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Why these concessions to Pakistan?
March 02, 2005
The controversy over the Srinagar-Muzaffarbad bus continues. In the concluding part of his column, Gautam Sen warns about Pakistan's designs.
For Pakistan, peace with India is purely transient and tactical, unless anyone is foolish enough to imagine that Pakistan is about to accept subordinate status in the region, which they managed to avert even in the cataclysmic defeat of 1971.
They may do so one day, but not yet and certainly not when they correctly perceive India to be an adversary in growing internal disarray, governed by a weak State and a political elite overawed by Muslim voters, who hardly constitute a sixth of the population.
Pakistan is negotiating because suddenly the post-9/11 world became extraordinarily complicated for a spot of jihadi terror and the Americans are promising them half a loaf now (the soft J&K border) with an unambiguous signal that much more is likely to follow later.
China is a concerned spectator anxious to help Pakistan sap Indian strength, but not unduly concerned about the sequence in which its protégé wins the prizes for being the prime idiot in the sub-continental contest. As long as India is tied down Pakistan's own fate is not a paramount issue for China.
On a more mundane level, the conflict with India is essential for the survival of the existing ruling social structure of Pakistan, which is dominated by a Punjabi bureaucratic-military-feudal alliance.
If peace really prevails, their rationale for denying democracy at home on implied security grounds disappears. The army really is everything in Pakistan and ensuring its retreat into barracks would require the destruction of Pakistan itself, not merely a social revolution that would leave the Pakistani territorial state intact.
Nor would such an outcome suit US policy, since the Islamic State highly likely to emerge from such a melee would create panic across Asia and beyond. It would seek to assume the role of a restored caliphate, stretching from the borders of India to Central Asia, the Middle East as well as northern Africa.
There are already complex familial ties between Kashmiris in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and other Pakistanis, especially ethnic Punjabis, who have settled in large numbers to dominate PoK demographically. Thus domestic support for wresting J&K from India has deeply rooted underpinnings in Pakistan.
It means that, in addition to the powerful interests of the ruling elite for continuing military tension with India over it, powerful emotional ties perpetuate societal forces favouring armed action against India over J&K.
Enhanced inter-penetration between PoK and J&K, owing to the creation of soft borders, will only fuel and intensify demands for complete Anschluss. Indeed once Kashmiris from PoK and J&K fraternise with each other, inter-marry and create new bonds of fellowship unstoppable forces for political union will be unleashed.
This will be a political demand, backed by an autonomous political movement of ordinary people, creating an appeal that will generate worldwide sympathy that acts of terror against the apparatuses of the Indian State could not.
On this latter issue too, either ISI-backed terror stops the day India ceases to interdict the movement of people between J&K and PoK or yet another conduit opens for jihadi infiltration and terror.
And we have been here before, whether its was the hijackers of IC-814 or the numerous lesser known acts of terror that took advantage of normal channels of international travel. And the brazen Pakistani warfare against India continues, with counterfeit Indian currency still being gifted over tea to visitors to the Pakistani embassy in Delhi, without evident Indian reproach.
India is unduly preoccupied with the issue of infiltration, although interdiction has improved significantly, and the chimera of lasting peace with Pakistan.
Yet the cost to India of the status quo is mainly psychological rather than material, while its economy is growing disproportionately and menacingly compared to Pakistan's.
It is the latter that needed a change in the military-political equation with India because it was, in fact, losing. But Indian policymakers are apparently victims of Dhimmitude and a forlorn desire to be loved.
There is also a suspicion that the UPA government is desperate to gain observer status at the Organisation of Islamic Countries, because of possible a mid-term parliamentary election in India and supine behaviour over J&K might ease entry into it.
Is this the reason for the sudden flurry of concessions to Pakistan, without categorical assurances on terrorism or the security of Hindus in J&K?
India's claims to the province are essentially strategic and historical (which more than suffices for Tibet and Taiwan), especially now that Hindus are apparently gone for good, their hapless fate sealed by a disgraceful collaborationist, conspiracy of acquiescence across the political spectrum in India.
Can those who failed to protect Indians in their own motherland and fail to do so every day in other parts of the country too now be trusted to reach an agreement that is in the interest of future generations of unborn Indians?
Worst of all, once the Indian retreat in J&K turns into eventual rout Pakistan will be emboldened to resume its assault against India, in alliance with a clique of hostile neighbours, guided by India's nemesis across the Himalayas.
Gautam Sen is Director, Gandhi-Einstein Foundation, London and India.