Pakistan's animosity reducing, India needs to change attitude: Aiyar

Published: June 4, 2013
Indian MP Mani Shankar Aiyar speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 3, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

Indian MP Mani Shankar Aiyar speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 3, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: A senior lawmaker from India’s ruling Congress party said Monday that Pakistan’s historic animosity toward New Delhi was fading and called for his country to change its own attitudes.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, a diplomat turned politician known for his dovish views, said he saw a shift as Pakistanis who remember the subcontinent’s partition in 1947 – and defined their identity accordingly –grew older.

Aiyar, speaking on a visit to Washington, said that Pakistanis had increasingly suffered themselves from violence by extremists and that the neighbouring country had economic and cultural interests in better ties.

“The visceral anti-Indianism of a previous generation is almost out of the picture now and will be totally out of the picture about the time that they lower me into the grave,” Aiyar, 72, said at the Atlantic Council think tank.

Aiyar said that “nothing similar has happened in India,” which has fought three full-fledged wars against its neighbor since independence.

“There is a kind of clinging to the belief that since the Pakistanis have been hostile in the past, they are necessarily hostile now, and therefore Indians should behave like housewives who heard on the radio that a convict has escaped for the nearby jail and start putting up more and more barricades.”

His optimism comes despite concerns by India and the United States over extremist groups in Pakistan such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which investigators blamed for the November 2008 siege of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Aiyar, who was close to slain former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, said that India should pursue “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” dialogue with Pakistan to deprive extremists of one perceived benefit of launching attacks.

Aiyar praised overtures by Pakistan’s incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif, while conceding that Sharif’s record on anti-India violence “is not a very happy one” during his previous two stints in office.

But Aiyar said that Sharif apparently believed that building a better relationship with India “will pay him huge domestic political dividends.”

Sharif likely sees “that the best way of doing this is not to take the Lashkar-e-Taiba on absolutely upfront, but to try and restrain them” and stop support to the group from within the Pakistani state, Aiyar said.

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Reader Comments (52)

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:33PM

    He is absolutely rightful on his this stance but most important question rises here,id est,will Indian leadership and nation accept his proposals or as usual will reject by saying this that we are superior to Pakistan?????


  • Aamer Khawaja
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:59PM

    Pakistans changing attitude can also be guaged from the fact that in Elections 2013, none of the parties talked about India. Its was almost as if we couldn’t care less about India.


  • Weird
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:40PM

    @Aamer: That’s a welcome situation for both Pakistan and India. All the best to you!


  • syed baqar ahsan
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:48PM

    @Aamer Khawaja:
    I don’t know in which world you are living Indian are now too smart after Americans hand in gloves with them,they will take everything and in the end all blames on Pakistan,Many things at one time going on with their blessing what will be fixed on you is their smart mind-could i manage to convey u.From inside we too bad and divide for them is strongest point.


  • Khan Jr
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:59PM

    Both India and Afghanistan are foreign countries, and it high time we stopped obsessing about them and spent more time and our national wealth (what little there is left of it) on the welfare (and education) of 189 million Pakistanis – from Gwadar to Torkhum.


  • Ramesh Powar
    Jun 4, 2013 - 2:20PM

    @Aamer Khawaja:

    Its was almost as if we couldn’t care less about India.

    By corollary, it also implies that you couldn’t care less about Kashmir.
    To us Indians, that is the change in attitude of Pakistan.


  • Omini
    Jun 4, 2013 - 2:47PM

    Majority on both side want good relations. They are just confused that who should start first.


  • Aamer Khawaja
    Jun 4, 2013 - 2:58PM

    @Ramesh Powar:
    Your extrapolation of my statement is way off the mark.


  • Water Bottle
    Jun 4, 2013 - 3:01PM

    I don’t completely disagree with Mani Shankar Aiyar.

    Anti-Indian sentiment in Pakistan has receded to some extent. It is possibly due to two reasons. Continued isolation of Pakistan in the international arena and continued suffering due to extremism and terrorism.

    But, reading the quotes, I can tell you for sure that Aiyer is wrong. The animosity hasn’t gone down as much as he is making it out to be.

    Also, he is wrong in saying that it hasn’t changed on Indian side.

    I believe in being honest and playing level to the best of my knowledge. I have criticized India/Indians a number of times here for a lot of stupidity.

