An all-weather friend

…..Pakistanis will not countenance
infringement by India of their sovereignty….imposition
of conditionalities….exactly the kind
of whimsicality and bullying that led to the Austro-Hungarian Empire
attacking Serbia a hundred years ago…..

Pakistanis have a long running complaint about India….the Indian Press is unreasonably jingoistic. The expectation is that (just like in the West) Indian journalists should be speaking in multiple voices and be open to a broad range of viewpoints.

Thus, for example, while Israel has formidable champions amongst neocons, the denizens of Gaza draw a lot of sympathy from the left-liberal side. There are even opinion makers who back the regimes in Iran and Syria, urging accommodation from a realist standpoint (they may not be our bastards, but we need them on our team to fight other bastards).

Given that there is so much unfinished business from Partition I and Partition II, we feel that it is unrealistic to expect much in the way of fair and balanced journalism when it comes to coverage of South Asian politics. This can be traced back to the (massively influential) two nation theory: for every
Hindu truth, there exists an equal and opposite Muslim truth.
For Partition II and the events leading up to the 1971war, there is a further tweak– a Hindu truth, a Bangladeshi Muslim truth, and a Pakistani Muslim truth!!!
Sandipan Deb (link below) makes this pertinent observation from a meeting between Indian journalists and General Musharraf in 2001:

Thirty years later, at the breakfast meeting with Indian editors during the Agra summit, Pervez Musharraf
brought up 1971.  

He accused India of being a wanton aggressor—an
utterly delusional and repulsive statement that denied the shameful
rejection of national election results; an inhuman genocide
Operation Searchlight) that left three million people dead—including all
doctors, engineers, teachers, intellectuals the Pakistani army could
find—and hundreds of thousands of women raped (perhaps the first time in
the 20th century that rape was used systematically as war strategy);
and India overwhelmed with 10 million helpless refugees from what would
soon be Bangladesh.


This is the Hindu truth which (in its full form) claims that 1971 was primarily an ideological war waged by the Pakistani Army against Hindus in Bangladesh. 

The target #1 was Hindu intellectuals: the teachers, the doctors, the professors (referred to as buddhi-jibi in Bong). Target #2 was the Bengali Hindu peasants. People used to be killed upon inspection of the male organ (circumcised or not).

Of the ten million refugees were driven out from their land, the overwhelming majority was Hindu. They were never invited back and (shamefully) many remain as refugees scattered across India, even after 40 years have gone by.  

The truly interesting claim is this: the genocide of Bangla Hindus was suppressed by the “secular” Mujib-Indira team…..because they wanted to portray a national struggle to the world, not another Hindu vs. Muslim fight.
The Pakistani Muslim truth is what General Musharraf alludes to in part – India as a wanton aggressor – but for the full flavor one should refer to school text books of Punjab (link below):

The Punjab Textbook Board published the following text on the causes
for the separation of East Pakistan in 1993 for secondary classes —

“There were a large number of Hindus in East Pakistan. They had never
truly accepted Pakistan. A large number of them were teachers in schools
and colleges. 

They continued creating a negative impression
among students.
No importance was attached to explaining the ideology of
Pakistan to the younger generation.

The Hindus sent a
substantial part of their earnings to Bharat, thus adversely affecting
the economy of the province.

Some political leaders encouraged
provincialism for selfish gains.
They went around depicting the central
Government and (the then) West Pakistan as enemy and exploiter.
Political aims were thus achieved at the cost of national unity.”


To this one can add Sharmila Bose’s thesis (which gains credibility because a Hindu Bengali is on record supporting the Pakistani Muslim Truth).

As she tells it (and we paraphrase) Pakistani Army Officers (as well as foot-soldiers) being highly noble in disposition, extremely disciplined through training, and unimaginably chivalrous by heart, could not possibly have carried out many (any?) attacks. Some bad things may have happened in the fog of war, nothing more.

Bose concludes that actually it was the Mukti Bahini who killed huge numbers of innocent Biharis and further suppressed the fact by inventing fictional genocides and rape-fests.
Finally you have the Bangladeshi Muslim Truth. To put it briefly (and simplify), we (Bangla Muslims) were under the boot of the Hindus (and the British) for centuries. We got rid of both of them in 1947. Next, we were oppressed by the Punjabis (who stole our jute money). We got rid of them in 1971.

India was (as usual) up to some mischief but we gave a fitting reply to all that in 1975. Some Hindus may have left voluntarily for India. A few Bihari traitors got what they deserved, nothing more.


All that said there is that familiar observation of India being a land of contradictions- whatever you think of India as true, the opposite is also true.

As long as Mani Shankar Aiyer – born in Lahore (10 April, 1941) and presently, Congress MP from Rajya Sabha – is around, Pakistan is assured of an all-weather friend. He has always been an Aman ki Asha type, and he has now openly accused the Modi govt of being a bully (and being whimsical).

Not only that. MSA has issued a most dramatic (melodramatic, in our opinion) warning that just like World War I was ignited through the Austrian empire making unreasonable demands of Serbia, there is a prospect of World War III breaking out in the sub-continent unless India under Modi stops being unreasonable. What more does a friend have to say?

