Pakistan-India Relations
Usman Zafar
12/20/2012

 

Pakistan and India have endured inhospitable relations since independence. The two countries have remained hostage to the mistrust that was effectively induced during their creation process, firstly, due to unsettled issues left behind by British Raj and secondly, as a result of mass murders and lootings to which migrating populations were subjected. These fragile relations continued to suffer setbacks at the hands of stubborn and shortsighted leaders of the two countries. Three wars fought to resolve disputes implanted by the British rulers only served their purpose of divide and rule. Owning to these historic hangovers, the subcontinent has lived under the dense cloud of persistent tension. Energies of the two countries were mostly consumed in bleeding each other with little to spare for the welfare of their populations. The obvious result is that about 32.7% people of India live below poverty line (World Bank-2010) while in Pakistan this figure is about 25%. By that, the region has the biggest concentration of poor people in the world.

Prevalent uncertainty and tension is becoming unbearable. It appears that the region is reaching a crossroad beyond which it can not develop without peace. Peace needs to be given a chance, but it can not come about without bridging gaps, resolving disputes and showing magnanimity. I believe it is with this spirit that the two countries must try to build lasting relations. Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Karishna visited Pakistan from 7th to 9th September 2012. During his visit three agreements on cooperation in customs matters, reprisal of trade grievances and conformation to quality standards were signed. Signing of agreement on liberalization of visa regime on 8th September 2012 will go a long way in enhancing people to people contacts and will also facilitate traders. Visits by parliamentarians, lawyers and social workers are a welcome development. In spite of all this, relations between the two countries will remain hostage to core issues like Kashmir, Siachen and water dispute. The two countries can defer these issue temporarily but not for an indefinite period of time. Reportedly, India is planning to erect a floating fence in Sir Creek area allegedly to check illegal crossings and arms smuggling. But Sir Creek happens to be a disputed area and any unilateral action in the area will provoke reaction from Pakistan. It will also reflect on highhandedness of Indians that will add to the suspicion of Pakistan towards sincerity of India in resolving the issues.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 2nd September on his return from Tehran had said, “Sir Creek, which we had talked about during his (Zardari’s visit to Ajmer) was doable.” However, “There must be a genuine feeling that Pakistan is doing all that it could do to deal with terrorism directed against India from Pak soil.” What Indian Prime Minister considered “doable” now is being undertaken unilaterally by India. On the other hand, Mumbai attack that took place on 26th November 2008 is still being dragged as an impediment to the normalization of relations between Pakistan and India. The reality was confessed by Indian politician and parliamentarian Mani Shankar Aiyar. He while delivering a lecture on Pakistan-India relations in Lucknow advised people to forget about 2001 Parliament attack and 26/11 Mumbai attacks as Pakistan faces similar situations daily. He said Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism. The lopsided approach adopted by the government of India is the major concern for the government and the people of Pakistan.
The approach adopted by India reflects on its indecisiveness. One wonders if they feel that they can repeat 1971 and further disintegrate Pakistan. Well same formula can not be applied on two different situations, especially, in international relations. Pakistan is far too robust to be disintegrated by disjointed spats of terrorism or through relentless propaganda professing doomsday scenarios. Pakistan has worked hard to secure its sovereignty and has the potential and courage to use all its means to protect it. Certainly, war is not an option, but peace can only be realized through sincere efforts. It is deceitful that while on one hand India enters into trade agreements with Pakistan for the sake of peace and on the other hand it undertakes construction of fence in Sir Creek area with out the consent of Pakistan. By resorting to such acts we will remain slave to history and will never be able to build needed trust of being good neighbors. For the sake of goodness to the people of two countries, contentious issues must be resolved with sincerity and transparently. Political rhetoric’s will keep the situation of people in the two countries in limbo and history will blame the leaders of the two nations for the foregone conclusion.