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In Another Lifetime: A Roadmap to Peace for Pakistan and India –part 3



The third and final part of this paper deliberates on the roadmap to peace itself.

Roadmap to Peace

The road map includes the following and should be followed linearly.

  1. A Novel Kashmir Approach With Some “Give and Takes”
  2. Independent Overseer/Investigator
  3. Economic Relations Take Centre Stage
  4. Political, Cultural, Military CBM’s
  5. Outside the Box Approach for Kashmir

A Novel Kashmir Approach With Some “Give and Takes”

The paper suggests that rather than deliberating and bickering on whom Kashmir belongs to (and to hold a plebiscite), there should be no such discussions for at least 10 years. Let the territorial status quo maintain and instead of debating upon the territorial qualms, both countries should solely work towards improving Pakistan-Indian economic relations in the first 5 years and in the next 5 begin focusing on socio-cultural, military, and political CBM’s.

This kind of strategy seems to find favour with Lt. General Singh of India, who suggests freezing of the situation with regards to Kashmir and then gradually opening the borders for economic cooperation and increased people-to-people contact. This emphasis on the economic relations initially and then commencing political, social, and other CBM’s on its foundations must be extended towards the entirety of Kashmir as well.

Unfortunately, Kashmir, on both sides of the LoC, has suffered due to two regional powers playing tug of war with it. The issue has not come close to being resolved in more than 70 years and due to the historical militarization, the proliferation of proxies and hostile politics, Kashmiris have been the main fatalities. This should not be considered as deprioritizing Kashmir and furthermore should not be discerned as counterproductive and controversial.

Kashmir is interwoven with the emotions of all Pakistanis, but the reality is that with a weak economy and modest international stature, Pakistan cannot effectively deliberate the Kashmir issue (especially since India is second only to China in terms of economic and international stature in the region). This needs to be communicated effectively to the people of Pakistan especially the Kashmiris.

The major Kashmiri political and religious parties such as the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (JKPDP), APHC, the Pakistani government, and the Indian government must work jointly towards this end. It should not be seen as Pakistan forsaking Kashmiris but only that the traditional “Kashmir first policy” in a weak position will and has caused greater harm to Pakistan and Kashmir in totality.

What should be communicated to the Kashmiris and the rest of the country is that Pakistan and India would work together for the sake of Kashmir – both countries should strive to develop better educational and health facilities, improve the networks of roads and infrastructure, augment intra-LoC trade, liberalize visas so Kashmiris on both sides can move easily. This human development side of the new Kashmir policy will benefit not only Kashmir but will bring both nations closer.

“Give and takes” means that both countries need to give each other space for this roadmap to succeed. As India has always acknowledged Kashmir to be one of the issues while Pakistan has signalled it to be the primary issue, this new stance of Pakistan will be welcomed with much glee by the Indian government.

Pakistan has blamed India’s brutal machinations in J&K as the key cause of dissent, while India has continually blamed Pakistan for supporting proxies and instigating the Kashmiris in J&K. The truth, however, as mentioned earlier is that Pakistan has significantly clamped down its proxy efforts in J&K especially since 9/11. The September 11 attacks and the ensuing environment of zero tolerance for terror-based violence made organized violence a less attractive route.

Pakistan has militarily decimated the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main terror outfit in the country, as well as other groups in the past decade. The problem for the country lies with the pro-Pakistan militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that the country has supported against India in the past. These groups cannot be dismantled in one sweeping motion as they have a huge welfare network across the country.

In addition to having a well-established network of educational facilities across the country, LeT offers blood banks, mobile clinics and ambulance services. Therefore, abolishing a militant organization such as LeT would not only cause the group to turn anti-state but would also mobilize the masses in certain areas of the country to their support – this would lead to another insurgency similar to the one Pakistan faced after 2001.

Conversely, the country must neutralize these militant outfits somehow, as international pressure regarding this issue is immense. The international community, however, especially India, must not turn a blind eye to sacrifices made by Pakistan and its population vis-à-vis terrorism. As stated, this new Kashmir policy will expressively signal to India that Pakistan truly wants better relations and also suggests that the country has not only been trying but will expedite its policy of eliminating militancy.

India has stated that dialogue shall not initiate until Pakistan eliminates its support for terrorism across the LoC and other parts of India. The ball, then, so to speak, would be in India’s court. Under the new Kashmir policy, Pakistan will be providing massive space to India by disclaiming that the territorial status quo should be unchallenged for 10 years. India would realistically be pleased by this decision and hopefully would see the need to reciprocate in kind to meet Pakistan’s huge step.

