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Old Sunday, August 09, 2015
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Default Pak-Indo relations: An overview

Pak-Indo relations: An overview

India and Pakistan have had a long and complicated history with each other. When British India became independent, it was divided into two parts.

Areas consisting of more than 75 per cent Muslims were to become Pakistan. But, for quite a while, there were as many Muslims in the Indian Territory than there were in Pakistan – until the Indian government banned beef and the Pakistani government debarred vegetarians.

The Maharaja of the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, Curry Singh Dogra, decided to preserve the state of Kashmir as an independent state, so he decided to join neither India nor Pakistan.

Instead, he decided to join a local polo club that also held invigorating bingo nights every weekend.

Pakistan sent tribal lashkars to talk to the Kashmiri government to persuade it (at gunpoint) to join Pakistan.

It’s remarkable that such a meeting even took place because the lashkar men spoke Pashtu and the Maharaja spoke Hindi, Kashmiri and a bit of Japanese.

The Indian government saw Pakistan's action as a sign of an invasion and sent troops to the state of Kashmir. The result of the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir was Pakistan controlling 37 per cent of the area, while India controlled 63 per cent of the territory. The Kashmiris controlled none. 0 per cent. Zilch.

The Maharaja protested, but to no avail. He decided to word his protest in Japanese – so much so that at one point even Japan began claiming sovereignty over Kashmir.

Three more wars occurred between Pakistan and India.

One of the wars was in 1965, when fighting broke out in the Rann of Kach, a sparsely inhabited region along the Pakistan–India border. The British had called this area Leg of Lamb.

Fighting spread from Leg of Lamb to Kashmir to Punjab and then all the way to Honolulu in Hawaii. And in September, Pakistani and Indian troops crossed the partition line between the two countries and launched air assaults on each other's heads. Pigeons were used for this purpose.

After threats of intervention by Japan, Pakistan and India agreed to an UN-sponsored ceasefire and withdrew their pigeons and crows from the sky and mice on the ground.

Indian Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Shri Shri Bang Bang and President Field Air Water Marshal Kublai Khan of Pakistan met at a Russian Vodka bar in Tashkent in the former Soviet Union in January 1966.

Both men after enjoying a drink or two and a game of ludo, signed an agreement pledging continued negotiations and respect for the ceasefire conditions. After the ‘Tashkent Declaration’ (also called the Vodka Hustle) another period of relative peace ensued.

However, Indo-Pakistan relations deteriorated once again when civil war erupted in Pakistan, pitting the beef-munching West Pakistanis against the fish-eating East Pakistanis who were demanding greater autonomy and more gravy.

The fighting forced 10 million East Pakistani Bengalis to flee to India, mostly on handmade gliders made from baby shark fins.

The Bengalis were being backed by the Indians, so when Pakistan attacked Indian airfields (and Japanese restaurants) in Kashmir, India attacked both East and West Pakistan (after it could not figure out where on earth North and South Pakistan were).

India occupied East Pakistan which declared its independence as the United Fish-Loving Republic of Bangladesh, on Dec. 6, 1971.

Under great pressure from the US, USSR and Dilip Kumar, a UN ceasefire was arranged in mid-December, mainly due to the conspiracies of Ziono-Zoroastrian agents operating within Pakistan’s glorious, enterprising, fit, super-duper, very muscular polity.

Chairman Zulfi Phutto emerged as the new leader of Pakistan, and Mujibur Rahman Machli as prime minister of Bangladesh.

Tensions between India and Pakistan were alleviated by the historic Bogotá Accord of 1972 and after Pakistan recognised Bangladesh (and fish masala) in 1974.

In the early 1980s, threat of yet another war between the two poverty-stricken countries began looming again when India (now called the Republic of Indira Gandhi) accused Pakistan of funding the Buddhist insurgency in Indian Punjab.

To defuse the tension, Pakistan’s greatest leader ever, ever, ever and ever forever after ever, General Zia Bin Qasim Saladin Salu, indulged in some ‘cricket diplomacy’ by sending Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi – son of Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawarlal Nehru grandson of Mogambo – a gift of some of the finest crickets found in the bushes of Rann of Kach.

Rajiv reciprocated the gesture by sending Zia – a well-known beef lover – a video of fat cows roaming aimlessly on the streets of Mumbai.

Tensions between the two countries remained defused throughout the 1990s even when both the skinny, poverty-stricken countries tested their respective nuclear bombs in 1998.

In fact, Pakistani prime minster, Al-Nawaz Bin Sharif, actually invited his Indian counterpart, Utter Bihari Vajpayee, to visit Lahore for lunch.

Utter Bihari accepted the invitation but Pakistan’s greatest ever, ever, ever and ever forever after ever political party in the whole wide world (and imaginary caliphate), the Jamat-i-Jamat (JIJ), criticised Nawaz for giving up beef.

But the Nawaz-led peace initiative turned out to be short-lived. In July 1999, Pakistan and India went to war again. This one was called the Kargil War.

