Pakistan-India relations

Published: January 19, 2013

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

When I received the Mother Teresa award, this year, for working towards improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, I was happy to believe that there must have been some tangible evidence of it to get me the recognition.

Then comes one Rehman Malik, interior minister of Pakistan, and nearly severs everything. He did everything possible to spoil relations through his statements and remarks. He stayed in the capital for only three days last month but reignited the fires of suspicion, bias and hatred.

First, he compared the demolition of Babri Masjid with the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to suggest that the demolition was the job of Hindus and the 26/11 attacks of Muslims, thereby renewing the memory of the holocaust during Partition and reiterating the two-nation theory, which even the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, abandoned after independence. Then, Malik brushed aside the agony of Captain Saurabh Kalia’s father, who received his son’s mutilated body 20 days after the Kargil war. The Pakistan Army has denied the inhuman act but it could have at least held an inquiry to allay India’s doubts on Kalia’s case.

Malik, when pressed, said that his ministry would probe but I doubt if he can dare do anything against the army’s wishes. In any case, no one has taken his visit seriously. The anger was so deep that India did not agree to a joint press conference or even a joint statement.

Malik’s disastrous visit eclipsed the welcome gesture that the Supreme Court of India had made. It had freed Dr Khalil Chisti, a Pakistani doctor, who was mistakenly implicated in a murder case when he had travelled to India in 1992 to see his ailing mother, who died while he was there. In contrast, the government, given the facts, was rigid and too legalistic. Some human rights activists put before the government the negligible role, if any, played by Chisti.

Initially, the Rajasthan government saw that Chisti was not to be blamed and recommended Governor Shivraj Patil to pardon him. Patil was adamant and rejected the state’s proposal. Mahesh Bhatt, a famous filmmaker, and I, met Patil at Chandigarh and pleaded Chisti’s case, stating that he was 80 years old and suffering from a heart condition. But this did not appeal to the governor who argued that Chisti had been on bail and must spend some time in jail to serve the purpose of justice.

The Pakistan media does not take up the case of excesses committed against minorities as forcefully as the Indian media does. It was because of the media that the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders could not hide their faces when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

I can see a change in the attitude of Indians and Pakistanis towards each other. They never harboured hostility despite the sterile attitude of the two governments. Now, they make bold comments and feel repentant on the massacre of millions during Partition. The public in both countries must force their governments to cut the military expenditure. Better relations would force a cut in military budgets on both sides. New Delhi should take the initiative.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • AK Murthy
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:59AM

    Mr Nayar – You do not make a lot of sense these days. On one side you talk about the issues with Mr Malik and the Pak Army. Then next you talk about reducing defense expenditures and that India should take the lead. Why?

    Please note that your freedom and freedom of millions in india is not provided by you but by the brave men and women soldiers who protect our borders in sometimes miserable conditions 24/7 and 365 days/year. You can sit comfortably in your chair in an A/C office to write this. This is possible only because our soldiers are protecting our borders.

    Yes we all want defence expenditure to be a minimum and let us first start with Pakistan. They are headed into chaos but you are not saying that Pakistan should take the lead in downsizing their bloated military force. Why is this?

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  • John B
    Jan 19, 2013 - 1:15AM

    The esteemed gentleman was arguing his case very well but he lost it when he came to the military expenditures. As long as both countries keep their military expenditures in par with education and social developments, it is all good. In PAK eyes, India’s military expenditure will always be in excess but in India’s perspective it is only a fraction of GDP and PAK can do nothing about it.

    India needs a strong military of modern times not against PAK or China as people assume. The conventional land conquering war of the olden times are over. India needs to secure her long coastal lines and maritime commerce with unconventional threats of modern times if she needs to stay ahead of changing world.

    As far as the populace of India and PAK is concerned, the partition holocaust is a historical foot notes and their memory of holocaust is shaped by what they saw post 1970s, except for the older generation who lived through partition. Pak ( and BJP) left a bad memory in the new generations of India populace who saw in their own eyes via media and formed their own opinion. Mr. Malik is a politician of by gone generation who does not know the new generation in his own country and this could also be said of politicians of India today.

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  • Vikas
    Jan 19, 2013 - 1:51AM

    I prefer to dis-agree with Mr. Nayar. Firstly, India is sandwiched between two hostile neighbor, whole sole basis of friendship is common enmity towards India. So Indian military budget will keep rising proportionately. This will keep forcing Pakistan to keep up, which is only possible if their economy is on recovery road.
    Secondly, I would say, not to mix business with personal issue. Mr. Chisti may be a personal issue for author but dealing with states is a complex business.
    Regarding, change of attitude of Indians and Pakistanis and saying that they don’t harbor hostility, is too optimistic statement. The correct one is “they don’t openly show their hostility.

