On Pakistan and India relations

Published: January 26, 2013

The writer is a defence analyst who retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Pakistan Army

Today, puzzled and perplexed people in Pakistan wonder why the cold war with India has suddenly turned hot as demonstrated by the continued violations across the Line of control (LoC). Is the Indian motive and reason more prompting today, than the one that was presented in 2008 in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attack? The Pakistan Army, in the decade following 9/11, was a strategic asset and an all important tool for the US to fight the US-led war on terror in this region. It was in the interest of the US that the Pakistani military leadership felt no worries to shift its focus of attention, as well as its military assets, from the eastern to the western front when the world led by the US, needed them most. For this purpose, peace and military calm prevailed on the LoC for a decade. With the US military drawdown from Afghanistan now only months away, the Pakistan Army today is fixated with the likely scenarios that may develop post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The army’s ‘nightmare scenario’ is to be pushed to fight a war on two fronts. Promoting and creating a hostile environment along the LoC at this stage seems only to convey a strong message to the Pakistani military that ‘India will not let Pakistan have its way in Afghanistan’.

India has accused the Pakistan military of beheading one of its soldiers and the world believes it. On the other hand, the Pakistan Army has been crying hoarse of Indian involvement in financing and supporting the militants harboured across the border in Afghanistan but the world is not ready to believe it. Whether it is support for the Baloch militants or Maulana Fazlullah’s crusaders that cross the western border at will, it is allegedly the Indian-led proxy that is killing Pakistani security personnels on the western front.

By escalating tensions across the LoC, there is much that India is likely to lose as well. It will lose the opportunity of promoting and strengthening the democratic process in Pakistan, which guarantees the prevention of hostilities and the potential for future military conflicts between the two countries. The current hostile attitude of India would also mean that again the Pakistan military will be forced to look upon the militants as the assets that they once were against Indian occupation in Kashmir. The Pakistan Army’s focus back on the LoC will also affect the intent, purpose and attention to hunt down the militants within the country. Hostile Indian actions will also badly hamper the all-important ongoing debate in Pakistan on the purposefulness of spending precious resources on the country’s defence budget. Courtesy hostile Indian actions across the LoC, these expenditures will now largely be seen by the civil society as necessary as well as justified. In short, Indian hostile actions on the LoC will only help the Pakistan Army to reimpose its control over civilian authorities that are seeking to limit its role in politics in this country.

India must realise that promoting and creating a hostile environment on the eastern borders will only favour growth of militancy in Pakistan. Poor relations with India have been a major factor in our country raising and fostering overambitious military rulers like General Ziaul Haq and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. We have all seen the lengths that the Pakistan military, under military rulers, has gone to match Indian capabilities, at the cost of causing people to suffer at home. Easing tensions with India for the Pakistan Army, a force which is primarily structured to combat the Indian threat, means the removal of a major factor of its continued development and enlargement. A hostile India will mean that the army will continue to develop and enlarge at the cost of the welfare and well-being of the people of this country. Indian self-definition may draw meaning from Pakistan. But can’t it be a Pakistan at peace with itself and not a hostile and unacceptable one?

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Arindom
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:19AM

    India has accused the Pakistan military of beheading one of its soldiers and the world believes it. On the other hand, the Pakistan Army has been crying hoarse of Indian involvement in financing and supporting the militants harboured across the border in Afghanistan but the world is not ready to believe it.

    Blockquotestrong textemphasized text

    Thats what happens when you support and hide terrorists and lie through you teeth – as an American leader had said about Pakistan – “they are congenital liars”

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  • Pankaj
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:46AM

    Are u saying that India holds the Veto power ???

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  • Domlurian
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:47AM

    “Indian self-definition may draw meaning from Pakistan”
    India does not define itself in any way with Pakistan. It is Pakistan that defines itself as ‘not India’. For India, Pakistan is just another neighbouring country like all the other countries of the Indian Subcontinent. We seek neither friendship nor enmity with Pakistan, just co-existence.

