Those who do not learn from history, are condemned to repeat it — said a wise man many years back. Despite the many seemingly unbridgeable chasms which exist between India and Pakistan — born from the womb of the same Mother India — even a cursory look at the policies which the two nations have adopted vis-á-vis each other will, amazingly, highlight the unchanging course of each other’s motivations and strategies in their turbulent relationship.
Pakistan, since years, the fountainhead and perpetrator of countless terror attacks in India, Afghanistan and many parts of the world continues to display a dogged adherence to its pursuit of terrorism as an extension of state policy despite having also become a hapless victim of its misadventures within its own borders. On the other hand, India, continues with its perpetual flip-flop policy towards Pakistan — essentially reactive, weak and unrealistic — which propels Pakistan to continue with its strategically myopic anti -India agendas.
The re-release the other day, on flimsy grounds, by the Pakistan High Court of the mastermind of Mumbai’s 26/11 terror attack, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, is the latest example of Pakistan’s continuing perfidy. It is indeed an apt step that India has officially brought the matter ( Lakhvi’s release) to the UNSC’s notice.
That Pakistan will learn from the frequent visits of intense violence perpetrated by all those ‘cobras it reared in its backyard’ — to quote Hillary Clinton’s famous rebuke to Pakistan, regrettably, Pakistan refuses to change, notwithstanding even after the gruesome tragedy of December 2014, resulting in nearly 140 innocent school-going children’s slaughter at Peshawar by terrorists of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). That the Pak Army did intensify its counter-offensive by launching Op Zar-e-Azb against the TTP is well-known, except, that it still continues with its infamous adherence to distinguishing between the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban — something which Pak premier Nawaz Sharif alluded to discarding, in the future, such unwise and unacceptable distinctions. But his nation’s army thinks otherwise!
The Pakistani army and its sinister spy agency, the ISI, continue to maintain as their ‘strategic assets’ most of the terror ‘tanzeems’ like the Lashar-e-Tayabba now in its new avatar the Jamaat-ul-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Sunni terror outfit Sipah-e-Sanghvi in Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban besides the al-Qaeda elements and Haqqani and Gulb-ud-din Hekayatmar networks in Afghanistan is hardly a secret anywhere. There exist at least a dozen more of such like terror outfits and their splinter groups in Pakistan — mostly enjoying ISI’s patronage. The ISI, in Afghanistan, continues with its age old stratagem of supporting the Afghan Taliban who have struck in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province as part of their annual spring offensive against the Kabul government.
The the US, in full knowledge of Pakistan’s duplicity in the war on terror, continues to finance and arm Pakistan is another example of Uncle Sam’s continuing display of a lack of strategic sense. Last month, the US pledged nearly a billion worth of civil and military aid including attack helicopters, air-to-surface missiles, night fighting equipment, battlefield communication equipment to the Pakistan army for augmenting its capability against the war on terror — no prizes for guessing against whom this modern weaponry will be employed!
Chinese President Xi Jingping’s recent visit to its junior ally Pakistan and promising the latter a whooping $46 billion investment in the strategic China-Pakistan economic corridor, linking China’s restive Xinjiang region to the Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea, will further bolster Pakistan’s hostility towards India. In addition, China has promised to deliver eight modern diesel-electric submarines and 110 F17 fighter jets to Pakistan in the coming years.
India cannot base its entire Pakistan policy on either historical precedent of Pak intransigence towards it or merely hoping for the best — something which may never happen, notwithstanding India’s persistent habit of overlooking Pakistan’s insidiousness.
India has to adopt its policies vis-á-vis its neighbours in pursuit of its national interests, promotion of regional stability, economic integration and, importantly, to further its emerging global role.
In the past three months, Pakistan’s upping the ante along the Line of Control and the International border in J&K, the rising incidence of terror related activities inside the Valley including renewed stone-pelting and sporadic display of Pakistani flags in Srinagar, anti- Kashmiri Pandit resettlement protests, etc., are all indicators of a hot summer approaching in J&K especially with a PDP-led soft state government in place. The Centre must factor in these ominous signs in its Pakistan policy.
India must make it amply clear to Pakistan that it will brook no interference in its meddling in J&K which is an integral part of India. All discussions regarding J&K between the two nations must include the disputed areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
To start with, India must not allow separatist leaders to congregate at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for obtaining their annual financial doles and fresh instructions from their ISI masters based in the Pak High Commission. Is the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad allowed to meet Baluchi or Sindhi nationalist leaders — reciprocity is the guiding principle in diplomacy and Pakistan needs to be reminded accordingly. The Modi government was swept to power in last year’s general elections on the promise of being steadfast and strong in promoting national interests — they now need to ‘walk the talk’.
Pakistan requires to be conveyed, in no uncertain terms, that as we seek genuine friendship and economic engagements with all our neighbours, Pakistan needs to discard its outdated and self-defeating strategies towards India for its own good.
In his forthcoming visit to China, PM Narendra Modi will have to convey, in unambiguous terms, to the Chinese leadership India’s regional concerns especially Pakistan’s continuing mischief as regards India. How India ensures that its relationship with China does not get reduced to a zero-sum game, because of the growing China-Pak nexus will be a litmus test for Indian diplomacy and PM Modi’s leadership.
To ensure peace in the region and its own economic resurgence, India must prepare itself militarily to thwart all challenges to its security and well-being — some baby steps have been taken currently and these must be speedily stepped up both by “Make in India” and critical imports for its military arsenal.