The way forward with Pakistan
by Mohan Kishen Teng on 24 Aug 2009 2 Comments

When the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh stated in the Indian Parliament that India could not change her neighbours, did he convey the message to the Indian people that India could not choose policies which its neighbours did not approve? How come that the Indian Prime Minister did not know that in the community of nations there are no neighbours and neighbourhoods, but there are independent and sovereign states and their national borders, which are secure from invasion only so long as they are defended?

Evidently the Foreign Office must have briefed the Prime Minister on the core concerns of Indian foreign policy. Could it follow from what the Indian Prime Minister told Parliament, that he was selling a monitored lie to the Americans and the people of Pakistan, that India could be persuaded to accept a settlement on Kashmir which was acceptable to the Muslims of Pakistan and the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir? For no one would believe that the Indian Prime Minister could ride roughshod over the Indian people and the Hindus, Sikhs and the Buddhists in Jammu and Kashmir, who have always formed the main resistance to the Muslim separatist movements in Jammu & Kashmir.

The Prime Minister should have known that international relations are an intricate interplay of the national interests of the members of the community of nations irrespective and independent of the geographical distances between them. The Americans are fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, both countries located nowhere near American borders. The Russians stuck out their neck in the Bay of Pigs to deploy missile systems in Cuba to secure a foothold on the American continent. The Chinese fought a relentless war for a decade and a half against allied forces in Vietnam to secure the Malacca Straits - the waterway between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

Dr. Singh has to realise that the problem of India is not that created by her recalcitrant neighbours. The stark Truth is that the Indian borders have for most of the history of the independent India been left undefended. Worse, successive Indian Governments have spared no efforts to neutralise the civilisational contours of the Indian frontiers. Right after the annexation of Tibet, the Chinese have been insisting on the unity of the “five fingers” of China. But successive Indian Governments have insistently disclaimed the Sanskrit content of the Indian frontiers in the north, of which the first citadels were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which closed the routes of the invasion of India in the north.

The consequences have been disastrous. Jammu & Kashmir was invaded in 1947. The state was by no means a personal preserve of Pakistan, in spite of the Muslim majority of its population. It is a little known historical fact that when the Partition of India was on the anvil, the British assured the Congress leaders, who harboured misgivings about the future of the princely states, that after the British Indian Princes were divided to form Pakistan, no impediment would be allowed to come in the way of uniting the rest of India, including the Indian Princely States. Pakistan did not have any claim on Jammu & Kashmir.

In fact, Pakistan did not have any claim on any Princely State of India. The Princely States were never brought within the purview of the Partition of India. In a cease-fire brokered by the Security Council, the invading armies retained their hold on nearly half the territories of the state, including Pakistan and Gilgit and the Gilgit Agency along with the Dardic principalities recognised as the “Dependencies” of the state. Among the Dardic principalities, Hunza, Nagar, Pumial, Yasin, Ishkonan, Koh Gizir, which stretched along the northern fringes of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan and the southern flanks of the Wakhan Valley of Afghanistan were considered to be strategically the most important part of the northern frontier of India.

Gilgit frontier apart, India faced a debacle along the McMahon Line, the Indian frontier with Tibet. When the Chinese commenced the invasion of Tibet, the Indian Government agreed to withdraw its garrisons from the Clumbi Valley and end its military presence in Lhasa, unmindful of the consequences involved. In the political committee of the General Assembly, where the Tibetan complaint to the General Assembly against the Chinese invasion of Tibet was being considered, the Tibetan representative pleaded with the world powers to protect the freedom of his country.

While Britain and the United States virtually accepted the Chinese claim over Tibet, the Indian representative, Jam Shahib of Nawnagar, watched the proceedings in dismay. For more then a decade after the subjugation of Tibet, India left the McMahon Line undefended. In 1962, Chinese troops swept across the McMohan Line, more than a hundred miles south, occupying the most strategic features of the Indian frontier and laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

The Indian borders in the north have been vulnerable to attack because they were, for most of the history of the independent India, left undefended. The long sea-coast of India in the south has been guarded by the waters of the Indian Ocean. Indian problem with Pakistan, or China, or even Bangladesh has not been that of unfriendly neighbourhood. The Indian problem with these countries has been that of the borders which India did not defend.

In a solemn statement after the Second World War, the American President Harry Truman said the world had to be made safe for the United States. The Americans spared no efforts to make the world safe for their country, and that is exactly how they survived the Cold War. Truman underlined the commission of diplomacy as the security of his country. The Indian leaders never realised the world has to be made safe for India to live. India cannot live in an unsafe world. Manmohan Singh's prescription to leave India to the care of its neighbours is a counsel of despair, a state of mind the Indian political class has inherited as a legacy of its colonial past.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is an ideological state. True to its commitment to the unification of the Muslim Ummah into a Muslim International, and the consolidation of its power into an alternate polar-structure, Pakistan has exported Islamic Revolution, aimed at the fundamentalisation of all Muslim society everywhere in the world, including the Muslim society in India. As an Islamic State, Pakistan has used Jehad as the main instrument of its foreign policy.

In waging religious wars, Pakistan has resorted to international terrorism, guerrilla warfare and subversive war. The military intervention of Pakistan in Afghanistan followed the course of Jehad. The Taliban which Pakistan helped to raise in Afghanistan were as committed to Islam as were the soldiers of the Northern Alliance, who also fought the Soviets. In Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan has been waging a religious war against India with the avowed objective of liberating the Muslims of the state who, it claims, form part of the Muslim nation of Pakistan. For the last twenty years, Pakistan has been waging Jehad in India.

Both Pakistan and China are seeking to demolish the northern frontiers of India, de-Sanskritise the Himalayas, and exclude India from any future balance of power in Asia. India is already caught in a pincer-hold of the Anglo-American-Pakistan Alliance and the Sino-Pakistan Axis. Both Pakistan and China are seeking to drive India out of Jammu & Kashmir, the central spur of the northern frontier of India.

The Americans have an eye on Russia, the real contender they face in Asia, rather than China. For them, a balance of power in Asia, in which Pakistan and China are on their side, would always be more favourable a proposition than a balance of power in which China is arraigned against them.

Manmohan Singh’s exhortation that “India seeks cooperation with Pakistan and engagement is the way forward.” is deceptively simple. Engagement with Pakistan is not the way forward. The present engagement with Pakistan is to seek the cooperation of Pakistan. By its content it is a way forward to the second partition of India.

The author is a retired Professor and Head of the Political Science Department of Kashmir University; he has authored many books including a seminal work on Article 370.

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