It is the seventh-largest nation, with the sixth-largest armed forces, in the world and an alarmingly growing nuclear arsenal. Yet, Pakistan stands at the edge of an abyss and the crossroads of its destiny as a nation state. Beleaguered by corroding Islamic radicalisation, including of its state institutions and a segment of its armed forces, near daily bouts of unprecedented violence perpetrated by those very elements it had assiduously nurtured in the past for terror activities in India and Afghanistan, a sham democracy, an economy on the brink of bankruptcy, centrifugal forces within its diverse ethnic regions and an international pariah for being the epicentre of global terrorism, Pakistan appears to be on the road to possible disintegration. It thus belies the “two-nation” theory to which it owes its birth, for secular India has nearly as many Muslims as Pakistan and in addition, all hues of the Islamic faith continue to flourish in India while most have been ostracised in Islamic Pakistan.
Weapons of mass destruction and terrorism go to make an apocalyptic cocktail, and thus Pakistans future worries not only the United States and rest of the West, but more importantly, the neighbourhood, especially India”¦
Envisioned by the Western-orientated Mohd Ali Jinnah as the promised homeland for Muslims of prepartition India, one that would grow into a liberal, modern and secular democracy, Pakistan, after 64 tumultuous years as a nation, is a far cry from the inclusive dreams of its founder and is now struggling to ensure its mere existence. “Failed,” “flawed” and “unraveling” are adjectives commonly bandied about to describe Pakistan these days.
Weapons of mass destruction and terrorism go to make an apocalyptic cocktail, and thus Pakistan’s future worries not only the United States and rest of the West, but more importantly, the neighbourhood, especially India, with whom Pakistan, separated at its birth in 1947, maintains unendingly a hostile relationship bordering on enmity. No nation on earth has perpetuated an uncalled-for, adversarial and unproductive relationship with its neighbour as Pakistan has done vis-à-vis India and, regrettably, on flimsy, delusive and imaginary grounds.
The U.S.-based magazine Foreign Policy and an NGO, The Fund for Peace, has ranked Pakistan 10th on the Failed State Index in a survey of 189 nations, with India at a respectable 87 and China, perhaps surprisingly to some, way behind India, at the 57th slot!2
Factors, Constants and Variables : The India Centricity
The raison d’être of Pakistan, since its violent birth, appears to be an implacable hostility towards India. For all its self-created and self-inflicted problems, India bashing is the most convenient fall-back option for India looms all over the Pakistani mind-set, in its policies, its geopolitical formulations and the centricity of its military and nuclear strategies and ambitions.
The absence of a stable and sustaining democracy in Pakistan and the fact that the nation is at the mercy of its formidable military machine make the task of improvement in Indo-Pak relations not a strong possibility at the moment.
Paradoxically, 1,000 years of common culture and a shared history have divided the two neighbours rather than uniting them, something for which a rapidly dysfunctional Pakistan may have to answer to posterity, especially its own coming generations. Pakistan’s animosity undoubtedly can be attributed to the baggage of history and primarily its own overambitious calculations vis-à-vis its larger, politically united and economically and militarily more powerful neighbour. Pakistan’s unquenchable thirst to be hyphenated with India in every global forum and every index of development or military power appears to be an uncalled for and unrealistic obsession.
Pakistan’s military misadventures, commencing with its failure to annex Jammu and Kashmir by force in 1948 and again in 1965 and its resounding defeat in 1971 at the hands of the Indian armed forces, leading to the break-up of Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh, and ending with its perfidy in 1999 in the Kargil sector, where it was once again thrown back by the Indian army, appear to have not chastened it towards reality but continue to haunt its psyche. On more than one occasion, different Indian prime ministers since independence have offered the hand of friendship, including the offer of a no-war pact by the present Indian prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, but to no avail. The Pakistan establishment stubbornly has negated many Indian peace overtures, though some well-meaning people from its civil society and NGOs have been making encouraging efforts towards lasting peace with India.
The India centricity of the Pakistani mind-set is to most analysts the most significant factor in the evolution of Pakistan as it vitally affects other factors and variables involved in its growth. To any objective observer, it is more than clear that if Pakistan can get over its Indian obsession and an unrealistic Kashmir fixation, it will only be for Pakistan’s betterment. Way back in March 2005, on a five-hour visit to Pakistan after spending five days in India, the then U.S. president Bill Clinton advised General Musharraf, “You have to decide do you want Kashmir or do you want to save Pakistan. You cannot do both at the same time.”3
Pakistani people, its leadership and, importantly, the Pakistan army have to doggedly endeavour to detoxify their adversarial mind-set towards India for them to get out of their own downward spiral.
The vexed J&K issue can be resolved through mature negotiations, as India has officially stated many times in the past. Problems like the Sir Creek can be resolved easily as they are simply technical issues. As regards Siachen, Pakistan must not try to be extra smart and obfuscate the realities on the ground if it is anxious to resolve this issue. Militarily, India can no way vacate the dominating Saltoro heights in this region, as also it has to be conscious of the proximity of the Chinese deployments in the disputed Aksai Chin area and the developments along the Karakoram Highway, which abuts this region. The Siachen glacier is close to the Shagsam Valley in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), where Pakistan in 1963 had illegally ceded nearly 5,180 square kilometres of territory to China.
The absence of a stable and sustaining democracy in Pakistan and the fact that the nation is at the mercy of its formidable military machine make the task of improvement in Indo-Pak relations not a strong possibility at the moment. Nevertheless, Pakistani people, its leadership and, importantly, the Pakistan army have to doggedly endeavour to detoxify their adversarial mind-set towards India for them to get out of their own downward spiral.