Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Stable Pakistan and India

When the then President of United States Bill Clinton visited India in 2000, he observed that the Indian Subcontinent is a ‘nuclear flashpoint’. Though this observation invited immediate condemnation from his Indian Counterpart K R Narayanan, it remains a truth that the mutual distrust between two of the youngest nuclear weapon nations in the world is a matter of grave concern. While there is no reason to worry about the security of India’s nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands, it’s not beyonddoubt whether Pakistan, currently led by a fragile civilian Government under the strict watch of its independent Army and the ISI, can safeguard its warheads from extremist elements. This concern is shared by India and the United States, two of the main stakeholders in the affairs of Pakistan. They believe that only a ‘stable’ Pakistan can ensure the safety and security of more than 1.5 billion people of the subcontinent. Pakistan, from it very birth in 1947 along with India, has remained an unstable democracy. During the 63 years of independence, the nation was under military rule for 33 years, the last phase culminating with General Pervez Musharraf resigning from the Army and handing over the baton to Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The civilian government under Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani went through tough times when PML-N withdrew its outside support, but has managed to survive till date. The power struggle between the Premier and the President Zardari also raised doubts on who exactly is in control of the nation. With contradictory statements coming out from the two offices, Indian PM while on a visit to the United States last November said, “I do not think whether we have a partner right now. I think when General Pervez Musharraf was there (president of Pakistan), I was to ask him and he said well I am the army, I represent the armed forces, and I represent the people. Now I do not know whom to deal with. It is not clear if the president is in charge of the army.”The present indications from Pakistan, though seems clearer with the Zardari neutralised and Gilani asserting his powers as the Prime Minister. But whether a stable neighbour is in the best of our interest is still a topic being debated. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the strongest advocate of talks with Pakistan, asserting that the only alternative to talks is war. The fact that the recent Foreign Secretary level talks went on despite the Pune blasts indicate this paradigm shift in India’s position since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Despite overwhelming support within the administration for the ongoing talks with Pakistan, there arises a historical inaccuracy regarding the stability of our sister nation helping to bring peace to our nation. When Pakistan broke-up in 1971 resulting in the formation of Bangladesh, 20 years of peace followed. With no funding from the earlier East Pakistan, rebels in Nagaland and Mizoram died down. From Kashmir Insurgency to Kargil War to the attack on Indian Parliament, all happened when Pakistan was either under a civilian rule or a stable military rule. If at all India is supporting the secessionist movement in the Baloch province, our has nothing but gains from it. Because it is beyond reasonable doubt, that a stable Pakistan, is not in the interest of India.

P.S: This article doesn't conform to my views. I am in support of a stable, democratic Pakistan and for talks between the warring nieghbours.

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