Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan even before the conduct of Indian general elections had stated that if Modi returns, Pakistan and India have a better chance of improving bilateral ties. Recently he sent a congratulatory message to Indian PM Narendra Modi, and also gave him a phone call, a few days later. He conveyed his resolve to have normal relations with India during his second term.
Baggage of History
The paradigm shift in Pak-India relations reflects Pakistan’s desire to resolve contentious issues with New Delhi. Indian response to his overtures has not exactly been favourable. History has a habit of repeating itself, in this case in rather a skewed manner. Three decades ago, it was India which used to follow a conciliatory and persuasive approach with Islamabad for promoting people-to-people contact as well as trade and commerce as a confidence-building measure.
Pakistan’s response to Indian gestures at that time lacked warmth and reciprocity as it used to remind India that without the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, it cannot positively react to New Delhi’s offer of dialogue. The composite dialogue, now comprehensive dialogue, which began in 1997 failed to take off as both sides refused to abandon their traditional stance.
Let Bygones be Bygones
It is really heartening that Pakistan is now pursuing a pragmatic approach to normalize relations with India. Modi’s return to power by securing a landslide victory in the general elections expected to have a positive impact on India’s relations with its western neighbour. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s optimism is really infectious and sooner or later going to rub on his Indian counterpart.
Modi and BJP do not seem to have any prejudice or bias against Pakistan. It is realism and correct thinking on the part of Islamabad that in his second term, the Indian government will have an even more expedient approach. In all probability, It will positively reciprocate Islamabad’s gesture for a new beginning. Three logical reasons substantiate the argument that there are better chances of Pakistan to have cordial relations with India.
First, Modi and his BJP have not forgotten the statesman like approach of Pakistan’s PM and unconditional return of Wing Commander Abhinanadan. Modi’s retaliation after Pulwama gave further credence to his strongman image. He was able to garner international reaction in favour of India. Now after securing a second term with a landslide victory, it will be Modi’s endeavour to project himself as ‘Aman ka Masiha’.
Second, emotions and nostalgia of pre-independence days where ancestors of today’s citizens of Pakistan and India fought the war of independence for Indian subcontinent together. The famous song ‘Sare Jashaan se Achchha, Hindostan Hamara’ was written by Iqbal. They have many celebrities of Bollywood practicing Islam. Mohammad Rafi a very popular singer of yesteryears has sung many songs worshipping Indian Gods. Pakistan also seems ready to shed its arrogance owing to adverse economic conditions and moving down in world standing. India may also agree to the resumption of the suspended comprehensive talks if Pakistan agrees to discuss the issue of cross-border terrorism. This could be a win-win situation.
Third, having to face China on its eastern front India would like to Pakistan on its side. It is in the interest of Pakistan also to do the tango with India as the sobriquet “Higher than Mountains, Deeper than the Seas and Sweeter than honey” to describe Pakistan-China friendship is no more valid. China’s suppression of Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang and organized activities of Chinese groups operating in Pakistan who indulge in marrying Pakistani girls, bring them to China and force them into prostitution establishes the fact that Pakistan’s more powerful neighbour cannot be trusted
Confrontation and zero-sum games with India is not likely to produce desired results. This will only highlight India’s strengths and exacerbate Pakistan’s vulnerabilities. Instead, a longer-term strategy for détente with India without compromising on the stature and dignity of Pakistan to be worked out. India’s current indifference and obduracy are to be accepted for the time being. Within these parameters, a dialogue process sustained by a whole range of new and old confidence-building measures needs to be developed in order to shift the process towards Pakistan’s strengths.
Pakistan should make consistent efforts to develop understanding with India by taking visible and concrete action against terrorist groups working on Pakistani soil including Jaish-e-Mohammad. This intent may be spelt out at the side-lines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek where Pakistani PM and his Indian counterpart may interact. Such a forthcoming initiative will definitely appeal to the Indian side. In all likelihood, Indian PM will respond positively as he advocates Hindutva thought believing in “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam” that is the complete world is a big family.
31 May 19/Friday Written by Naphisa