The latest overture by the Pakistani establishment to resume composite talks with India comes in the wake of the sensational disclosure made by Dr. Gautam Sen, who has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics, that the Manmohan Singh government, under pressure from the Americans, has agreed to a virtual resolution of the Kashmir issue and that major Indian concessions would apparently be on the table. The complete text of Dr. Sen’s article is available here.
When asked about the Indian response to this new Pakistani government’s offer, the Foreign Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid is reported to have said that “no opening has been refused in the past.” While paying lip service to India’s “hurt” over our soldiers being beheaded by the soldiers of the Pakistani Army earlier this year, he was quick to add that those events had happened during the previous Pakistani regime. When he says that “India has to carefully weigh Pakistan’s offer” he is keeping all the options open in diplomatic double-speak. Then he claims that India’s “engaged aloofness” has earned it “enormous stature, goodwill and good relations globally.” It is statements like these that should worry the common citizen, because it betrays a complete disconnect by the political elite with the actual ground realities, and at the same time is delusional enough to believe that the world is continuing to look up to them for inspiration and leadership. But what is most worrying is his statement that “in the give-and-take in its neighbourhood, the country must also learn to sometimes give more than it gets.” When it comes to Pakistan and China, we have a history of 60 odd years of just “give” and no “take”.
Even from the time of its birth it would be difficult to define Pakistan as a nation or a country, in the conventional sense of the term. It is an abominable abortion, performed by a retreating imperial power at its nadir; savagely wanting to wound the people it had so ruthlessly ruled over and exploited for over two centuries! The desire to inflict everlasting humiliation and instigate perpetual conflict among the former colonies was something the erstwhile rulers could just not resist. Although, aware that the partition of the sub-continent would lead to a bloodbath, yet the British, in their haste, did not for a moment let this awareness deflect them from their divisive policy. Enough and more has been written on this subject, and there is little purpose served in adding further to it here.
The Pakistan that emerged out of the vivisection in 1947 was a concept that had no grounding in reality, both historical and geographical. It was a purely political concept designed to satisfy the whim and fancy of one man, and the impatience to rule, of another. The two parts of Pakistan shared nothing with each other except a common faith. They spoke totally different tongues, dressed differently, and had very dissimilar food habits. While West Pakistan at least adopted the Persian script and the Urdu dialect, the Easterners were happy using the Bengali language and script as it was before the partition. The Punjabi dominated military and the bureaucracy looked down upon the Bengali citizens, and treated them with contempt. Even those who chose to immigrate to Pakistan from Central India found that they were unwelcome. They came to be known as muhajirs, a rather derogatory term. Pakistan, without any roots in national history, and without any rationale for existence, soon deteriorated into a free-for-all, where the military eventually rode to power, due mainly to its superior muscle and the legacy of the British organizational ability. The initial promise of it becoming a nation representing a majority of the Muslims of the subcontinent was also not realised, when it became a home for less than one-third. This led Pakistan to desperately look for a reason for its creation and continued existence. Since it had failed in its attempt to represent the Muslims of the subcontinent, including the Muslim majority province of Jammu & Kashmir, it resorted to a policy of subterfuge and deceit.
Beginning with the thinly veiled ‘tribal invasion’ of Kashmir in 1948; through the infiltration policy leading to a second war with India during Gen. Ayub Khan’s military rule in 1965, until the bifurcation brought upon itself by its repressive policies in East Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan has been living on a thin edge. It fooled the Americans into believing that it would be their frontline ally against the Soviets during the cold war, and extracted huge amounts of aid from them. This aid was in turn used by it to finance its military and nuclear arsenal, and hardly a pittance was spent upon economic development, education, and health care. It had no qualms in selling dangerous nuclear technology to belligerent states like North Korea, and Iran. The father of its nuclear programme, A. Q. Khan was known to have made his technology available to anybody willing to pay the price. The shocking, three-decade story of A. Q. Khan and Pakistan’s nuclear program, and the complicity of the United States in the spread of nuclear weaponry is comprehensively brought out in Adrian Levy’s book: Deception: Pakistan, The United States And The Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy. The military has continued to dominate Pakistani life even though there have been brief intervals of limited “democracy”. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave it another opportunity to continue deceiving the Western allies and furthering its aims at developing nuclear weapons. It had no hesitation in going to bed with the Chinese, to whom it ceded a part of occupied Kashmir. It also collaborated with them in building the Karakoram Highway and allowed them to build naval ports in the Gulf. The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an altitude of 4,693 m/15,397 ft. It connects China’s Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s Northern Areas. The Highway is also meant to link with the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through the Chinese-aided Gwadar–Dalbandin railway, which extends up to Rawalpindi. It is no secret that the Chinese have larger designs in this theatre. After the annexation of Tibet and the subsequent demographic alteration of the region by allowing hordes of Han Chinese to settle there, it has turned its attention to the Muslim majority Xinjiang province. Although geographically a part of the PRC, the regime in Beijing looks at the Xinjiang Uighurs with suspicion and hostility. Already the policy adopted in Tibet is seeing its implementation in this region. The continued unrest in the Xinjiang capital Ürümqi is a direct result of the resettlement of large number of Han Chinese in this region. China will gradually push the Muslims from its territory into the adjoining countries of Central Asia and later begin to lay claims to territories occupied by them. The Karakoram Highway will facilitate the migration and the subsequent military expeditions across these nations that lie in its path. I cannot see any way in which the Highway benefits Pakistan. The pittance that it would earn by way of tolls from the traffic of commercial goods from China to the Gulf would be very poor compensation for the cost of the construction of the Highway and the threat of an aggressive China at its doorstep.
