A group of our parliamentarians are presently on a goodwill mission in India.

It is very much in Pakistan’s interest to have a peaceful eastern border.

The eastern border, however, will be peaceful when our eastern neighbour agrees to resolve the disputes that have over the last many decades bedevilled relations between the two countries. How I wish Islamabad and New Delhi could sincerely sit down and make a determined effort to find solutions to these issues.

Independence came to the subcontinent with the partition of the border provinces of Bengal, Punjab and Sindh. There were massive waves of migration from both sides and a lot of bloodshed.

Right at the very start, there was a veritable war between the new states in and about Kashmir. Today, there is an India occupied Kashmir and a Pakistan held Kashmir. Also, there are the northern areas now known as Gilgit-Baltistan.

Kashmir is an international dispute. Its solution lies in the implementation of the UN resolutions. It was India that took the matter to the United Nations. It agreed to let the Kashmiris themselves decide their destiny by opting for either of the two countries. New Delhi has blatantly reneged on the solemn commitment to hold a plebiscite under the UN auspices.

It has, in fact, added the disputed state to its territories and has made it as its integral part of (Atootang), laying down special provisions for it in the Constitution. Hot wars have been fought by the two countries to settle the burning issue. The people of the occupied state have suffered grievously. Tens of thousands of them have been brutally killed. Many more disabled. Women raped and property destroyed. India has also resorted to sealing the border, which has practically put a stop to jihadis crossing over to help the oppressed Kashmiris gain their independence. After the mismanaged and badly handled Kargil incursion, India has hardened its stand. With the USA tilting over to Bharat, the Kashmiris have suffered a huge setback as the international community more or less has acquiesced to the Indian claim to the territory. With Pakistan losing strength economically and India adding enormously to its military resources as well as making formidable diplomatic strides, the prospects for an early settlement of the Kashmir dispute have receded considerably. All that Pakistan can do at present is to politically and diplomatically support the cause of freedom of the Kashmiris, keep the issue alive internationally and work for their human rights. Alas, Pakistan’s government has all along been found deficient in discharging even this limited responsibility.

India’s major interest in its dealings with Pakistan is to have a dominant relationship, reducing its status to that of a satellite. Its strategy for Pakistan has two prongs. One relating to economy and the other to culture.

The foundation of Pakistan was built by the Quaid on the ground that Muslims in India possessed a distinct culture of their own and to preserve and promote it, they have to have a territory where they could live in freedom and in accordance with their beliefs and traditions. In a democratic free India, they would remain at the mercy of a “brute majority” of non-Muslims.

As a well considered stratagem, India over the years has, through various ways and means, been seeking to obliterate the cultural distinction and differences. Films, songs and TV programmes have already contributed enormously towards the achievement of this objective. Heroes and heroines of our youth already are the Indian movie stars. Bachan, Lata, Shahrukh, Karina and Katrina are, indeed, our teenagers’ heartthrobs.

The headway thus made is being sought by the Indian policymakers to be carried forward by seeking to soften the border and letting people move freely across it to mingle and merge. One has only to recall how every vocal Indian visitor always makes the point that we are one people, that we have one culture and when we come here we feel we have come to our own home.

(Yes, indeed, ask the savaged and battered Kashmiris and the thousands of Gujaratees dislodged and mercilessly killed. Also, recall the burnt Pakistani victims of the Samjhota Express.) I often wonder, how come these Pakistan’s lovers would not allow our beloved Quaid’s house in Mumbai to be used for housing the Pakistani consulate. And how is that well off and famous Indian Muslims cannot secure a house on rent in the blessed city. It was quite a shock listening to Shabana Azmi complaining that she was refused point blank every time she sought to ask for a house to live in Mumbai. How would a peacenik like Kuldip Nayyar explain such behaviour on the part of enlightened Indians living in a modern metropolitan city?

So all this cooing and sweet wooing needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The second prong is to forge levers of influence and power by building up a burgeoning economic relationship. Pakistan’s economy has hit the rock bottom, with all kinds of crises gripping its jugular veins - energy shortage, industry losing steam, inflation soaring, debt escalating, unemployment rising, corruption rampant, education in tatters, law and order deteriorating by the day, terrorism taking its toll and to cap it all, a venal and tainted government openly defying the highest court of the country.

What better times for an ascendant India to enter the scene and flex its economic muscle, to help a poor, miserable neighbour struggling to recover. Can one forget that it was trade which made the East India Company gain influence and clout and capture power?

So dear readers, Aman Ki Asha is good. I am sure all sane Pakistanis would like to work for it. Of course, not blindly! Can we afford to be oblivious of history and facts and forget how and why Pakistan came into existence?

Why it was that a staunch Indian nationalist, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who fought for years valiantly for a united India and held the highest political office of becoming the President of the Indian Congress Party, ultimately came to the crucial conclusion that for sheer survival as honourable people intent on their own culture and practices, the Muslims had to have a separate, independent country of their own. And having realised it as Iqbal, indeed, had earlier arrived at the same understanding, he put his stout heart and indomitable will to the task of creating a land of their own in the subcontinent.

The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and political and international relations analyst.

 Email: pacade@brain.net.pk