NEW DELHI: Regardless of who comes to power in Pakistan, chances of a thaw in ties with India are bleak, feel Indian analysts.
In fact, some believe that New Delhi should expect a ratcheting up of the Kashmir issue and a possible spike in terrorist infiltration as the new leadership tries to deflect attention from the economic and political crisis it will inherit on assuming office.
After asserting that the election in Pakistan was a ‘purely internal matter’, an Indian official said that the new government would face ‘multiple domestic as well as external challenges and expectations’ which require urgent attention.
“Economically, the impact of the greylisting of Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force in June will start being felt now, as investors and global financial institutions start reviewing their involvement in Pakistan,” he said. “While this by itself is not a crisis, combine it with a growing trade and current account deficit and the rise in oil prices, and the common Pakistani will soon feel the pinch, and pressure on the new government will mount.”
Externally, growing American and Western pressure to act against terrorist outfits, as well as deeply hostile and distrustful neighbours in the east and the west, both of which accuse Islamabad of using terror as a state policy, will continue to pose a challenge to the new government.
Internally, the rise of the religious right, and the subsequent pressure to evolve into a more rigid Islamic state will also clash with the secular elements which still exist in the country, he felt. "Ensuring enough power, water, and civic amenities, particularly in cities with large populations like Lahore and Karachi" will also need urgent attention and money, which is already in short supply.
And then, of course, even a pliant Prime Minister who toes the establishment/military line will eventually realize that being a puppet PM is not as easy as it sounds. “Remember that Nawaz Sharif too was originally brought to power by the same military which has ensured his political castration this time,” he said.
Under these circumstances, the new government might “might find it convenient” to distract attention by further ramping up the Kashmir issue and attacking India at international forums, while at the same time stepping up support for terrorists in the valley. “Pakistani efforts to get China and Russia involved in the Kashmir dispute under the auspices of the SCO provoked indignant responses from New Delhi. But these attempts are likely to increase, and further strain any bilateral peace-building attempts,” he felt.
As Mohammed Akthar, a Pakistani journalist, noted, “India was not an election issue, but Kashmir is, with both the PTI and the PML(N) asserting that they would do their best to ensure that entire Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan.”
On the Indian side, there is New Delhi's 'peculiar conundrum' when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. “We all know that it is the military that actually calls the shots, particularly when it comes to relations with India. But we don’t talk directly with the military for fear of undermining the already hamstrung democratic civilian government,” said another Indian official. “Therefore, as long as the military calls the shots in Pakistan, the more things change, the more they remain the same.”