What India needs to do now with Pakistan

India should press with its outreach to Pakistan on trade and other fronts assuming that it is delivering on terrorism

Aakar Patel June 07, 2014
The writer is a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar. His book Translating Saadat Hasan Manto’s non-fiction work will be published this year [email protected]

When diplomats say something, it is just as important to listen to what is left out.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Saarc leaders, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh read out a statement. It described what Modi had said to various leaders he was meeting for the first time. To Bhutan’s leader, he said, India and Bhutan had “long standing historical and cultural linkages”. To the leader of Mauritius, that there was a “special and unique relationship between India and Mauritius”, and that the nations shared “history, common ancestry and kinship”.

Modi said Nepal was a country “with whom India shared history, geography and ancient civilizational ties”. With Bangladesh, he said, India had “shared struggle, history, culture and language”.

When Singh read out the statement on Pakistan, there was no such reaching out or softening and no acknowledgement of shared cultural ties. Her statement began: “In his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the PM underlined our concerns relating to terrorism. It was conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory or territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India.”

To his credit, Modi added that the two countries “could move immediately towards full trade normalisation on the basis of the September 2012 roadmap”. However, the threat of terror attacks disrupting ties was sounded out to Sharif.

India’s governments have long claimed that Pakistan has stoked violence in India, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The fact is, however, that militant violence, particularly of the religious sort, has all but ended in India.

Terrorist violence in Kashmir peaked in 2001, when 4,507 people were killed, including 1,067 civilians and 590 security forces personnel. Following the attack on India’s Parliament, President Pervez Musharraf committed to shutting down cross-border militant activity and in early 2002, he banned four groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Since then violence in Kashmir has dropped down to its lowest since militancy began in 1990. In that year, 1,177 people were killed, including 862 civilians and 132 security forces personnel. The numbers of those killed rose every year and by 1996 (when Benazir Bhutto was in office for the second time) stood at over 2,900. After Musharraf took over, violence escalated and fatalities crossed 3,200 in the year 2000.

After the peak of 2001 and Musharraf’s pledge, deaths have dropped every year. Data from former Punjab policeman KPS Gill’s think tank shows that fatalities in J&K fell from 3,022 (in ’02) to 2,542 (’03) to 1,810 (’04) to 1,739 (’05) to 1,116 (’06) to 7,77 (’07) to 541 (’08) 375 (’09) 375 (2010) to 183 (’11) to 117 (’12) to 181 (’13) and 59 this year of whom 37 were militants.

If we are to accept that Pakistan was responsible for producing most of this, we must also conclude that Pakistani effort is reducing it. The fact is that India has not properly recognised this effort from Pakistan, particularly under Musharraf.

Outside Kashmir, there is very little religious violence in India. 2014 has so far seen only 1 death. In Pakistan, violence continues at high levels and 2013 saw 5,379 deaths and this year 1,718 so far.

Modi also pressed Sharif on the trial of the alleged perpetrators of Mumbai attacks and most observers will conclude that it is not going well. But Pakistan can also rightfully claim that India has been lax in prosecuting those who bombed the Samjhauta Express in 2007, killing over 60 people, mainly Pakistanis. The investigations, which seemed to be zeroing in on a group linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, are going nowhere, to say nothing of the trial.

India should press with its outreach to Pakistan on trade and other fronts on the assumption that it is delivering on terrorism to the best of its ability. Certainly the results would show that clearly.

The US pullout from Afghanistan and a looming Taliban takeover of the south of that country could change the situation in Pakistan and perhaps, also in India. It is to the advantage of both nations that they quickly move ahead on normalising relations before that happens.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2014.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


G. Din | 7 years ago | Reply

@Pak: "@G. Din: So you agree to your occupation" I responded to your comment but the moderators do not think you are mature enough to read my response. Sorry!

Lalit | 7 years ago | Reply

@pak you are insisting on a UN mandated plebiscite,but are not ready to fulfill the basic requirements for it.by populating outsiders in POK and gifting a part of Kashmir to China you have sir burnt all your boats.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read