Pak foreign policy and India | By Tariq Aqil 


Pak foreign policy and India

INDIA and Pakistan, the two nuclear powers in South Asia, have been very hostile neighbours since 1947 and this hostility continues to grow.

What role does India play in Pakistan’s international diplomacy and political strategy? What are the crucial elements of Pakistan’s policy towards India? The permanent perceived threat from a much bigger neighbour has justified the national astronomical defence budget and the building of an enormous defence force resulting in the weakening of the democratic institutions, weakening of the civilian government, the repeated interventions of the army and the imposition of martial law four times in our history.

The sense of fear from India was ignited by the belief that India was always against the partition of the subcontinent and will continue to harm and damage Pakistan to achieve its objective of destroying the country and achieving their dream of a united India once again.

The India-Pakistan conflict has led to the arms race and then the nuclearization of the area resulting in a negative reaction of the international community because Asia is the only region in the world where two nuclear neighbours remain locked in an unresolved dispute and this dispute has the potential to impact regional and global security.

Relations between the two countries are based on mutual mistrust and inherent enmity and are undergoing serious deterioration to the point of complete breakdown.

The long simmering Kashmir dispute remains the most crucial and vital factor that has soured relations between the two countries and it is also the key factor in Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India.

From the view point of Pakistan Resolution Kashmir conflict is fundamental to improve relations with India and we cannot move forward without first settling the this dispute.

Pakistan’s claim is based on the fact about the Muslim majority population of Kashmir dispute and the rule established by the British Govt. before leaving the sub-continent.

Since the very beginning Pakistan has made great efforts to involve the international community in the resolution of this conflict but without any success. Kashmir remains the greatest geostrategic challenges of the country’s foreign policy.

Pakistan’s position on Kashmir is also based on the Security Council resolutions which states that the final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people and this can only be done by holding a plebiscite in Kashmir in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council resolutions have demanded specifically that India and Pakistan both withdraw their troops from Kashmir and go back to the positions of 14th August 1947 and this condition has not been met by both sides.

United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan or UNCIP established by the UN Security Council in 1948 to mediate this dispute but it was subsequently changed into UNMOGIP or United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan to supervise the ceasefire between the two countries and to investigate the complaints about the violations of the ceasefire.

Another major point of friction between the two countries is the distribution of water. Pakistan is primarily an agricultural country and water plays a critical role in economic development of the country.

Pakistan depends on agriculture for 24% of the national GDP 48% employment and 70% of the country’s exports.

Per capita availability of surface water is dwindling from 5650 in 1951 to projected 800 cubic meters in 2025.

Pakistan accuses India of building dams to cause water shortage in Pakistan to damage its economy. This strategy adopted by India has been dubbed as “Water Terrorism” by Pakistan.

Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India needs a complete review and change of strategy. The Kashmir dispute will certainly remain unresolved in the foreseeable future.

Neither India nor Pakistan are likely to give up their historically and strategically grounded claims.

Pakistan after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan today faces religious extremism and sectarian violence and targeted attacks against religious minorities.

Pakistan is in serious need of improving relations with India and mending fences to devote more time and resources to its own internal problems particularly controlling the religious extremists and bigots once again raising their ugly head to destroy the country.

Throughout Pakistan’s history all civilian government. Have been weak with little support from the public.

The major player and decision maker in Pakistan foreign policy area has been the army. About time that the elected government and Parliament of the country took total control of this vital area of national policy. The policy of confrontation and hatred based on real or perceived threat has to change.

Kashmir should be placed on the back burner and the two countries to start a fresh bilateral dialogue aimed at more confidence building measures such as easing of visa restrictions, tourism, trade and exchange of cultural delegations. Two major wars and countless border skirmishes have been fought without any outcome.

It is right time to end this state of no war no peace and move towards better relations on the pattern of the European Union and remove the sword of nuclear holocaust hanging over the region.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.

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