“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need

not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

–Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” ”

The lop-sided Pakistan-India joint statement issued at Ufa, which tilts heavily in favour of India, is the outcome of unrealism on the part of the Pakistani side compounded by incompetence. It reflects inadequate understanding by the Pakistani leadership of the Indian strategic goals in the region, the chauvinistic character of the Modi-led Indian government, and the challenges that they pose to Pakistan’s security. As the famous Chinese scholar, Sun Tzu, pointed out, “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

What are India’s strategic goals in South Asia? The answer to this question has been conclusively provided by the Indian policy makers and writers. The foremost Indian strategic goal is to establish its hegemony in South Asia so that it is able to exercise veto power over what happens in the region. Indian security analyst C. Raja Mohan unequivocally stated in an article in the Foreign Affairs issue of July-August, 2006 that “India’s grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighbourhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over actions of outside powers.”

Foreign scholars and observers have taken note of Indian hegemonic designs. Zbigniew Brzezinski in his recent book “Strategic Vision—-America and the Crisis of Global Power” mentions, “Indian strategists speak openly of a greater India exercising a dominant position in an area ranging from Iran to Thailand. India is also positioning itself to control the Indian Ocean militarily.” Indian hegemonic designs have also been acknowledged by Henry Kissinger in his latest book, “World Order”. He points out that on the pattern of the Monroe Doctrine which laid down a special role for the US in the Western Hemisphere, India is striving to carve out a special role for itself in the Indian Ocean region between the East Indies and the Horn of Africa. He stresses that “India in the region of its special strategic interests conducts its policy on the basis of its own definition of a South Asian order” obviously with India at its centre as the determining factor.

For the foreseeable future, New Delhi’s hegemonic designs in South Asia will remain a constant factor that Pakistan’s policy makers will have to contend with in the formulation of its India policy. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his foreign policy team seem to believe that by appeasing India they would be able to persuade it to give up its hegemonic ambitions and deal with Pakistan on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. This is likely to remain a pipe dream. In fact, as ample historical evidence shows, our current policy of appeasement of India will embolden it to raise its demands on Pakistan. This is precisely what has happened in Pakistan-India relations since Pervez Musharraf’s virtual capitulation, on the rebound from Agra, in the form of the Pakistan-India joint statement of 6 January, 2004.

While the Lahore Declaration of 21 February, 1999 had given the pride of place to Kashmir in the first operative clause, the Pakistan-India joint statement of 6 January, 2004 consigned the issue to the second last paragraph. The issue of terrorism instead was given much more prominence in that statement. Even worse, the wording of the fourth paragraph dealing with terrorism was such as to leave the impression that Pakistan in the past had permitted its territory to be used for terrorism contrary to its declared policy. Nevertheless, the joint statement contained the agreement of the two sides to commence the process of the composite dialogue in February, 2004.

The Pakistan-India joint statement of 10 July, 2015 issued at Ufa carries the process of Pakistan’s capitulation and compliance with India’s one-sided demands a step further without any corresponding concessions from the Indian side. While mentioning the willingness of the two countries to discuss all outstanding issues, the joint statement avoids any reference to Kashmir, obviously to take into account Indian sensitivities. Mumbai case trial is the only issue which is specifically mentioned in the statement. In line with India’s unwillingness to resume a structured bilateral dialogue to discuss all outstanding issues until its demands concerning the Mumbai terrorist attacks are met, there was no agreement to resume the bilateral dialogue. Even in the context of the issue of terrorism, while Mumbai was specifically mentioned, no reference was made to Pakistan’s officially made allegations regarding India’s involvement in terrorist activities in Balochistan, Karachi and FATA. There was a reference in the joint statement to the holding of the meeting of the National Security Advisers of the two countries in New Delhi but only to discuss terrorism. The joint statement in effect reflected India’s point of view on bilateral relations while Pakistan’s well known position on issues of special interest to it got short shrift.

There is no doubt that peace between Pakistan and India is a strategic imperative because of their de facto status as nuclear-weapon states and the urgent need in both countries to allocate most of their resources to the acceleration of economic progress and the eradication of grinding poverty. It is in their common interest to keep the door of dialogue and negotiations open to defuse tensions, adopt CBM’s, resolve outstanding disputes particularly Kashmir, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields. Contrary to what Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy team appears to believe, resumption of the bilateral dialogue is not a favour to be granted by India to Pakistan. In fact, India’s decision to make it subject to its unilaterally decided conditions betrays its hegemonic mindset. By pandering to India’s unreasonable attitude at Ufa and neglecting its own reasonable position on such issues as Kashmir, Siachin and terrorism, the Pakistani side has merely whetted India’s appetite for more extremist demands in the future, thus, ironically vitiating the long-term prospects of Pakistan-India relations.

Pakistan faces an uphill task in dealing with India’s hegemonic designs in South Asia, its continued hostility towards Pakistan as reflected by its opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, its intransigence in settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions, and its support to acts of terrorism in different parts of Pakistan. The chauvinistic character of the Modi-led BJP government, Modi’s own militant background, and his anti-Pakistan bias as reflected in his recent speech at Dhaka aggravate the difficulties in managing Pakistan’s relations with India. What we need is a long-term strategy within the framework of which we should decide our policies concerning India in the short-term.

Our long-term India strategy must be based on a realistic assessment of both the limitations and the potential of our relations with India. We must realise that India because of its hegemonic designs and continued hostility towards Pakistan will continue to pose a serious threat to Pakistan’s security. Therefore, genuine friendship between the two countries would remain elusive in the foreseeable future. Still, for reasons given earlier, our diplomacy must focus on maintaining peace and tension-free relations with India in the best interest of the two countries. We must keep the door open for the unconditional resumption of the bilateral dialogue. Efforts to defuse tensions, undertake CBM’s, resolve outstanding disputes, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation should continue. Finally, while conducting our relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect, we should avoid both adventurism and provocations.