Attempts are being made to mainstream the preposterous claim that the communal problem in India was imagined. Surely, there is no smoke without fire. To believe that an entire country was founded on a farce is consensual idiocy to say the very least. Perhaps, those who aim to find faults with the thought process of Pakistan’s ideological fathers should widen the scope of criticism to Lala Lajpat Rai and Savarkar. The invocation of Hindutva and the creation of an exclusive definition of Indian citizenship were attributed to the latter while the former was a strong proponent of partitioning Punjab, Bengal and Assam based on religion. The post-colonial reality was that if the British left India and Indians to grapple with issues emerging out of the communal challenges faced, the majority (Hindus) would prevail over the Muslims and push them into a corner. Given the uncompromising and stubborn attitude of the Congress when it came to addressing the Hindu-Muslim problem, such a situation could have easily arisen where the Muslim elite would struggle to find its place in the power structure to in any way represent their community effectively in a united India. Pinning the entire blame on one community—a minority that warranted the use of a ‘microscope’ for the division of the subcontinent is a bit of exaggeration. It was the inability of India’s two popular political forces to inspire trust and forge a consensus on working for the betterment of their people.
Even today the problem is the same and the hostility in the relationship between the two neighbors despite sharing a common history is understandable. The responsibility for the lack of bilateral cooperation on various issues of mutual interest cannot solely be shouldered by the Pakistani side. Fingers cannot solely be pointed towards Pakistan’s ideological roots and the ‘moth eaten’ country’s struggle with stability. Pakistan is a reality. In real life, it isn’t about the cards you’re dealt, it’s about how you play the hand. Or let’s go closer to home. In Nehru’s words, “the hand you’re dealt is determinism, the way you play it is free will”. A sensible way to make use of free will in this case is to try to cooperate with the neighbor-next-door for regional integration and cooperation to safeguard the security objectives of both countries which are intertwined.
There have been many attempts to stabilize relations between India and Pakistan but there have been no significant breakthroughs. When scholarship on Indo-Pak relations attempts to push for ‘normalization of relations between India and Pakistan’, it must ideally communicate shortcomings of the other side too. The understanding that what is expected of Pakistan to do almost immediately is something that would take even the most robust of countries decades to accomplish needs to guide such analyses in chalking out suggestions for both parties to strengthen ties. It can surely not be expected that in the meantime, both should just twiddle their thumbs and not benefit instead from globalization and changing geopolitical realities and globalization.
When allegations are hurled at Pakistan for always being at the wrong side of the battle, the silence on Indian involvement in violence- ridden Balochistan and the separation of East Pakistan is chilling. For any debate to be effective, it must be non-partisan. For any bilateral relationship to leverage trust and durability, it must be based on equality. There is little to gain from pointing out that India’s current NSA is a strong supporter of 4th generation warfare and is a hardliner on Pakistan—a country that in the current geopolitical context really does matter.
Pakistan, no doubt, has a mélange of challenges to deal with at home in areas of economy and energy as well as law and order and stability. A little support from our neighbors who perhaps understand where we are coming from because they face the same challenges at home in these trying times is desirable. Religious extremism is on both sides of the border as an impediment to growth and progress, the electorate in both countries is still waiting on the political leadership to deliver on promises of offering more avenues of employment, better education and health facilities, improved security and physical infrastructures. The improvement of relations with India might not be the solution to every problem, but the realization that it a partnership based on equality and trust provides an economic opportunity is there. Pakistan has had to pay the highest cost in the war on terror, yet it is still blamed for not doing enough and for being paranoid of Indian aggression conveniently ignoring the reality that the basis of Pakistan’s paranoia is not entirely unfounded. For a country that has for long asserted that Pakistan’s security policy is still mainly India-centric, it is ironic that India has had little to offer in the form of confidence building measures.
That is the strange thing about paranoia: not only is it infectious, it is also self-sustaining and should it hang so heavily in the air, whenever in the recent past, both parties have tried to talk things out, the effect has been paralyzing. That India is allegedly viewed as a threat to the existence of Pakistan attains greater legitimacy when the former takes on an accusatory and hostile tone when talking to or about Pakistan. The latter in such an event cannot be accused of anticipating any undesirable development and taking that into account while shaping a multi-dimensional security strategy. It is expected, irrationally, that both sides close their eyes to issues like hostility in Kashmir and LoC violations. In all countries over the world, the military has an important part to play in helping chalk out foreign policy objectives: a country where different pillars stick merely to textbook definitions realistically speaking may only exist in textbooks. Those who are disappointed by the way that a country is using all available resources to navigate out of crises of gargantuan proportions—that too under the glare of the international media as scores criticize and scrutinize every move sometimes even without real knowledge regarding the country’s problems, need to step out of their utopia. Sure, the ideal type is something to strive towards but one must never lose sight of where one is at the moment. To those crusaders that have taken it upon themselves to scoff and criticize Pakistan without the slightest bit of empathy and expect it to bend to whims and perform tricks for applause by the global audience, the circus is NOT in town.