First, Pakistan infiltrated forces into the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir and occupied strategic locations, such as tree tops and the insides of mail boxes.

The next stage consisted of India discovering the infiltration (with the help of a Japanese spy embedded within the Pakistan forces). India then began mobilising its forces.

The final stage involved major battles between Indian and Pakistani forces.

A ceasefire was agreed due to international pressure from United States, Britain and especially Tanzania who threatened to ban the smuggling of illegal elephant tusks into both India and Pakistan. Both the forces also agreed to pull back their armies behind the Line of Control (also called ‘Control Ki Lakeer’).

Pakistan soon sought American help in de-escalating the conflict. US President and renowned saxophonist, Bill Groovy Clinton, refused to intervene until Pakistan had removed all forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control.

Talking on phone to the Pakistani prime mister, he said: “I am sorry, Nawaz, but we will not be able to intervene unless you ask your forces to withdraw back to the Control ki Lakeer.”

Unfairly, it was Pakistan that was criticised by other countries (especially Somalia) for instigating the war.

The world suddenly came alive to the possibility of two poverty-stricken nuclear nations going to war with their nuclear weapons. Scandinavian countries even suggested to the UN that both India and Pakistan be shifted to the North Pole. Tanzania agreed.

The nature of the Indo-Pak relations has somewhat changed ever since the 9/11 episode in which CIA agents staged a devastating attack on the the Twin Towers in New York and blamed it on a couple of pious Arabs preaching peace.

Many believe India does not pose a threat to Pakistan and vice versa, but whereas this has left some Indian generals feeling kind of bored and all, some Pakistanis think this is yet another CIA conspiracy.

They think those preaching peace between India and Pakistan are trying to sell-out the Kashmir cause and should be labeled as traitors. Tanzania agrees.

However, perturbed by the boredom being felt by Indian generals and politicians, the large Indian polity elected a pious Hindu, Narendra Mo’Selfle, as India’s new Prime Minister. He castigated the former Indian PM, Bishan Singh Bedi, for accepting boring peace overtures of the Pakistanis and not being paranoid enough.

He promised his generals at least three more wars against Pakistan, at least two against China, and at least one each against Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Mongolia. To demonstrate his resolve he arrested a dangerous Pakistani spy (a pigeon) and handed it over to the head of the Indian intelligence agency (a parrot).

Relations have once again deteriorated between the two countries. Tanzania feels left out.

Source: Pak-Indo relations: An overview
Published in Dawn, AUG 06, 2015 by Nadeem F. Paracha
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Old Sunday, August 30, 2015
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Default Back to the future

Back to the future

PAKISTAN’S relations with India have returned to familiar hostility. The foreseeable future looks much the same. Normalising relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government was never a likely prospect. The contrary anticipation in Islamabad was naive and delusional. Modi’s policies are driven by an ideology whose central tenet is the ‘Hinduisation’ of ‘Mother India’ which encompasses all of South Asia.

Pakistan’s eagerness to normalise relations with Modi’s India — attending his ‘inauguration’, pleading for revival of the ‘Composite Dialogue’, offering concessions on trade — were seen as signs of weakness and evidence of the differences between Pakistan’s civilian government and its ‘security establishment’. Not surprisingly, these overtures were met by intensified bullying and bluster from New Delhi.

Surprisingly, Islamabad suffered Indian insults — cancellation of the foreign secretary talks, unacceptable preconditions for restarting the Composite Dialogue, outrageous threats — in virtual silence. To add injury to insult, it accepted the skewed statement in Ufa restricting dialogue to terrorism.

India’s Western patrons point fingers at Pakistan’s defensive responses rather than the Indian military expansion.
When, in response to a domestic outcry, Pakistan’s government attempted to broaden the agenda of the planned talks between the national security advisers of the two countries, and to revive the tradition of meeting Kashmiri leaders, India issued an ultimatum opposing this, providing Islamabad a convenient excuse to cancel the ill-conceived meeting.

What will follow is a repetition of history: recrimination, rhetoric and rising tensions, manifested in at least four areas.

First: the military threat. Almost all of India’s existing and new military capabilities are being deployed against Pakistan. Doctrines of a ‘limited war’ and a ‘Cold Start’ (surprise) attack have been espoused by India’s military forces. To display his muscle, Modi may feel tempted at some point to test Pakistan’s mettle. The recent LoC violations may be an early test.

Pakistan is obliged to equip itself to deter and defend against such adventurism: modern tanks and aircraft are required to deter and defend against a conventional attack; short-range missiles to break up attacking Indian formations; long-range missiles to neutralise distant missile attack; a second strike capability to deter a pre-emptive strike.

Perversely, India’s Western patrons point fingers at Pakistan’s defensive responses rather than the Indian military expansion, which they myopically see as a counter to China’s rising power. Pakistan should demand that India’s major arms suppliers — the US, Israel and France — cease and desist, lest they destabilise deterrence and encourage another India-Pakistan war. Such a démarche can be accompanied by bold proposals for conventional and nuclear arms control, placing the onus for their rejection on India.

