Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
ASHLEY J Tellis who occupies the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has recently argued that in the current environment a continued dialogue between India and Pakistan will not bring peace in South Asia. He says that the Pakistan Army should also be persuaded to acquiesce to the current territorial and strategic realities involving India and, as a consequence, end its relentless revisionism. Mr Ashley’s polarised arguments hold no principle for sufficient reason insofar as it is not the Pakistani policies which are obstacle to peace but India’s actually. With India’s driven policy of state brinkmanship and its regional antagonism , the Indian cherished goal of a status quo power remains a quandary yet.
Irrefutably there remain four peace obstacles between the two nuclear South Asian states. First, the Kashmir issue. Second, Indian pursuit of terrorism. Third, the future of South Asian strategic forum—the Saarc. And fourth, India’s provoked nuclear arms race. Given the past backdrop, the resolution of Kashmir faced staunch political roadblocks despite Pakistani and Indian leaderships’ backchannel acknowledgment of a mutually agreeable basis for a settlement. Moreover, the Kashmir-related CBMs— that sought to enhance interaction between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir during the past decade— had not been successfully implemented owing to India’s chauvinist, unjust and unrealistic approach towards the Kashmir issue which prevented Kashmiris from developing genuine interdependence despite a desire to move forward. Former chief minister of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) Farooq Abdullah has said Azad Kashmir “rightfully belongs to Pakistan”, according to India’s Times Now.
“A Pakistan minister very rightly said that you forget that the part which is yours was acquired by an instrument of accession. You forget the instrument of accession and say that that part is yours. If you talk about this being your part, then remember the instrument as well,” said Abdullah, who also heads the National Conference party. Hours after Delhi had appointed Sharma for a dialogue with the stakeholders to resolve the Kashmir issue, Abdullah had suggested that the interlocutor should hold talks with Pakistan as well. Heuristically, the Modi government seems to replace the Kautilya army doctrine with the Doval doctrine in the Indian held Kashmir, reflecting no change in India’s intransigent policy on Kashmir.
Yet, every sane mind in the Indian civil society advocates for a political solution of the Kashmir issue. The second point of divergence in India Pakistan relations is terrorism . Using state and non-state actors asymmetrically seems to be India’s new strategy to weaken Pakistan. India is alleged to have supported Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the tribal areas as well as Baloch separatist leaders. The role played by Pakistan security establishment has to be fairly understood in this backdrop. The fact of the matter is that like any other security organization, Pakistan military has been performing her best duty in terms of its fighting the war on terror as well as counterfeiting challenges posed to Pakistan’s internal and external security—mainly threatened by India’s proxies via notion: “Every neighboring state is an enemy and neighbouring state’s neighbor is a friend.”
New Delhi’s peace policy gambit is reflected by the closer Indo-US ties which are likely to further enhance the ‘big brother syndrome’ traditionally associated with India’s hegemonic position in the South Asian region. The deepening Indo-US relations have also affected India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue. The irony about India is that the more it aspires to acquire the status of a ‘major power’, the more willing it seems to define its strategy within a US-aligned and neoliberalist framework. The Saarc future is inevitably related to the resolution of the Kashmir issue. In order to bridge the gap between the promise and the real accomplishments of Saarc, the member states would have to peacefully settle long-standing political disputes—especially the India-Pakistan Kashmir dispute. But unfortunately, India has undermined the scope of saarc.
And last but not least, India’s ventured nuclear arms race through strategic weapons modernisation in South Asia, has become a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. With India recently developing its first squadron of indigenously produced Tejas fighters – combined with its development of a nuclear triad, ballistic missile defence and intercontinental ballistic missiles – the dangers of India’s arm policy are ferociously evolving. Ironically, instead of realigning themselves with the emerging neo-South Asian scenario, both Washington and New Delhi are waging a joint propaganda campaign about Pakistan’s military as reflected by the recent reports published on the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR ) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP). The motive to publish these reports is insidious. Pakistan’s security establishment is not baffled by these notorious reflections.
As the fervently ambitious approach of the Indian strategists keeps them preoccupied with the goal of attaining a major power status; this perceived quest can by no means be fulfilled without truly addressing the issue of Kashmir within in the ambit of UN’s perceived order of international law and human rights-a voice which has been deliberately ignored at worst by the Indian leadership. In no way, India’s vision of the Global South be practical and predictable unless it moves to foster peace in South Asia and rationally synchronizes its vision of the growing world order. Should not Mr Ashley realise that there is no alternative to peace diplomacy? And yet the necessity of encouraging India-Pakistan peace dialogue backed by an Indian notion to resolve the simmering Kashmir issue is underscored by the dangers continued animosity poses for the nations’ combined one billion citizens.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.
Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi