‘India’s obsession with Pakistan ended long ago’

Published: February 23, 2015
Former Foreign Minister, Hina Rabanni Khar speaks at a session on Day 3 of the Lahore Literature Festival. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Former Foreign Minister, Hina Rabanni Khar speaks at a session on Day 3 of the Lahore Literature Festival. PHOTO: EXPRESS

She says each country defined itself by portraying the other as the enemy. Former Foreign Minister, Hina Rabanni Khar speaks at a session on Day 3 of the Lahore Literature Festival. PHOTO: EXPRESS

“Manmohan Singh was a statesman who probably genuinely wanted to address India-Pakistan relations but was hampered by public opinion,” said Hina Rabbani Khar, the former foreign minister, at a Lahore Literary Festival session titled Anticipating Peace: India and Pakistan.

She said each country defined itself by portraying the other as the enemy. She said there had been moments when it seemed that the two countries would achieve long-lasting peace but the moment was fleeting. She said Pakistan’s government had made considerable progress when it granted India the MFN status but overall the constituency for peace had not been built in both states.

She said political leaders, instead of playing to the public opinion, should lead it.

Najam Sethi, news analyst, agreed with Khar, saying that Pakistan’s obsession with India was woven into the country’s narrative.

He said India was now looking elsewhere.

He said one reason why Modi did not engage with Pakistan was that he did not want to make it look like he was carrying forward the Congress’ agenda. He was referring to a trade agreement proposed under Manmohan Singh. He said at the time the Pakistani government had backed away since it looked like Congress would lose power but under Modi, the process had completely stalled.

Shekhar Gupta, vice chairman of the India Today group, disagreed. He said India and Pakistan’s obsession with each other was no longer as it had been earlier. He said this was a recent phenomenon for Pakistan but India had not been obsessed with Pakistan for a long time.

He said both countries had a new generation of voters who were increasingly asking their leaders, “What can you do for us?”

He said Modi was a new character for Pakistan to understand, since he was looking to make a place for himself in history separate from the Nehruvian worldview, politics and style.

He said Modi did not want to waste his five years fighting Pakistan and was engaging the rest of the world. He said during Obama’s visit, there was no mention of Pakistan.

He said Modi wanted peace with Pakistan but would come to that in his own time.

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, a foreign minister under General Musharaff’s rule, said the two countries had close to negotiating an agreement on Kashmir.

“I know this because I myself corrected the commas and full stops in various drafts,” he said, adding that the peace deal fell through in the final round of discussions. He said Pakistan Army did not oppose peace with India, saying that the three years they spent on reaching the framework of the deal could not have happened without their support.

However, he said Pakistan Army would never settle for a secondary position in any negotiations.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2015.

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Reader Comments (53)

  • Saira Khan
    Feb 23, 2015 - 2:56AM

    “Modi wants peace with Pakistan”- LOLRecommend

  • Naresh
    Feb 23, 2015 - 2:58AM

    Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, the former foreign minister said Pakistan’s government had made considerable progress when it granted India the MFN status but overall the constituency for peace had not been built in both states.
    This is news to the whole wide World. PAKISTAN HAS STILL NOT GRANTED MFN STATUS TOO INDIA. I don’t think that Pakistan will EVER GRANT MFN STATUS TO INDIA!

  • allaisa
    Feb 23, 2015 - 5:30AM

    She (Hina Rabbani Khar) said Pakistan’s government had made considerable progress when it granted India the MFN status.

    Liar, liar your panties is on fire!Recommend

  • Nirmal
    Feb 23, 2015 - 7:41AM

    Pakistan has wasted too much time in focusing on India . Please move forward to creative policies that will help the country in the long run.Pakistan has a huge potential for growth.Recommend

  • Observer
    Feb 23, 2015 - 11:09AM

    India not obsessed with Pakistan?! HAHAHA. I was hoping that India had matured, but sadly they are still quite obsessed.Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2015 - 11:46AM

    when was india obsessed with pakistanRecommend

  • ModiFied
    Feb 23, 2015 - 12:09PM

    India is now obsessed with China and certainly not with Pakistan. Pakistan at best is an irritant where as China the real threat. Indo-Pak friendship will come only when Pakistan gets rid of two nation theory and start identifying with local culture. I am 100% sure that this will happen some day. Internal peace in Pakistan will come only when religion and culture are separated from each other. Violence has nothing to do with religion. Violence is created by those who want Pakistan to be an Arabic country and which is not in the genes of an ordinary Pakistani. Recommend

  • harkol
    Feb 23, 2015 - 12:18PM

    Pakistan Army would never settle for a secondary position in any negotiations.