Second: Kashmir. The Modi-BJP government policy is to eventually change the demographic and political status of India-held Kashmir. Partici*pation in the Srinagar coalition with Kashmiri collaborationists is a first step to this end. An attempt at trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir is a likely next step.

Inevitably, these BJP moves will be met by strong resistance from the majority of Kashmiri Muslims and start another ‘intifada’. Equally inevitably, India would blame Pakistan for the insurrection, instigating a political and military crisis.

Pakistan should acknowledge that no compromise on Kashmir is possible with India at present. The possibility of a viable future settlement should not be eroded by offering pre-emptive concessions, merely to appear ‘reasonable’. The best defence is offence. Pakistan should revive the demand for implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir; raise India’s oppression of the Kashmiris in the Human Rights Council; call for the withdrawal of India’s 700,000 occupying force from India-held Kashmir; provide generous financial support to Kashmiri political parties seeking self-determination; invite them to meet in Pakistan or elsewhere and help to unify their struggle for freedom.

Third: Afghanistan. It must be anticipated that in the wake of the collapse of the Kabul-Taliban talks, India will intensify its campaign of destabilisation through enhanced support for the TTP and the Baloch insurgency from Afghanistan. Despite the recent rhetoric from President Ghani, Pakistan’s primary effort should be to help in promoting reconciliation in Afghanistan in exchange for Kabul’s action to neutralise the TTP and the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). With appropriate incentives and pressure, the Afghan Taliban, under Mullah Mansour, can be persuaded to resume the talks with Kabul and perhaps to agree to a partial de-escalation of violence. However, Pakistan may have to consider unilateral action to root out the TTP from its safe havens in Afghanistan if Kabul and its allies prove unable or unwilling to do so. Such direct action is authorised under several resolutions of the Security Council.

Fourth: the media and diplomatic ‘war’. With active support from the Western media and think tanks, India has been hugely successful in portraying Pakistan as a failing state and the source of terrorism and nuclear proliferation. India’s monumental shortcomings and dysfunctionality remain well-hidden. New Delhi will no doubt now intensify this campaign to ‘isolate’ Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to activate its diplomatic and media machinery to counter this Indian campaign and regain the narrative. A viable way has to be found to conform with international legality regarding the Lashkar-e-Taiba. It will not be difficult to justify contacts with the Afghan Taliban if Pakistan is successful in securing resumption of the talks with Kabul.

These defensive steps should be accompanied by a campaign of offence. Apart from the actions suggested here on arms control and Kashmir, a systematic effort is required to expose India’s historical and current role as a state sponsor of terrorism. As a first step, the three dossiers prepared for the aborted NSA talks on India’s support for the TTP and BLA should be made public and circulated as official documents at the UN. Also, the scope and success of Pakistan’s anti-terrorist operation, Zarb-i-Azb, and NAP need to be more extensively projected to the world community and media.

Only once India realises that it cannot intimidate Pakistan into submission will it agree to negotiate normalisation on the basis of equality and rationality. This is unlikely until Modi and the BJP have passed from power. Pakistan has lived with Indian hostility for 68 years. While war must be avoided through deterrence and diplomacy, Pakistan can wait a while longer to establish a normal relationship with India.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

Source: Back to the future
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2015
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Default Dialogue: Sound and fury

Dialogue: Sound and fury

How do you reach a deadlock before even entering into the room for talks? Why scuttle the talks through bickering over an agreed text? Why has there been sudden flare-up in the violence and hardening of positions by both sides? Which side fared better in addressing its domestic constituency in the latest bizarre fiasco around Indo-Pak talks?

Ufa and domestic backlash

The meeting of PM Narendra Modi and PM Nawaz Sharif, in the Russian city of Ufa, had come after a year of intense acrimony. The joint statement laid down that their National Security Advisers (NSAs) will meet to discuss “all issues connected with terrorism” in New Delhi. However, to the surprise of many in Pakistan, Kashmir found no explicit mention in the Ufa joint statement. On return to Pakistan, PML-N government came under intense pressure for Ufa statement being too “one-sided”.

For the domestic audience in Pakistan, the terrorism-centric NSA talks were a “give” to New Delhi by PM Nawaz. Successive Indian governments had long sought exclusive talks on terrorism, but Pakistan had always refused to engage on these terms. Thus, for PM Nawaz to agree to “terrorism only” talks, without any significant “take”, in the form of resumption of Composite Dialogue, from PM Modi, was seen as conceding too much.

The domestic backlash revealed the thin political capital of PM Sharif. The PTI-led political turmoil of last year, structural constraints of civil-military relations and security-centric India policy of Pakistan compounded the challenge for PM Sharif. These factors did not allow PM Sharif much room to maneuver.

In India, supporters of Bhartiya Janta Party projected the Ufa statement as a major triumph of PM Modi. No reference to Kashmir, and managing a terrorism-centric future interaction were projected as a victory. For PM Modi, this domestic spin was necessary because he had to protect himself from the charge of having taken a U-turn after scuttling bilateral parleys last year on the pretext of Pakistan’s intention to consult the All Party Hurriyat Committee (APHC) leadership.

Why the Pakistan-India NSA talks came to naught

In the days and weeks following Ufa, ceasefire violations and a heavy exchange of mortar, rocket and machine gun fire escalated. During the months of July-August Pakistan accused India of 70 ceasefire violations across LoC. In turn, India accused Pakistan of 91 ceasefire violations in the same time period. Each summoned the others’ diplomats to lodge protests. However, despite border provocations the NSAs agreed to meet, which seemed an attempt at managing the violence and controlling the prospects of an escalation spiral.

To placate domestic constituencies and seeking to emphasise the centrality of Kashmir, Islamabad took two additional measures: first, the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi invited the leadership of the APHC for a meeting with the Pakistani NSA, Sartaj Aziz, after the planned NSAs meeting. Second, the agenda put forward by Pakistan in addition to talks on terrorism, also called for exploring ‘modalities’ for future discussion on all issues, including Kashmir. It was a euphemism for resuming Composite Dialogue.

New Delhi took these actions as provocations challenging its new ‘redlines’ set last year by the abrupt cancellation of Foreign Secretary talks, and also termed it as violating the Ufa joint statement. To thwart the APHC-Aziz meeting, the Modi government first put the leadership of the APHC under house arrest. However, after persuasion by the PDP government in Indian controlled Jammu & Kashmir, Modi government released the APHC leaders, except Syed Ali Shah Gilani.

Pushing Islamabad back, Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also advised Pakistan, publicly, to not meet the APHC leadership, as it was against the spirit of the Ufa understanding. The MEA urged Pakistan to focus on single point agenda to ‘jointly combat terrorism’. Unsurprisingly, the Pakistani Foreign Office (FO) refused to accept the ‘advice’, and announced that it was ready to partake in talks, but without any ‘preconditions’.

Next came the press conferences of Mr Sartaj Aziz and Ms Sushma Swaraj, Indian Minister of External Affairs. Mr Aziz reiterated the Pakistani stand, and also waved a dossier he intended to give the Indian NSA on the activities of RAW in Pakistan. He termed the Pakistani push for expanding the agenda in line with preamble of Ufa statement, and expressed willingness to meet his Indian counter-part but “without any preconditions”. In response Ms Swaraj told Pakistan in clear terms that if Mr Aziz only intends to talk ‘terrorism’ issues and not meet the APHC, then he is welcome in New Delhi. She categorically de-linked NSA talks from composite dialogue. Thus, the option of participating in “terror” only talks was left to Pakistan, and predictably, Islamabad refused.

Posturing for domestic audiences

The latest round of recriminations was exchanged through the media. Both sides were, in fact, addressing their own constituencies by engaging in this public exchange. In the Pakistani and Indian media Kashmir-centric developments, i.e., detention and then release of APHC leadership, Pakistani invite to APHC leadership and attempts to expand the agenda dominated the discussions. Terrorism, which was supposed to be the focus of talks, became the sub-text.

This put New Delhi in a bind: If it cancels the NSA level talks, then it will be blamed for irresponsible behaviour by Pakistan and the international community. Moreover, cancellation also meant that in future Islamabad will not agree to such high-level talks focusing only on issues “connected with terrorism”. Conversely, it appeared even if ‘terror only’ talks proceeded, Kashmir and the APHC-Aziz meeting would have been the major story on prime time in both countries.

Thus, India hardened its position. It made new ‘redlines’ non-negotiable. In doing so, Modi government sent a message to its domestic constituency that it was re-writing the terms of engagement with Pakistan, and will not allow Islamabad to expand the agenda without first addressing terrorism. Scuttling of talks means New Delhi is back to where it was before Ufa, insistent on the APHC redline.

Islamabad’s message to its constituencies, after the Ufa backlash, was an exercise in damage control. The Sharif government signaled that it will not be pressured into talks with a restrictive agenda, that engagement with New Delhi would be on an even keel and that the APHC and Kashmir remain central to Pakistan’s India policy. Meanwhile, India’s knee-jerk reaction revived the political support of the APHC and once again made, Kashmir a central topic in India-Pakistan discussion. Islamabad has achieved its objectives, for now.

What next?

Acrimony marks the scuttling of NSA talks. Another period of free-fall in the relationship will follow; ceasefire violations will increase and tensions will escalate. Both sides will adopt a policy of punitive retaliation. This will continue until, encouraged by the international community, the two sides could resume engagement. And the next round of talks is not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. But, before that stage is reached, both sides need to introspect.

In Pakistan, PM Sharif needs to initiate and lead a national conversation on Pakistan’s India problem and its future. For his part, PM Sharif is keen for continuous engagement with India, but his challenge is to balance a security-driven India policy of Pakistan that seeks meaningful dialogue on longstanding issues before normalisation.

PM Modi should also re-think his Pakistan strategy. His ‘act tough with Pakistan’ policy and periodic reaching for talks to show that he can set the agenda is not working. Modi, by ratcheting up rhetoric against Pakistan and setting non-negotiable “new redlines” is looking at Pakistan through a security perspective. This in turn, mirrors the security-centric India policy of Pakistan.

Thus, India and Pakistan are at a diplomatic gridlock. Having addressed domestic audiences, will Islamabad and New Delhi move forward? Will PM Sharif and PM Modi show statesmanship?

Source: Dialogue: Sound and fury

The writer is Research Fellow at Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 30th, 2015
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Default Can coercive diplomacy work?

Can coercive diplomacy work?

The relations between India and Pakistan are currently at their lowest point. Even in the worst periods in the past, the situation did not deteriorate to such a level that the two countries exchanged fire at the Line of Control (LoC) every other day. The Pakistan Rangers-Indian Border Security Force (BSF) meeting in New Delhi ended on a positive note on September 12, engendering the hope that there will now be peace and stability at the LoC. This hope did not materialise. It was all quiet at the LoC while the Pakistan Rangers and the BSF were holding meetings. The violent action resumed after the return of the Pakistani delegation. This means the firing is not an accidental development, but part of a carefully crafted policy. There is hardly any incentive for the Pakistan Rangers and the military to initiate firing on the LoC or the Working Boundary. Pakistan’s security forces are fully engaged in counterterrorism operations in North Waziristan and other tribal areas, which is their highest priority. The Rangers are busy undertaking a counterterrorism operation in Karachi and they have to deal with terrorist incidents in other parts of Pakistan from time to time, the latest being the terrorist attack on the Badhaber Air Base in Peshawar. The security of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is another priority. There is hardly any reason for the Pakistan Army to open a new front at the LoC.

Keeping in mind India’s global aspirations, including the desire to get a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council, it makes no sense for India to escalate conflict with Pakistan. A good number of people in that country recognise that the current escalation of tension at the LoC is an exercise in futility if India wants to be a player of significance in Asia and pursue its global agenda. Peaceful relations with Pakistan can facilitate India’s global diplomacy. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his foreign policy and national security team have developed an erroneous notion of putting Pakistan under military pressure, while keeping this issue out of sight of the international community. This may provide the Modi government some immediate gains in the domestic context by strengthening its support in the political far-right circles and among Hindu hard line and extremists groups that traditionally have a strong anti-Pakistan disposition.

Since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, India’s defence establishment has been exploring ways to bring Pakistan under military pressure without provoking an all-out war due mainly to the nuclear factor. They explored different options such as a limited war, surgical air strike or ground operation on the alleged camps of militant groups in Pakistani Kashmir, the resort to what was described as the ‘Cold Start’ and financial support to terrorists and other dissident groups in Pakistan. None of these ideas were put to practice because of the fear of escalation. However, from January 2013, India began to resort to frequent firing across the LoC, which was responded to sharply by Pakistan.

It was after the assumption of power by Modi in May 2014 that the plan to keep Pakistan under military pressure was put into action in a persistent manner and India adopted a tougher stance on India-Pakistan problems. Though the dialogue between the two countries got suspended during the days of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was the Modi government that refused to revive the composite dialogue and demanded that Pakistan first satisfy India on terrorism related issues. India, thus, reduced its relations with Pakistan to one based on a single issue. It also placed the condition that Pakistani officials visiting India could not meet Hurriyat leaders. Furthermore, India returned to its classical position on Kashmir, declaring that no talks were possible on Kashmir as it was an integral part of India. Pakistan, too, has returned to its traditional stand on Kashmir, that the future of the state be determined by a plebiscite on the basis of the 1948-49 UN resolutions. There is a consensus in Pakistan on the part of the civilian and military authorities and political circles that there is little chance of improvement of bilateral relations as long as Modi is in power. It is also widely believed that if Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, the Modi government would have gone for a major military action. Pakistan plans to counter India’s military pressure by embarking on tough diplomacy by raising the major India-Pakistan conflicts at various international forums and in its bilateral interaction with the states that maintain close relations with India. The issues include the Kashmir dispute, India’s coercive diplomacy that adversely affects Pakistan’s effort to control terrorism and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, and India’s funding to some Pakistani Taliban factions and other terrorists groups, and financial support to dissident groups in Balochistan.

India is expected to reject these charges and frame counter-charges against Pakistan. This means that bilateral disputes will figure prominently at the international level on a regular basis. Pakistan and India need to revisit the 2004-07 composite dialogue between the two countries, with the objective of reviving it on all contentious issues. Pakistan’s then foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, in his recent book Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove provides step-by-step details of the India-Pakistan dialogue process and its difficulties. His discussion of Pakistan’s interaction with India for evolving a framework for a workable resolution of the Kashmir dispute can help the two countries break the current stalemate in their relations.