    But, this is one case, where I humbly disagree with Aiyar because his assessment is neither impartial nor complete.

    India has been a victim of Pakistan for the last 65 years. I am sure, Pakistan has been a victim of Indian on some occasions. But mostly, it has been India at the receiving end. He should not forget this.

    In all honestly, Pakistan did start all the 4 wars with India. Let’s not ignore these important factors.Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Jun 4, 2013 - 3:14PM

    Indians double blinded by their imaginary greatness and hatred for Pakistan, which is mainly created by their power hungry politicians and media alike, do not realize how much they are losing on economic and international fronts by pursuing the current antagonistic policies. Every single South Asian neighbor of her is unhappy due to her acting like a street tug who must be feared by all instead of acting like a compassionate big brother. Indians fail to realize that true greatness does not come by in successfully bullying others or creating fear, rather by following just principles and dealing with others in a fair manner. As long as there is animosity and hot flash points between nuclear armed India and Pakistan, no significant FDI in manufacturing, technology, and scientific research can come to this region like Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, China, Sourth Korea, and Malaysia etc. And without that, changing the fate of almost 2 billion hapless people of the region will always be an elusive dream. I wish Indian people were intelligent enough to see through it and resolve all the disputes with neighbors quickly and amicably so that the people of the Sub-Continent also bear the fruits of human development.


  • sree
    Jun 4, 2013 - 3:17PM

    @Omini: I never think so.


  • Asif Butt
    Jun 4, 2013 - 3:33PM

    @Water Bottle:
    “India has been a victim of Pakistan for the last 65 years. I am sure, Pakistan has been a victim of Indian on some occasions. But mostly, it has been India at the receiving end.”

    That is the joke of “The Current Big Bang” ….


  • YAN
    Jun 4, 2013 - 4:37PM

    Why are my comments blocked by ET?


  • mohsin
    Jun 4, 2013 - 4:42PM

    Two full fledged wars not three!
    The 3rd was a Pakistan civil war or Bangladesh liberation war. The winners were Bangladesh/East Paksitan/mukti/rebels.Not India. Or if you must include India the correct term is the alliance of Mukti/rebels and India.

    Look at Syria today..If the rebels win..the winner is not US, Turkey or Britian for providing assistance. It is the rebels


  • Linchpin
    Jun 4, 2013 - 4:54PM

    Imagine the hysteria world wide if this pathetic incident had taken place in Islamabad, Peshawar or Karachi.
    I think belonging to a culture that emphasises “mehman nawazi” even in relation to your enemies make for different cultural perceptions even if it is just across the border.


  • mohsin
    Jun 4, 2013 - 4:55PM

    Let get this straight. Pakistan has never been anti India except the demand of a free Kashmir. Pakistan is already happy to get a huge country for “free” from the british. The hindus also got a free country but they would prefer more while the brits were at it.
    Perhaps PK has been anti Hindu at some point but generally the public has been positive towards India. Just like the indian punjabis have been postive towards Pakistan.
    The problem is
    1) The armed forces in both countries. They need eachother in order to build massive armies.

    2) India and Pakistan are not 2 countries they are more then 20, Both countries need an enemy to stay united. India need Pakistan more as a scapegoat then vica versa cause Pakistan has Islam who keeps them together. India depends on Pakistan as an enemy. They even frequentely use Pakistan to check the loyalty of their own muslims.

    3) Now that the Pakistan has seen and felt the meaningless violence up close they probably prefer a healty rivalry or even “gentlemans” wars against India rather then religiuos cowards who bomb mosqeus,bazars and children and then hide.


  • Ram Ram
    Jun 4, 2013 - 4:58PM

    Mr.Aiyar makes an erroneous interpretation.

    Pakistan desired to inflict 1000 cuts to India, and the strategy backfired. Pakistan has been severely weakened and thus the “change in attitude”. In quotes because not being able to bite is not equivalent lack of desire to bite.


  • Nizamuddin Khan
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:05PM

    It is the younger generation in Pakistan that will have to move towards a peace making direction. PTI for example, which most of the younger generation were attracted to has not strongly advocated how they would see India in the future. Antagonizing USA will not help improve relationship with India if Pakistan truly believes in becoming a trustworthy partner.

