On 18 August 2014 India called off foreign secretary-level bilateral talks with Pakistan, scheduled to be held at Islamabad on 25 August 2014, in reaction to Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s meeting with Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah. According to Hindustan Times, a spokesperson for external affairs ministry of India announced that talks were being called off due to Pakistan’s “unacceptable, interference” in India’s internal affairs.
Modi Government’s decision of cancellation of Secretary level talks on the pretext of Pakistan High Commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri leaders clearly reflects India’s hegemonic attitude in South Asia. In dealing with its South Asian neighbours, Modi government is no different than previous Indian governments. India’s decision of cancellation of talks means that Modi’s invitation to South Asian leaders on his oath taking ceremony was in fact meant to project India’s big brotherly position rather than promoting peace in the region by establishing good neighbourly relations by resolving bilateral disputes through a result oriented dialogue.
More over India’s refusal to hold talks with Pakistan saying that meeting of Pakistani High Commissioner with the Kashmiri leaders was interference in its internal affairs indicates that India is undermining resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Kashmir dispute which have declared the state as adisputed territory between Pakistan and India. The basic resolution on the subject was passed by the UNSC in 1948 that asked for simultaneous withdrawal of both countries’ troops from Kashmir and holding a plebiscite there to ascertain the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir whether they wanted to join Pakistan or India. In fact since long India has rejected UNSC resolutions on Kashmir by declaring that the state of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. To crush freedom struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, since 1989 India has deployed more than 700 000 security forces in the valley which have committed massive atrocities on the Kashmiri people.
India’s hegemonic strategy in South Asia is quite evident in view of the fact that even after 42 years of signing the Shimla agreement, during bilateral talks held from time to time, India has always refused to hold discussions on the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. What to talk of resolving Kashmir dispute through bilateral negotiations, bilateralism with India has not even worked in resolving smaller disputes.
From the above discussion it is evident that India is pursuing a realists’ policy of power politics to dominate its neighbouring countries. Although India is following such a policy right from its independence, in the post-cold war and 9/11 environment it has become much more arrogant due to the US and EU’s politico-military and diplomatic support to prop it up as a counter weight to the rising China. In this regard, India’s economic capacity and military capabilities are being boosted by the US by signing the strategic partnership agreement and nuclear deal with it. As a result, whereas western military and nuclear technology and weapon systems are being sold to India heavy economic investments are also being done there.
The most disappointing development however is that the US,UK and France have also declared their open support for India to become a permanent member of UNSC disregarding the reality that it is a major violator of UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. The fact is that in view of its massive abuse of human rights in Kashmir and rejection of UNSC resolutions on this issue India does not qualify for becoming a permanent member of UNSC. More over the US is according primacy to India in South Asia meaning thereby that the US will not be able to pressurize India for resolving Kashmir and other disputes with Pakistan. Moreover India’s military relations with Afghanistan will also be accepted by the US thus enabling it to continue destabilizing western parts of Pakistan from Afghanistan.
The above discussion indicates that in view of India’s growing arrogance Pakistan needs to conduct its relations with that country as a strong and sovereign neighbor. To be able to do that Pakistan should pursue a robust and sustained strategy for its quick economic progress and maintenance of strong defence capability and nuclear deterrence. Pakistan should focus on its economic development by establishing trade and investment relations with West Asia, Middle East, ASEAN and East Asian countries. With India, at best it could expect to enhance trade relations under South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).While Pakistan should continue to make efforts with India to resolve Kashmir and other disputes through bilateral dialogue it should also seek foreign mediation and the UN support. At the same time Pakistan should continue to expose human rights violations being committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir. In view of India’s impending compulsion of importing energy from West and Central Asia in next five to ten yearsusing cheaper and shortest land route through Pakistan, it should link provision of transit facility to India with the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
To counter India’s military influence in Afghanistan, while Pakistan should develop and maintain good relations with all ethnic groups in that country it should also enhance military and economic relations with Afghanistan. To gain US and EU countries’ support on its issues with India, Pakistan should make consistent efforts to advance its relations with these countries, particularly the US.
In this context Pakistan should cooperate with the US pertaining to peace and stability in Afghanistan in a manner that it makes the US realize that while India may be important to it in Asia Pacific, Pakistan is more important for it in West Asia, Middle East and Central Asia. It is also important for Pakistan to maintain good relations with Iran. Above all, to defend its integrity and sovereignty against regional threats and attain economic development and prosperity in peaceful environment Pakistan’s strategic relations with China and Saudi Arabia are of prime importance.
Carried by: Frontier Post, August 24, 2014.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer, and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.