We must not chase rainbows
India is the largest country in South Asia and its leaders never tire of boasting that India is the super power of the region and a potential world power. It has disputes with all its neighbors because of which it doesn’t enjoy best of relations with any. Since India is past master in covert operations and propaganda war and habitually resorts to intrigues, economic coercion and blackmail, and never shies of threatening to use force, the economically and militarily weak neighbors have no choice but to bear with India’s high-handedness and overawing tactics. They take India’s barbs and excesses with a heavy heart.
Pakistan is the only country which stands up to Indian intemperance and belligerence boldly. It has always aspired for peaceful and friendly relationship with all its neighbors based on equality and mutual respect and has resented overbearing attitude of India. This stance is not to the liking of Indian civilian and military leaders. In reaction, India has been continuously devising strategies to intimidate Pakistan and to make it a pliant state. In this regard, India first took assistance from former USSR and is now seeking help from USA and Israel.
When Pakistan came into being in August 1947, India after grabbing 565 princely states including those wanting to join Pakistan, it forcibly occupied two-thirds Kashmir which is still in its illegal occupation and bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Large tracts of rich lands in West Punjab and East Bengal were also usurped. India’s greed has still not been satiated and even now it keeps dreaming of absorbing Bangladesh and Pakistan in Indian Union.
Indian Congress leaders instead of helping Pakistan in settling down overloaded Pakistan with myriad of problems during its infancy and had striven hard to suffocate Pakistan. India is so intensely averse to the existence of Pakistan that it has gone to war with Pakistan thrice in addition to two localized conflicts. India broke Pakistan’s eastern limb in 1971. None can deny that India has all along tried to keep Pakistan politically, economically and militarily weak and isolated.
It is even now engaged in massive covert war against Pakistan and is also resorting to water terrorism by building series of dams over the three rivers flowing into Pakistan in violation of Indus Basin Treaty. Its entire military might was deployed along the border in 2002 and 2008. However, to its utter disappointment, it finds Pakistan as defiant as ever. It refuses to budge from its stated principle of relationship based on equality and mutual respect. It refuses to forgo its principled stance on Kashmir.
Once India fails to assert its authority through coercion, it then projects itself as the big brother to draw brotherly respect from younger brothers. Its behavior as a big brother however leaves much to be desired. Rather than earning respect by behaving maturely and generously, it behaves arrogantly and expects one-sided respect and concessions. It has believed in the policy of taking all and giving nothing in return. It considers unilateral concessions as its birthright. India’s small-heartedness and pettiness can be gauged from its nastiness towards visiting Pakistani sportspersons, artists, visitors and diplomats posted to India.
While putting up the façade of peace and friendship, India keeps expanding and modernizing its armed forces as well as up grading its nuclear program. Oblivious of the grave implications of arming to teeth an expansionist power with dangerous designs against Pakistan, the west has been selling its sophisticated weaponry to India to earn dollars. With its improved economy, Indian military shopping list keeps expanding and so does its annual defence budget. India is now the biggest importer of weapons in the world. Strategic alliance with the US and Israel allows India to import weapon systems of its choice unobstructed.
After inking Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement in 2008, the US gave blank cheque to India to modernize its already formidable nuclear arsenal by allowing it to acquire its nuclear needs from Nuclear Suppliers Group to its heart’s desire. Free flow of conventional weapons and nuclear material made the then Indian Army chief Gen Kapoor delusional and he sought review of India’s nuclear doctrine. In his view, 70-90 nukes with Pakistan were excessive and went beyond the concept of credible nuclear deterrence. Indian naval chief also chimed that Pakistan had exceeded its minimum nuclear deterrence level. The hype was a cover plan to justify more nuclear tests and to fine-tune India’s thermo nuclear bomb.
Indian military continues to purchase latest state-of-arts weapons frenetically, not to prepare against China but against Pakistan as is evident from its two-thirds strike formations geared towards Pakistan. After showing its extreme animosity in the wake of Mumbai attacks for nearly three years, India wore the mask of friendship and started to give friendly signals to Pakistan so as to acquire MFN status and land route to Afghanistan via Wagah. The mask slipped on several occasions exposing its ugly face. India is once again making friendly overtures to the newly elected Nawaz Sharif led government, but its hidden intentions inadvertently get leaked in one way or the other.
Indian Army chiefs Gen Kapoor and Gen VP Singh and even the current chief have been bragging about India’s much hyped Pakistan-specific Cold Start Doctrine, which in Indian military view had nullified Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. Kapoor went to the extent of claiming that Indian military has the capability to take on both China and Pakistan at a time and can run through Pakistan in 72 hours. Pakistan’s cool response in the form of test firing of short-range nuclear tipped ballistic missiles and production of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) and conducting series of India specific Azm-e-Nao exercises punctured Indian belligerence. In sheer frustration India gave a policy statement that in case of use of TNWs, India will retaliate with its entire nuclear might.
India always seeks concessions and Pakistan relents while India as a state policy never grants any concession. Like our other rulers, Nawaz Sharif during his two stints in power was also eager to gratify India and is again eager to visit India at the first available opportunity without having grasped the security dynamics of the region. Friendship based on goodwill has to be two-sided and it is now India’s turn to show some generosity. Since Nawaz is holding additional portfolios of defence and foreign affairs, he should get first-hand briefing from Foreign Office, DGMO and DGISI and get himself fully conversant with the security dynamics before embarking upon political venture to India.
While his eagerness to put the house in order is understandable and laudable, his impatience to visit India even if not invited and to renew back channel diplomacy on Kashmir is indiscreet and undiplomatic. This kind of indiscretion could work with time-tested China but not with unreliable India which has given pains and nothing else. Nawaz’s claim that Kashmir issue was at the verge of settlement when Kargil occurred is not altogether correct. Musharraf pursued Nawaz’s track II diplomacy through Tariq Aziz from 2004 onward and doled out more concession than any other Pakistani leader on Kashmir. Yet India didn’t respond to his four-point plan which threw away Pakistan’s principled stand based on UN resolutions. To imagine that Manmohan Singh adores Nawaz and will resolve Kashmir dispute or other unresolved disputes is like chasing rainbows. Nawaz should not forget that it was not his policy of appeasement or diplomatic skills but nuclear response in 1998 which took the heat of xenophobia out of saber-rattling BJP leaders.
The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email: email@example.com