Can India-Pakistan ties ever be normal?

Balbir Punj
Balbir PunjJan 09, 2016 | 14:41

Can India-Pakistan ties ever be normal?

Can India and Pakistan ever have normal neighbourly relations?

The question is relevant in the context of the terrorist attack on Pathankot Indian Air Force base, just on the heels of a surprise goodwill visit by Prime Minster Narendra Modi to Lahore. Of course, the chain of sordid events have taken a predictable path.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Lahore bus visit was followed by Kargil. And before that, unconditional release of over 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war by India in 1971 was reciprocated by Pakistan with exported terror for over two decades into Punjab in the guise of the Khalistan movement.



But before we make efforts to find an answer to the question raised in the beginning of this article, we have to ask ourselves yet another question. Can Pakistan learn to live at peace with itself before it can do so with the rest of the world, including India?

Over the years, after General Zia-ul-Haq became the president and introduced a high dosage of Islamic fundamentalism into the education system and governance, violence has become central to Pakistan’s social and political life. With majority Sunnis throwing bombs at the minority Shia mosques and vice-versa.

It is not a Kafir dominated India where Muslims are not safe, but in Pakistan, a declared Islamic state. The Pakistan Army which owes allegiance to the theocratic state, has waged a war, against Taliban, who are also throwing bombs, shooting people and getting killed in the name of Islam.

Killers and victims, on both sides, swear in the name of the same faith! Those who are always at each other’s throats can hardly think of leaving neighbours undisturbed.

Why is Pakistan so prone to politics of hate and bigotry? The reasons lies in the mindset and ideology that triggered the demand for the creation of Pakistan. Till 1937, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a leader without any worthwhile following.


After he changed his ideological tack, from a secularist to a rabid Muslim, spewing venom against Hindus, over 90 per cent Muslims of undivided India accepted him as their unquestioned leader.

In contrast, Gandhi, who all his life bent backwards to win the support of Muslims and had spoken of love and inclusiveness, could not gain the support of even 10 per cent of the Muslim population. Ironically, Jinnah was not a practicing Muslim – he enjoyed his evening drink and loved sausages. Both are forbidden in Islam.

But all this was ignored because he worked for vivisection of India and spoke against its timeless pluralistic culture. He was loved for his hate of Hindus and Sikhs.

In essence, what Jinnah preached was rejection of pre-Islamic culture and traditions on an ancient land by those who had converted to a new faith, mostly under duress. Bulk of the Muslims could not reconcile with the idea of living as equals with those (Hindus) who they had suppressed and persecuted for over 600 years.


Misplaced pride in the past and the fear of uncertain future propelled the demand for a separate Islamic nation. Now the same hatred is eating into the idea of Pakistan. For long it was said that Pakistan was run by three A’s — Allah, Army and America.


But now the three A’s have fallen apart.

The mullahs and military that collaborated for long to destroy India are now often at loggerheads — as seen in the military action in Waziristan region and the retaliatory Taliban sponsored massacre of school children by army men in Peshawar followed by hangings of many Taliban activists by the government.

The third leg of the Pakistani tripod, the US, has over the years given up the policy of equating both India and Pakistan to keep Islamabad in good humour so as to ensure its support against the erstwhile Soviet Union. With the collapse of communism in 1991, the days of cold war are over and Pakistan’s importance in American scheme of global politics has dropped considerably.

Following 9/11, the menace of terror has emerged as a defining issue for the US state policy. And to make matters worse for Pakistan, the country is known, not only as an epicenter of terror, but also a failed state.


Meanwhile India’s global profile has improved, thanks to its stable democracy and growing economy. The new perception in Washington is to align with India in wake of the growing fear among East and South Asian nations of an increasingly aggressive China.

The idea is to build a chain — with India at one end and Japan at other — terminals to contain Beijing. For the first time probably, the prime minister of Pakistan has shown the courtesy of calling his Indian counterpart and promising action against those who had trained on Pakistan soil and waged the attack in Pathankot.

India will have to wait and watch how far Islamabad goes on Nawaz Sharif’s assurance on dealing with jihadi/army elements responsible for the Pathankot attack. May be over the next few weeks we can find an answer to the question we started with – whether India and Pakistan can ever learn to live as normal neighbours. 

(Coutesy of Mail Today)

Last updated: January 09, 2016 | 14:45
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy