How Does India Deal with Pakistan?

Last week, Indian media space was abuzz with a statement that was apparently made by Prime Minister of Pakistan at a breakfast meeting with journalists in New York. The statement, which was supposed to be off the record, was revealed by a Pakistani journalist that Indian prime minister was described as “Dehati Woman” by his Pakistani counterpart. Loosely translated, this term implies a village woman who is not familiar with manners of high table. Though subsequently vehemently denied, the statement stuck. No official denial emanated from either government sides. Finally, both sides that wanted a fruitful dialog, most likely never achieved their goal. Never mind it left a poor aftertaste in already embittered India – Pakistan relationship. 

How to deal with Pakistan? This is a question that has been haunting Indian foreign policy makers for last several decades. Separated at birth from India in 1947, Pakistan has turned out to be an intractable neighbor  and a formbidable enemy. Since its inception, Pakistan has fought four full scale wars with India. First in 1947 over annexation of Jammu and Kashmir state, then in 1965 and in 1971. The war of 1971 resulted in dismemberment of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh.
It is an accepted fact that Pakistan’s Punjabi speaking elite, that includes armed forces and ruling class, have never reconciled to the idea of losing Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan. At war within, with Sindhis in south and Balochis in the west, and of late  with home grown jihadi terrorist groups, Pakistan has tried overtly and covertly to  dismember Indian union by capitalizing on internal dissent and difference as well as by unleashing fanatic jehadi groups on India. Pakistan has actively funded sessionist movements in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and unleashed many other low intensity conflicts all across Indian cities and towns, in public places and in places of worship.  Fanatic elements in the guise of freedom fighters have hijacked Air India plane, attacked on Indian Parliament, initiated and perpetuated Kargil war, attacked Mumbai and seized of Tajmahal hotel. Many innocent lives, hindus, muslims, civilians and men in uniform have lost their lives in these attacks. Some permanently disabled and made to struggle on a daily basis to discharge duties that most of us take for granted. 

Over time, Pakistani tactics have been fine tuned to such an extent that using disgruntled Indians as cannon fodder, Pakistan has been able to acquire a sense of deniability for any attack on India. In many instances Pakistan has flatly denied any involvement. When provided proof, Pakistan has not even acknowledged or failed to act on them. A typical case in point is prisonors taken in Kargil war, Pakistan did not acknowledge their existence. Papers in the person of prisnors, clearly indicated these people belonged to Pakistani army. Later on, Pakistani armed forces had honored posthumously soldiers killed in Kargil conflict. To make matters worse, complicity of Pakistani army in Kargil war became crystal clear when a recorded conversation between Pakistani army chief and and army general was released.

In Mumbai attack, the lone surviving attacker Ajmal Kasab was never acknowledged by Paksitan to be its citizen. Kasab’s last rites were performed in India. Voice samples of terrorist handlers, remote controlling Mumbai attack, were provided by Indian authorities to Pakistan. These were never investigated, or results never shared with India. List goes on. Finally, Osama Bin Laden, the master mind of Al Quaeda was residing near Pakistani army training college in Abbotabad. Yet Pakistan kept on informing the world and US, that Osama was not in Pakistan and Pakistan was unaware about Osama’s whereabouts.

I find Pakistani leaders, politicians, diplomats, and journalist to very glib and very articulate in defending Pakistan.  Most Pakistani’s exhibit conviction, even when they are lying or dishing out their government propaganda paper. It is amazing how every spokes person argue the similar line without batting an eye lid. This makes me wonder, if Pakistani’s appearing on Indian TV are given a briefing on party line. A few standard defensive approaches used by Pakistani’s in all season are the following : 

1. As long Kashmiri’s are not given independence, read handed over to Pakistan, terrorism will keep on happening. Implicit in the argument, terrorism is done by disgruntled Kashmiris.

2. Pakistan herself is a victim of terror. So what can Pakistan do, if India is attacked by terrorists. Implicit in the argument, terrorism is a global phenomenon and Pakistan is a victim. In reality, Pakistan had created the cancer of terrorism to attack India. Now cancer has spread in body of Pakistani state. 

By contrast, Indian response to Pakistani aggression have mostly been reactive. All Indian effort to tame Pakistan has fallen in deaf ear. In 1997, Atal Bihari Vajpayee proposed to visit Pakistan. General Musharraf refused to salute him. Kargil war was initiated by Pakistan three months later. Subsequently, many efforts have been made by different prime ministers of India, however, none has borne fruit. Rather, Mumbai was attacked, Indian soldiers in line of control were beheaded, and now Indian PM being called a “dehati woman” by Pakistani prime minister.

As a neighbor, India must improve ties with all neighbors including Pakistan. Afterall, both countries have same history. People in both countries have family members on both sides. On humanitarian grounds they must meet. In fact on personal and private level, Pakistani’s are very warm and hospitable people.   However, without getting swayed by emotion, India must think carefully and must be cautious in dealing with establishment that govern Pakistan. Because there is every possibility of getting caught unawares. India cannot control what Pakistan does and what Pakistani’s say. India, however, can strengthen her own borders and internal surveillance so that Pakistan cannot exploit our weakness and differences easily. There is no otherway. We cannot engage in a slanging match with Pakistan, we can only become strong and neglect Pakistan and put her in a place that is due to her.

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