A single seamless socio-economic and cultural entity before 1947, once divided into Pakistan and India, the two divisions have now completely drifted apart. Despite being neighbours, India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world. Because of their unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is in a coma. Sadly, the most populous region in the world has also remained home to the largest number of poor people in the world.
Some 10-12 years back, we had the opportunity to discuss with the then Dean of LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Prof Zahoor Hassan, with whom we had signed an inter-institutional cooperation agreement, about mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Pakistan and India. He thought that an intense Indo-phobia among many of the influential people in Pakistan stood in the way, who called India, the enemy nation. He also referred to similar picture of Pakistan, the enemy nation, in the minds of influential people in India. Clearly, feeling of “national pride” is stronger than any feeling of brotherhood on both the sides.
After Pakistan’s unprovoked attacks on India, carried out by the Dirty-tricks-wings – JeM and LeT – of the Army and Inter-Services Intelligence Agency of Pakistan, were ignored by the international community, India had no choice but to carry out its own strikes against the JeM training bases and infrastructure that were threatening her. Many of the world leaders had disregarded Pakistan’s evident intentions to bleed and harm India for a long time.
Unfortunately, some news outlets and Indian politicians have been attempting to create a narrative to lead people to believe that the Pakistani threats are over exaggerated by India for internal political purposes. Pakistan establishment, however, continues to demonstrate their intentions not only with their denials, tacit support to militants as well as refusal to act upon India’s complaints. Since last 30 years or so, Pakistan has been shelling and firing across the LOC into India, and have also used proxies, such as LeT and JeM, to attack India viciously. Pakistan appears to have India solidly in its cross-hairs.
Apparently in a rush to provide cover for Pakistan, some Western countries have also, for years, been attempting to tell the public that there is a difference between “moderate” Pakistani politicians and the “army” hardliners and that the politicians are helpless before the army. Unfortunately, that distinction is make-believe and most of such countries are realising their folly in such an assumption.
China, of course, has become a new factor influencing India’s negative attitude towards Pakistan, both among policy-makers and the common people. China should value the efforts made by India for stability in the region. This is of interest not only for India but for China, too. China can become a part of the solution, rather than being perceived as a part of the India-Pakistan problem. A new ray of hope came on Monday 01 April when China claimed that “positive progress” has been made on designating Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ by the UN. China’s relations with India are improving yet have not become rational enough that, instead of siding with Pakistan, China would open the door to strategic cooperation with India.
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