Pakistan should demand that India cease hostilities in Kashmir and maybe even reduce its military presence in the region. This allows pressure off Pakistan from its own public as India’s decision would alleviate the stress on the Kashmiri people. Furthermore, it will reinforce that the decision taken by the Pakistanis is a sound one as it has loosened the noose around the Kashmiri people.

Cordial relations and economic ties with India will benefit the whole of Pakistan including Kashmir – and of course India as well. Without the reassessing of myopic policies, Pakistan will only suffer. Pakistan does not gain an inch of territory by inciting troubles in Kashmir and it subsequently jeopardizes talks on the bilateral level.

At the same time, it does not help that India’s hard-line security policy and its own disregard towards Kashmiri discontent has led to yet another Kashmiri uprising in Indian controlled Kashmir. To ensure this new Kashmir policy succeeds, Pakistan should cease any funding and training of insurgent groups, while India should focus on reducing military and providing strong institutions and a pure sense of democracy in the region.

Independent Overseer/Investigator

To ensure the peace process and CBMs that would initiate after the first facet is implemented are not derailed, an independent international organization should oversee and investigate any attack or any triggering event that could potentially disrupt the peace process. Setting up such a body is integral due to each country’s history of blaming the other when a triggering event occurs and this leads to the dissolution of the peace process.

Both countries should jointly decide which countries’ nationals be a part of the group, how many members the body should have, and other technicalities. After these formalities are completed, both countries should sign a formal document that empowers the overseer body with pre-determined powers which includes investigatory powers, and also that its decision should be final and accepted by both countries.

On several occasions in the past, India has blamed Pakistan for orchestrating an attack even before starting an investigation and vice versa. Due to the fragile nature of Pakistan-India relations, any slight misunderstanding can lead to hyperbole, and due to prejudices produced by the “enemy syndrome,” many peace initiatives have collapsed on various occasions.

For example, the 1992 bilateral peace process between both countries was halted by the desecration of Babri Mosque by Hindu extremists in India; in 1992, the Lahore Declaration ceased due to fighting in the Kargil sector; and the Composite Dialogue between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee in 2003 was paused due to the Mumbai train bomb blasts in 2006.

It should be ensured that baseless allegations are not made against either country and that third parties (such as Islamic and Hindutva extremists) do not hijack the peace initiative as they have done in the past. The international organization tasked with the investigation should be the one to pin the blame on the perpetrator and not the states themselves.

Eventually, if relations drastically improve, an unbiased joint-investigation team consisting of members from both countries should replace the international overseer. It is counterproductive for any country’s international reputation and economic safety to initiate a peace process consisting of CBMs and simultaneously conduct terrorist attacks (including false flag attacks) on the country they are trying to make things work with.

However, if Pakistan or India are short-sighted enough to make such mistakes, the overseer will act as a further deterrent to each country since it would weaken its own international repute if found involved in sabotaging a peace process that they themselves initiated. Furthermore, if an attack is found to be conducted by an entity other than Pakistan and India, the non-state actors responsible would become highlighted and swift action can be taken against them by the respective state.

The preceding is especially true as there are various militant groups and proxy organizations in both countries that do not want any kind of peace process – as it is within their interests for both states to remain hostile. Although India has maintained traditionally, that a third party is superfluous and that talks should be conducted on a bilateral level, this was mainly true only for when Kashmir was being discussed.

Moreover, the third-party overseer will only come into action during an attack or after events that could possibly destabilize relations. The overseer need not have any kind of other authority over bilateral talks and CBMs of both countries. It would be advantageous for both countries to take this step to ensure the peace process has a significant chance of succeeding in this region filled with raw emotions and distrust.

To further guarantee that the states themselves do not sabotage the process, a peace accord or ceasefire should also be signed preferably ratified by certain important nations.

Economic Relations Take Centre Stage

Economic ties should be the premier focus for both countries in the first 5 years of the decade long roadmap. India has been pursuing a Pakistan-declared MFN for many years, but they must also remove non-tariff barriers on Pakistani goods. The opportunities section thoroughly detailed what both countries must do to better their economic relations – from digitizing security at the border to the removal of the list system.

All of these recommendations must be adopted. Currently, Pakistan needs better trade relations to receive cheaper exports from India and to send out its own exports directly to India’s huge market. India, on the other hand, can benefit not only by trading with Pakistan but also by taking advantage of CPEC. Therefore, Pakistan, India, and China should sit down and decide India’s role in CPEC.

