whereas India kept its word, Pakistan, true to its nature, dishonestly kept back 54 Indian PoWs out of 617 PoWs held by it. It is apprehended that they are still rotting in various Pak jails.

While the Indian leadership was trying to break ice through ‘bus diplomacy’ in 1998-99, Pakistani military brass was busy planning the notorious Kargil incursion. Thus, Pakistan remains incorrigible as a devious and cunning neighbour.

d)    Sadistic Anti-Indian Streak
Due to decades of indoctrination and brainwashing, all Pakistanis suffer from an extremely brutal and vicious anti-Indian streak. While dealing with India, a strange sadistic instinct gets aroused that takes control of their thinking and behaviour.

Despite India’s honorable treatment of 96,000 Pak PoWs, the treatment meted out to the patrol led by Lt Saurabh Kalia in May 1999 by the Pakistan army will put even barbarians and animals to shame for its sheer cruelty. Defying all conventions and norms of humanity, Pakistanis pierced their ears with hot rods, removed their eyes before puncturing them, broke most of the bones and chopped off various limbs and private organs of the hapless Indian soldiers. After 22 days of torture, the brave soldiers were ultimately shot dead. A detailed post-mortem report is with the Indian Army.

The Way Forward

It is often said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. India has been repeatedly duped and cheated by Pakistan but continues to entertain hopes of a change of heart while Pakistan has made India the whipping boy for all the ills that it suffers. India is blamed for every terrorist strike in Pakistan, whether on their military academy or on the Sri Lankan cricket team. People are told that evil India was responsible for causing floods. Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Education, Sardar Aseff Ali accused India of stealing Pakistan’s waters and threatened to wage war with India. Anti-India propaganda goes to the ridiculous extent of accusing India of extracting electricity from the river waters flowing in to Pakistan, thereby rendering the waters worthless.

It is time India stops living in a fool’s paradise and reformulates its Pakistan policy, keeping the following facts in mind –

• Pakistan was born on anti-India plank and it is its only identity. Shedding of anti-India posture would amount to questioning the logic of its very creation. Therefore, Pakistan cannot afford to shed its antagonism towards India.
• Pakistan can never be India’s friend as the venom of anti-India feeling is too deeply ingrained and it will take generations for it to abate. India’s unilateral offer of friendship will always be rebuffed.
• Deceitfulness and duplicity is its state policy and it can never be trusted. Trust deficit is the anti-thesis of amity and it cannot be bridged easily.
• Harming Indian interests is the corner stone of its foreign policy. Attacks on Indian parliament, IT hub Bangalore and commercial centre Mumbai show calculated selection of objectives.  It never misses an opportunity to embarrass India in every world forum.

India should stop claiming that a united Pakistan is in India’s interests. There cannot be a more blinkered view. Nations born out of a persecution complex can never rid themselves of bitterness of history. Their break-up is the only way out and India must encourage that in its own security interests. Having failed to make Pakistan see reason, India has no reason to be apologetic. Repeated assertions of being a peace loving state are invariably misconstrued as impotence of a soft state.

A proactive policy should be followed to make friends with the countries who feel threatened by the growth of terrorism in Pakistan. Simultaneously, leveraging its enormous economic clout, India must convey its displeasure to countries that help Pakistan pass anti-India resolutions in various comities of nations. No nation that supports Pakistan’s anti-Indian motions can claim to be India’s friend.  It is time India asserts itself.

To hate and cheat India is Pakistan’s national obsession. It is time India accepts this bitter fact and modifies its approach accordingly. Affable statements made by a few retired cricketers and singers are of no import. As they visit India only to make money, they have to be professionally correct. Their masquerading as ambassadors of friendship is of little consequence.

As a matter of policy, India should never trust Pakistan’s word. It has been taken for a ride for far too long. Pakistan is adept at playing double game and has mastered ‘cloak and dagger’ policy. Under world pressure it may be forced to wear a mask of reasonableness and friendship, but the irrefutable fact is that India will always remain Pakistan’s eternal enemy.

Therefore, India should stop dreaming of having a friendly neighbour in Pakistan. The history of past 64 years has amply proved the futility of entertaining such hopes. Therefore, it will be in India’s own interests to get reconciled to an antagonistic Pakistan and tailor its approach accordingly. India should aim at minimising, and if possible neutralising, Pakistan’s threat to Indian security and national interests by aggressive measures. Rogue countries like Pakistan do not believe in international conventions and shamelessly flout them. The only language they understand is of strength and retribution. India must make it amply clear to Pak government that every anti-India mischief would invite immediate reprisal and that no transgression will go unpunished.

First published in Defence and Security Alert in February 2012

About Author – Major Gen Mrinal Suman is India’s foremost expert in defence procurement and procedures and offsets. He heads Defense Technical Assessment and Advisory Services Group of CII.

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Editor – be friends with all but this attitude should be backed by Economic and Military power. Never let your guard down!

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