Dynamics of Indo-Pak relations

ddddMuhammad Munir
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – The India-Pakistan relations have been passing through a tense phase since January 2013 due to violent incidents at Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed territory of Kashmir. During these incidents two Pakistani and two Indian soldiers were killed. It was the worst clash there since India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire nearly in a decade ago in 2003.

The recent incidents of extra judicial killings of an Indian prisoner/ convicted terrorist Sarabjit Singh in Pakistani jail and a Pakistani prisoner/convicted spy Mr Sanaullah in Indian jail, have shattered all hopes for peaceful and normal relations between the two important South Asian countries- Pakistan and India. This shows an abnormal state of affairs on both sides. The mindset of hatred dominates without showing any tolerance for each other.

In order to avoid violent incidents at Line of Control (LoC) and extra judicial killing of prisoners, there is an urgent need to evolve a joint mechanism by both countries to safeguard the rights of prisoners. The best option is exchange of such prisoners on reciprocal basis. Track II channel needs to be revitalized. Over a period of time this channel has become dominated by ex-government officials; whereby, Track II effort has not been able to maintain its own stance on contentious issues and proponents of Track II tend to speak the official language.

Although, there is a lot of change in Pakistan regarding improvement of relations with India as almost all the main political parties of Pakistan are supporters of having good relations with India, but on the other hand in India it is on the other way round. Not only the political parties but even the courts in India are influenced by pre-dominant anti-Pakistan opinion prevailing in India. The hasty death sentence given by Indian courts to a Kashmiri youth Muhammad Afzal Guru on February 9, 2013 is an example. His execution sparked mass protests and resentment amongst political circles in Indian Occupied Kashmir for not following proper legal and judicial norms, instead of handing over dead body to his family it was buried inside the jail and Indian Security forces used brutal force against the peaceful Kashmiri protestors.

Among the serious disputes that were the product of hasty, unimaginative and surgical partition of the British India, the water dispute and the ongoing Kashmir dispute were probably most complicated. The water dispute surfaced when the Indian Punjab cut off the flow of waters in April 1948. Given the uncertainty of rains, agriculture was heavily dependent upon the river waters. No dispute generated so much bitterness as did the one over the flow of waters to Pakistan. For Pakistan, Water issue is as important as is the Kashmir issue.

Indian attitude towards its smaller neighbouring state and her dream to see herself beyond the region is considered one of the major challenges to regional security. India is becoming more arrogant towards Pakistan after it has strengthened her strategic ties with USA .Indian influence has been increased globally due to US strategy of making it a leading power Asia Pacific. On the other hand Pakistan has been facing severe security and economic challenges due her involvement in war on terror. India is trying her best to get maximum benefits out of this situation. On one hand India has hardened her stance on various issues such as Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and on water issue.

On the other hand India has been able to get tacit support from international organizations such as International Court of Arbitration (ICA) against violation of the Indus Water Treaty. On May 17, 2010, Pakistan had instituted arbitral proceedings against India under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 and approached the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) against violation of the treaty. The ICA granted a stay and stopped India from constructing the 330MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project in occupied Kashmir.

Later court’s partial decision is clear in this regard that it permits India to divert water for power generation but will determine limits and parameters of the diversion. The court will define a minimum flow regime and thus India will be unable to divert permanently complete winter flows over a period of six to eight months in a year. The erroneous perception stems from Pakistan’s slip to take timely action against illegalities. India proceeded with the construction of works not permitted under the treaty and kept Pakistan engaged in correspondence and negotiations for years while taking their projects to a stage of a fait accompli.

The waters of the Indus River and tributaries like the Jhelum — and the dams built on them by India — have long been one of the main points of contention between the two countries , along with the disputed region of Kashmir itself and cross-border terrorism. Pakistan, whose agriculture-dominated economy is heavily reliant on the Indus and its tributaries, fears upstream dams allow India to manipulate the flows of water as it sees fit. Many in Pakistan accuse New Delhi of wantonly exacerbating the country’s dire water shortages, choking its agricultural production and ruining livelihoods. Pakistan should continue to pursue the ongoing water related cases at various international forums with vigilance and responsibility.

There is no doubt that today a realization exists in the both countries that their development and progress depend on good relations with each other. The leadership in Pakistan and India are trying to sort out their differences for the sake of human progress and regional cooperation. The first step in this regard is to shed away the past prejudices and create an environment of mutual trust. At the same time some scholars in India are trying to propagate that in Pakistan, political parties and military are not on the same page regarding relations with India. “Pakistan seemed to be balancing the interests of the political parties with the interest of the Army.

There appears to be a broad understanding among the political parties in Pakistan to stay engaged with India with the objective of reducing bilateral tensions. Second, there is a conscious effort not to over-emphasise India as an enemy. On the other hand a majority in the Army do strongly believe that India is an existential threat along with the internal security threats”( Smruti S. Pattanaik ,IDSA Comment, January 18,2013). Keeping in view this kind of Indian propaganda it is hoped that newly elected government of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif , while announcing national agenda, should convey to the world that the political and military leadership in Pakistan are on the same page as for as Pakistan’s national interests are concerned.

—The writer is working as Research Fellow at IPRI.

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