    What ever that means!

    With 1/10th the economy, a fractious ‘idea of nation’, and fragile political integration, Pakistan and India will never be ‘equal’ in their standing. A fact borne out by 4 wars that Army started and failed in their missions.Recommend

  • Zee Ali
    Feb 23, 2015 - 12:24PM

    I can only say LOL to the comment of Shekhar Gupta.Recommend

  • A Peshawary
    Feb 23, 2015 - 12:43PM

    Shekhar Gupta views make sense. Modi is waiting for time of his choice in the interest of India, a prudent and Indian base approach. Perhaps; Pakistan is doing the same by waiting for the right time and opportunity to protect its interest.

    Perhaps Indian have made a Paradigm shift and Pakistan need the same. Rather, both the countries should let loose their obsession with each other and act prudently in mutual relationships.

    A Peshawary Recommend

  • In the name of love (what more)
    Feb 23, 2015 - 12:55PM

    I do not agree with Mr. Shekhar Gupta. While in India, voters are indeed asking “what can you do to make our lives better?” Pakistani voters are in the hope that someone is going to get us Kashmir. This is because the middle class is not as prosperous as it is in India. The more Pakistan empowers their middle class, lower middle class, more they’ll think about making their lives better, than hoping that we’ll live one day to see that kashmir shall be Pakistan’s. How many generations have Pakistan lost for the sake of Kashmir? The legacy to fight for jihad in kashmir is what Pakistanis are leaving for their next generation, and this is when the scope for improvement in daily life of a common man is immense in pakistan. Recommend

  • Vectra
    Feb 23, 2015 - 1:25PM

    Pakistan has never granted MFN status to India,May be Ms Khar couldn’t complete her sentence.Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Feb 23, 2015 - 1:42PM

    “She said Pakistan’s government had made considerable progress when it granted India the MFN status”

    Maybe Ms Khar was not as much in the Government as she thought was.
    Perhaps Ms Khar does not follow the actual political developments in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Pak
    Feb 23, 2015 - 1:44PM

    @ Author ……………..If India’s obsession with Pakistan ended long ago’…..
    Its not true…..
    look at the number of trolls from Indian on Pakistani newspapers websites…..???? Recommend

  • Virendra
    Feb 23, 2015 - 1:49PM

    The author should do basic research and verification before writing articles. Pakistan has never granted MFN status to India.Recommend

  • Bazigar
    Feb 23, 2015 - 2:30PM


    Till Pakistan does not get over its obsession with “being different”, “superior”, and “achieving parity”, and work to become relevant in the South Asian context there will be no peace for it. If it thinks that it can out Arab the Arabs in terms of adherence to a tribal culture, it will have this problem. South Asia is essentially a moderate place, with a “live” and “let live” philosophy arising out of a rich agrarian, and merchant culture. It was never into a nomadic/predatory lifestyle.

    If Pakistan wants, it can become the gateway to Eurasia for South Asia, and for that it will have to play its role as a genuine South Asian enabler, and not as a spoiler. For far too long it has played the role of a regional spoiler and then expected peace on its own terms. That India will not accept. There is nothing to be gained by trying and stopping India’s rise by trying to build coalitions, which cost money and influence to run. Increasingly, the world sees more profit in dealing with and not isolating India. Pakistan doe not have much to offer to build coalitions. Being part of coalitions with the status of low level lackey is what has got it into this mess in the first place! Recommend

  • Lobster
    Feb 23, 2015 - 2:34PM

    @manoj singh: “when was india obsessed with pakistan”
    Presence of dozens of Indians on a Pakistani website daily is enough proof!Recommend

  • Siraj
    Feb 23, 2015 - 2:47PM

    We have to come out of the hate message sent by our Establishment. As long as we hate India, the establishment has an upper hand in this country. Their budget, powers, equipment, luxuries etc all stem from this hatred. I have many Indian friends and I can tell you they focus on their development and think about Pakistan only when the world cup match comes. For them its same as Somalia. Would should also focus more on our development not India.Recommend

  • Khan
    Feb 23, 2015 - 3:32PM

    India moved on for its obsession for Pakistan?? ha ha ha what a joke. Still I have not seen even a recent bollyood movie with no mention of Pakistan. And watch the news space of Pakistani newspapers how Indian invade :) Go on Indian newspapers rarely any Pakistani bothered to comment and counter comment on Indian matters. Who cares!! And watch indian media on oath taking ceremony of Nawaz Shareef oops Modi in India and watch India Pakistan match … ha ha ha.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 23, 2015 - 7:16PM

    @harkol: What ever that means!”