India needs to take the initiative in starting the dialogue process on a mutually-agreed agenda. Otherwise, both countries will soon be engaged in a diplomatic war of words against each other at the global level. This will hurt India’s interest more than that of Pakistan. By pursuing this strident approach, India also strengthens Pakistan’s hardline Islamic groups. Such an approach is counter-productive to India’s policy of controlling terrorism. A meaningful and sustained dialogue between the two countries offers a better hope for peace as opposed to India’s current policy of coercive diplomacy.

Source: Can coercive diplomacy work?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2015.
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Default India-Pakistan economic cooperation

India-Pakistan economic cooperation

Considering the effects of a large market, regional cooperation will invariably lead to a larger market size for the products of the region as it will allow free movement and lower tariff rates

The terms economic union and economic cooperation have gained momentum. The implemented and impending policies for forming trade alliances have their source in the discipline of international trade and economics. To study wider regional cooperation, it is important for a person to have knowledge of international economics, to know what international trade theories are and how they specifically apply to Pakistan and India trade relations.

First of all, the economic theory of comparative advantage explains that two countries can trade to their mutual benefit even when one is more efficient than the other in producing everything and the producers in the less efficient economy can compete only by paying lower wages. To examine how this model applies to Pakistan and its neighbours first consider that Pakistan is a country that is of fairly medium size compared to its neighbours vis-à-vis India, China and Russia according to its resources and population. As we are producing cement, textiles and ceramics due to our labour expertise and resource availability, it is very hard for us to compete with India in the software sector and with China in electronics and gadgets. Now it is equally expensive for these countries to compete with Pakistan on the aforementioned sectors. Thus, according to an economist’s point of view, there is very little room for fears of Indian hegemony or of China destroying our markets. Trade and economic cooperation with these countries is going to be extremely beneficial only if Pakistan develops the right sectors at right time and then exports its surplus.

Secondly, let us look at the Heckscher-Ohlin Model and its implications for possible Pakistan India joint ventures. According to the Heckscher-Ohlin Model the biased effect of increase in resources on production possibilities is key to understanding how difference in resources give rise to international trade, stimulates it and makes it beneficial to all concerned. Through economic cooperation in the region the supply of land and labour is going to increase disproportionately for both India and Pakistan as compared with the production of silk or petroleum goods. Now, if China on one hand is good at producing silk and the Middle East is good for petroleum products again the point is that it would be beneficial for both India and Pakistan to supply food and cloth to international markets and take petroleum and silk in return.

According to the theory of economies of scale and economic cooperation, the more the firms there are in an industry, the higher the average cost because the average labour input decreases as we increase total output. Thus, this theory advocates joint ventures between the firms of groups of countries that produce the same product and production on large-scale to ward-off high costs.

Similarly, considering the experience curve theory, a country that has extensive experience in an industry may have lower unit cost than another country with little experience. Regional alliances can also help to get the same industries to learn experiences from an old industrialised country. Once trade barriers are lifted these specialised items can become cheaper in the countries that do not produce them. At the level of India and Pakistan such an alliance may come with the relatively new Pakistani film industry and a mature, more experienced Indian film industry.

Considering the effects of a large market, regional cooperation will invariably lead to a larger market size for the products of the region as it will allow free movement and lower tariff rates. An increase in the size of the market allows each firm to produce more and thus have lower average cost. The firms and economies of the region can be extremely beneficial from such alliances; for example the combined population of all countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region is more than 1.650019 trillion and the demand for a product can rise by the factor of n.

If economic integration occurs among SAARC countries, the economies of scale will dictate that each country produce its specialised range of products in a specific region, i.e. fan industry in Gujrat (Pakistan) and automobile industry in Pune (India). The effectiveness of such specialisation can be observed in the future with the end result of Pakistan supplying India with better quality lower cost fans and India exporting locally made cars. On the same footing Pakistan can produce seats or other automobile parts for the Indian car industry at a lower cost, opening doors for intra-industry trade in specialised goods. This is indeed the scenario of the future when more industrialisation occurs in the region. This will pave the way for external economies of scale to locate specialised suppliers in the same region. The specialised labour market can be found in the vicinity i.e. the I.T. professional from Pakistan could travel to Bangalore and contribute expertise to this developed sector over there. Also, the technical staff present in the area can gain from knowledge spill overs that occur if many firms of the same industry can be localised in a specific region.

Thus, most trade policy measures are undertaken primarily to protect the income of producers. In such a case it is the duty of politicians to go for an optimum tariff rate that should be lower than the rate the producers actually demand. All the regional organisations of which Pakistan is a part are trying to do the same. Secondly, the domestic failure argument in favour of such measures is very strong. At best, economists believe that internal market failures should be corrected by domestic policies aimed at problem sources and that the public in trading economies should be well guided as to the true costs of trade policy instruments.

