Musharraf, Modi, India and Pakistan

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

ArticleYAAThis is a cross post from Weekly Pulse

“Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims, urging the Indian premier to change his anti-Pakistan attitude… Speaking to an Indian news channel, the former president said that Pakistan would never neglect the defence of its eastern borders and added that the country would not hesitate in using the nuclear bomb against India if the need arose.”(Dawn Oct 22, 2014)

Talking about Prime Minister Modi in an interview, the former President of Pakistan stated, “We know his anti-Pakistan credentials. Now, it may be a red line for you that people of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, or the Foreign Secretary must not meet the APHC. That is not our red line. We do not follow your red line. They must meet. I would say that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, when, he went to India, should have met the APHC leaders. Why is that a red line? There is dispute, internationally recognized, recognized by the UN, and we myself, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee were discussing Kashmir. I used to meet the APHC leaders every time. So why is there a change of heart? That itself shows and proves the anti-Pakistan credentials of Prime Minister Modi. Now, if that be so, so certainly it’s a confrontationist course. He is taking a confrontationist course with Pakistan. So, this red line that he has declared is confrontationist certainly. It is not peaceful. And when you say he had invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited him to Pakistan and he didn’t come.” (India Today October 22, 2014)

Though Musharraf may be factually correct, it never fails to surprise me why our leaders feel other countries and leaders of other countries owe an obligation to Pakistan to resolve our problems.

I had stated my reservations about Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy vis a vis Pakistan and that I would like to share here in light of Musharraf’s interview:

‘BJP carries a heavy Hindutva baggage. So much so that the BJP manifesto states, “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” A narrow based party representing one religious group can afford to keep narrow minded clauses in its manifesto, but can a party leading a nation of 1.3 billion, calling itself a secular state?

Modi has a very limited experience of foreign policy. His appointment as the national security advisor has been Ajit Doval. Looking into Ajit Doval’s past and thought process is interesting as it reflects upon the shape of foreign policy India would like to map out with Pakistan. Let’s be very clear. The position Ajit Doval holds is not a ceremonial one. It’s a powerful seat that has a strong place in the nuclear line of command. Ajit Doval holds sway over Indian intelligence agencies. His predecessors hailed from the diplomatic core; not Ajit Doval. He is from the intelligence operations. He has been part of a think tank with expertise in Pakistan and China affairs. The second he steps out of this ambit, he will have to heavily lean on others for expert advice. To say that Ajit Doval’s background is interesting is an understatement. He had infiltrated the Golden Temple reportedly in the uniform of an ISI officer, he was involved in negotiating the release of hijacked prisoners of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 in Kandahar in 1999 and “handed over insurgents” from Kashmir and Mizoram. Quoting The Hindu, “Mr Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. In a 2012 article, he defines these as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.” He notes, ominously, that “Pakistan has its own vulnerabilities many times higher than India.” (Published June 23, 1014)

Are we talking of an increased degree of Indian supported proxy war or/and terrorism in Pakistan in light of Ajit Doval’s preferred mode of combat? The reason why it’s important to know key players of Modi’s team is because policies depend upon their preferences. India’s hold over the Ayni Air Basealso called as ‘Gissar Air Base’ located 10km west of the capital of Tajikistan-Dushanbe and the Farkhor Air Base; a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometers south east of the capital Dushanbe — can lead to worrisome results for Pakistan. Sudha Ramachandran writing for The Diplomat says, “While agreeing that Modi will appear tough with Pakistan, TP Sreenivasan, a former diplomat who spent 37 years with the Indian Foreign Service, argues that “this toughness will not go beyond a point” as he will realise soon that with “war not an option anymore, a tough approach will go only so far.” (Published May 6, 2014) This more or less supports Ajit Doval’s thought process.’

To a certain given degree, states can be friendly. However, this ‘friendship’ is strictly of a utilitarian nature. It may be in form of two unequal states providing service to one another, or two more equal or less equal states facing a common threat or a common interest that draws them together in a bond. It makes taking joint steps a lot of sense.

Gadi Heimann, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when discussing this Aristotelian concept of friendship between states gives an apt example in his paper, “Saudi Arabia is not the United States’ client but its friend, and this makes it easier for both countries to continue to enjoy the reciprocal ties that benefit them. Even the relationships between an empire and its colonial protégé usually merit a façade of friendship. It may be remembered that Poland was called the “friend” and even “sister” of the USSR. during the Cold War.”

The perception of ‘friendship’ may therefore not be strictly true. Lord Palmerston was very correct when he stated, “states have neither eternal friends nor enemies, just eternal interests.”

To think that India will willingly give up occupied Kashmir is like living in a fool’s paradise. Why should India do what Pakistan asks her to do? What is the advantage that India reaps? Answer:  None. In the particular context of moving towards resolving the issue of occupied Kashmir, Modi is going to do what every Prime Minister has done earlier: nothing.

On the contrary, in order to further consolidate Indian hold on Kashmir under their control there were plans by India to build a wall to separate the southwestern part from India Occupied Kashmir. “According to Indian officials, the wall would pass through 118 villages within the three districts of disputed Kashmir and would be 41 meters wide and 10 meters high to accommodate bunkers and check posts.” (Al-Jazeera 21 Dec 2013) In furtherance of its belligerent tone, the Indian foreign ministry had asked UN Military Observers Group on India and Pakistan (UNMogip) to hand over the Delhi premises from where it was running a liaison office for more than four decades reported the Dawn on Jul 08, 2014. “New Delhi considers the whole of disputed Kashmir as an integral part of the country and has bristled against external involvement in the region including the UNMogip that was set up under the Karachi agreement in 1949 after the first war between the two countries.”

The question therefore Mr Musharraf is not what Modi thinks or does, because he is India’s Prime Minister and must do and act in the interest of his own country after all, but rather, what our leaders say or act which must be in the interest of Pakistan. What they intend to do to resolve existing multifaceted issues.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

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