The humiliation of 1971 and the loss of East Pakistan temporarily put a halt to Pakistan’s aggressive pursuit for a national identity for some time. However, it was Zia-ul-Haq, who after seizing power, struck upon the idea of giving Pakistan a whole new identity. Farzana Shaikh, Associate Fellow of Chatham House, and author of Making Sense of Pakistan, argues that that “conflicting visions over the role of Islam in Pakistan have made it impossible to reach a broad consensus over fundamental questions about the purpose of Pakistan, or, indeed about the precise relation between ‘being Muslim’ and ‘being Pakistani’. This lack of consensus, she suggests, “gravely impeded the development of a coherent national identity for Pakistan.” The lack of a national identity has resulted in the emergence of a “negative identity” predicated on Pakistan’s opposition to India. “One of the most significant implications of this ‘negative identity’ that rests on no more than being ‘not India’ has been to dilute Pakistan’s South Asian roots in favour of a more robust Islamic profile informed by the Islam of West Asia. The implications of this imported theology has been deeply damaging to Pakistan, “where the broadly pluralistic instincts, characteristic of local varieties of Islam have been forced to give way to harsher readings of Islam imported from abroad”. The transformation of Pakistan during the Zia years have had lasting effects on the psyche of its people who have been misguided to believe that they are a Muslim country chosen to become the guarantors of Islam in the world. It is this version of Wahabi Islam that Pakistan has tried to export to Kashmir through its lackeys in the Hurriyat and other subversive institutions, with the hope that it would turn the Muslims of the valley against their traditional Sufi ethos, and make them the instruments of success in breaking Kashmir away from the Indian Union. Pakistan, I am afraid, has largely succeeded in its designs. The people of Kashmir have fallen prey to the invidious propaganda and have succeeded in driving the Hindus and other non-Muslims out of the valley through terror and murder.
It has also resulted in Pakistan denying its pre-Islamic legacy, and suppressing the culture, the history, the arts and the literature of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other non-Muslim eras. This suppression has deep psychological implications for its people. Having been forced to deny their past, a large vacuum has been created in their consciousness. This vacuum is being filled by lies, hatred, and notions of victimhood, where the people are made to believe that they are being victimized and persecuted by the rest of the world for pursuing their faith. Lies and deceit have become ingrained in the Pakistani consciousness.
It is this part of the consciousness of Pakistan that makes it “run with the hare and hunt with the hounds”. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave it the opportunity to divert Western military aid to the Afghan mujahedeen, whom it nurtured and supported, with the full knowledge of the Americans. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, it took no time in turning the mujahedeen into an anti-American/anti-Western force, and here again it was Pakistan that was supplying weaponry and personnel to the mujahedeen outfits. The Kargil war with India in 1999 is another example of Pakistani deceit. While the Pakistani Prime Minister was receiving the Indian Prime Minister in Lahore, who had embarked on a friendship bus journey, Pakistani Army units were surreptitiously occupying positions on the Indian side of the LOC. While initially the Pakistanis maintained that the fighters were Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by the casualties confirmed the involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces led by Gen. Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army, later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC. Having been chastised by the then US President, one would think that the Pakistanis would desist from further adventurism. But there has been growing evidence of Pakistani involvement in international terrorist attacks, epitomized by the infamous 26/11 attack on Mumbai. Even then the Pakistani establishment denied the involvement of its nationals, protesting its innocence with a false sense of outrage. However, the world now knows how deeply the Pakistani Army and the ISI were involved in this operation. It is also quite clear that there will be no action taken against the known masterminds of terror within Pakistan. It is characteristic of the Pakistanis to strike from behind, as any coward would do, and then protest injured innocence.
It is the same mentality that denies the existence of a known, Interpol-notified criminal like Dawood Ibrahim within its borders. The whole world knows his whereabouts and even his address in Karachi, but Pakistan will continue to deny any knowledge about him. The same consciousness viewed an ordinary event like the marriage of the Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza to the discredited Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik as some kind of a victory over India, with celebrations in Sialkot touching absurd levels of exhibitionism.
Those who wish to “weigh Pakistan’s offer for talks” should not forget that the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, was living in Pakistan for nine years before he was terminated by stealth by the US Navy Seals in Abbotabad, on May 2, 2011. That a man wanted by the most powerful military combination in the world would be found living in a fortified compound within walking distance of the Pakistan Military Academy, should raise all kinds of red flags for those who wish to “engage” actively or with “aloofness” with Pakistan.
However, having miserably failed in stabilizing Afghanistan, it should come as no surprise that the Americans would be more than willing to get out of this theatre and make a bargain with the Taliban that they would not mount a 9/11 type of attack on American territory. The Americans are a modern colonial power, no different from the colonial powers like Britain and France in the previous centuries. Colonial powers are never “moral” and they will not hesitate to sacrifice even their dearest friends if it is necessary for their own survival and welfare. If, as Dr. Gautam Sen asserts, the Indian government has indeed made this Faustian bargain with the US and Pakistan, then the Foreign Minister’s statement that we should sometimes give more than what we take, assumes extremely sinister proportions. Let us not forget that Nawaz Sharif, the present Prime Minister of Pakistan, was also the Prime Minister in 1999 when the Kargil misadventure happened.
Image Souce Wikipedia Commons – Public Domain