I am a keen follower of politics and defense related issues especially those concerning India and Pakistan. Now I have decided to write and express my views and opinion. Since independence Indian and Pakistani relations have seen a number of ups and downs but perhaps the lowest point in their relations were the recent border stand offs after the Indian parliament was attacked and Mumbai blasts. These stand offs were the most dangerous because both nations were preparing for possible war after becoming nuclear powers. To better understand the history of relations between the two countries we first need to identify the problems facing these two nations. After identifying problems I shall try to propose possible solution(s) based on my own judgment.
To better understand the problems facing these two nations we need to identify the factors affecting their relations. In my view following are the factors that have been and will continue to affect the two countries relations until amicable solutions to these problems are found.
1. CONFLICT OF IDEOLOGY:
Pakistan is one of those rare countries that gained independence based on an ideology and not as a result of armed conflict or fighting. This ideology is in direct conflict with the thinking prevailing at that time in Indian sub continent and still persists in India. Indian National Congress’s principle basically was and even today is that there is one nation in India and that is Indian. This ideology is commonly known as one nation theory. On the other hand muslins of sub continent believed that there are not one but two nations living in Indian sub continent. This ideology is called two nations theory and was the basis for the struggle of Pakistan. Even today these ideologies are the main thinking of the people of two nations. So by looking at the two nations ideologies we will see that their basic ideologies for attaining independence and struggle for freedom from British is opposite of each other. This is like two poles of a magnet that although are close to each other are in opposite direction and have no attraction for each other in fact opposite is the case. Unfortunately there is no solution to this problem and both countries shall have to accept each other and learn to live together. Friends can be changed however one cannot change neighbors and has to learn to live with them in the best possible way.
This issue is the one that has attracted the most attention and has become the centerpiece of relations. I shall not go into details as to how this problem was created and shall limit myself to the extent that Kashmir is a dispute between two countries and needs to be resolved. After the fighting of 1947 between newly independent states of Pakistan and India the matter finally reached UN. UN arranged a ceasefire and hence Line of control (LOC) came into being. After almost 62 years we are at the same place where we were when the matter went to UN. UN did made halfhearted attempts but failed. Then the problem was sort of filed and only persisted in the statements made by the two Nations leaders. Indians made a policy declaring Kashmir to be an “Atoot Ang”. Pakistan’s policy was that the problem be solved according to the UN resolutions. This policy persisted for almost four decades. Then in late eighties a new twist happened and peaceful struggle of the people of Kashmir turned into armed struggle. The armed struggle became so strong that India had to position a sizeable number of its troops to control it. A large number of people lost their lives and wide spread human rights abuses took place. This situation took another turn when the incident of Kargil occurred in 1999. Pakistan and India nearly went to war. Kashmir issue once again came to light with a new threat it posed because both India and Pakistan had become nuclear powers. This matter had hardly come to normal when USA suffered its worst terrorist incident and a global war on terrorism started. Pakistan once again became a front line state. At around the same time Indian parliament was attacked and India blamed Kashmiri groups for that and linked them to Pakistan. India moved its forces to border and increased military pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan responded and tension again increased. Since at this time USA was tied down in Afghanistan and needed Pakistan therefore it stepped in to avert a war between the two nations. Although Indians had their own plans but as a result of all this exercise Kashmir issue again came to light. Since USA and other developed nations are worried about the possible use of nuclear weapons they perhaps are feeling the importance of the need to resolve this issue. However the difficult thing now facing USA is that on the one hand is India a giant market for American products and a strategic partner and on the other hand is Pakistan a frontline state and presently an important member of the coalition. The Americans know that India and Pakistan can not solve their problems bilaterally however India is opposed to any third party mediation therefore they have adopted the role of facilitators. As a result of this both sides are talking of a change of positions on stated policies. Pakistan has as a result shifted its stated policy. Indians have not yet publicly done that. Pakistan has even floated certain brave suggestions, which in my view are not all in best interest of Pakistan. In present circumstances we should have formed a stronger position on the issue instead we are showing signs of weakness. In my view Indians are not serious in dialogue they are trying to pass time and waiting for opportunity to break off dialogue process. Incidents like parliament and Mumbai attacks just provided them with the excuse. The reason is that India perhaps is in the weakest position on the issue. If there is a party who is going to loose the most it is the Indians provided a fair solution of the problem is sought. Referendum is not acceptable to them, independence is out of question then what they plan on doing about this problem is not clear. Pakistan would find it difficult to accept any sort of Indian rule and so will Kashmiri’s. Then what is the solution to this problem? In my view only plebiscite is the answer, a genuine plebiscite.
This perhaps is the factor causing all problems. We do not trust each other and there are a lot of reasons for this. Unfortunately this will not end in a short span of time. It will take quite some time before an air of understanding replaces that of mistrust. However it is important that both countries do try this if we are to survive in this world, which is changing rapidly.
A huge number of Muslims live in India and similarly small number of Hindus live in Pakistan. The way they are treated affects the relations of two countries. Unfortunately the way Muslims are treated in India is a cause of alarm for people in Pakistan. As a result Hindus too some time end up on the receiving end in Pakistan. Although no significant incident has occurred in Pakistan reverse is the case in India. In 1947 hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed, injured, kidnapped, rapped or are missing since then. Babri mosque was demolished. Muslims in Gujrat massacred under the supervision of state machinery. A separate accord should be signed to protect minorities and followed in letter and spirit to avoid the recurrence of these incidents.
5. MILITARY BALANCE:
This is a major factor affecting the relations between the two countries. Whenever a reasonable military parity existed between the two countries relations remained stable. On the contrary a significant military imbalance resulted in boiling of temperature. 1971 is a good example of the role of military in dictating terms of one party. 1998 is also an example when Indian attitude changed overnight after detonating nuclear devices. When Pakistan responded the situation returned to normal.
6. WATER DISPUTE:
This issue has not received the attention it deserves. Ever since the Indus basin treaty both nations hardly ever had a dispute on the utilization of water as agreed in the agreement. However in the recent years this has changed. With Indians building dams on rivers that were agreed to be Pakistani, Pakistan is suffering from water shortage. Also Indians release the water at the most inconvenient of time that causes flooding and damage to the crops in Pakistan. Recently this issue has started gaining importance in Pakistan and government of Pakistan even went to the World Bank for the resolution of the dispute of Krishan Ganga dam. Tension between the two nations might intensify because of the sensitivity of the issue. It is important that both nations implement the Indus Water Treaty in letter and spirit to avoid unnecessary tension.
These in my view are the major matters that affect the relations between the two nations most. If these matters are settled amicably then I do not see any reason why these two nations cannot live in peace. If both nations wish to live in peace and harmony they need to address them and settle amicably. After more than six decades of independence both nations should have matured to an extent that they be able to negotiate and settle their issues.