Eminent political and defence analysts are of the view that the rising tensions between Pakistan and India should be viewed in the context of the planned withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan next year.
Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, former interior minister and chief of the Qaumi Watan Party, Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood and Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Shahzad Chaudhry believe that the recent improvement in Pakistan-US relations on Afghan affairs has particularly disturbed the Indians.
According to some senior officials in the ministry of foreign affairs, the tension on the country’s eastern borders reflects India’s keenness to create military problems for Pakistan when US forces are preparing to get out of Afghanistan. “The key role that Pakistan has attained in international efforts to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan is one of the main causes of India’s annoyance with Pakistan,” a senior official said, requesting anonymity.
However, Zafar Hilaly, a former ambassador, rejected the idea and said that such tensions have nothing to do with Afghanistan or the scheduled pull-out of US troops from that country. “The domestic political situation in India is the real cause of the tension between the two countries. The Congress-led government in India is trying to make Indian people believe that it is not less than the BJP in its anti-Pakistan attitude,” he asserted. He also rejected speculations that the US was behind Indian aggression to pressure Pakistan to come to Washington’s terms on regional peace. “The US is not at all involved in any such move,” he said.
Sherpao has been playing a role in the efforts to normalise Islamabad-Kabul ties for regional peace and stability. He told The Express Tribune that the recent tension in Pakistan-India relations is linked to the US/Nato troop withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan in 2014.
Meanwhile, Dr Hassan Askari was of the opinion that New Delhi wanted to embarrass Pakistan as it was trying to make Washington believe that Islamabad was not a reliable partner in the peace process.
Talat Masood, on the other hand, agreed that Indian frustration towards Islamabad was building up over improving Pakistan-US ties. “Domestic political expediency is another cause of such behaviour by the Indians,” he said. “Congress versus the BJP, in terms of anti-Pakistan policies, is also one of the factors in the situation. But the Indian role in Afghanistan is also important and a reality which should not be ignored by any players in the future scenario.”
Another former ambassador, Shahzad Chaudhry, said that the US plans to pull out its forces from Afghanistan in 2014, after recognising Pakistan’s importance in the region and in the future set-up, has destroyed Indian plans against Pakistan.
“Washington’s initiatives to engage Islamabad in the peace process as a major player is not acceptable to New Delhi. Such an initiative, on the part of Washington, is one of the causes for the tension, if not the only reason.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2013.