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  • No to your 'chariya' law
    Jan 19, 2013 - 2:17AM

    Saeen Nayar, keep up your efforts, you never know when sanity may prevail. We live in hope

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  • Raja
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:14AM

    Nayyar Sahab ! unlike your generation, the present generation lives in information age. We know about different sections of Pakistani people much more than your generation, even if you might claim otherwise. Your generation has romantic view of Pakistan and our generation a very realistic one. There is no single variable equation which can define or predict Indo-Pak relations. If there are well meaning people on both sides, there are also people with strong Jihadi mind set. There is enough hard evidence about both types. Do we have peace Jihadis to face gun-totting Jihadis? Jihadi agenda is not just Kashmir, but whole of India. No amount of denying is going to convince us as we have more than enough historic & contemporary evidence of all this. The so called peaceful majority does not carry much weight in front of committed Jihadis who understand only the language of guns.

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  • BlackJack
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:25AM

    India’s defence budget has nothing to do with Pakistan, and it is old fogeys like our writer who still prefer to hyphenate the two countries and their military expenditure – no country in the world bases its defence spending on that of another; you spend as much as you can afford as your security environment demands; jaded journalists and famous filmmakers should be better informed before they start sharing their opinion in the public domain. Dr. Chishti’s release was a humanitarian decision – he was not a terrorist and had nothing to do with the state of relations between the two countries. Rehman Malik is limited by his intellectual capacity – we can hardly complain; however, I am appalled at these ridiculous statements that are placed inside Jinnah’s mouth when he can no longer protest -the writer has apparently forgotten the ‘minorities as mutual hostages’ suggestion that defined the role of Hindus in Pakistan, at least in the great Quaid’s eyes. Mr. Nayar should receive a lifetime achievement award now as a signal to retire and spare us his outdated leftist tripe in the future.

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  • Indian
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:56AM

    Like Kuldip Nayar, one of my grandfathers was born in Sialkot, and both grandmothers in Model Town Lahore. We Indians respect Pakistan’s right to be an ideological Islamic state, even if we don’t approve of this ideology, or Jinnah/Iqbal. I sometimes wonder if I should visit Model Town in Lahore or Sialkot. What is there to visit? Some old building? There are no Hindus or family members left. (Unlike for Mohajirs in Pakistan, who of course have many relatives living all over India) Pakistan and India (and especially some silly Indian liberals) need to accept that Pakistanis have no interest in “reversing Partition”, etc. They are an Islamic state, their nationalism is defined by Islam and we just need to understand their their national value systems and ours are totally different. We can come together, keeping this in mind, for sports, food, music, and lots of other things. But Pakistan’s ideology is Pakistanis’ business, not ours. Ae Qaid-e-Azam Tera Ehsan Hai…(hum par bhi) :-))

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  • Feroz
    Jan 19, 2013 - 6:58AM

    Religion has brought the world nothing but strife and mayhem. As long as human beings are fixated on it and believe their religion has all the worlds wisdom in it and are willing to kill to impose their beliefs on others, the world remains a violent one. When humans realize we must seek spiritual salvation and enlightenment and no religion provides it, things will get better. Till the world remains populated by religious fanatics of all shades, countries will need a Military to protect their citizens. I request you to kindly move to Bhutan which has no military and measures its success in terms of “Gross Happiness Index” and not GDP. I will join you there in a few years after fulfilling my worldly responsibilities.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jan 19, 2013 - 7:52AM

    ” … I can see a change in the attitude of Indians and Pakistanis towards each other. They never harboured hostility despite the sterile attitude of the two governments. Now, they make bold comments and feel repentant on the massacre of millions during Partition. … “

    Kuldipji, you must proceed to vanvas immediately.

    vanvas for non Indian readers = ” When vanvas is self-imposed, it can imply seclusion from worldly affairs to focus on spiritual matters, as in the case of ashrams (hermitages) established by ancient rishis.

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  • Queen
    Jan 19, 2013 - 9:52AM

    I prefer to disagree with you Mr Nayar. The basic issue between Pakistan and India is the lack of trust. Even if Pakistan shows any goodwill gesture or even if India takes a step forward toward establishing peace, the mistrust prevails on both sides. There are elements on both sides of the border that does not want the ties to improve and they cash in on every opportunity that comes there way. In such fragile situation, it is better for Pakistan and India to maintain there separate ideologies and try to coexist peacefully in the region. The two countries can together for sports or music but they both have different beliefs, mindsets, and ideologies. Pakistan’s problems are for Pakistan to resolve and similarly India has to address its issues as well. It better to leave it like that.