    Yet you were insecure enough to quote those lines and react, as of economy size ,what is ironic and pathetic abt you ppl that you for decades keep comparing your country with ours despite the fact our coutry is one fourth your size. And you need lil common sense economies arent compared on sizes but by eonomic indicators.
    And 4 wars? Shame on you you for what you did in 71 you have no iota of shame for attacking our territory and yet when we go in kashmir ,our occupied part that we are ready to settle thru plebiscite u cry? And in 65 who had violated all intl borders from kutch to punjab to east pak. And dont forget the hospitality an outnumbered pak army gave you.
    And i wont argue with a man of nation who has no respect for its dead soldiers, know what i am talking about, yeah kargil coffin scandal!Recommend

  • Waqar Ahmed
    Feb 23, 2015 - 7:39PM

    @manoj singh:
    When was India not obsessed with Pakistan?Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 23, 2015 - 7:51PM

    No its we who are obsessed. The boat terror drama we did. The hafeez and waseem akram misundertning our media created.
    Can you believ indians love for us, they have ajournalist very anti pak, praveen swami hes highly loved by his ppl for anti pak rhetoric and sentiment. But he didnt buy boat story and wrote abt doubts on it .indians burnt his pics went out on streets against him. Just google that. And this happened in jan begginning.Recommend

  • Hamood
    Feb 23, 2015 - 9:13PM

    The number of comments on Pakistani newspapers say otherwise.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 23, 2015 - 10:01PM

    I read your commet multiple times and it seriously makes no sense. what pakistan decides to do isnt indias business. And as offf this . “For far too long it has played the role of a regional spoiler and then expected peace on its own terms. That India will not accept”
    The only regional peace spoiler here is india and everyome lknows kashmir issues, arunachal pradesh with china etc. why is it so hard to go for a joint plebiscite in kashmir. Pak agrees to it. Let the peace in region come. And you stop trying to be south asias police and indians here come and thump chests and dream of becoming whatnot oceans hegemons.
    And as of arab culture being nomadic tribal why should you bother. and there has come a lot of change in arabs lifestyles. And firstly never all the tribes were nomads and nomad culture etc is still there in india.

    The whole argument of yours agrarian vs arab tribal culture gives one word. And that is Xenophobia.
    go back to your old agrarian culture, get brahams , kashtariyas,maybe that wil please you.
    And btw developed india still has a tribe called Aghoris. They are cannibals.Recommend

  • LS
    Feb 24, 2015 - 12:03AM

    To those Pakistanis who think India’s obsession with Pakistan has NOT ended. A few points to ponder.

    1) In India Elections are not fought on single point agenda of what is happening on our eastern border. There is an occasional reference but those are muted and location specific.
    2) We do not have daily talk shows talking about Pakistan as much as Pakistan does.
    3) At national policies are directed towards project ourselves as a power contender in the world politics and in order to do that we not only need to build our economy but also our defense.

    Those who think that India should remove their poverty first before doing any of that, I say development needs to be on all the fronts simultaneously and cannot be left contingent on fully developing one specific areas, given our size and population.

    As far as people to people interaction and people from India visiting Pakistani news site. It does not constitute as a “National Interest” but would certainly classify as “Personal Interest” for that individual for various reasons including Family/historical relations, knowing what is the thought process of people across the border or generally what is happening there, Most simply want to fix/change/correct general Pakistani perception of India and some become so obsessed that they comment on everything even though it does not related to India in any way and is completely an internal matter of Pakistan.

    One thing is for sure. There is lot of news about India in Pakistani Media on the front pages where as in India that isn’t true and you need to look for them 2-3 links deep. Most of the comments (in excess of 150 or so are on Indian Stories, there are very few Pakistan specific stories that get that kind of attention. I think web-masters and the news companies know that and that is why there are so many India specific stories to drive the traffic in and in turn generate some revenue for themselves. After all everyone wants to drive more and more viewership to their pages…Recommend

  • Mashael
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:22AM

    I am a Pakistani british and would like to comment on people talking about Indians visting Paksitani websites and Pakistanis not visiting indian websites. The reason for thsi is that there is so little mention of Pakistani news in Indian media that Pakistanis do not have a reason to visit these websites. On the other hand our news is litterred with news about India even if it doesn’t concern us. This is the single biggest prooof that India has ost its obsession with pakistan but pakistan is still adhering to this obsession. For those who require proof can compare any daily version of Dawn and NDTV and you will see for yourself. I dont blame Dawn for this because they print what makes news in pakistan and sadly it is India. Recommend

