Why Pakistan Should Not Worry About Modi
No one knows India better than Pakistan. We are the only neighbor of India that bears the brunt of Indian bellicosity. The bulk of Indian guns and war formations point at us, and India spares no opportunity to undercut Pakistani interests in the region and beyond. The Americans and Europeans have experienced some Indian antics and diplomatic tantrums in recent months, mostly in trade negotiations. But several generations of seasoned Pakistani diplomats can map out unflattering patterns of Indian behavior.
This is why the sudden Pakistani concern about the rise of what many call a mass murderer and religious extremist to be India’s next prime minister is inexplicable.
Pakistani decision makers need not make much of this change of command in New Delhi. Our decade-long experience of dealing with India shows that, when it comes to Pakistan, New Delhi has maintained a consistent policy of refusing to resolve disputes with Pakistan. India deploys delay tactics in peace talks and seizes any opportunity to hurt Pakistani interests, whether at international forums or in Balochistan. India has never apologized or shown remorse for the unprovoked invasion across international borders in the former East Pakistan in 1971.
Remember the fifty Pakistani peace visitors to India in 2007? They were bombed and burned alive inside India aboard the Samjhota (Friendship) Express by Indian military intelligence elements working closely with Indian religious extremists. It wasn’t Narendra Modi or the BJP in charge but a liberal and secular Congress Party.
For a decade, the Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, failed to reciprocate unprecedented Pakistani concessions on Kashmir and trade that former president Musharraf offered India. In fact, from January 2004 and onwards, Pakistani officials watched in astonishment as New Delhi deployed delay tactics to defer the resolution of Siachen, Sir Creek and other disputes. India even failed to acknowledge or reciprocate a huge Pakistani concession when Musharraf silenced our diplomats and soldiers and allowed the Indian occupation army to build a fence along the temporary cease fire line in Kashmir. Pakistani artillery stopped India for decades from altering Kashmir’s status as an international dispute until Musharraf bended backwards for peace and allowed India to create a permanent structure on what is a temporary ceasefire line. Indian politicians and military failed to show any magnanimity in recognizing this major Pakistani concession or reciprocating it in any meaningful way.
Of course, in hindsight, those Musharraf concessions appear to be a strategic folly. But this mistake was committed under the assumption that we have partners in peace in New Delhi. The reality is that we do not. India’s ruling Hindi-speaking elite is saddled with a centuries-old complex of Muslim rule over Indian territory. This historical baggage makes the dominant Hindi-speakers in Delhi averse to treating Pakistan with respect as a neighbor. The Hindi-speaking Indian ruling elite cannot see itself engaging Pakistan in meaningful dispute resolution in Kashmir under UN Security Council resolutions. The solution of choice for the Hindi-speaking elite is to impose a solution on Pakistan, not negotiate one.
At present the only Indian interest in engaging Pakistan is limited to opening up the Pakistani market for Indian business to offset the loss from the stagnation in Indian economy. New Delhi wants to sell its products in Pakistan without hindrance, wants Pakistani demand to drive Indian advertising industry, wants Pakistani producers to hire Indian studios and talent, and wants to use Pakistani commercial routes and facilities to increase exports to Afghanistan and Central Asia. India wants all of these Pakistani favors against a promise to us that it will resolve disputes. But we can rest assured that all we will get in return is a repeat of the delay tactics that the Indians have deployed after the January 2004 Composite Dialogue.
Ironically, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is following the Musharraf policy of appeasing India and is ready to grant New Delhi one-sided trade concessions at the cost of Pakistani businesses.
Instead of appeasing India, Islamabad should keep the doors of peace open while singling out the trouble spots in Indian behavior. New Delhi should be told that beating up Pakistani visitors to India is unacceptable, that allowing an occupation army to kill Kashmiris with impunity won’t help the cause of peace.
Modi’s India is no different than Gandhi’s India. New Delhi should be tested on actions, not words.
For Pakistan, it is business as usual in New Delhi.