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  • polwala
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:07PM

    “Malik’s disastrous visit eclipsed the welcome gesture that the Supreme Court of India had made. It had freed Dr Khalil Chisti”
    Supreme courts MUST NOT and must be seen to NOT make gestures. Their role is to deliver ‘Pure Justice’ even if goes against the state policy.
    But Mr Nayeer is right about Rehman Malik.
    Glad, sanity has prevailed. Recommend

  • d c bhardwaj
    Jan 19, 2013 - 7:33PM

    Mr. Nayyar is a gone case what he say in one hand and by other always to paint BJP with his choice of color. He is so called peace lover and candle light brigade leader. He is also self declared so called inttectual who has nothing to do with present day senirio.

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  • antanu g
    Jan 19, 2013 - 8:01PM

    Nayyar. sb. sadly people with your vision and sentiments are rare species on both sides of the border. Still I feel that in very near future youth will take over the affairs of Pakistan and we must encourage them to tread a new path .but again sadly in our side of the border these youth are punished by the hawks.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 19, 2013 - 8:30PM

    Its funny no one wants to talk about Kashmir. India should quit Kashmir and give them right to plebisite as was agreed at the time of partition. As long as the issue of Kashmir will liger on between India and Pakistan , unfortunately there wont be any substantial peace in region.

    To another comment Aurthor wrote: reiterating the two-nation theory, which even the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, abandoned after independence.

    When did he abandon two nation theory. We were not tought this our history books. please enlighten us

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  • gp65 .
    Jan 19, 2013 - 9:09PM

    @Queen: The one time when I agree with your opinion completely.

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  • G. Din
    Jan 19, 2013 - 9:42PM

    “Better relations would force a cut in military budgets on both sides. New Delhi should take the initiative.”
    India has just recently increased its order on France for Rafael fighters from 126 to about 180, worth about $18B. That shows how much India values your advice about taking the initiative to cut its military budget. India is modernizing its armed forces to defend itself on two fronts. Defence against Pakistan will cost minuscule comparing to that against Chinese. Since arms acquired for one front can easily be used on the other front, if need be, Pakistan would be well-advised to arm itself against the whole enchilada instead of just the Pakistani “portion” of our budget. So, which part of the budget are you asking India to cut? The entire military budget, logically. Alternatively, should India adjust its defence budget according to what Pakistan can afford? Pakistan has no resources to speak of, fiscal, intellectual, social or of any other kind. It can afford nothing except “josh”, groundless bravado and hollow braggadocio.
    A better utilization of your time and effort would have been for you to try to convince Pakistan to learn to come to terms with its humbleness and to learn how to get along with the rest of the world so it would not be as friendless as it finds itself today. But, you know in your heart of hearts that the country which suckered your own PM on bringing those guilty of 26/11 to book will hardly give a damn about what you think or take your advice.
    Can you see, Mr. Author, why I characterize your advice as senile. It is impractical and therefore pointless. Have some self-respect, sir! You are now well up on your years when you as a Hindu (you are a Hindu, I hope) should enter “Vanaparastha Ashram”. As someone has already suggested, may be it is time for you to go for “vanvas” instead of badgering the country which offered you refuge from the country you are now advocating for – endlessly.

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  • A reader
    Jan 20, 2013 - 7:38AM

    @Pakistani – how can a plebiscite be advocated in Kashmir when the population of Gilgit Baltistan has been demographically altered since 1947 and a piece of Kashmir was given to China? These nullify the possibility of a plebiscite happening ever. On another level, an Islamic majority state has not offered any semblance of proving that it is able to preserve a religiously diverse geographical area. So how would the possibility of Pakistan gaining Kashmir, which is religiously diverse, even be accepted as an option? Pakistan has not proven it could preserve a multireligious composite society, whereas India has. Islamic Majoritarianism without Individual rights is tyranny. Let me put this another way – would Pakistan allow Hindus, who are a majority in the Indian subcontinent, have a plebiscite to decide if they want their native lands in Pakistan back?

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  • Queen
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:17AM

    @gp65 .:
    Oh okay…….

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  • sanjay
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:48PM

    With great respect to Mr. Nayyar, I would like to mention here that as a citizen of India he has right to suggest very well to the Govt of his country to cut down the defence budget and increase the budget allocated for education and health. It may be possible that a serious debate can be initiated in budget session of Parliament, and whatever decision may be taken is accepltable by the Indian Defence Ministery as well but I doubt that same thing will happen in Pakistan where supremacy of Parliament is always in question. The truth is no body wants to share the power and prvilage in general.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:02PM

    @A reader: “…Let me put this another way – would Pakistan allow Hindus, who are a majority in the Indian subcontinent, have a plebiscite to decide if they want their native lands in Pakistan back?…”

    If you ask Muslims, they will say Jerusalem belongs to them because they had it, before the Jews begain to control the city. Why not extend the same logic to Kashmir – it was totally Hindu/Buddhist before it became mostly Muslim. Unlike Jerusalem, which was Jewish before it became “Muslim” and then “Jewish” again; Kashmir was ALWAYS Hindu/Buddhist. Go figure.Recommend

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