    As for India, they will choose their destiny next year in the upcoming elections. Prior Prime Ministers who did attempt to forge a peaceful path were burnt by Pakistan. India is still expecting Pakistan to deal with the extremists who roam freely throughout the country with a heavy hand. Do that first…you will see India and USA change their postures.


  • mohsin
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:05PM

    @Lala Gee:

    You are spot on lala jee. They should be comparing themselves to China. Instead they are looking at 5-7 times smaller “brother”. They hold the key to the sucsess for the region. With Bangladesh, Pakistan and India working together China would be not match for us! The subcontinent could own the world just like China is about to do..


  • jack
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:22PM

    @Asif Butt

    @Water Bottle
    That is the joke of “The Current Big Bang”….

    If your idea of a joke is 4 wars, god help you.


  • Ali tanoli
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:23PM

    old man starts speaking truth like Mr Jaswant singh of Rajhestan.


  • Tony Singh
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:27PM

    Are you sure you are commenting on the right article?


  • hindh
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:38PM

    @Lala Gee: india attracts far more FDI that pakistan in all fields…….its investment to gdp ratio at 35% is far ahead of pakistan’s 12.5%…. dont confuse us with pakistan plz…..


  • umar
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:48PM

    A superpower country will always play games which can destroy its enemy. They will never speak the truth about their real intentions. USA is a god example! They will hide their intentions and real opinions about you. Because they are superpower and will wait to the day you become weak before it no truth will came out. India really needs to change their attitudes towards Pakistan. But Pakistan should also accept that Indian is going to be superpower. We should lay they past behind and move further. Pakistans should not think that they can attack Indian and be safe. India is going to be a superpower because of USA/Nato/Israel/Europe/Italy. When kufr countryies sawe that China’s army is going to be the worlds superpower and when they realized that nothing is going to prevent China to be a superpower then USA wanted to turn India to a superpower. Because USA fears China and Pakistans relationship. USA can never tolerate a muslim country to become friends with the worlds superpower. SO WEST thanks for helping Indian while nobody is helping Pakistan.


  • Blunt
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:49PM

    I am not sure why all articles involving India get so huge number of comments here?


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:49PM

    @Lala Gee:
    There is no strong and direct correlation between India’s disagreements with its neighbors and its FDI (ignoring the fact that China might never invest big in India R&D, Hong Kong is a part of China, possibility that a country like Malaysia can possibly teach India science/tech and rest of the countries mentioned have already invested big in India).

    I cannot see any hot flash points between India and Pakistan as such. Except of course when Pakistan decides to pull a Kargil or Mumbai massacre. On both occasions Pakistan lost its international credibility and successfully painted itself into a corner.

    Nuclear war is just a Boogeyman invoked by those who are desperately hateful.

    Even if your hypothesis is even remotely correct, the intelligent course of action is to preach this hypothesis to Pakistan, given the state of Pakistani economy.


  • CD
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:54PM

    This statement is substantiated by recent attack on Pakistani diplomat in New Delhi.


  • sid
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:58PM

    Mani aiyar the person who collabrated with chinese in 1962 war!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Babloo
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:09PM

    Peace will come with total disengagement between India and pakistan. India covets no part of Pakistan or Pakistanis. Once Pakistan reaches that stage and is more concerned about preserving what it has, insted of coveting what the neighbor has, peace will follow. However , any engagement will fail because Pakistan is based on a religious ideology that is not compatible with a secular, tolerant state.


  • Vivek
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:13PM

    @lala gee

    instead of acting like a compassionate big brother


    PLAN A: Attack India in 1948, 1965, 1971, 1999.

    Result: Failure

    PLAN B: India is a big brother, so they have to be compassionate.



  • Polpot
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:13PM

    @Blunt: “I am not sure why all articles involving India get so huge number of comments here?”
    Thats simply becuase there is no 20 hour a day load shedding in India.
    If you are a Pakistani you have my sympathies.


  • Polpot
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:20PM

    Pakistani Trustworthiness:
    Harbored OBL for 10 years while accepting Billions as the front line ally in WOT
    No Indian should forget that. Trust but verify.


  • Asif Butt
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:25PM

    Thats your very personal interpretation.

    What I wrote is crystal clear, much to your deliberate ignorance.