As we have covered all the important economic theories of international trade, the lesson is that these theories only give a general idea for policy direction. Policy implementation is the most important and difficult part in how the government acts for the betterment of its people. The theories of economics guide us to have more free trade within the region. The policies emanating from these theories should be put to action keeping in view the special case of India and Pakistan and the holistic view of the management and development of economies within the local market. Increase in supply of goods would cut down costs in the local market and export gains can be made but the question remains: are the countries and industrialists within these countries ready for this change to act jointly? If fruit should be reaped from economies of scale, better joint ventures of firms appear to be the norm. Again the question is: are the two countries and other countries in the region ready to unite for joint productions? These questions are indeed important. Theories dictate having open borders and free trade but, at the same time, our policy makers should not overlook and forget the problems and hurdles associated with policy and try to address them for the economic stability of regional nations as a whole. Pakistan and India must continue to increase their economic activity irrespective of border and political disputes. As in other parts of the world like the European Union, economic integration and interests can lead to a resolution of political conflicts.

Danish Ahmed Khan is assistant professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology. He can be contacted at Dr Abdur Rehman Cheema is assistant professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT). He can be contacted at

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Default India and Pakistan’s Enduring Standoff

by Asma Jahangir, human rights lawyer and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan

The subcontinent has lived through hostilities, partitions, massive killings and even genocide; to achieve lasting peace, the century-old conflict between Pakistan and India must be tackled. But the failure of the region’s leaders to learn the lessons of its past continue to threaten serious implications for its future. This was evident in India and Pakistan’s celebrations of Defence Day, held on the 6th of September 2015. On this day, in 1965, both countries went to war. This year’s celebrations reached a new height of jingoism as each state declared victory over the other. A senior Indian official warned Pakistan to “behave” or be prepared to suffer smart strikes from across the border. Pakistan in return threatened that the attack could elicit a nuclear response.

Skirmishes at the border had already killed innocent military and civilians on both sides: each blamed the other for starting the firing. The media played up the tragedy, adding fuel to the already burning animosities between the two neighbours.

The official image of animosity, though, is not shared by most of its people. A Pakistani child who travelled to India for treatment for an ailing heart was warmly welcomed by Indians. Pakistani shopkeepers and taxi drivers refused to charge money from Indian visitors to a cricket match in Lahore. An Indian film showing how a young man rescues a Pakistani child, who could not speak, and manages to reunite her with her family is a box office hit in both countries. Businesses plead for a liberal trade policy between the countries. People-to-people exchanges have overrun the visa offices of India and Pakistan’s consulates. Yet, peace is nowhere in sight.

Pakistan’s establishment insists that there can be no meaningful talks with India without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

India, on the other hand, agrees to discuss the “K” issue — as they describe it — if Pakistan genuinely gives up protecting and sponsoring terrorism. The denials and accusations are unending. Pakistan’s love of the Kashmiris has not brought Kashmir any relief. On the contrary, the Kashmiri freedom movement lost moral high ground after being infiltrated by militants exported by Pakistanis, a development that gave the Indian state an excuse to increase oppression in the Valley of Srinagar, where Muslims are in a majority. Politicians in India and the military leadership in Pakistan also continue to play to the extremists within their countries: communal politics in India has electoral appeal, while Pakistan’s military relies heavily on nationalistic and Islamist sentiments to wield power overtly or covertly.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spill across the region. Proxy war between the two countries is played out in Afghanistan: India is spending huge amounts in building infrastructure in the country, while Pakistan keeps a cozy relationship with the Afghan Taliban hoping to influence the political tilt through them. Nepal is being used by the intelligence agencies of both countries to infiltrate the other with spies. The Awami League in Bangladesh is perceived to be pro-India: its arch rival is thus supported by Pakistan.
Stability in South Asia can only be reached if there is a truce between India and Pakistan.

All political parties in Pakistan support talks and building peace with India, but the real power lies with Pakistan’s military. In India too, secular politicians want talks, but the ultra-right wing holds sway. Unless domestic politics in both states take a conciliatory turn, peace talks will continue to be disrupted. It is, therefore, critical that the international community adopt a long term policy toward the region rather than continue to focus on short term gains. Policy initiatives should encourage a step-by-step relationship-building, and could start with encouraging the two states to withdraw their troops from the Siachin glacier in Kashmir where, for nineteen years, both armies have continued to hold positions despite the loss of over 2,000 soldiers to extreme weather conditions.

Certainly the current approach — which includes eulogising India’s prime minister and activities that only serve to build the public image of Pakistan’s army chief — will ultimately prove counterproductive. As we look to the future, one thing is certain: if the international community fails to encourage both countries to resolve their outstanding issues, South Asia will remain hostage to war mongers and communal politics.

Source: The crisis Group
Independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.
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Default Win Pak-India nuke war?

Win Pak-India nuke war?