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  • gp65
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:00AM

    One broad point I would like to make. It is the job of India’s politicians to protect Indian borders and lives of Indians. If this goal is facilitated by pursuing peace with Pakistan, it should adopt that path. If it is achieved by disengaging with Pakistan, that is the path that should be pursued and if takes confronting Pakistan’s aggression, then that indeed is what must happen.

    Underwriting peace and facilitating democracy in Pakistan are not independent goals for Indian politicians.Recommend

  • Raja
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:09AM

    There is no proof that democratic governments in Pakistan have been more friendly to India. Kashmir vigilance was actively supported by Benazir’s government. Bhutto senior signed Shimla agreement and continued his anti India crusade with full zeal. Kargil war happened during Mr Nawaz Sarrif’s tenure. More than Pakistani words, its the actions which matter most. Indian policy towards Pakistan should be guided by Pakistani actions and not words.

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  • John B
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:53AM

    The analysis on the outcome is likely correct, but the instigator for the presumptive cause for tensions in the LoC is not India.

    India military is getting all the toys and perks without tensions in the LoC and India has nothing to gain in creating tensions at the LoC whereas PAK has everything to gain.

    By keeping the tension in LoC alive, PAK establishment plugs itself as relevant as ever in the changing domestic environment and uses it as a bargain with the US for additional benefits and keeps the restless Jihadis in Lahore and Karachi occupied.

    As usual the PAK establishment is making a miscalculation. As the US withdraws, focus on LoC will likely only beholden the Jihadis in the western border.

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  • Khurram
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:18AM

    This is an insightful and stimulating analysis, a clear and vivid look at India’s shortsightedness in provoking further the chronic instability of Pakistan which at the end can itself blow-back at India.

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  • Bottom Line
    Jan 27, 2013 - 7:03AM

    India should realize that Pakistan has a Nuclear Gun on its own head so behave.

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 8:10AM

    Beheading the soldier is a barbaric activity / mindset and not acceptable in the modern world.
    21 Pakistani soldiers were bareheaded by extremists and its video too uploaded with little anger in the Pakistani society. ( the anger was less focussed on beheading )..

    Attempts to reconcile the matter was attempted from Indian side to fix the accountability by Pakistani army/ civil officials but as usual there was a perpetual denial. the Indian government is left with no option but to send the hard signals ( with dual purpose of public encasement and lack of trust)
    the author is right that this tension on eastern border will help the army in justifying their demand for more fund and their activities, on patriotic fervor. but after general election i Pakistan one good gesture from Pakistani side will revive the / accelerate the peace process through trade. Both the countries have no other option.

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  • Thoughtful
    Jan 27, 2013 - 8:23AM

    Why does ET have so many ex armed forces people writing columns?

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  • G Indian
    Jan 27, 2013 - 8:46AM

    News like alleged beheading of soldiers trashed whatever remaining good image of Pakistan. It was avoidable and every action has consequences. Indians are generally paranoid after Mumbai attack. The relationship will never normalize in the near future. It is better if two countries enter into a time out mode with no contacts whatsoever for a decade and see from there. It worked in the case of India and China.This is an extreme case of sibling rivalry where one sibling tend to annihilate the other one given a chance.India should get out of minnows group like SAARC and look to befriend countries that match its potential. India has no business to involve in the development of a cursed country like Afghanistan. They have their way and we have our own way. Live and let live.

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  • Kamran Choudhry
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:15AM

    We Pakistanis have a choice to make: whether to match rupee per rupee in arming ourselves to the teeth to counter India’s military strength at the cost of drastically reducing our livelihood and to the point national bankruptcy or to be visionary in making ourselves an economic powerhouse in the region that we are capable of. The first will depend on the mercy of others (buying or begging military hardware) but with capable leadership we can be a rich nation based on our human and natural resources. Oh leaders, do not be fooled by the elitists and please allow us to have “roti, kapra aur makan” and let the Indians eat their missiles.

