Indo-Pak conundrum — is there a way out?

Published: July 26, 2015
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Except for the Agra Summit where it showed an inclination to discuss Kashmir threadbare, New Delhi has never shown willingness, even to consider Kashmir as a problem needing bilateral negotiations. PHOTO: AFP

Except for the Agra Summit where it showed an inclination to discuss Kashmir threadbare, New Delhi has never shown willingness, even to consider Kashmir as a problem needing bilateral negotiations. PHOTO: AFP

India and Pakistan are too close geographically for their respective populations to feel comfortable whenever New Delhi and Islamabad go into confrontation mode. That they enter such a mode at the slightest provocation has now become a norm rather than an exception. And this has been happening since independence and mostly when it comes to what is termed the Partition’s unfinished agenda — the Kashmir dispute. The only time India showed any interest in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute was in 2001 at the Agra Summit. The setting for the Summit, too, was seemingly orchestrated by India with guns at the Line of Control (LoC) falling silent by mutual consent. But the attempt failed at the eleventh hour because of misreading of the situation by the hawks in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s cabinet and the mistimed bluster of then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier, in February 1999, it was again Mr Vajpayee who achieved the distinction of being the first and so far the only Indian prime minister to pay a state visit to Pakistan, and that too on a bus. It was a historic visit for more than one reason, the most important being Mr Vajpayee’s announcement at Minar-e-Pakistan that India harboured no reservations about Partition and that it had accepted wholeheartedly Pakistan’s right to exist as an independent state.

It would be highly edifying for those who are handling Pakistan’s current India policy to study the physical, political and economic context, and the leadership quality that had existed in the two countries, in the region and internationally, in the 1999-2001 period and what has happened since in the same context and adjust accordingly while trying to meet the distinct peculiarities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India.

Whatever our reservations may be regarding Prime Minister Modi’s ideological bent and attitude with respect to Pakistan, which we can readily observe through his various pronouncements on our country ever since he came to power, that should not hold us back from assessing in Pakistan’s own supreme self-interest how long we can bear the escalating cost of confrontation with India in economic, social and political terms. Except for the Agra Summit where it showed an inclination to discuss Kashmir threadbare, New Delhi has never shown, all through these nearly 67 years, a willingness even to consider Kashmir as a problem needing bilateral negotiations for its resolution. It has, however, on a number of occasions indicated that it would like to cement the LoC into a permanent border between the two countries. This is not acceptable to Pakistan. But perpetual confrontation with India also does not suit us. The relevant resolutions of the United Nations meant to resolve the dispute have failed to break the logjam that has come to define bilateral relations between the neighbours.

India has never shown any enthusiasm for a composite dialogue proposal as well. And the various full-fledged and half-hearted frontal wars, and an almost 10-year long low-intensity, but bloody skirmish inside Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) during the 1990s, sustained by cross-border infiltration, too, have only rendered the problem even more intractable. If New Delhi is convinced that most of the terror incidents that occur in India and in IHK are the handiwork of elements within Pakistan, then nothing is going to stop it from trying to pay us back in the same coin. So, what do we do under the circumstances? One way out is the step-by-step way, the Simla Accord way, to which India would surely agree readily. Or, we could perhaps wait out India, as Prime Minister Modi, considering himself to be political invulnerable, turns the bilateral dispute into India’s own national problem. We could see the ebbing freedom struggle gaining new momentum, with the urgency in the struggle being provoked by the Indian prime minister’s clandestine attempts to strip IHK off its special status.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Anjaan
    Jul 26, 2015 - 3:07AM

    The only option is Pakistani army climbdown on its Kashmir obsession, or to wait for another 68 years while bearing the escalating cost of confrontation … !! Recommend

  • Union Jack
    Jul 26, 2015 - 5:12AM

    Absolutely no point in this article. Nothing enlightening or “aha” in the topic covered. Everybody in India and Pakistan knows about this dead lock. Bottom line is, Pakistan will not give up it part of Kashmir and India will never give up its. We ned to be wiser and accept LOC as border. Let both sides develop for a decade. Increase trade. Increase people to people communication. Then someday the border itself will become irrelevant.
    But guess what. China, Russia, Europe and USA will never allow this. After all its a lucrative market for arms sales and playground for their world dominance strategies. If we prosper where will they get cheap labors from ?Recommend