  • Schumaila
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:33AM

    The Indian Media or their daily Editors don’t seem to be getting mature any time sooner. Indian voters are not obsessed with Pakistan.. is a blatant lie Shekar Gupta is telling the audience at a Literature festival.. God Knows who is he trying to blindfold.. himself.. the Pakistani audiences or pleasing Indian readers? Modi had to make anti Pakistan statements in his pre election speeches so as to secure victory from his Pakistanophobe voters. Seems their media has been inspired from our PTV, hopefully someday their media will start acting like an independent body and not ostriches Recommend

  • PAkistani
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:52AM

    Of course India is obsessed with Pakistan.India can never be a great power as long as Pakistan is anti India.No great power has unfriendly neighbors next to it.Recommend

    Feb 24, 2015 - 2:30AM

    Most of the comments are India vs Pakistan …….The only way we Pakistanis can succeed and progress is when we stand on our own feet. Be honest tax payers, remove corruption and put the genie of religion back in the box Recommend

  • omar k cheema
    Feb 24, 2015 - 2:50AM

    If indians not obsessed with Pakistan , why is it that 80% of comments on Pakistani news websites are from Indians :PRecommend

  • Anjaan
    Feb 24, 2015 - 3:17AM

    @ Zara, your mentioning the Aghoris clearly indicates you ignorance of the subject and your washed brain, thanks to Pakistani lies and misinformation campaign against India and the Hindus in all possible ways. Your blind hatred toward India is evident in all your posts … don’t blame you, as this hatred is reciprocal … !! Recommend

  • bingo
    Feb 24, 2015 - 6:16AM

    Head so much about this supposed Kashmir deal that was almost signed between the two countries. Can anyone please publish it to the general population? Recommend

  • rubio
    Feb 24, 2015 - 6:55AM

    @Waqar Ahmed:
    No news site is property of a specific country regardless of where they originate from; websites’ addresses dont start with WWW for nothing.Recommend

  • nrmr44
    Feb 24, 2015 - 7:55AM

    @omar k cheema:
    These are Indians with charity on their minds. They come to raise the standard of the otherwise inane ramblings of Pakistani commentators.
    And, of course, Indians are obsessed with Pakistan. It’s where they get the best laughs.Recommend

  • Anjaan
    Feb 24, 2015 - 7:57AM

    @ Omkar Cheema, Zara and all those against Indian trolls in Pakistani blogs,

    Look at Mashael’s post, who is a Pakistani British … the simple reason why so many Indians flock to Pakistani blogs is that Pakistani media is not possible without India … politics, foreign relations, cinema, TV, Bollywood film star gossip etc etc. … where as in Indian papers there is hardly any Pakistan except for wrong reasons … !!Recommend

  • indrasis
    Feb 24, 2015 - 8:54AM

    come and vist the dna and firstpost website…you will understand yourselfRecommend

  • khan of quetta
    Feb 24, 2015 - 8:58AM

    @manoj singh:
    ohohoh i knowRecommend

  • Bewildered
    Feb 24, 2015 - 9:58AM

    ‘India’s obsession with Pakistan ended long ago’

    Pleased to know. Now Indian trolls prove your claims by moving to Chinese news websites where your new obsession is.Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Feb 24, 2015 - 10:13AM

    I am all for just ignoring Pakistan. India must arm itself and dish it out if provoked. Let Pakistan do what it wants to. The obsession with “talks” has gone on long enough. China is India’s role model for economic prosperity. Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq PK
    Feb 24, 2015 - 10:35AM

    Whatsoever our leaders say about India and India’s obsession India can never be the Pakistan’s honest,sincere and loyal friend unless resolves the most burning and core Kashmir’s issue on the top most priority basis whatsoever Indian leadership does to pave the ways of normalizing the relations between Pakistan and India whereas yet Indian leadership never considered/declared Kashmir an issue and a disputed territory but considers absolutely falsely that Kashmir is India’s integral part….Recommend

  • Navvy
    Feb 24, 2015 - 11:21AM

    All the neighbours of china are against them and still they are a super power.Recommend

  • Navvy
    Feb 24, 2015 - 11:22AM

    @omar k cheema:

