SOME time back, a 12-member delegation of Indians – including the Pakistan- friendly senior journalist Kuldip Nayar – went to Pakistan “to promote people-to-people contact” and returned home. The delegation did not issue any statement but Mr Nayar wrote about his experiences, maintaining that he has “come back from Pakistan with the conviction that the common man wants to live in peace and amity with the people of India”. How very nice! He asked: “Can you write off Pakistan? Suppose it were to go to the fundamentalists or the Taliban? How does India gain, if the country disintegrates?” Good questions. And they need to be answered.
In the first place, does the “Common Man” in Pakistan, matter? For that matter, does the so-called Civil Government of Pakistan? Does Asif Ali Zardari, the President? Does Foreign Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani? Do they have the power to speak for the country when it is the Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who holds the reins of power? From the day Pakistan was created, its sole aim has been to denigrate if not destroy India.
The United States, which had its own agenda, successfully used Pakistan for its own purposes and now finds itself in a dilemma on how to control the jihadists who are its own creation. Despite protests from India Washington has been financially supporting Pakistan and its Armed Forces and now does not know how to wriggle out of a situation of its own making. Pakistan first used United Kingdom. Then it willingly agreed to be Washington’s South Asian ally. Now it is turning to China. India has held several talks with Pakistan, all, of which have failed. Pakistan has no intention to live in peace with India because then it will lose its relevance. The sooner India learns to accept this simple fact, the better for all concerned.
Dr Manmohan Singh is deluding himself when he says that the people of the two countries want to live in peace. That is only true of the Indian people, and not of Pakistanis. What kind of people are they? What can one say of a people who cheered the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and showered rose petals on him? Are they different from the people who assassinated Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti?
The Lahore Arts Council has decided to ban all songs and dance performances based on Indian films on the grounds that they promote vulgarity. Two suicide bombers struck a crowded Sufi shrine near Dera Ghazi Khan, killing at least 41 people and injuring 115. More and more Hindus, who, presently form hardly 1.8 per cent of the population are leaving Pakistan under threat of being converted. According to a Pakistani Hindu lawyer quoted by the media, 10 to 15 abductions of Hindu girls take place regularly every month in Sindh alone, and similar reports are being received from south western Baluchistan. Is Dr Manmohan Singh aware of all these developments? According to a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan in “Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan,” pro-Taliban elements have bombed or closed schools, banned films and television, closed video parlours and barber shops and made growing beards compulsory”. All this at the peoples’ level. Mr Nayar probably has never heard of them.
And as far as politics is concerned, Jamaat-u-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has warned India to “quit” Kashmir or be prepared to face a “war”. But then that is also the view of President Zardari. Addressing a Convention in Islamabad on Kashmir Solidarity Day in early February, the President said India will have to give up Kashmir, failing which no useful talks can take place. When India and Pakistan met in Thimpu to revive the ‘composite dialogue’ between their Foreign Ministers, Pakistan asked India to do more against Hindu ‘extremists’, allegedly responsible for the Samjhauta Express blasts. And now we learn that the 26/11 blasts in Mumbai were directed by the ISI – none less. Who is Pakistan fooling?
According to the most recent estimates, Pakistan has doubled its nuclear stockpile which now total more than 110 bombs. It is now producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world and the US is looking the other way around. It will be soon the world’s largest nuclear weapons state, far ahead of France and Britain and behind only the US, Russia and China. Worse still, Pakistan is the only country where the nuclear buttons are in the hands of the military. All this is well-known to the US which has already poured in $20 billion into Pakistani purses. In his third quarterly report to the US Congress, President Obama said that Pakistani efforts to launch a comprehensive fight against terrorism are greatly hampered by its perceived threat perception against India, and all of Pakistan’s plans are Indian-centred. According to the IANS news agency, Pakistan is now “backing away” from the US, its long-time strategic partner and has joined hands with China to ‘beef up’ its arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles.
Worse still, over the last few months, the PLA, China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army has been, according to military experts, “aggressively patrolling along the Sino-Indian border and has established a major presence in Pakistan’s Northern Territories/Baltistan Region, ostensibly to improve the Karakorum Highway connecting China to Karachi port. Pakistan will lick anybody’s boots – as in the past it did to British and American – if thereby it can humiliate if not deeply hurt India. So what should India do? Keep talking with Pakistan? Aren’t we ashamed of ourselves to be so weak-kneed? Pakistan does not have to be Talibanised to hate India. It is – and has long been – doing so with a vengeance. To have peace, there is only one way. It has to be further broken up. Islamabad accuses India of interfering in Baluchistan. India is doing nothing of the kind. But what kind of diplomacy is this that we let Pakistan try to make hell for us in Jammu & Kashmir while we sit back and talk of peace and amity? We are apologetic over the Baluchistan issue. We need to be more brazen and pro-active. Mr Nayar says “the time is ripe to talk about a South Asian Common Market” Such a market in Europe preceded the unification of that Continent. That is beyond the mind-set of the hate-filled Pakistani Armed Forces. India’s foreign policy towards Pakistan is effeminate, and unworthy of a great nation. To being with it must be made plain to Pakistan that Kashmir is not negotiable. And if it wants a war it must know what are its consequences. Plain speaking often is good diplomacy.