18 Aug 2009
Peace with Pakistan: An Elusive Mythical Obsession!
By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Peace with Pakistan is a desirable objective for India’s foreign policy. But the timing of peace and resumption of composite dialogue with Pakistan has to be decided by India’s assessments and readings of the contextual security environment and India’s national security interests.

The timings of such a process cannot be dictated by the United States to synchronize with the timings of its strategic overtures to Pakistan to serve US strategic interests. It does not require much imagination for anyone to assert that the United States and India have serious strategic divergences over Pakistan.

Additionally, has the Indian Prime Minister and his advisory team ever asked themselves the question as to why the United States constantly preaches to India on peace with Pakistan?

India despite repetitive Pakistani acts of terrorism against India has exercised restraint. Even today India stands aloof and strategically not taken advantage of the growing civil war within Pakistan. Then why does the United States resort to peace sermons to India on India-Pak peace knowing fully well that these need to be given to Pakistan only.

Further, in the past, and even now, Kashmir- mention is used as a strategic pressure point against India by US political leaders.

Sharm-al- Sheikh was a direct manifestation of the “distortions” that the “United States Factor” has induced in India’s current foreign policy formulation. The Havana Agreement 2006 was the earlier manifestation.

In both cases the “Indian foreign policy troika” of the Prime Minister, the National Security Adviser and the Foreign Secretary were the moving spirits behind these infamous appeasement concessions on terrorism to Pakistan, acting in duress under US pressures.

Does it behave a country of India’s size and potential to succumb to external pressures?

Fortunately, the force of Indian public opinion pressured the Congress President to make the Indian Prime Minister to retract from Sharm-al-Sheikh concessions to Pakistan. That does not lessen the gravity of the Indian policy establishment succumbing to external pressures especially over Pakistan.

Peace with Pakistan will continue to be an elusive myth till such time some Indian political leader emerges who can recognize that the only way to restrain Pakistan is to follow the US model against Russia in the Cold War.

Further peace with Pakistan will accrue when Indian Prime Ministers ensure that India’s war preparedness at all times is so high that coupled with Indian Prime Ministers demonstrating the will to use power, these two realities existentially deter Pakistan from provoking India and indulging in military adventurism against it..

Indian Prime Ministers down the line have not grasped the fundamentals of why peace with Pakistan will remain an elusive myth. The onus of bringing about India- Pakistan peace lies squarely on United States shoulders and not on India's shoulders.

The United States has consistently invented and re-invented Pakistan’s strategic utility for US national security interests. Pursuant to this fixation it has armed and re-armed Pakistan substantially and encouraged it to box much above its strategic weight.

Peace with Pakistan will therefore continue to be elusive till such time United States re-calibrates its South Asia policies with Pakistan removed from the centrality it occupies in US strategy.

The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. By arrangement with South Asia Analysis Group.

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