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  • Queen
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:22AM

    I agree with the writer. With US withdrawal from Afghanistan coming near, US has given Pakistan key role in the Afghan reconciliation process. It seems that is such situation, India is feeling strategically imbalanced and the issue of LoC has been raised to highlight its significance in the region. No one is aware of India’s true intentions but there is a need to prevent the loss of lives on both sides of the border. The soldiers deployed at the LoC are being used as fuel to ignite fire between the two countries. The loss of lives be it of a Pakistani soldier or that of an Indian one, is condemnable.

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  • Midhat
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:45AM

    Sensible!!

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  • Clear Black Bag
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:59AM

    The facts,truths and realities are that India till now never accepted Pakistan as the independent country by heart and always has been trying to harm Pakistan till now from 1947 thru any easily possible and available means and manifestations.This is why Kashmir issue has been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India since 1948 and India always has been claiming Kashmir as its integral part which is absolutely and no-doubt wrongful and occupied on Kashmir by its troops and in Indian leaders and nation there are only enmity and hatred feelings against Pakistan and its nation…..

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  • Manju
    Jan 27, 2013 - 11:52AM

    India must realise that promoting and creating a hostile environment on the eastern borders will only favour growth of militancy in Pakistan.
    Which means the problem is with Pakistani Society…..

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:00PM

    Why would you want peace in the Af-Pak, South Asia or for that matter anywhere else on the planet, if you are Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or even Dick Cheney’s Halliburton that has been making billions building those military bases all across the Af-Pak, Middle East and Central Asia? And it’s not just the awesome arms and ammo that are an endless source of income for the merchants of death.

    Decades after its ostensible exit from the region, the empire continues to control all levers of power and economic interests. Using an ancient regime of licenses and monopoly, the US, UK, France and others in the West still call the shots by controlling virtually everything, from the oil industry to the supply of essentials such as military uniforms and jackboots.

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:01PM

    The world economy may be tanking and ordinary mortals like me and you may be driven up the wall by spiraling inflation. However, things that go “bang” and kill in ever new ways are on a roll. The ineffectual angels of the United Nations and big boys who run the whole circus may make a great deal of promoting peace and stability around the world, but no one really wants peace. Especially not in the Af-Pak and South Asia.

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:04PM

    Peace is the last thing the arms industry and their friends in high places want in the regions, or anywhere else for that matter. Indeed, the greater the unrest and instability, the better it is for people in the business. This may be why while the rest of the world has moved on at a mindboggling pace over the past five or six decades, particularly after World War II, time has stood still for much of the Af-Pak and South Asia. The region is stuck in a time warp that is centuries old. The more things change in our part of the world, the more they remain the same for the Middle East, Af-Pak and South Asia.

    Most conflicts since World War II have taken place in the Af-Pak and South Asia. After milking by US through 2 Great Wars, Europe learned in hard way to avoid major military conflicts and keep the continent safe.

    War remains a big industry and vital source of revenue for the industry that deals in trillions of dollars. Only it’s now staged elsewhere – away from the continent and in distant Arabia or Africa and Asia. This is why the Arab-Israel, Indo-Pak conflict continues to fester even after seven decades.

    If the Middle East, Af-Pak and South Asia finds lasting peace, what will happen to all those fancy weapons the US and European war machine has been churning out year after year?

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  • Manju
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:08PM

    @Clear Black Bag:
    No brother the actual problem is Pakistanis don’t realize one fundamental concept that “RELIGION IS NOT EQUAL TO A NATION”.
    Pakistan claims Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan because of its Muslim majority. India does not contest that Kashmir has a Muslim majority. India contests the idea of Pakistan inciting Kashmiris to join Pakistan on the basis of a Religion being equal to a country (the credibility of the a Religion being equal to a Nation was defeated in 1971 when Pakistan sabotaged the basic constitutional rights of East Pakistanis to rule when they had fairly and squarely won an election and got the majority and as a consequence Bangladesh came into existence and today fairs better than Pakistan and has come to a secular constitution).
    Indian leaders and nation there are only enmity and hatred feelings against Pakistan and its nation
    Brother please read the world’s history from sources other than ‘Pakistan Studies’ also. You will be enlightened….