Working out a viable relationship with Pakistan is in India’s vital
national interest. But the wholly bogus nature of the Narendra
Modi-Nawaz Sharif bonhomie on the occasion of Modi’s republican
coronation now stands revealed in all its nakedness. 

In a childish
display of extreme petulance, the India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level
talks have been called off.
The excuse proffered is that the Pakistan
envoy had met with, and was scheduled to meet again with, Kashmiri
“separatist” leaders on the eve of the talks. He had been warned after
Round I of his interaction with them that if Round II took place, India
would spurn dialogue and revert to the two-year-long stand-off.

The excuse is wholly misplaced. The Simla Agreement of 1972 removed
Jammu and Kashmir from the international agenda and effectively placed
it in the ambit of bilateral discussion and resolution: “a final
settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. The trade-off was simple. India
recognised that there were issues relating to J&K that needed to be
resolved and Pakistan agreed to secure the resolution of these issues
bilaterally instead of in an international forum. 

In actual fact, India,
much more than Pakistan, especially in recent decades, has shied away
from bilateral dialogue, while Pakistan has attempted from time to time,
but without success, to revert to the UN. But the basic position today
continues as it was four decades ago at Simla — India accepts that there
is an external dimension to J&K, and Pakistan that dealing with
these issues is strictly remitted to the bilateral, not multilateral,
sphere of diplomatic interaction.

On the domestic front in India, the principle of “the sky is the
limit” has long been instituted for determining the parameters of
“autonomy” for J&K; autonomy that must, however, fall short of
challenging the integrity of India or the finality of J&K’s
accession to India. All else is negotiable. 

On the external front, it is
recognised as legitimate for Pakistan to raise issues relating to “a
final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. It was in pursuance of this legitimacy granted to Pakistan by the
Simla Agreement of 1972 that, just under two decades ago, the P.V.
Narasimha Rao government recognised the legitimacy of Pakistani envoys
and political leaders including Kashmiri “separatists” (under the
umbrella of the Hurriyat) in their consultations in preparation for
successive phases of the ongoing dialogue process. 

There has thus been a
bipartisan, indeed, multipartisan understanding within India (at least
till now) that such interaction falls in a class by itself and so does
not constitute a casus belli or even a casus diplomati to break off the
bilateral dialogue to which both are pledged.

Had Modi any new objection to this, he was duty-bound to make it
clear to Nawaz Sharif when he met him in New Delhi and they discussed
the resumption of the dialogue. The Pakistan desk of the ministry of
external affairs knows full well that Nawaz Sharif was attacked on his
return to Pakistan from New Delhi for his failure to meet with the
Hurriyat, as his predecessors had done. 

This became such a big issue
that when I was in Pakistan days later (in the august company of Ved
Pratap Vaidik), both formally and informally, this was stressed. Thus,
the consequences of warning High Commissioner Abdul Basit against
maintaining his scheduled meeting with the “separatists” should have
been clear to the meanest intelligence in the MEA. If the meeting with
the Hurriyat leaders were called off, the howls of protest in Pakistan
would have drowned all attempts at dialogue. There was nothing to be
gained from making an issue of such a trivial matter.

I say “trivial” because nothing earth-shattering, either for us or
the Pakistanis, has resulted from earlier meetings of the Hurriyat with
the Pakistanis, including visits of Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan that we
ourselves had permitted. From a Pakistani point of view, meeting the
Hurriyat is an excellent way of selling to the Pakistani public the
explanation that “Kashmiri” wishes are not being ignored or bypassed in
the dialogue process. 

From the Indian point of view, the “separatists”,
who are Indian citizens, whatever their view, are of such significance
as to have warranted our “interlocutors” talking to them. What harm,
then, can come of Geelani et al letting off steam in Pakistan House —
the same steam they let off on a daily basis in the Valley?

Then there is the question of sovereignty. Pakistan may be weaker
than India in every respect but there is at least one in which Pakistan
is our equal and will remain so, and that is in the dimension of
sovereignty. If India as a sovereign country refuses to buckle under
Pakistani pressure, it is only natural that Pakistanis will not
countenance infringement by India of their sovereignty. That is why the
imposition of new conditionalities, flying in the face of precedents,
will be seen as infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty. 

The parallel being
drawn in some quarters with India snubbing Pakistan by talking to
Baloch separatists is as misbegotten as it is misplaced, for Balochistan
is not an issue between India and Pakistan. We have neither had nor
sustain any claims on Balochistan. On Kashmir, the Pakistanis do — and
that has been acknowledged by India, even if India is (rightly) adamant
that there can be no compromise on its sovereignty over the whole of
J&K, as a result of the Instrument of Accession and Article I of the
J&K constitution.

Such are the subtleties of diplomacy. They go ill with foreign policy
strutting on a 56-inch chest. I am sure the MEA as an institution knows
all this but is helpless because all power is being increasingly
concentrated in one authoritarian. 

We stand warned that whimsicality and
bullying are going to characterise our relations with Pakistan over the
next five years; exactly the kind of whimsicality and bullying that led
to the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacking Serbia a hundred years ago,
leading to the devastation of the two world wars.


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Brown Pundits