Even though PPP government almost did nothing to raise the expectation bar for the present government, Pakistani’s still seem pregnant with hope that change is in the air. Nawaz Sharif’s government is expected to miraculously root out all the evils planted by the past one. One of these is the political deadlock from both the East and the West. Except for China, our relationship with our immediate neighbors on both sides of the border has been tense, tumultuous, and devoid of trust. Of this triumvirate, our strategic relations with India stand out to be the most complex ones. Choke relations with her, and you asphyxiate your so-called camaraderie with Afghanistan and Iran. Hence, it is vital for the new government to maintain healthy ties with our noisy neighbour.
New Reconiliatory policy- at what expense?
It’s no surprise that Mr.Sharif’s reconciliatory policy, which I lauded previously, will transcend the cross border grudges. However, are we being too eager to join both hands with India and consequently, overlooking our vulnerabilities? Are we inducing mutual pleasure at the behest of too many sacrifices? Where it’s only true that we should advocate peace with true spirit, but should also be wary of these dilemmas.
How do we benefit from the handshake?
Strongly cooperative Indo-pak relationship is going to favor the two countries to an unimaginable extent. It will make the land trade more robust throughout the entire region. Not only will Pakistan and India be the economic strongholds in the area but the mutual cooperation will also serve to bolster the development of third world countries in the region, like Nepal and Afghanistan. Old trade routes will be revived and new ones constructed. With closer ties, needless expenditure on accruing weapons and fulfilling army requirements at challenging terrains will be slashed. More fund will be available for nurturing other, more important, areas like education and public health. Employment ratio will shoot up exponentially, and foreign investment will change the whole outlook of our country.
What’s needed to build mutual trust?
To make sure this mirage turns into reality there is a strong need to develop bilateral trust. Without it, we can sign many accords on paper, but in reality we wouldn’t have moved an inch towards the Utopian sub-continent that we so desperately wish for. Trust does not come in a flash, it builds up gradually. If we think that by inviting the Indian PM to the oath-taking ceremony of his Pakistani counterpart, or by declaring the Kashmiri militants to be terrorists we have won our archrival’s trust, we are only being cruel to ourselves. There’s more to it than these ‘miniature’ gestures. A sincere desire is needed, trust will grow with time. There is no need to overstep our bounds. We have to gauge their eagerness too, and keep in mind our own reservations.
Jeopardizing our take on Kashmir?
Is it possible that in the eagerness of the little handshake, we might be jeopardizing our take on Kashmir? In recent years, our stance towards the torn and troubled Kashmir has been put on the back burner. This has been done to woo the Indian counterparts in an attempt to bring them on the tables. This, I believe, is a heinous crime. As a country whose raison d’etre is Islam, it is our utmost duty to remember the blood and flesh Kashmiri people have laid down for their freedom, and to give them unshakable support. If India does not like our prioritizing Kashmir, then so be it. We should not be expected to make any more sacrifices than we have done so already.
It takes two hands to clap?
Mutualism is a need of the hour for India as well. It takes two hands to clap. She should not expect everything to go her way. Kashmir needs a solution, and it is needed as soon as possible. We can’t wait for them to go berserk and do something to gain world attention, if you know what I mean. If they want independence, give it to them; it’s the least we can do for the people who’ve had protracted suffering.
India’s rigid stance on Kashmir:
One of the reasons why India has been obstinate with Kashmir is the geological importance of the region. Four of the five main rivers of Pakistan pass through the corridors located in this area. Her agriculture depends on the vast and highly intricate irrigation system that makes use of these waters. With the climatic changes due to global warming, the sub-continent is at the risk of losing certain waterways bringing agriculture under the cosh.
What about the Water Treaty?
When water is scanty, there is a greater possibility that India might subtly infringe the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, like it has attempted to in the recent past. India is allowed to irrigate her lands using the waters from all of these rivers but, according to the treaty, except for Ravi, they cannot obstruct the waters of the other three rivers (Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus) for storage or any other purpose. Up till now, India has built many controversial projects on these rivers like Wullar Barrage, Salal Dam, and Dul Hasti Hydropower Project to name a few. This is endangering our Irrigation reliant land, and swift action needs to be taken to ensure there is no drought in the future due to Indian projects. Thein Dam on River Ravi could also be a threat. If India releases more than a certain threshold volume, our areas could well be under water in no time.
According to many think tanks, World War 3 will be fought on the basis of water disputes. This foreboding emphasizes the importance of water. Indolence in this matter could wreak unprecedented catastrophe in Pakistan. Therefore, it is an indispensable issue that we dare not compromise on. We must have our guard up for every possible move our nemeses might make.
Indian Presence in Balochistan?
Lastly, the issue that we both condemn equally, but paradoxically, cannot be on the same page about, is terrorism. India blames Pakistan for its inaction against terrorist havens inside the latter’s borders notwithstanding the fact that we have had more than five thousand military personnel martyred, and nearly 17000 civilians wasted (satp.org). India needs to be cognizant of their own frailties. As General Musharraf pointed out in one of his interviews during his sojourn to India, back in 2009, the majority of terror strikes in India emanate from within. Secondly, Pakistan, for me, has adopted a very soft stance towards the ostensible Indian presence in Balochistan, and their covert operations in Afghanistan. Terrorism is not all about Pakistan’s shortcomings; it also features India’s own slothfulness in checking local terrorist hotspots and perhaps a little bit of hanky panky.
My Take on it:
I would like to make clear here that I do not advocate any brusquely belligerent approach toward the Indians. However, I would stress upon avoiding excessive wooing, and sycophancy, which I fear might continue into the new political era. As long as we show desperation, we’re more likely to be subject to exploitation. Just like India, we must also chalk out some pre-negotiation conditions. Foremost of them should be mitigating the public hatred by checking widespread and grandiose propaganda against us by their media, and sharing of substantial evidence before jumping to any conclusions as cynicism begets cynicism.
We need to change our attitude if we want to improve theirs. The lesser submissive we are, the more positive their feedback.
Emerging challenges to Indus Water Treaty by Dr.Shaheen Akhtar