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Make Indo-Pak Relations Mutually Beneficial

by Rajindar Sachar, 20 March 2013

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An innocuous private visit by Pakistan prime Minister and his family to India to pay homage to one of the most revered shrine of Sufi Saint Khwaja Mahinuddin Hassan Chisti, where persons of all religions Hindus, Muslims pay respectful obeisance to the great soul, including the Mughal Emperor the great Akbar who walked barefoot to the shrine to seek his blessings for the birth of a son, was bungled so badly by the pusillanimous attitude of Indian government and the deliberate ranting of the mischievous Anti-Pakistan lobby.

Bad as it was for Deevan of Chisti Shrine, to have queered the pitch by saying he will boycott Pak PM visit, but the encouraging approval given by a B.J.P. leader’s M Venkait Naidu has to be strongly deprecated as a crude attempt to derail Indo-Pakistan good relations.

I can understand Prime Minister not hosting a lunch (not because of the reason of beheading a soldier by Pak Army at LOC) but for practical reason, namely that Mr. Raja Ashraf was a care taker Prime Minister with General elections in Pak being held shortly, so obviously no worthwhile political talks could be held at this stage.

It was therefore a wise decision to depute Foreign Minister to interact with Pak PM. But such was the nasty atmosphere created by small time politicians as if extending normal courtesy to Pak Prime Minister was to insult the memory of soldiers who were killed at LOC that our foreign Minister was not personally allowed to receive the Pak Prime Minister at the airport. Why this half hearted approach. Either Government of India treats the visit as a non-event in which case launcheon was also an intrusion. But when Government of India acted rightly and diplomatically - why this half hearted approach. The matter was compounded badly by Rajasthan Chief Minister is not receiving Pak P.M. at Airport. After all Pak PM was visiting his State. That he kept away and did not extend the further courtesy of asking one of his own Ministers to accompany to the Shrine flies against Rajasthani culture where guests are given the highest honour.

I have always believed that India and Pakistan are like Siamese twins. Though even totally separate, independent entities, the pain and tribulation of each will get reflected in the other. It is not possible for either of them to attain their legitimate due in the comity of nations unless both the countries genuinely and in the shortest of time accept that bleeding of either will bleed of the other too.

But somehow our past history seems always to put us on collision course. Any effort at impartial assessment gets mired by the fear of public opinion generated by some act of terror or other allegedly arising from some hostile elements operating in Pakistan.

Thus though last year there was celebration in both countries on Pakistan having agreed to give India the most favored nation status, it has not happened. It got caught up in the unfortunate border incident and the beheading of an Indian soldier. It was certainly a ghastly act calling for the maximum of condemnation. So we cut off sports matches and even quawali teams from Pakistan - that was unfortunate. But while individuals may permanently cut off relations, nations have no such freedom, and their leaders must know the consequences of taking action borne out of anger.

Just recollect the almost collision between Soviet union and USA in 1962 over Cuba, and which was averted at the last minute by the realization by both the countries of immeasurable damage which will be caused to both the countries, notwithstanding the immerse superiority of U.S.A. As Khrushev, said with ironic simplicity “I know USA can destroy USSR many times with its nuclear power. But I have sufficient nuclear power to destroy USA once and that is sufficient for me”, sensible and practicable. Two neighborly nuclear powers have no option but to have friendly relations. But that does not mean any letting down of security considerations. Nor does it mean to overlook or being unprepared against the rogue elements in Pakistan, whether officially supported or not.

No one denies that actual working of Pakistan government vis-à-vis India’s security consideration can even for a minute be ignored, but larger considerations of peace and security with our neighbor must not be jeopardized by taking up jingoist posture in mutuality relations with Pakistan. Thus, when some time back when unfortunate LOC incident happened, anger, even gross indignation was natural. It is at this time that a responsible government behaves with dignity, confidence but does not get into panic reaction. A message, even a warning that terrorist acts and LOC violations and brutal conduct will not be tolerated, and that a conducive atmosphere has to be created to revive mutual dialogues at government level, is the right approach. But one does not go into jingoist posture, not permissible for such close neighbors, as cutting off all sports or musical concerts or keeping on hold agreement of immediate border visas for senior citizen’s at Indo-Pak border.

In diplomacy one has to keep fine balance even with the unfriendly allegations. If not, how would Indian government treat the visit of newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense Mr. Hegel, who has made calumnious statement that India is financially interfering in the internal matters of Baluchistan (Pakistan) a charge, no doubt false, but made even by Pakistan. U.S.A. has not disowned this charge publically. Should we cut off relations with U.S.A.

No doubt India has legitimate complaint that Pakistan is doing nothing to keep in check the terrorist planning and attacks on India from Pakistan soil. It claims to do its best, but its best is of no avail. But then we must realize that Pakistan has created a Frankenstein which even it is finding difficult to control. Jehadi terrorists attack in cities like Lahore, on Shias in the holy precincts of mosques show the terror created by Pakistan is refusing to go back within the bottle. Pak Govt. is also paying the price of its past mischief. Should not this reality make our both countries hold their hands together – a more mature and dignified response to recent Pak prime Ministers visit would have been the response.

Dated : 19/03/2013

New Delhi