The Indo-Pak Conundrum

More than 60 years after the independence of India and the gruesome partition of the dominion of British India into the neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan, the scenario seems like a whole conundrum. Be it the three wars or the chronic suspicions in either country regarding the other, the India-Pakistan relation has been rather complex. One often wonders why India and Pakistan cannot be friendly next-doors like the US and Canada or Malaysia and Singapore? There have been sporadic tensions and while some conflicts originated from historical roots, it seems that it is indeed more sophisticated than that. The understanding of the rather complicated fiasco requires effort to analyse the history and the mercurial relations between the two neighbours.


The Partition and Kashmir


Owing to the Two Nation Theory proposed by Jinnah, British India was cleaved into India and Pakistan on 15th August, 1947. It may be seen as the fallout of the communal tensions that the British had created between the Hindus and Muslims in India. Even today, these communal ideas introduced between the two peoples continue to shape Indo-Pak relations. The diplomatic acrimony between the two nations started with territorial disputes of the states of Junagadh and Kashmir. They were two examples of states having rulers of faith contrary to that of the majority population. Kashmir, a majority Muslim state was ruled by a Hindu king. Pakistan being desperate, invaded the princely state to which India sent retaliatory forces. The Maharaja acceded to the union of India in order to receive protection from the Pakistani invasion. Till now, the dispute is unsettled with Pakistan occupying the northwest part of Kashmir and India the rest.


The Three Wars


As the result of tensions that one may ultimately link back to communal Hindu-Muslim divides, India and Pakistan have fought three gory battles, in 1965, 1972 and 1999. It seems and may very well be true, that all conflicts have been rooted in the mentality of the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims that the British perpetrated to make their rule over the country simpler. It was this bitterness that emanated from the wars and costs both sides damages of life and resources.


Suspicions arising from Cross-Border Terrorism and Militarisation


The Pokhran Nuclear tests were looked at with suspicion in Pakistan following which Pakistan launched its own nuclear programme. Today, any militarisation in either of the nuclear nations is viewed as a threat by the other. After the Kargil War, a major source of increasing suspicion and strain on relations has also been the alleged involvement of Pakistan in training militants in Kashmir and more disastrously, the Pakistani connection in the various terrorist attacks on Indian soil. The 26/11 Mumbai incidents were the spark to the growing apprehension between the countries. India strongly believes that Pakistani army and its intelligence agencies regularly recruit and train terrorists to strike in India, which always is met with strong denials.


The Peace process


Following the war in 1972, Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in Simla and signed what is called the Simla Agreement. Prisoners of war were freed and a commitment to solve disputes through peaceful negotiations was established. However, the Kargil war again erupted in 1999 despite the Lahore bus diplomacy initiated by India’s PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A famous quote by Vajpayee goes as follows, “My Lahore bus was hijacked and taken to Kargil”. Conflict was again followed by measures to improve relations namely the Agra Summit in 2001. Following terror attacks on Mumbai, relations are again strained and even war breaking out is not out of the question.


It is not difficult to realise that the scenarios have been rather rough. It is rather surprising that countries that are so similar culturally and share a common history of thousand years can be so hateful, suspicious and often belligerent towards each other. The fact that India and Pakistan are so akin to each other is often overlooked by politicians in both countries who play on the communal sentiments to win over vote banks. Undoubtedly there is something for both nations to gain from a friendly relation. Not only trade, cultural contacts and more popularly, cricket, but a stable India and Pakistan alliance will lead to the world being a better and more secure place to live in.

Sainyam Gautam

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