Muhammad Saqib Tanveer
Writer is a political commentator, blogger and tweets @SaqibTanveer
Many of us have been getting very romantic all over again when we think about rekindling our relations with India back on track. Definitely, it is good to have a neighbour that is not hostile and can lend us a helping hand in our economic woes. Icing on the cake when that same neighbour starts playing cricket with us again. May be out of pity or some other agenda, who knows?
This cuddling with India is not something of a sudden. It all started in the latter half of 2011 after Hilary Clinton’s pilgrimage to Pakistan. Soon after her visit, some cordial events between the two arch rivals were witnessed. To quote a few, failed talks of a cricket series, Pakistani Kabbadi team went to India for the world cup, volleyball series between the two, cross-LoC trade negotiations and above all the whole episode of MFN status were the highlights to notice.
And another instalment of this cuddling between the two has already begun. Instances this time around are more or less the same. India has agreed to play cricket series with Pakistan in India, India Foreign Minister is due in Pakistan some time in September and above all the recent statement of S. M. Krishna that Indo-Pak friendship is inevitable testifies to the fact that the ‘temporary’ reunion is once again on the cards between India and Pakistan.
My start to this article may seem sceptical of this friendship because IT REALLY IS. I do not have any problem if Pakistan cuddles with India or any other neighbour for that matter. In fact, it is always better to have a neighbour, who is not hostile, especially when you are fighting a war on the other side of border. But let me be the devil’s advocate when everyone else is anxiously waiting to hug their neighbours.
First, let’s focus on the immediate picture at hand. Pakistan and India having good relations is good for everyone, I guess or it may seem that way but is it inevitable? I doubt so. We are poles apart. Agony of occupation of Kashmir in 1948, war of 1965, partition of Pakistan in 1971 sponsored by India, atomic explosions, arms race, Pakistan’s vigilance in Kargil and India’s full throttle response, hydropolitics and India sucking up Pakistan’s water, bombing of Indian parliament in 2001 and 26/11 Mumbai are just some of grudges both countries have with each other. And it will take a lot more than romantic/intimate diplomacy to get over these grudges.
The above mentioned hurdles may be brushed aside when we say that we should forget the past and move on but they are not that easy to be forgotten. And hypothetically, if we somehow forget all, then still there are couple of issues that can never be neglected, one, Kashmir issue and the second is Indian interference in Balochistan.
The first issue is the abandoned Kashmir cause. To fulfil the wishes of US (I am coming to the role of US ahead) and India, we abandoned our Kashmiri brothers and Musharraf came up with his infamous six-points for Kashmir and Khurshid Kasuri, now PTI’s brain on foreign affairs, ran the backdoor channel to keep negotiating on the six-point surrender for Kashmir. Even the so-called right-leaning ‘Taliban Khan’ (Imran Khan) has asked to put the Kashmir issue in the backburner and leave it for the future generations to resolve while the innocent Kashmiris are butchered all that while. We withdrew all our support to the Kashmir cause. We have virtually forgotten that Kashmir was once an issue in the top drawer of Pakistan’s problems. Even the mainstream media is all silent and PTV, well they used to dedicate 5 minutes to Kashmir a decade ago after the 6 PM English bulletin, don’t know if they still do. How can we just forget Kashmir and move ahead with India? I still remember the information that was fed to us through our curriculum and state TV that Kashmir is Pakistan’s and Indian soldiers are butchering our brothers and raping our sisters in Kashmir. Anyone remember the drama series Angaarwadi and Laag on PTV. May be many of us have forgotten all that but my heart still aches for our Kashmiri brethren.
Then there is this even preposterous activity of India in Balochistan. India is supporting the insurgents in Balochistan through its several consulates along the Af-Pak border in Afghanistan. Our government ministers have come on record several times. India is inflicting heavy damage on us and we are ready to move ahead with India on the command of our masters, US. I mean, after all this how can we cheer the genius flick of wrists by Sachin Tendulkar, come the series in December.
‘Yeah yeaah yeaaahh…….let’s not politicize sport, sport should be taken as sport’. I know this rhetoric. But when you take the sport to another level to reinvigorate the relations between the two countries, then you DO make the sport political.
Now, to the role of United States in all this reunion of lost brothers. I may sound as a conspiracy theorist in my analysis here but this is the opinion that I have developed over the years. Call me a hardline rightist or extremist, doesn’t matter. Fact of the matter is that we have bigger problems right now on our plate other than India.
We all know that United States wants a counter to Chinese threat in South Asia. Who better than India? India, an ‘I’ in the BRICS, large economy, already at war with China once, good military arsenal and nuclear capability gives India all the credentials to stand up to China. And United States want to cash in on that. Remember the civil nuclear deal, Obama’s visit to India and shunning Pakistan and announcement of support for India’s bid to become a member of Security Council.
India cannot extend its hegemony in the region without the nod of Pakistan and for this very reason, Pakistan comes into play. Granting MFN status to India will do just fine for India as it will allow India to use Pakistan’s land for logistics and can exploit the silk-route and all the precious mouth-watering resources Caspian Sea has to offer to India. India having good relations with Pakistan means less Indian army concentration on India’s western border and it can readjust its military compass towards Tibet, Nepal and China. I hope you all didn’t miss the recent commending by US over the recent cricket-diplomacy between India and Pakistan. Tells us their intentions.
Crux is that this whole saga of India and Pakistan coming closer benefits more to India & US rather than Pakistan. And before moving ahead with an exotic honeymoon with India, Pakistan has to ensure that its own stakes are not compromised and it is not leaving its principle stands in a bid to marry India.