That Pakistan may first use nuclear weapons in a future war with India was announced last week by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry. Coming just two days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Oct 22 visit to Washington, this could be considered a reiteration of the army’s well-known stance. But, significantly it came from the Foreign Office rather than GHQ or Strategic Plans Division. Coming from both ends of the power spectrum, this confirms that Pakistan has drastically shifted its nuclear posture.

In the late 1980s, Pakistan had viewed nuclear weapons very differently; they were the last-ditch means to deter a possible nuclear attack by India. But Pakistan now says it intends to use low-yield nuclear bombs, also called tactical nuclear weapons, to forestall the possible advance of Indian troops into Pakistan under India’s ‘Cold Start’ operational doctrine.

Floated by Gen Deepak Kapoor in 2010, Cold Start calls for cutting Pakistan into “salami slices” as punishment for hosting yet another Mumbai-style terrorist attack inside India. It assumes that this limited action would not provoke a nuclear exchange. India strenuously denies that such a doctrine is official or that it has been made operational.

This denial cut no ice across the border. In 2011 a successful test of the Nasr “shoot and scoot” short-ranged missile was announced by ISPR, the Pakistan military’s official voice. Ensconced inside a multiple-barrelled mobile launcher the four 60-kilometre-range missiles are said to be tipped with nuclear warheads each roughly one-tenth the size of a Hiroshima-sized weapon. Pakistan says these tactical weapons will not destabilise the current balance or pose significant command and control problems, a claim that many believe as incorrect.

At the end both India and Pakistan would win, having taught the other a terrible lesson.
Pakistan is not the first country tempted by nuclear force multipliers. Nor, as claimed by ISPR, is making small warheads a significant technical feat. In fact in the 1950s the Americans had developed even smaller ones with sub-kiloton yields, and placed them on the Davy Crockett recoilless guns deployed at forward positions along the Turkey-USSR border. The nuclear shell, with a blast yield that would be dialled as required, could be fired by just two infantrymen. This was a tempting alternative to artillery but the Americans were eventually unnerved by the prospect of two soldiers setting off a nuclear war on their own initiative. The weapon was withdrawn and decommissioned after a few years.

Wars are fought to be won, not to be lost. So how will Pakistan’s new weapons help us win a war? This fundamental question is never even touched. But let us assume their use in a post Mumbai-II scenario. For every (small) mushroom cloud on Pakistani territory, roughly a dozen or more Indian main battle tanks and armoured vehicles would be destroyed. After many mushrooms, the invasion would stop dead in its tracks and a few thousand Indian troops would be killed. Pakistan would decisively win a battle.

But then what? With the nuclear threshold crossed for the first time since 1945, India would face one of two options: to fight on or flee. Which it will choose is impossible to predict because much will depend upon the extant political and military circumstances, as well as the personalities of the military and political leaders then in office.

Official Indian policy calls for massive retaliation. In 2013, reacting officially to Pakistan, Shyam Saran, the head of the National Security Advisory Board (the apex body concerned with security matters) declared that, “India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if it is attacked with such weapons, it would engage in nuclear retaliation which will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage on its adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, is irrelevant from the Indian perspective”.

Simply stated: whether struck by a micro-nuke or mini-nuke or city-buster, and whether on its own soil or outside its borders, India says it will consider itself under nuclear attack and react accordingly.

This is plain stupid. It violates the principle of proportionate retaliation and pushes aside the barriers to hell. But could the NSAB be bluffing? It may be that if push comes to shove, India will not actually launch its large nuclear weapons. The sensible instinct of self-preservation might somehow prevail, and the subcontinent live to see another morning.

More likely is that in the heat of the moment, reckless passions will rage and caution will take a backseat. A tit-for-tat exchange could continue until every single weapon, small and large, is used up on either side. It is difficult to imagine how any war termination mechanism could work even if, by some miracle, the nuclear command and control centres remain intact. At the end both India and Pakistan would win, having taught the other a terrible lesson. But neither would remain habitable.

The subcontinent’s military and political leaders are not the first to believe that a nuclear war can remain limited, and perhaps even won. President Reagan puzzled over the possibility of Armageddon, uncertain whether or not God was commanding him to destroy earth or to leave it in His hands. Allen Dulles, the first CIA director, had repeatedly railed against the stupidity of those Americans, “who draw an ‘artificial’ distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons and cannot realise that atomic bombs should be treated like bullets”.

Tactical nukes will not make Pakistan more secure. This dangerous programme should be immediately abandoned. Nukes may win a battle for us but at the cost of losing Pakistan. Instead our security lies in ensuring that Pakistan’s territory is not used for launching terror attacks upon our neighbours. We must explicitly renounce the use of covert war to liberate Kashmir — a fact hidden from none and recently admitted to by Gen Musharraf.

As for India: your security depends upon adopting a less belligerent attitude towards Pakistan, stopping a menacing military build-up that is spooking all your neighbours, and realising that respect is earned through economic rather than military strength.

These are tall orders for both countries. Any optimism is currently unwarranted.

The writer teaches physics in Islamabad and Lahore.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2015
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