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  • K B Kale
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:04PM

    When Pakistani Civilian governments pick up courage saying “enough is enough” & order its army to its barracks, peace will prevail! But it is more of a “dream”!

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 3:23PM

    How is it that we are responsible for the actions of the pakstan army?
    It is like blaming partition on nehru and patel – what was jinnah and his cohorts doing -sitting passively and waiting for the prize to drop into their laps?

    You are a grown up nation now – make choices that benefit your country – if you believe pakistan army will take advantage of the tensions along the LOC – the problem lies in the fact that the pakistan army is answerable to no one.

    That is an internal problem of pakistan – that you need to resolve. Listening to Tarek Fatah would be good for starters – the man says the search for al qaeda and ttp should end with the top brass of the pakistan army. The rank and file are just collateral damage in their constant endeavour to strengthen the fortresses around the defence colonies of Islamabad.

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  • Pakistani Ostrich
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:45PM

    @Author, you are funny!

    “India must realize that promoting and creating a hostile environment on the eastern borders will only favour growth of militancy in Pakistan.”

    Other bits of pakistani wisdom when the drones sends the terrorists to meet 72 virgins…..
    “USA should realize that drone attacks creates more terrorist than it kills!!”

    However, a world known, internationally accused and proven master mind of mumbai 26/11 terrorist,( Unlike pakistan’s diatribe about india supporting baloch nationalist and TTP etc.), LeT’s hafeez syed roams around freely in lahor delivering public jalsa, doesn’t seem to create hostile environment between India and pakistan!!!!

    When a no name congress ministers claims, without any evidence, that BJP runs “hindu terrorist” camp , just to malign BJP because congress feels threatened by the BJP in coming election in 2014, the whole of pakistan accepts minister’s claim as a truth! However, hundreds of proofs proving LeT to be terrorists outfit, conviction of pakistani Headely aka Dawood Ibrahim, is NOT enough for pakistani courts and people!

    LOL!

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 4:02PM

    For past 250 years, masses from Kabul till Dhaka have been passive spectators of events. Today we have to fate in our hands from US/UK backed puppets in Kabul, Peshawar, Islamabad and Dehli, but soon it may pass beyond control.

    A shout in the mountains has been known to start an avalanche. We must call things by their names and shout louder. Let Indo-Af-Pak be Golden Sparrow again. From “the the puppets who live like leeches on the more than 1.5 billion’s lives” – who have robbed us of everything, our past, our present, our future and all our beautiful dreams-we must take back our land , our lives and our future again.

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  • FactCheck
    Jan 27, 2013 - 4:16PM

    The very best solution is not to have one.

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  • Feroz
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:07PM

    Sir, you can believe whatever you want to believe but the World looks at facts not beliefs. The Military writers dominating the Media in Pakistan have spun tales for years making the people schizophrenic. Because you believe India is creating problems from Afghanistan is of no consequence to anybody. Your beliefs can in no way justify the physical violence unleashed by your armed forces through their proxies.
    You guys have made your citizens unhinged, fearful and insecure — something no external actor can ever achieve and Congrats ! Where Pakistan places its Army is its business, what must be noted is appetite for violence from actors across the border in India is at shoe sole level. When the Indian people decide they had enough what Indian Government or Military thinks will be of no relevance — such is the power of Democracy. Peoples power of over a billion people the World has never known and is nothing to be sneezed at.

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 5:34PM

    Its not India’s job to either stabilise or bring Democracy to Pakistan.

    Pakistan is pursuing peace because it is busy fighting its own creations. There might be some nutcase in the Military tomorrow who wants to up the ante with India and push in militants.

    India should indicate to all and sundry in Pakistan that such things will have consequences.

    Besides, the World is with India. After 2014, India can convince US to impose sanctions over Pakistan. Pakistan would have lost the leverage over the US by then.

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  • ruby
    Jan 27, 2013 - 7:14PM

    If India can spend 7 rupees to make Pakistan spend one rupee on arms and keep it on the defensive, then it is money well spent.Pakistani general rarely, if ever, needed Loc tensions to gain power and grind their axe against India. India really has no stake in improving democracy in Pakistan. A democratic Pakistan will be strong and will try extract more from india by bickering in un, oic and professing human rights. It is far easier to deal with a pariah Pakistan.india has to just stay put at loc.

