India-Pakistan Grow Up, Please! -by Bahadar Ali Khan

The stalemate persisted during and after the fresh round of talks between foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad. From cordial to hawkish overtures by Pakistani foreign minister didn’t help the matters either. Even during the wars, foreign offices are the only places where the tone remains calm and finds means to mitigate the razor sharpness of the relationship. This is exactly what the word ‘diplomacy’
stands for.

On the Indian side, it seems their snobbish behavior is equally deteriorating the already almost non-existent relations between bitter and nuclear South Asian rivals. Indian foreign minister’s insistence to focus talks only around the cross-border terrorism and discussing the means to circumvent the non-state actors to carry on the events of the like of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Fair enough. But I don’t expect them to be naive enough to understand the complexity of the situation Pakistan is facing. Almost on daily basis the terrorists are exploding bombs everywhere, irrespective of the efforts done by the security apparatus of the country. We have a series of 9/11s, 7/7s and 26/11s in every nook and
corner of Pakistan for last three years. Who to blame but thyself. Of course Pakistan coined a misadventure by eulogizing the old dreams of Arab aggrandizement and subsequently translating that into a bloody civil war on its own turf. No one is safe, civil, military, minorities, majorities,
everyone is wounded. In fact the whole country is bleeding and the end doesn’t seem in sight. Now if under these circumstances India sees that these warmongers are in Pakistani state control, that would be a total miscalculation on their part.

When I recall the dream of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to see India-Pakistan to be the two states of the likes of US-Canada or when I read Mohandas Gandhi’s fasting unto death in protest of India’s refusal to pay Pakistan’s share of resources right after the separation, all this seems like a dream now. The Muslim League and Congress leadership had different views and vision at that time of division. But then establishments on the both sides of the divide, the way they have institutionalized the hatred over the course of 60 years, is horrific and very unfortunate, to say the least.

I always had the understanding that as Pakistan always faced the Martial Law quagmire roughly once in every decade since its existence and consequently the genuine democratic leadership couldn’t emerge out to tackle the issues in a more intelligent and less belligerent way. However, this round of talks and those preceding these also broke the myth of Indian leaderships prudence and their realpolitik spell, at least in my view. Their insistence on carrying talks solely on uni-point agenda of terrorism earns them nothing on the Pakistani side. Non-state actors are powerful enough to break the shell and cause havoc anywhere in the sub-continent. The need is to bridge up differences and some confidence building
measures must be taken irrespective of what happened in the past. The fresh start is the need of the time as hostility has already kept the 1200 millions souls of the sub-continent hostage to the adventurisms of all sorts.

Indian leadership must assess the situation and bring their commercial interests to Pakistan as their top agenda. Under the fog of a chequered past they forget that Pakistan offers them a vast market for their surplus goods of their juvenile economy. A market that comprises of 180 million people, who are receptive to all kind of imports from Paan Masala to tea and from technological books to visual entertainment of all sorts. Owing to the fact that India is discovering a new romance with the West which Pakistan has already explored in its 60 years existence. One of the advantages (or disadvantages) of flirting with the Capitalist West, is to develop spending habits and credit based economies which leads to an extravagant and spendthrift life-style. And indeed Pakistanis mastered this style and are a big extravagants!. India needs to tap this luxury savvy nation and sell them the stuff at competitive prices to what currently they pay for. This would offer them huge profits because of the common border and almost no freight expense. But in order to attain this, they need to ease down the situation and show some brinksmanship on their part to win the hearts of the general Pakistani public. I don’t expect Indians to hand over Kashmir overnight, but at least show some open mindedness in this and other pending issues.

However owing to the nature of ambitious adventurism of the past, if amends are not made, things can turn really ugly for both of these countries. No doubt India has emerged as a more confidant nation on the global scale in the last 20 odd years, it still need to adapt new ways of co-existence vis-à-vis Pakistan. A Pakistan under constant pressure from the US presence in Afghanistan and an already over stretched military waging a war of its survival in the border regions cannot deliver more than what they are doing presently. Bullying Pakistan would only encourage the non-state actors to further destabilize it and would lead to a more nasty and grave situation which she could handle. An instable
Pakistan would certainly be counter productive to Indian global ambitions and designs. The only panacea is to break the status-quo and both nations should come forward with open mind and heart. As we have seen that hostility yields nothing but poverty and hunger, in which both nations don’t have any enviable record among the global community.



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