  • Vectra
    Jul 26, 2015 - 8:55AM

    @Union Jack:
    LOC cant be made border as Indian constitution and 1947 accession documents doesn’t allow it as per which entire J&K is Indian territory.India cant leave POK,if anything if negotiation fails there will be war between the 2 including nuclear war and POK will be taken over by force.Thats how i can see this problem gets solved in future.Those who says LOC to be made international border often ignores that it is actually a cease fire line for infinite period and any future war will begin from ceasefire line only and pakistan ability to stop Indian formation is impossible and nuke war will wipe out it altogether though India will recover and return to normal given its vast land size and missile stopping and surveillance capability, DEW research.etc.So if one talk based on fact and such a suggestion on LOC is absurd as negotiation that is going on since 1947 is not about LOC but about who should vacate the Kashmir.Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Jul 26, 2015 - 10:54AM

    India and Pakistan should carry on trying to reduce tensions and increase trade. I admit Kashmiris need to get a chance to decide their choice, but it should be left for Kashmiris and both countries should remain focused on peace. The same can be said of Kurds and Tibet also. Deleil Lama does not preach violence and yet the whole world shows sympathy for the freedom of Tibet. Pakistan gets a bad image with similar results and no progress. Recommend

  • ziddi
    Jul 26, 2015 - 12:06PM

    J and K needs to be integrated with the rest of the country. complete integration, along with development. The people of Jammu and Ladakh also have their fate being decided by some separatists. J and K is not like Tibet, because India is a democratic and secular country. Peace and a stable status, as assured by the removal of article 370 can only ensure progress and prosperity for the local people. No more loss of precious young lives, whether of locals or army personnel is acceptable. The tough decision of removing 370 needs to be taken for the overall good.Recommend

  • harkol
    Jul 26, 2015 - 1:42PM

    Is there a way out? In Short – NO.

    Not till Pakistan becomes a ‘normal state’ instead of a ‘theocratic military state’.Recommend

  • sundar
    Jul 26, 2015 - 3:29PM

    NO, as long as Pakistan army maintains its confrontationlist attitude. Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Jul 26, 2015 - 5:59PM

    The author and comments from Pakistanis and Kashmiris want peace, but comments coming from Indian are very negative and threatening: Change this or that before we discuss anything. It is not easy to talk to minds which want to dictate, but I still wish to talk peace.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Jul 26, 2015 - 6:34PM

    “It (New Delhi) has, however, on a number of occasions indicated that it would like to cement the LoC into a permanent border between the two countries. “
    Can you indicate any basis for this assertion? I ask this because the Indian Parliament has passed a resolution which this assertion would negate and is ,therefore, traitorous. No government in India can suggest such a thing and you are being led up the garden path if you believe that any leader alive can get such a position ratified by the Indian Parliament.
    There is only one solution to this conundrum. For Pakistan to vacate the land occupied illegally by it by overwhelming the sovereign of Kashmir by force, Maharajah Hari Singh in 1947.Recommend

  • Curious George
    Jul 26, 2015 - 7:10PM

    @Toticalling:
    Why Indian comments are so bitter?It is because Pakistan’s involvement in fomenting trouble in India from early eighties till date is well known.All efforts to normalize relations have come a cropper because of immediate betrayal by your Army.Keeping tension alive is helpful to keep Pakistan together, it’s army well funded and in control of country’s politics.Separatist in Kashmir,who were broke before joining insurgency are owner of big big malls in Srinagar.No break through is foreseen that is why there is bitterness in Indian comments.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath
    Jul 26, 2015 - 7:56PM

    We have as much claim to your Kashmir as you have to ours. We don’t write articles or conduct talk shows 24/7 on it. UN resolution calls for withdrawal of Pakistani troops and handover of AJK to India before plebiscite can be conducted. Moreover Pakistan has settled Punjabis in AJK and handed over part of AJK to China. All these issues make the UN resolution moot. Originally conceived as homeland to the subcontinents Muslims, the majority (54 %) wanted nothing to do with Pakistan and became Bangladesh in 1971. Now India has more Muslims than Pakistan and India’s Muslims have no real interest in being part of Pakistan. J&K has sizeable population of Shias, Buddhists and Hindus, none of whom fit into Pakistan’s national narrative. Instead of building on what we have in common and leave aside issues for which there is no solution, vested interests in Pakistan remain stuck where we were in 1948.Recommend

  • observer
    Jul 27, 2015 - 9:02AM

    “Indo-Pak conundrum — is there a way out?”

    The more appropriate question is “Is there a way out for Pakistan”. India can just sit back and watch Pakistan wearing the Kashmir millstone around its neck and in the process destroy itself economically and politically. The decay has already started and will only get worse with time while India continues its strong economic growth and military might.

    Pakistan doesn’t hold any ace card to have its way in Kashmir. Terrorism is the only nuisance that Pakistan can employ but this is a double-edged sword that will affect Pakistan more than India.Recommend

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