  • Mohsin
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:45PM


    It is not Pakistan who has an issue. It is India who has fought wars and had conflicts with all neighbours and also almost every minority inside their country. (Keep in mind, mobattacks on minoritys are not the same as goverment sending tanks to destry holy sites).

    Pakistan has every reason to be happy with itself. It still has a lower percentage of people living for under @1.25 a day compared to India. PK between 20-40& while India is between 40-60%. AND thats is WITH a war, to floods and 05 earthquake and tons of afghan refugees. Imagene how it would be without!!$1.25perday_2009.svg

    It is still a much happier country in the happy index:

    and it is way more tolerant compared to India wich is almost least tolerant in the world towards other races. How are they excepted to tolerate Pakistan??

    What does India have? Mainly more rich people and a better image in the west.


  • Nisar
    Jun 4, 2013 - 6:57PM


    It is cause our narrow minded indian friends need to tell us how they are better then us cause they still have not reached true greatness.

    Their is a punjabi saying wich goes: “Anneya vich kala raja”.

    So they are basiclly showing of the success their rich have and ignoring their 600-700 million who still crap in the open,ignoring their millions of raped women, ignoring their occupatioan and brutallity in Kashmir and christian areas and above all ignoring the fact that the are 100 times worse of then their biggest opponent China.


  • FYI
    Jun 4, 2013 - 8:27PM

    @Lala Gee:
    ” I wish Indian people were intelligent enough to see through it and resolve all the disputes with neighbors quickly and amicably so that the people of the Sub-Continent also bear the fruits of human development.”
    SO you mean we give Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek, Hyderabad and Junagadh to Pakistan. Then give Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to China.
    Thanks but Big NO. Not Interested.
    Don’t worry for FDI, it is coming and will keep coming to India whether we settle with you guys or not.


  • FYI
    Jun 4, 2013 - 8:39PM

    ” Pakistan is already happy to get a huge country for “free” from the british. ”
    – Just like Jew’s got Israel from British. :)
    Dude forget free Jammu & Kashmir, because if Pakistan wanted free J&K if would had never attacked it on the first place when it was free and independent under the Maharaja Rule.


  • Naresh
    Jun 4, 2013 - 9:20PM

    @Mohsin Ji:
    I concur that Pakistan is a very much better place-country than India.
    That being so please explain why Pakistanis want to visit India, eager to Play Cricket and take part in the IPL, want India to give Scholarships to Pakistan students so that they can study in Indian IITs, Medical Colleges and other Educational Institutions, Sing to the Indian People, Act in Indian Movies, Theatres etc, Avail of Free Indian Medical Facilities etc., etc. & etc.
    Why can’t Pakistanis stay in Pakistan and improve their own Country further?


  • Vivek
    Jun 4, 2013 - 10:06PM


    Instead they are looking at 5-7 times smaller “brother”

    I do not think so. In terms of numbers, if you look at the population of Pakistan it is 200 million, with around 180 million muslims. Since each muslim is equal to 10 hindus, then the population of Pakistan 1.8 billion. Clearly Pakistan is bigger in terms of human resources than India. Clearly India is justified in competing with a smaller in size, but bigger in terms of population, neighbor.

    For those of you who are wondering how this equivalence came abut, this phrase was actually used by General Yahya Khan of Pakistan in a speech to his troops, when he was trying to convince them that they could easily beat the India in 1971.


  • Babloo
    Jun 4, 2013 - 11:04PM

    Pakistan , unless it rejects the religion inspired politics of Jinnah and atones for the genocide of Hindus and Sikhs , who made 22% of the population of W Pakistan in 1947, there can’t be any cure.


  • Rex Minor
    Jun 4, 2013 - 11:58PM

    @Khan Jr:
    Your calculation includes the double count! People of KPK are also the citizens of Afghanistan!!!

    Rex Minor.


  • truthbetold
    Jun 5, 2013 - 12:07AM

    @Water Bottle:

    Your post is very factual, balanced and to the point. However, I am not sure I understand your point:

    “India has been a victim of Pakistan for the last 65 years. I am sure, Pakistan has been a victim of Indian on some occasions. But mostly, it has been India at the receiving end. He should not forget this.”

