Nobody in their right mind can dispute the proposition that peace and security in South Asia, particularly peaceful existence between India and Pakistan, is absolutely imperative for the well-being of their own people as well as the realisation of the goal of shared economic prosperity in the region. But the question is, can India and Pakistan bury the hatchet and form a new beginning in their relations to be able to achieve these cherished ideals?

The answer to this question unfortunately is in the negative, at least for the foreseeable future. The rapprochement and bonhomie between the two hostile neighbours is possible only when there is a genuine desire on both sides for peaceful co-existence as equal sovereign states and the resolution of disputes between them through peaceful means. While Pakistan has been making relentless efforts to improve her relations with India and resolving the disputes between the two countries—including Kashmir through dialogue and in consonance with the UNSC resolutions—India has always spurned these efforts on one pretext or the other as well as reneged on her admitted obligation to grant the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.

The history of relations between the two countries testifies to the fact that India has never reconciled to the idea of partition and has always been making efforts to harm Pakistan, as is evident by the role that it played in the creation of Bangladesh. The basic objective of its foreign policy remains re-integration of Pakistan into greater India as enunciated by a former foreign secretary Shyam Saran in his book ‘How India Sees the World’. He says, “This section reflects my view that the Indian subcontinent is a single, interconnected geopolitical entity and ecological space with a shared history, strong cultural affinities and dense economic interdependencies. The eventual integration of this space, transcending national boundaries, will remain an enduring objective of Indian foreign policy.”

India is also trying to establish her hegemony in South Asia and Indian Ocean which is its long-term strategic objective. Pakistan at no cost will accept Indian hegemony and so long as it remains opposed to Indian attempts in this regard, there can be no reconciliation between them. The speakers at a panel discussion organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently on the objectives of the Indian foreign policy were also unanimous on the foregoing points.

Yet another factor of animosity between the two countries is the non-resolution of Kashmir dispute. It is pertinent to mention that it was India which took the matter to the Security Council and committed itself to a plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the UN to decide the question of accession of Kashmir to either of the two countries as enunciated in the UNSC resolutions. India later reneged on her commitments and the enmity on the issue continued in spite of even bilateral agreements in regards to the resolution of the issue.

The situation has been further aggravated by scrapping of special status of the state by the Modi government, its annexation to the Indian Union and the promulgation of new domicile law in IIO&JK designed to change demographic realities and continued extrajudicial killings while the valley remains under complete lockdown since August 5, 2019. The adoption of a belligerent posture towards Pakistan by the Modi regime has also added to the gravity of the situation. Pakistan’s Prime Minister has repeatedly warned the world about the repercussions of the RSS philosophy and likened it to the thought pursued by Hitler. He has rightly urged the world to stop Modi in his tracks before he triggers any catastrophe in the region having world-wide consequences. Regrettably the international community also remains indifferent to the plight of Kashmiris and the security threat in the region created by India through her indiscreet and illegal actions.

Under the prevailing circumstances, Pakistan should expect and be prepared to face a hostile India in the foreseeable future because the behemoth right wing tilt towards Hindu fanaticism there reflects a long-term phenomenon rather than a momentary development. It forecloses the possibility of a harmonious relationship between the two countries.

Considering the intensity of the Indian animosity towards Pakistan, the nation owes unqualified gratitude to those who conceived and implemented the development of nuclear weapons by Pakistan to counter Indian threat to Pakistan’s security and territorial integrity.

India may also continue with her hybrid war against Pakistan and the attempts to destabilise it, as is evident by her support for Baloch insurgents. Pakistan would need to evolve comprehensive responses and strategies to thwart Indian moves in this regard. Continuation of the policy of maintaining adequate nuclear deterrent and further consolidation of strategic relations with China could also help in keeping India at bay.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at ashpak10@gmail.com.