Resolving J&K issue is important not only to secure peace, happiness and prosperity for people of Jammu & Kashmir, but also for shedding the Pakistan obsession in Indian politics as a whole
Sudip Kar Purkayastha
A psychic illusion about some kind of parity between India and Pakistan has been allowed to develop in the country, whether by design or otherwise, and this has been leveraged by vested interests for ulterior motives. This drew its components ranging from such inconsequential things as cricket and hockey matches to Pakistan’s controversial achievement in the domain of nuclear armament. Intriguingly this ‘myth’ has been subtly used by pro-Pakistani lobby to cripple India from coming forth with any forceful response even in extremely provoking circumstances.
Specifically about Kashmir, Pakistan has been making blatant use of terrorism and proxies for decades resulting in loss of lives of both armed forces and civilians. Intriguingly whenever exasperated India
determined to chastise its recalcitrant neighbour with force, the pro-Pakistan lobby cried aloud that ‘peace’ and ‘talk’ were the only ways forward and use of ‘force’ would escalate into ‘nuclear war’ casting doom. Time healed wounds and India went back to the table to discuss ‘peace’; Pakistan chuckled and prepared for the next terror strike. This cycle has been repeating ad nausea and the image of Pakistan’s strength and its capacity to cause harm to India grew larger in public perception.
On the issue of ‘parity’, facts are, however, very different. India is nearly four times larger area wise, over six times numerous population wise. Its religious minorities constitute around 21 per cent of its population which is seven times larger than Pakistan’s paltry 3 per cent. India’s oil production per day is 8 times higher, its proven oil reserves are around 15 times greater, and its foreign exchange & gold reserves are 21 times more than Pakistan. It has a solid industrial infrastructure and its industrial production is 15 times larger. India is poised to be a power in producing defence equipments. All of these are critical to sustain a nation in the event of a war. India’s GDP is eight times bigger and it is poised to join the league of first world economies in not distant a future.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is a failed state. More than half of its population had seceded in 1971 by creating Bangladesh. Natives of another half of its remaining territory i.e., Baluchistan, have been struggling to come out of its stranglehold. People of NWFP as well as people of Sind have also been exasperating under the oppressive ruling regime controlled mostly by Punjabi politicians in cahoots with army, ISI and religious fundamentalists. Its society is in kind of civil war. The Dawn recently quoted CJI of Pakistan making an observation that the country was being run like a monocracy in the name of democracy.
Pakistan’s hyper activity in J&K is to be understood in the context of this big picture. It is ludicrous that a country not able to manage its own territory properly has been eying Kashmir in the guise of its support for self-determination. Yet it feels that Kashmir is the only option to keep the concept of Pakistan afloat.
For last 2-3 decades Pakistan has been trying to bleed India militarily and economically through infiltration, proxy war, and smuggling of fake currency in Kashmir. Forces from across the border aided by its sleeper cells inside J&K have been attacking Indian armed forces and state police at place and time of their choosing. At the same time, every Indian plan to show an Armed response has been thwarted by the pro-Pakistani lobby. It kept suggesting that ‘peace talk’ was the only way forward.
After successive governments yielded to these pressures too long, Modi Government has at last shown willingness to craft a calibrated and courageous strategy to finally bury the lobby’s bluff and confront the real ‘issue’ head on. It appears that as the first part Modi went around the world visiting heads of all important nation states to project India as a
self-confident, responsible, caring and mature nation which is also emerging as an economic super power. He could convince them that India as a political entity is an apt successor of the great Indian civilisation which cares for the entire humanity as well as the
environment and it could be trusted with not taking any irresponsible action.
Simultaneously, he also initiated moves to be-friend Pakistan including making an impromptu visit to Sharif’s grand daughter’s marriage at Lahore. But when his series of well meaning gesture were consistently reciprocated by Pakistan through Udhampur, Pathankot and lastly by Uri, his government responded with ‘surgical strike’. It was secret, sudden and brutally precise. For the sake of transparency India gave it wide publicity, calling meeting of ambassadors in New Delhi. The world seemingly approved this chastising action. Pakistan denied that India had at all carried out such a strike.
In accentuating the pressure further, Modi Government isolated Pakistan in the SAARC community and got it indicted for its overarching role in spreading terrorism in the recently concluded BRICS summit. Goa
declaration condemned terrorism in all its forms and called upon countries to cooperate and combat it. Its ambit included terrorism based on ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other base. It also referred to radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists, financing of terrorism, misuse of information and communication technology including Internet & social media. India also organised a strategic outreach of BRICS with the BIMSTEC. Other six countries in India and Pakistan’s neighbourhood like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal stood by India’s side in condemning terrorism and role of Pakistan.
Despite the success, thanks to ‘nation last, party first’ kind of competitive politics, some
criticisms have been levied on Modi Government about its handling of the BRICS BIMSTEC. A more objective assessment was made in China and a reference is appropriate.
Referring to the course of events leading to BRICS summit, the state run Chinese media paid grudging
tribute to India. It admitted that by causing the collapse of SAARC, inviting most of SAARC countries (except Pakistan) to BIMSTEC, breathing legitimacy and substance into BIMSTEC by holding it
strategically in tandem with BRICS and denouncing Pakistan on the ground of terrorism in both summits, India has been able to push Pakistan to the status of a regional ‘pariah’. The Chinese media also took notice of the manner India as the host country used the power of agenda setting to secure its stance vis-à-vis Pakistan.
Significantly, Modi had intensified the attack during the BRICS summit by calling Pakistan as the ‘mother-ship’ of terrorism. This being a powerful
allegory, seems to be getting stuck in the psyche of the global community, which has been gasping under pervasive terrorism and searching for the root cause of this menace.
If media reports in Pakistan are indicators, the ‘isolation’, coming in a short interval of the ‘surgical strike’ has again shocked and shaken that country in equal measure. This latest torpedo has exploded in the
intervening space between its civilian and military leaderships and both are fumbling. The diplomatic achievement of Modi Government against Pakistan has therefore been substantial. It has been well enmeshed with military retaliation.
Though resolution of Kashmir problem may turn out to be a long drawn affair, Modi Government seems to be steering India in the right direction. Resolving this problem is important not only to secure peace,
happiness and prosperity for people of J&K, but also for shedding the Pakistan obsession in Indian politics as a whole. Imagery of Pakistan as a hostile competing force has been encouraging vote bank politics in India and fostering pseudo-secularism. For far too long, politicians have been shying away from confronting Pakistan head on hoping that a pacifist policy would help secure votes of religious minorities in India. Once the ghost of Pakistan is exorcised, all communities in India cutting across religions will be able to contribute to the country’s development without hindrance and simultaneously realise their own potential. That will herald the beginning of a truly secular India.
(The writer is Senior Columnist)