Raja Qaiser Ahmed
INDIAN Premier Modi has again spewed venom against Pakistan in his electoral campaign for UP elections. The hatemongering against Pakistan may garner votes for faltering BJP but is likely to have dire implications for India-Pakistan relations which are already under great tumult in the wake of border escalations and India’s diplomatic circumventing of Pakistan. Though the Pathankot incident and Kalbhushan Yadav episode had brought an end to the euphoria in India-Pakistan relations built after Modi’s unforeseen visit to Pakistan.
The theoretical construct of India-Pakistan relations and their applied manifestation invite a major scholastic inquiry. Embedded in mutual animosity and an oppositional character of identity these bilateral relations are not only intrinsic but are rhetorical and polemic to the large extent. The seriousness of purpose from Indian side had always been missing. Subcontinental security, revolving around the bilateral ties between India and Pakistan, is largely event specific. One eventuality brings profound implications for the both the states. India’s recalcitrant behaviour and persistent blame game genuinely demeans and phases out the possibilities of any concrete dialogue process.
The approaches towards conflict resolution in South Asia are debatable and questionable. Longstanding issues lingering without any concrete resolution and an absentia of impetus to resolve the issues largely sums up the cobweb of South Asian geopolitics. India and Pakistan, being the key regional players define the overall security posture of the region. In the apparent lose geometry of international politics a marked shift from geostrategics to geo-economics has been observed. Countries and regions are entering into an integrated framework over the assumption of mutual beneficiality. Yet, the region of South Asia is long away from the framework of regional integration notwithstanding having ceremonial organizational structures.
India, a committed status quoist country, aspires to play its role at global level. Indian elite takes into account its unique geographical position, ancient history, natural resources, democracy and culture and is yearning for a conducive and supportive global environment which could pacify India’s global aspirations. India longs for a disturbed neighbourhood. The recent episode of RAW agent corroborates this fact. A troubled neighbourhood favours India’s global ambitions. Explaining the cognitive structure of Indian Elite in the formulation of foreign policy one can assert that ideology no longer plays an important role. India has become rational and pragmatist in pursuing its national goals , the core of them being to preserve the country’s pluralistic democracy, protect its territorial unity and integrity and sustain and expand its economic and industrial growth by fully utilizing the opportunities of economic reforms and globalization. This rhetoric also needs a counter verification given a fact that there are 17 secessionist movements operative in India and 67 terrorist organizations posing a direct threat to India’s existence. The recent drift of India into Hindu jingoism speaks volume of the intensity and monstrosity of crumbling societal fabric and collapsing state of affairs. The BJP’s foreign policy is the amalgamation of ferocious Hindu nationalism coupled with the irrational pursuit of policy choices.
The paradox of Indian foreign policy is that India wants to play a stabilizing role in the region notwithstanding the amount of disturbance and challenges it is posing for its neighbour states. India trumpets that its economy and rapid growth can become an anchoring element in the region and India aims at mutually beneficial relationship where it thinks that the neighbours through interconnectivity, trade and investment should get benefit of the India’s rapid growth so that prosperity can be shared. This narrative is largely rhetorical since Indara’s doctrine and Gujral doctrine both vindicate India’s extended influence in South Asian states. In actuality India is not concerned with the common destiny of the South Asia.
Pakistan’s policy on the other hand is largely a response to direct threat perception emanating from India. Two large scale wars along with many low intensity conflicts define a posture of vulnerability at Pakistan’s part. Since the beginning Pakistan’s security is jeopardized at the hands of India.
The acrid start embedded in mutual animosity became a defining factor of the posture of Pakistan and India’s relations. It also marked a trajectory of an uneasy beginning followed by two direct rows one over Kashmir and second over water resources. It constructed a context of Pak India relationship which even to the date defines the construct of mutual relationship. India’s ever increasing defence expenditures are resulting into a security dilemma for Pakistan. Given the asymmetry between India and Pakistan, both in economic and defence terms, the security equation of South Asia remains precarious always.
Pragmatic approach is a must need in the contours of present India-Pakistan relations. The irony with India-Pakistan relations is their regressive ability to the touch the bottom lengths in case of any sporadic happening or eventuality. Situation specific approach should be adopted in defining the frame of mutual relations with India.
India and Pakistan, regardless can only reconcile their differences on dialogue table only if India is serious to debate on the real issues of conflict. India’s evasion from serious dialogue process raises many questions. Economic cooperation, visa liberalization, opening of markets in chase of expanding market avenues will not transform the essential nature of the conflictual pattern of India-Pakistan relations. The role of India in destabilizing Pakistan should be highlighted at multiple forums. A multilateral framework should be evolved to brand this issue internationally. The more essentially, the desire for peace and peace-making should be on equal level at both the parts otherwise one sided persuasion from Pakistan is not likely to bring any change in the relations that are grounded in civilizational character.
— The writer is Faculty Member at School of Politics & International Relations, Quaid I Azam University Islamabad.