India’s relations with Pakistan are frozen in time

March 7th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Mar 7 (ANI): The commando style terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore clearly tells the world how the terror outfits have a free run in Pakistan. How else could the perpetrators of the attack on the cricketers walk away so easily without being challenged?

The events made it clear that anyone wanting a guarantee for security in Pakistan should include the terror groups in the negotiations. The events have made it clear we are living with a dangerous neighbour.

India has already been given the warning by terror groups when they mounted the commando attacks on Mumbai. That, like the Lahore carnage, which followed, was no ordinary terror attack. It was a highly sophisticated commando style operation where 10 terrorists divided themselves into five groups and the mayhem followed as planned.

The recent Lahore incident makes it clear that we need to secure India’’s borders and have a clear assessment of our relations with Pakistan devoid of any emotion.

In the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, the Government made demands on Pakistan to hand over the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage, but Islamabad made it clear that it was never going to do that. Finally, New Delhi accepted the reality that Pakistan can try the criminals under its own judicial system.

The denial mode of Pakistan as referred by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is nothing new. Islamabad has been in a denial mode since 1947. That is part of Pakistan’’s state policy.
It is high time India wakes up to the fact that she can hardly ever have friendly relations with Pakistan. Efforts have been made in Pakistan to ingrain hostility towards Indians. For 60 years, Pakistani textbooks have taught as to how terrible Indians in general, and Hindus in particular are.

There is a whole new generation that has been brainwashed in its attitude towards India. Pakistani claims of seeking good relations with India has been mere diplomatic posturing. The situation perhaps could have been different if Benazir Bhutto had been allowed to stay alive.

Benazir was determined to change the existing order. Isn”t it strange that the Government of Pakistan led by Benazir’’s party is yet to get off the ground the much publicised UN enquiry into her assassination.

During my several interactions with the late leader of Pakistan, while she was living in London, the issue of Indo-Pak relations would invariably always come up. She understood the ground reality and the need for fundamental change in the outlook of people of Pakistan towards India.

This author often pointed out to her that the Pakistani establishment more so the mullahs and the army would never let that happen. She was aware of the problems and the roadblocks to her plans and thinking, but was still confident of being able to establish democratic order in Pakistan and root out terrorism.

Asif Ali Zardari rules Pakistan in her name. Does he have any vision which guided Benazir and for which she gave her life? In the last interview that I had with her in London she kept telling me that she would be killed on her return to Pakistan. To my repeated questions as to why she was going to Pakistan in such a situation and that it was not right to do so considering her obligations to her children, she would reply that “she had to go back for the sake of Pakistan.”

The mullahs and the Pakistan Army did not like her a bit and did not want her to return back to the country.

That having been said, it is now for India to be realistic. It is very disheartening to see a nation like India depending upon another country — USA — to put pressure on Pakistan. India must fight its own battles.

The United States has its own priorities and the issues that bother India are not its main concern. We have seen the reaction in the US when Israel pulverised Gaza and Hamas. India must learn to fight its own War on Terror and not get dragged into the US-led war on Terror.

However, India must decide what is in her strategic interest and strengthen its historic friendship with Afghanistan. Afghans never supported radical Islam. Hindu and Sikh minorities flourished there till Pakistan- backed Taliban forces took over the country.

We need to help Afghanistan build its army and air force. We should not forget that for three years after the withdrawl of Soviet troops, then President Najibullah was able to fight the US- led coalition of Mujahideen entirely with the strength of the Afghan army, which needs to be rebuilt.

India has been consistently seeking friendship with Pakistan, but it has been a oneway approach. It has little chances of success unless Pakistan genuinely shows its intent and willingness to develop a new relationship with India. Pakistan has to make genuine efforts to change the mindset of its people and need to revise their school textbooks, deleting the lies about India. Will they do this?

Pakistan has in fact yet to come to terms with its own cultural and historical past, and dig into their ancient roots. The archaeology tells them that the country now forming Pakistan and its civilisation flourished during its Buddhist past. They should have pride in that glorious past. A country in denial of its own heritage is now seeking roots in aggressive and radical Islam. That is the tragedy of Pakistan today.

Many Indians are living in a dream world and want to bring back the era in the sub-continent — when they lived in areas which now form parts of Pakistan. They forget that it was a period when the country was one and was ruled by the British. Today anti-India sentiment is ingrained in Pakistan. There is no space in the current Indo-Pak relationship for lofty dreams which seek to bring back the ”el-dorado”!

It does not mean that relations with Pakistan cannot improve. They can improve, but only if such a relationship is based on the ground realities. Pakistan’’s own Altaf Hussian, leader of the MQM, never tires of reminding his followers that Pakistan is a feudal state where feudal elements rule in collusion with mullahs. Radical Islam suits the feudal system of Pakistan. Added to that factor is the army’’s alliance developed with the Islamist parties since the days of General Zia-ul-Haq.

The coalition that General Zia-ul-Haq developed between the army and mullahs has only been strengthened with time. The Pakistan Army itself has undergone a huge change. The young officers indoctrinated by General Zia have now become generals and are calling the shots.

The reign of General Pervez Musharaff saw the coalition of army with mullahs strengthening further. He was dependent upon Islamist parties for political support.

The world is worried today about the rapid Talibanisation of Pakistan. In such a situation we have to secure our own house.

As the people of Pakistan struggle to establish democracy, this author doubts if there is any political or social churning taking place in Pakistan.
If Zardari and the PPP are able to guide the country towards the dreams of their slain leader Benazir Bhutto, may be one day India and Pakistan can live in peace as two good neighbours. It is going to be a long wait. Till then the relations with Pakistan are frozen in time. (ANI)

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