70 Years Of India – Pakistan Relations, An Exclusive Opinion Piece By Lt Gen S L Narasimhan (Retd.)
Pakistan was born out of two nation theory. That theory says Indian sub-continent has two major communities, the hindus and muslims. Their way of life, education and beliefs are different and hence they should belong to different countries. This theory was propagated by Allama Iqbal during the first decade of the twentieth century. On that basis, Pakistan became a separate country on 14 August 1947. The creation of Pakistan on the basis of religion was flawed right from the beginning. The reason for that is at the time of partition Pakistan had 32.66 million muslims. India had 35.38 million. East Pakistan, which is presently Bangladesh had more muslims than Pakistan.
Ever since her independence Pakistan has refused to live in peace with India. Immediately after independence, she sent in the Pashtun tribesmen from Waziristan to capture areas of Kashmir. This operation was called Operation Gulmarg. India stopped short of recapturing the portion of Gilgit and Baltistan in Jammu and Kashmir that is now under the control of Pakistan. It is this area that has been an important bone of contention between India and Pakistan ever since.
In the 1950s, China started building the Karakoram Highway through that area with the support of Pakistan. In 1963, Pakistan ceded 5000 Sq Km of Shaksgam Valley to China. Finally the Karakoram highway was completed and opened to traffic in late 1970s. India’s protests went unheard. In 1965, Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar again to infiltrate irregulars and instigate a rebellion. The whole operation failed and resulted in the 1965 India – Pakistan war. Pakistan’s poor administration of East Pakistan and the resultant refugee crisis ended in India winning the 1971 War and liberating Bangladesh.
In 1988, Pakistan devised Operation Tupac with three pronged objectives of disintegrating India, utilizing the spy network to act as an instrument of sabotage and exploit the porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh to set up bases and conduct operations. The Kashmir insurgency that started in 1989 is a result of this operation. It is going on even today. Not satisfied with all this, Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry was launched across the Line of Control in Kargil in 1999 to cut off the National Highway 1A and therefore the Ladakh region.
Because of the extended periods of martial Law in Pakistan, the army started having a large say in the governance of Pakistan. Since the state was founded on religion, the clergy also started having an increasing role in influencing the minds of the people. As and when democracy returned to Pakistan, the government of the day was the third leg in the wheel. Therefore, it is the troika of army, clergy and the
government in that order that influence the decisions in Pakistan. This aspect has played a major role in shaping Pakistan’s India policy.
Despite winning all the wars and conflicts with Pakistan, India has been extending the olive branch to maintain peace with Pakistan. The Gujral Doctrine that was enunciated by Former Prime Minsiter IK Gujral had five principles that aimed to project India as a benign big brother. With Pakistan, Gujral was able to establish Joint Working Groups (JWGs) to discuss outstanding problems in Kashmir, peace and security, Wular Dam, Tul Bul project, Sir Creek Issue, Issue of drug trafficking and trade.
However, it did not cut any ice with Pakistan. India granted Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan to boost her trade in 1996. Pakistan did not reciprocate but opted for a Non Discriminatory Market Access. Former Prime Minster Vajpayee tried to enter into a peace process with Pakistan in the famous summit with General Musharraf at Agra that ended in a failure. Prime Minister Modi placed his personal reputation at stake by going out of the way to establish a friendship with Pakistan but was rebuffed. India has been extremely accommodating to allow some of the Pakistan dignitaries to interact with Hurriyat leaders in the past. That proved to be a forum for anti – India activities. Therefore, it had to be stopped.
It is a well-known fact that the insurgency in Kashmir is abetted and orchestrated by Pakistan. The whole world acknowledges it. Not only that, it is also a known fact that the Taliban fighters from Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Kashmir have joined the ranks of ISIS in Afghanistan and are fighting the Afghan Forces in Nangarhar province. Knowing full well that Pakistan is behind all this the international community is shy of taking Pakistan to task. On the contrary, China has been supporting Pakistan in blocking the proscribing of Masood Azhar. China has again put the proposal on technical hold on 02 August 2017. This is because of Pakistan’s strategic location, the requirement of routes through Pakistan for the sustenance of forces fighting the Global War on Terror and the perception that Pakistan is a victim of terror herself.
Every time the security forces bring the insurgency situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control or a peace process is taking shape, the insurgency levels are pushed up by vested interests in Pakistan. For example, the insurgency levels came down in 2009. The stone pelting tactics started in the summer of 2010. There is also an effort to discredit the Army and Central Armed Police Forces by reviving decades old cases and First Information Reports. Many human rights activists have been targeting the army in the garb of fighting for human rights. What they forget is that a
soldier too has his human rights and he needs to be supported for carrying out the operations under extremely difficult conditions. Despite all these constraints, Army in conjunction with Police and Border Security Force has been effectively targeting the leadership and cadres of insurgent outfits. The neutralising of Burhan Wani and Sabzar Bhat stands testimony to the resolve of the Army not to let the insurgents gain an upper hand. In this year alone 137 insurgents have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir.
A soldier is the last person to want a war or a conflict because he knows and understands the brutal ramifications of it. But if it thrust on him, he will leave no stone unturned to ensure that victory is with us. There is still hope for better India – Pakistan relations. All it would take is for Pakistan to shun the low cost of option of fostering insurgency and show a true inclination towards the betterment of the bilateral relations with India. India has enormous capacity to face all that Pakistan can throw at her, respond as she deems fit and still wait patiently for Pakistan’s attitude to change. The question is whether Pakistan understands this and is willing to change her attitude towards India.