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The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Mu­nir Akram

PAK­ISTAN'S re­la­tions with In­dia have re­turned to fa­mil­iar hos­til­ity. The fore­see­able fu­ture looks much the same. Nor­mal­is­ing re­la­tions with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and the BJP gov­ern­ment was never a likely prospect. The con­trary an­tic­i­pa­tion in Is­lam­abad was naive and delu­sional. Modi's poli­cies are driven by an ide­ol­ogy whose cen­tral tenet is the 'Hin­dui­sa­tion' of 'Mother In­dia' which en­com­passes all of South Asia.

Pak­istan's ea­ger­ness to nor­malise re­la­tions with Modi's In­dia - at­tend­ing his ' in­au­gu­ra­tion', plead­ing for re­vival of the 'Com­pos­ite Di­a­logue', of­fer­ing con­ces­sions on trade - were seen as signs of weak­ness and ev­i­dence of the dif­fer­ences be­tween Pak­istan's civil­ian gov­ern­ment and its 'se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment'. Not sur­pris­ingly, these over­tures were met by in­ten­si­fied bul­ly­ing and blus­ter from New Delhi.

Sur­pris­ingly, Is­lam­abad suf­fered In­dian in­sults - can­cel­la­tion of the for­eign sec­re­tary talks, un­ac­cept­able pre­con­di­tions for restart­ing the Com­pos­ite Di­a­logue, out­ra­geous threats - in vir­tual si­lence. To add in­jury to in­sult, it ac­cepted the skewed state­ment in Ufa re­strict­ing di­a­logue to ter­ror­ism.

In­dia's Western pa­trons point fin­gers at Pak­istan's de­fen­sive re­sponses rather than the In­dian mil­i­tary ex­pan­sion.

When, in re­sponse to a do­mes­tic out­cry, Pak­istan's gov­ern­ment at­tempted to broaden the agenda of the planned talks be­tween the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers of the two coun­tries, and to re­vive the tra­di­tion of meet­ing Kash­miri lead­ers, In­dia is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum op­pos­ing this, pro­vid­ing Is­lam­abad a con­ve­nient ex­cuse to can­cel the ill-con­ceived meet­ing.

What will fol­low is a rep­e­ti­tion of history: re­crim­i­na­tion, rhetoric and ris­ing ten­sions, man­i­fested in at least four ar­eas.

First: the mil­i­tary threat. Al­most all of In­dia's ex­ist­ing and new mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties are be­ing de­ployed against Pak­istan. Doc­trines of a 'lim­ited war' and a 'Cold Start' (sur­prise) at­tack have been es­poused by In­dia's mil­i­tary forces. To dis­play his mus­cle, Modi may feel tempted at some point to test Pak­istan's met­tle. The re­cent LoC vi­o­la­tions may be an early test.

Pak­istan is obliged to equip it­self to de­ter and de­fend against such ad­ven­tur­ism: mod­ern tanks and air­craft are re­quired to de­ter and de­fend against a con­ven­tional at­tack; short-range mis­siles to break up at­tack­ing In­dian for­ma­tions; long-range mis­siles to neu­tralise dis­tant mis­sile at­tack; a sec­ond strike ca­pa­bil­ity to de­ter a pre­emp­tive strike.

Per­versely, In­dia's Western pa­trons point fin­gers at Pak­istan's de­fen­sive re­sponses rather than the In­dian mil­i­tary ex­pan­sion, which they my­opi­cally see as a counter to China's ris­ing power. Pak­istan should de­mand that In­dia's ma­jor arms sup­pli­ers - the US, Is­rael and France - cease and de­sist, lest they desta­bilise deter­rence and en­cour­age another In­dia-Pak­istan war. Such a dé­marche can be ac­com­pa­nied by bold pro­pos­als for con­ven­tional and nu­clear arms con­trol, plac­ing the onus for their rejection on In­dia.

Sec­ond: Kash­mir. The Modi-BJP gov­ern­ment pol­icy is to even­tu­ally change the de­mo­graphic and po­lit­i­cal sta­tus of In­di­a­held Kash­mir. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Sri­na­gar coali­tion with Kash­miri col­lab­o­ra­tionists is a first step to this end. An at­tempt at tri­fur­ca­tion of Jammu and Kash­mir is a likely next step.

In­evitably, these BJP moves will be met by strong re­sis­tance from the ma­jor­ity of Kash­miri Mus­lims and start another 'in­tifada'. Equally in­evitably, In­dia would blame Pak­istan for the in­sur­rec­tion, in­sti­gat­ing a po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary cri­sis.

Pak­istan should ac­knowl­edge that no com­pro­mise on Kash­mir is pos­si­ble with In­dia at present. The pos­si­bil­ity of a vi­able fu­ture set­tle­ment should not be eroded by of­fer­ing pre-emp­tive con­ces­sions, merely to ap­pear 'rea­son­able'. The best de­fence is of­fence. Pak­istan should re­vive the de­mand for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions on Kash­mir; raise In­dia's op­pres­sion of the Kash­miris in the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil; call for the with­drawal of In­dia's 700,000 oc­cu­py­ing force from In­dia-held Kash­mir; pro­vide gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial sup­port to Kash­miri po­lit­i­cal par­ties seek­ing self-de­ter­mi­na­tion; in­vite them to meet in Pak­istan or else­where and help to unify their strug­gle for free­dom.

Third: Afghanistan. It must be an­tic­i­pated that in the wake of the col­lapse of the Kabul-Tal­iban talks, In­dia will in­ten­sify its cam­paign of desta­bil­i­sa­tion through en­hanced sup­port for the TTP and the Baloch in­sur­gency from Afghanistan.

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