Into : The people of Bharat and Pakistan have moved on since the time of partition. It is time for the leadership to read the writing on the wall and move with the times or get ready to face the ignominy of being left out.
By walking out of the National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks with Bharat, Pakistan has once again lost out on a golden opportunity to change the security narrative of the sub-continent. The strategic community of both countries, that well understands the need for stability in the sub-continent to open doors of prosperity for its teeming millions, rooted energetically for the talks.
Sadly, the collective wisdom of strategic experts and the political vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif failed to prevail upon the blinkered mindset of the Pakistan Army chief, General Raheel Sharif. To scuttle the talks, PM Sharif’s security advisor, Sartaj Aziz, was made the scapegoat. He was forced to misinterpret the Ufa agreement and finally walkout with egg on his face.
The proceedings over the last few weeks clearly highlight Pakistan’s lack of interest in bringing peace in the sub-continent but only interested in keeping the Kashmir issue alive. Bharat on the other hand has always kept a window open for peace. Pakistan’s military weakness caused by its army’s enhanced engagement on its western borders with Afghanistan has never been exploited by Bharat. No bigger assurance of the peaceful intentions of Bharat towards its neighbour can be given. It is well known that Pakistan is facing a do or die challenge from fundamentalist militancy on its soil.
It would be in the interest of the country to enhance its security posture by allying with Bharat. By refusing dialogue the beleaguered country is losing out on the golden opportunity to stabilise its fractured state of affairs. Pakistan reneged on the Ufa agreement by insisting upon meeting the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a marginalised entity with a weak base in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan was quite disenchanted by the Hurriyat not so long ago. President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Government were quite upset with the inability of the APHC to deliver in Kashmir. In fact, during the times of General Pervez Musharraf the Hurriyat leaders were told, quite bluntly, to maintain a low profile. The financial assistance being provided to the conglomerate by Pakistan was also cut down drastically.
Pakistan should realise that the Hurriyat’s lack of concrete ideology, constant infighting and corruption has caused a trust deficit in the minds of the people of Kashmir for the conglomerate. If Pakistan feels that this redundant conglomerate can, in any manner, assist in the fructification of its invasive designs on Kashmir, it is living in a fool’s paradise. Pakistan would also like the world to believe that the people of Kashmir are eagerly looking forward to its help and assistance to rid them of what it wrongly projects as “Indian occupation.”
The people of Kashmir are, in fact, fed up with the constant Pakistan sponsored attempts to disrupt their lives through terrorism, ceasefire violations, infiltration of brutal foreign mercenaries and disruption caused by paid agents like the Hurriyat. With education levels rising in Kashmir, more and more people are refusing to be drawn by the misconceived religion based agenda being propagated by Pakistan. They are resisting the proliferation of Wahhabi/Salafi form of Islam and wish to resurrect their own Sufi culture and the secular concept of Kashmiriyat. Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has been reduced to a mere pin prick. With no more than 200 terrorists now operating in the entire state, there is no hope of the policy of a thousand cuts mooted by former Pakistani Dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, achieving any success. It is foolish on the part of Pakistan to believe that a mere 200 terrorists can accomplish what the 20,000 sent earlier were unable achieve.
The People of Kashmir are fully aware of the plight of their brethren under the Pakistani yoke in the occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir. They know that Pakistan is bad for them. It is due to this belief that they joined hands with security forces to eradicate Pakistan sponsored terrorism from their soil.
The face-off with Pakistan is only a pin prick for Bharat; it does not affect Bharat’s growth trajectory nor is it an unmanageable security issue. Bharat being an emerging world power would not like to be seen as incapable of dealing with a small local issue. Hence, Bharat extends a hand of friendship towards Pakistan. Pakistan, on the other hand has a lot to gain from a peaceful settlement with Bharat, it would be free to resolve its internal security problems and divert much needed funds from defence expenditure to development.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is a defence analyst and editor of www.defenceinfo.com )