    I can’t recall when Pakistan has been a “victim” of India other than 1971 when it helped East Pakistanis. However, that was a payback for Pakistan’s 1965 invasion of India- operaions Gibraltar and Grandslam. If Pakistan had not carried out, India would have had no reason to assist the East Pakistanis. Other than this, when has Pakistan been a “victim” of India?


  • Naveen
    Jun 5, 2013 - 12:51AM

    Young INDIA does not care abt pak except the export of terror.We want good relations,trade etc but after 2014 there will be drastic consequences if another terror strike is traced to pak.AIYAR is 72 and represents a 200 year old marx ideology,so he is a outdated check.TRADE is benificial but you can never trust the pak establishment.


  • gp65
    Jun 5, 2013 - 1:29AM

    @Lala Gee:
    DOn’t worry about investment in India. Last year it got 22.5 billion in FDI and 30 billion in FII. This was because the numbers had fallen due to global problems. The year prior to that the numbers were even higher. The barriers to even ore FRI/FII are internal policies of India where different stakeholders have not reached consensus about allowing foreign investment.

    Also it is only Pakistan that keeps referring to nuclear flashpoint. India has a No first Use and being a responsible country, it proved that during Kargill. India also does not start wars. So really it is upto Pakistan to pursue peace because it benefits Pakistani people. Another good reason might be that the strategic assets built by Pakistan establishment have become strategic liabilities and are now hurting Pakistanis themselves.

    @Vivek : Your response to Lala Gee is absolutely on target.


  • Ajit Kumar Das
    Jun 5, 2013 - 7:55AM

    All said and done, it is the nature of neighbourhood relationship that will determine the future course of action. How does Pakistan prefer to be addressed: an ‘iron brother’ or a ‘bosom friend’? Iron clad, it may gather strength and feel unbreakable. But its bosom: the heart, may grow rickety, failing to reciprocate feelings of love and compassion through the non-porous mould. The choice lies with Pakistan. But here is our hand extended with unalloyed friendship.
    A.K. Das, India


  • Israr Raja
    Jun 5, 2013 - 9:34AM

    @Ramesh Powar:
    India is India and Kashmir is Kashmir.I think if Kashmiries want to stay with India, Pakistan shouldn’t have any objection and vice versa.


  • gp65
    Jun 5, 2013 - 11:54AM

    @Israr Raja: “@Ramesh Powar:
    India is India and Kashmir is Kashmir.I think if Kashmiries want to stay with India, Pakistan shouldn’t have any objection and vice versa.”

    If PAkistan did not want to grab Kashmir, it would not have sent ‘tribals’. At that time, Kashmir was not part of India. It is due to the attack orchestrated by Pakistan that Raja Hari SIngh signed the instrument of accession So all claims about endorsing Kashmir’s independence are bogus. Anyway the UN resolution which Pakistan keeps harping about while not doing its part to facilitate does not have an independence option. Yet it continues to mislead Kashmiris that it is fighting for their independence.


  • mohsin
    Jun 5, 2013 - 4:09PM

    Sigh. My brother..even YOU dont believe what you are writing. The tribals went when it was clear he was hesitating to join PK. The tribals could walk into other indian provinces as well but the only went where it seemed likely the raja would act against the british mandate.


  • mohsin
    Jun 5, 2013 - 4:14PM


    I believe he was talking about the hindus. But you guys had so many sikhs and muslims in the army :)


  • antanu
    Jun 5, 2013 - 5:53PM

    well visit UP…BIHAR… W.BENGAL… ORISSA… and u will be proved wrong. these four states together has double the population of Pakistan.


  • Vivek
    Jun 5, 2013 - 6:03PM


    Who is talking about the army here ? Read the whole material again and come back.


  • Mohsin
    Jun 5, 2013 - 6:59PM


    I gave you a lengthy answer wich probably got sensured. But ill try again.

    Youre questions are legitimate. The main point is: Many pakistanis look up to India. But that does not change the fact that people are more equal in PK compared to India. The rich are more settled and stable in India compared to PK. That means our rich, clever and famous seeks an audience and facilities more suited for them. The one that is not fully functinal in PK yet. India has a bigger heritage, It has more history and it has had many institutes running long before Pk became a country. India has come so far that they can think in long terms while many in Pakistan think short term profit.
    Also the fankars go whereever theyre are liked. They have no boundries. Sadly many indian fankars dont visit their fans in Pk cause of political pressure.


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