Foreign Policy + Geopolitics
India' Pakistan Problem: Chronic Cancer With No Cure Found Yet
Even as the International Court of Justice has temporarily stayed the execution of Indian Khulbushan Jadhav by Pakistan, India has little to rejoice. The relief is temporary only till the final verdict is given. News reports suggest that if Pakistan moves on to disobey the ruling, India might invite international sanctions against Pakistan. But does that deter Pakistan from pushing any of its evil designs against India?
Only last week, the US National Intelligence Director Daniel R. Coats testified during a Congressional hearing that ‘Pakistan-based terrorist groups present a sustained threat to US interests in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan’. He moved on to state that the “US-Pakistan relationship might deteriorate further in 2017, especially in the event of another high-profile terrorist attack in India that New Delhi attributes to originating in or receiving assistance from Pakistan. This comes in the background of several other Pakistan induced problems including the Kashmir unrest, unprovoked cross border firing and the mutilation of Indian soldiers only to mention a few.
From the past, it is quite easy to understand that subjecting Pakistan to international pressure is not as a easy task as it might seem. Even after 9/11, and the capture of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad 10 years later (home to Pakistan military academy), US only kept stepping up its aid to Pakistan and even went about supplying F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan to fight terrorism in its soil. It is now in public that US intelligence knew Pakistans hand in 26/11 Mumbai attack in which many of its own citizens died. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested that "focussing your (Pakistan) energies on an Indian threat that does not exist is a colossal mistake" suggesting that US knew about Pakistans involvement in the attack but little could be done.
Pakistan has always been paranoid about the Indian threat and has done everything in its disposal to destabilize India. As an American ally from the days of Truman (explicitly as a member of SEATO and CENTO), Pakistan has received so much of military and economic aid from the US. In "Magnificent Delusions", former Pakistan ambassador to US points out the various instances as to how this aid (earmarked for economic growth) and to fight against terrorism was always used against India. In fact, it is documented that during his first meeting with Zardari as the US President, Obama told him that the average US congressman wants to help Pakistan in beating back terrorism, but the US aid was being used to bolster conventional arms against India and that "we do not want to be part of arming you against India."
But antagonizing Pakistan means seclusion of US in the central Asia, given the fact that China has now replaced US as Pakistans all weather friend. US also would not want to make its Afghanistan mission a strategic failure by leaving its hold on Pakistan. In any case, access to Pakistan is important for the US to prevent terrorist operations againt its homeland.
The friendship with China is another major factor that can prevent Pakistan from facing international isolation. In its article titled "Behind Pakistans Confidence: Chinas Shadow" on 30th September 2016, the Economic Times showed how Pakistan procures 63% of its arms from China while the US contribution fell to 19%. Now with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan has sold itself to China. Last week, the New Indian Express carried a news article titled "Beijings wholesale purchase of Pakistan" in which it was pointed out that several key infrastructure and security projects in Pakistan have been monopolized by China. On the other hand, Indo-China relationship is at a new low even as China moves forward with One Belt One Road initiative against Indias concerns. The Heads of 29 sovereign States attended the OBOR summit organized by China marked by India's conspicuous absence. This includes most of Indias neighborhood and Russia. India should also be alarmed at Russias new found friendship with Pakistan and their joint military exercises. In this background, it is safe to conclude that international pressure on Pakistan in favour of India is out of question.
Can India take on Pakistan militarily? The answer is a clear no. In the chapter "Dodgy Defence", Ravi Velloor in his recent book "India Rising" shows how ill-equipped and starved the Indian armed forces are. It is also against Chinas interests as billions of Chinese investments are underway in Pakistan. I have also dealt with the subject extensively in my article titled Is India prepared for war against Pakistan?
Will trust building measures on the part of India help ease the situation? Pathankot was attacked by Pakistan terrorists soon after Modis surprise visit to Lahore as a good-will measure. Similarly, Kargil was occupied by Pakistan forces days after Vajpayee made his historical bus travel to Lahore in February 1999. The surprise visit by Modi was appreciated by many political analysts and international bodies, who termed it a 'goodwill gesture' likely to ease the Indo-Pak stand-off. However, the Pathankot incident reminded us that a mere goodwill gesture will no longer ease the Indo-Pak relationship unless Pakistan is prepared to befriend India.
This brings us to the next question: Will Pakistan befriend India anytime soon? It is pertinent to note that the mistrust between India and Pakistan is in fact, the cause and also product of Pakitans creation itself. The source of some of Pakistan's problems against India dates back to 1947 and lies in the improper partition plans, the question of princely States accession to India, the questions of Hyderabad, Kashmir and Junagadh. Moreover, fuelling anti-Indianism and the unfounded Hindu India threat is necessary for the power hungry army men and politicians to keep themselves in power. The Indian threat has historically been the centre point of military coups (and military dictatorship) from the times of Mirza, Ayub Khan, Yahyah Khan, Zia Ul Haq to the times of Musharaf. Even democratic transition during the era of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shariff was marked by the Indian threat at the centre. The Indian threat is also one of the biggest factors that can keep Pakistan united amid several of its internal problems like Pashtunistan seperatism, Baloch occupation, Shia suppression, shariat-liberalism divide, massive unemployment and economic problems.
Therefore, it is quite clear that the Indo-Pakistan stand-off is a chronic problem whose solution lies in the distant future. The Government of India has to drastically reshape its foreign policy, build its army and settle down the myriad internal problems before it can do something about the cancerous Pakistan. But will the corrupt Indian establishment be able to do it successfully?