Modi has done India a favour by starting debate on PoK

Islamabad can only watch powerlessly as the whole geopolitical situation is changing - and not in its favour.

 |  4-minute read |   13-08-2016
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I had written how, by 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy was to encircle Pakistan and isolate it.

Modi is engaging at a furious pace with two top Pakistan allies: America and China. We have the advantage of being a much bigger economic power than Pakistan. We are also engaging with Muslim countries and getting them on our side.

The biggest example of this is how Modi reached out to Saudi Arabia's Abdulaziz Al Saud, a feat that has eluded even Pakistani civilian heads of state. (The likes of current and former Pakistan Army chiefs Raheel Sharif and Pervez Musharraf got only the military version.)

Afghanistan and Iran are getting closer to India while Russia is being re-engaged. Pakistan can only watch powerlessly as the whole geopolitical situation is changing - and not in its favour.

When Modi visited tech czars in Silicon Valley some time back, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in America too, and hardly got to meet them. "Whenever Modi makes all his foreign trips, he interacts with top corporates and business houses while we end up meeting grocery store owners!" said a Pakistani journalist to a hassled Sharif.

While Pakistan remained on the back foot, Modi upped the stakes even further by bringing the status of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) into the picture along with Balochistan's struggle for Independence.

This brilliant move puts Pakistan in a hard place. The area that used to be Jammu & Kashmir before Independence is split into five today:

1. Kashmir Valley. 2. Jammu. 3. Ladakh. 4. PoK. 5. Aksai Chin.

Till now, the focus has only been on the first, where protests are common, while 2 through 5 largely escape the scrutiny of debates.

Jammu & Ladakh are firmly with India, while we can play the Aksai Chin and Tibet cards if we choose to get really tough with China.

That's how diplomacy works. China tries to keep us out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and we try to keep it out of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

When you pin the focus on just the Kashmir Valley, India suffers because a lot of misgovernance has indeed taken place on our part. But the level of misgovernance is even worse in PoK.

The timing is right. Protests have erupted in PoK with some groups demanding re-integration with India. The Pakistani Army has launched a brutal crackdown in the region and New Delhi can tell the world that Pakistan has no right to give us a moral lecture.

The British did not give any part of J&K to Pakistan. Kashmir's titular head Maharaja Hari Singh and popular leader Sheikh Abdullah chose to accede to India. Thus, India has a right over PoK, while Pakistan has no claim over the Kashmir Valley. It is this line we must now push aggressively.

The second major departure was the invocation of Balochistan. It is curious that since 1947, the Pakistan government has been screaming at public forums, espousing the cause of Kashmir, Punjab and the status of Muslims in India, while our successive governments maintain a silence on the uneasy status of provinces and minorities within Pakistan.

Why are we so generous to a neighbour who attacks us 24X7? It is as if for some curious reason the Indian government chooses to tie its hands behind its back.

More than 50,000 Pakistani civilians have died in terrorist attacks across the country since 9/11. The war in North Waziristan has claimed the lives of 30,000 militants and 7,000 Pakistani soldiers. Islamabad is in no position to wage a war with New Delhi. The moment, therefore, is ripe for India to act tough.

Balochistan never accepted the 1948 annexation and has seen several movements for Independence in the past, though the rebellion post 2004 has been the most stubborn. Thousands of civilians have been killed and political leaders assassinated.

Balochistan constitutes more than 40 per cent of Pakistan's area and the struggle there, which had almost been swept under the carpet, is now out in the open. Modi's recent stand on Balochistan will go a long way in the internationalisation of the issue.

Addressing a public forum on 26/11, NSA Ajit Doval said, "Pakistan has vulnerabilities many many higher times than that of India. You can do one more Mumbai and you may lose Balochistan."

"In our generation, we split Pakistan into two. Your generation should split it into four. Only then we can live in peace!" said GD Bakshi, at a recent lecture, at IIT-Madras.

If we push for development in Jammu & Kashmir, ask for the re-integration of PoK and bring into focus the Balochistan issue, we may finally find a solution to a problem that has plagued independent India, every day of its existence.

Writer

Sunil Rajguru Sunil Rajguru @sunilrajguru

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

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