No Love Lost

In­dia and Pak­istan have had a tu­mul­tuous his­tory but peace in the re­gion can only be achieved by learn­ing from past mis­takes and a gen­uine com­mit­ment to mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion.

Southasia - - Cover story -

TBy Mu­nir Ishrat Rah­mani he wise men of pre-in­de­pen­dence In­dian pol­i­tics, lead­ing the move­ment for self-rule in the 20th cen­tury could hardly visu­al­ize in cor­rect per­spec­tive the con­se­quences of In­dia gain­ing free­dom from British rule. The de­mand for a sep­a­rate home­land by the In­dian Mus­lims on the ba­sis of the ‘two-na­tion the­ory’ was be­ing raised but its im­pli­ca­tions had not been ac­cu­rately as­sessed by the Mus­lim League, the In­dian Na­tional Congress or any of the com­mu­ni­ties. The ex­pe­ri­ence of co­ex­ist­ing as peace­ful neigh­bors - In­dia and Pak­istan (if and when im­ple­mented) - would have been a novel test for the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship of the sub­con­ti­nent. Judg­ing by the pre­vail­ing po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment and the her­itage be­fore and dur­ing the free­dom move­ment, the chances of a peace­ful era in the South Asian sub­con­ti­nent af­ter the cre­ation of Pak­istan could only be con­sid­ered re­mote, at best. The so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­cepts dom­i­nat­ing the ide­ol­ogy of the two com­mu­ni­ties did not auger well for good neigh­borly re­la­tions af­ter in­de­pen­dence but the ex­tent of bit­ter­ness and the mag­ni­tude of ha­tred against each other could not have been an­tic­i­pated as the sub­se­quent un­for­tu­nate events proved.

Ever since the day Pak­istan was cre­ated re­la­tions be­tween the two ma­jor states of the sub­con­ti­nent have re­mained quite un­friendly rang­ing from luke­warm to in­im­i­cal due to a num­ber of un­re­solved vex­ing is­sues like Jammu & Kash­mir, dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter of rivers flow­ing from the In­dian side, dis­puted ar­eas such as the Rann of Kutch, Si­achen Glacier, etc. Pak­istan showed re­mark­able re­straint by not tak­ing ad­van­tage of In­dia’s weak po­si­tion in 1962 when it was en­gaged in war against China. In­dia, how­ever, did not leave the op­por­tu­nity of dam­ag­ing Pak­istan when the East Pak­istan cri­sis of­fered it a chance in 1971. The legacy of an­i­mos­ity con­tin­ued. In­dia re­joiced at the cre­ation of Bangladesh and dis­in­te­gra­tion of Pak­istan. Most in In­dia thought that the con­cept of ‘Two Nations’ was de­feated and it was proved that the par­ti­tion of In­dia was ill-con­ceived, for­get­ting the fact that an­other Mus­lim ma­jor­ity area formed a sep­a­rate Mus­lim state – Bangladesh - and the ac­tion of the par­ti­tion of In-

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