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 7:18PM

    @Clear Black Bag:
    no we accept pak as an independent cuntry and wants simply no business with u

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  • uxor
    Jan 27, 2013 - 7:40PM

    The appropriate heading would have been
    What can India could,should, would, and must do for Pakistan and India relationsRecommend

  • Vijay K
    Jan 27, 2013 - 8:06PM

    @Faqir Ipi: Well said. Peace between India and Pakistan is more complicated than it seems. India has avoided involvement of 3rd parties because these 3rd parties are more interested in selling arms than in wanting peace and thereby harming their own interests. These countries need to sustain their massive arms industry which employ many people and is a good source of revenue. Look around the world’s conflicts and see for yourself how these countries create conflict for political reasons and probably goaded on by their arms manufacturers.
    Reference 1 , 2, 3

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  • ram
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:11PM

    Another dumb article parroting the line “Everyone else other than Pakistan is at fault”, Why the world does not believe Pakistan’s words? It is because of consistent reputation of lying the land of pure has developed. Here is the article trying to externalize issues which are essentially internal. World including India neither have interest in destabilizing Pakistan, due to Pakistan’s past reputation nor does it have interest is helping Pakistan. Other than the troubles Pakistan creates for others , world does not have any other interest with it.

    Honestly many of us do not know what exactly happened, it is the versions in the media that we are aware of.

    However , here there are two states having different visions and national goals.
    India has its own problems and is confronting its developmental challenges in its own messy ways. Author is right India is also to lose in case of hostilities, Then why should India be interested in destabilizing Pakistan. Why did India react the way it did, it is because a) there was a barbaric incident b) India does not want to see a return to the old ways of Pakistani Army supporting its proxies to cross the LOC.

    Possibly Pakistani army tried the tricks it used in the past and which it tried in Salala as well. Possibly the world has changed after Abbottabad and Salala, which the Pakistani army still has not come to terms with.

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  • Hamad Khan
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:15PM

    @Arindom: People just rely on media.They doesn’t go inside the story.What the facts r?Nobody knows what is actually going on?Both the countries government blame each other consistently for the last so many days.Media is playing its negative role by highlighting such issues.They r playing this just for their own interest.Hate has been showed through media why not love?For Godsake we have done enough in the name of hate.Please stop this.People on both sides doesn’t want this.They want peace,love,brotherhood and humanity.

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  • Mukhtar
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:32PM

    The entire issue revolves around beheadig of soldiers from both sides.This must be answered who has done it from both sides .It is not done and should not be repeated in fuure

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  • Insaan
    Jan 27, 2013 - 11:28PM

    Author “Promoting and creating a hostile environment along the LoC at this stage seems only to convey a strong message to the Pakistani military that ‘India will not let Pakistan have its way in Afghanistan’.”

    Why should Pakistan have its way in Afghanistan in the first place? Pakistan has already destroyed Afghanistan by playing talibans there. Don’t push Afghanistan too bad otherwise they may pay back Pakistan by using non-State actors.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jan 28, 2013 - 5:48AM

    @author: ” ‘India will not let Pakistan have its way in Afghanistan’

    Single line, yet talks a volume about the skewed sense of entitlement that Pakistanis have.

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  • Jan 28, 2013 - 6:59AM

    HI Author,

    It ain’t India problem to strength democrazy in Pakistan, thats for the people of Pakistan (and only them) to do! Don’t flatter India that India has influence on how Pakistan messes with itself…We don’t.

    If people of Pakistan care less about DemoCrazy why should outsides bother? Get it? This comedy has been going on for a loong time now ..time someone asked Pakistan to grow up and handle itself. We do not care how Pakistan rules itself ..we only care it behaves as a responsible nation in world stage . (Beheading soldiers would not count as responsible ..and yes.. terrorist assets export will also not count)

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