    That is because you are mentioning our country in ur sites!Recommend

  • hellboy
    Feb 24, 2015 - 1:19PM

    @Pak: We are not obsessed we are curious and curiosity always a good thing.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 24, 2015 - 2:23PM

    tho your curiosty is very creepy. Eww and unwelcome too.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 24, 2015 - 11:39PM

    @Anjaan: Zara, your mentioning the Aghoris clearly indicates you ignorance of the subject and your washed brain, thanks to Pakistani lies and misinformation campaign against India and”

    Typical habbit of crying and blaming everything on pak. Pakistanis wont even know about aghoris. I was once googling cannibalism and found tht out. And get overthis dramaybaazi of screaming crying pakistanis misinformation and lies campaign against india.
    Pakistan never bothers abput you and your media and ppl are 24 7 obsessed with us. Do u ppl have any day jobs.
    And the way your text books spew hatred on us. If we pakistanis ever start to do a fraction of propaganda against you that you do towards us, you would know.Recommend

  • Vakil
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:02AM

    Yes, for the simple reason that one sees a glut of articles from the leading lights of the journalistic world and others like Hafeez Saeed ‘sahab’ et al ranting about India, Kashmir etc — what else would you expect? It is not obsession, it is reaction. By comparison how many equivalent hate or spite-filled articles does one see in Indian publications about Pakistan? There is your answer!Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:14AM

    Ever thought why the world thinks of Pakistan what it does?

    You seem to be carrying the load of whole of Pakistan o your shoulders.
    Is it a single handed crusade to “rid the world of India, Indians and the Hindus?”

    Look around on this forum – how many Pakistanis “write” (I got it right this time, didn’t I) like you?
    Reflect, calm down – you are headed for hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

    You cannot change anything.
    India and the Indians will always be 7 – 8 times larger and nothing will change the fact in your’s and my life time.

    Have you ever noticed how few or no Indians are present on non-India related news fora?

    Write about India – they (third person as I am not an Indian national) will be there to challenge the thesis.

    Day Job – what is that? Just like you.

    Don’t want Indians on the fora – don’t write or better don’t write negative about India.Recommend

  • LS
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:46AM

    You are wrong that he got votes because of Anti-Pakistan rhetoric. It came just once when he visited Siachin and that too was muted (he did not name Pakistan). Though I do see every politician, commentator, Analyst in Pakistan is spending all their lives reacting to news items from India whether its firing a missile, MARS mission, Moon Mission, Cricket defeat, Buying arms and ammunition, trade deals, water and Dams construction, policies, International leaders’s visit… India is referenced almost everyday in Pakistani news.

    Modi came to power because of Anti-incumbency against congress and his promise for development.

    I know you guys like to think Pakistan is important in the world and everyone would and should be talking about you guys, but no – Indian leaders don’t and soon enough people won’t talk about it either… Recommend

  • qzeb
    Feb 25, 2015 - 9:10AM

    All peace loving people knows key is Kashmir Freedom from India & Pakistan.Recommend

  • Raja Porus
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:39AM

    India will perpetually remain obsessed with Pakistan because Pakistan will always remain the greatest opponent and rival of India, InshAllah! Pak Armed Forces Zindabad!Recommend

  • SS
    Mar 1, 2015 - 9:25AM

    @Hamood: Just want to clear the thing about Indians commenting on a Pakistani news site- you will see Indians comment on the news article from all over the world. We are interested in reading global news and participating in discussions. Check the news from the US, China, Australia, UK, Gulf countries etc. This does not mean Indians are obsessed with all those countries. You will see Indians commenting everywhere. One in 6 people in the world is Indian so it is not surprising. Recommend

  • SS
    Mar 1, 2015 - 9:33AM

    I am an Indian living in the US for the last 10 years. For the first 25 years of my life when I was in India, I hardly knew anything about Pakistan except for the Kashmir issue. For me Pakistan’s identity was the Kashmir issue with India. And I was a voracious news reader in India too. After I came to the US, I became curious and thought I should know more about the neighboring countries of India. So I have started checking the Pakistani news sites and videos on youtube. I read the news from US, UK, Australia, China, etc. But some of the comments got me thinking, if India is obsessed with Pakistan why did I not learn anything about Pakistan when I was in India? Recommend

  • SS
    Mar 1, 2015 - 9:41AM


    Here’s how I spend 30 minutes in my everyday life. I go to google news and type India. Then go through all the news that appear. Does not matter where they come from. If it a Pakistani newspaper I don’t care I will still read it. Recommend

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