As mentioned above, if executed effectively, India gets a gateway of new and improved infrastructure links in Pakistan and to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while China finds a new route connected to India and can tap the Indian energy and other markets more effectively. Furthermore, Kashmir, across the LoC, as discussed must be developed economically. Intra-LoC trade is considered the best CBM but the recommendations stated earlier must be adopted.

Since CPEC will pass through the northern areas of Pakistan to China, Kashmir, Gilgit, Skardu, etcetera would be getting important economic spillovers, improved roads, and infrastructural networks. CPEC would also augment employment in these areas. Both countries should promise to earmark money for the development of Kashmir especially in the first 5 years of this framework.

Furthermore, economic CBM’s should be strived upon during this period. For example, regular meetings between Finance Ministers to pursue economic cooperation; India granting greater concessions (decreased non-tariff barriers) to Pakistan; promoting regular Chamber of Commerce contacts on each side; formulation of a joint commission to discuss initiatives for trade improvement and non-tariff barriers.

Improvement of economic relations has dual advantages as it not only aids the economy of both nations but automatically aids in achieving healthier political and cultural relations as well. Trade is beneficial for Pakistan-India bilateral relations and that improved bilateral trade can act as a deescalating factor for both nations, contrasted with the economic isolation policy both countries have pursued so long.

Pakistan and India’s mode of cooperation would automatically benefit Kashmir as well since LoC violations would cease (or at least reduce) to the relief of the Kashmiris across both sides. The goal is to reach some extent of economic interdependence with each other within the first 5 years. This goal is integral, as it acts as a deterrent for either country trying to pursue proxy war tactics on the other’s soil.

Maintaining good trade and economic relations while trying to malign each other from behind the shadows will be counterproductive to each in the short and long term. The restrictions towards trade and other economic opportunities as cited in the aforementioned “Opportunities” section should become the focus of both countries. Not only will economic interdependence improve the economic conditions of both countries but will also lead to a strong foundation where further, more direct, political, and socio-cultural CBM’s can finally be implemented.

The premise is thus that rather than directly focusing on political and social misgivings (without a solid base) initially, only economic connectivity should be worked upon. This sole focus on economics will create a less complicated agenda for both states and will eventually allow the trust deficit to be gapped.

Political, Cultural, Military CBMs

Only after the trade and economic CBMs have played their part in fixing economic relations and setting the groundwork for further developments, can the peace process enter the next stage – i.e. mending political, socio-cultural, and military reservations. Throughout their turbulent history, Pakistan and India have found meagre success through peace dialogues and CBMs – not without a lack of trying, however.

The paper delineates some of the most important and successful ones: In 1999, the ground-breaking Lahore Declaration was signed which would ensure strategic nuclear restraint – but a few months later the limited war on Kargil ruined any progress made. The Agra Summit resulted when President Musharraf visited Agra in 2001 to meet his Indian counterpart.

The summit was a landmark peace process and both countries came close to signing a joint declaration. Both leaders discussed CBMs, Kashmir, economic activity, and so on but due to the age-old tug of war of “Kashmir” (for Pakistan) and “cross-border terrorism” (for India), the talks faltered.

India’s Lt. General Singh, however, notes that due to the internal dynamics on the Indian side, the opportunity presented by the Agra Summit on compromising on contentious issues was missed. In 2004, the Composite Dialogue began; India placed 12 CBMs to Pakistan including sports resumption, reopening rail links, visas, tourism, increasing embassy staff, etcetera. Pakistan accepted all CBM’s (it amended three) and added two more.

The Composite Dialogue in 2004 also saw the inclusion of terrorism as an agenda item for the first time. It also consisted of the “mother of all CBMs”, the Kashmir bus service, which started operations in April 2005. The strong point of the dialogue was that it continued uninterrupted for four years and that it even continued after the Ayodhya attack in 2005.

Furthermore, the authors state that there was flexibility shown from both sides and that India had agreed to continue the dialogue even if a triggering event occurs. Pakistan, under Musharraf, showed an extreme degree of flexibility on the Kashmir issue (i.e. he did not insist on a UN plebiscite to solve the issue). However, the Indians seemed reluctant to discuss Kashmir at all, to the dismay of the Pakistanis.

Although these three peace processes might not have achieved long-term prosperity, lessons should be learned from their successes and failures for future talks and CBMs. Since, with respect to the roadmap offered by the paper, Kashmir’s territorial aspect will not be discussed for 10 years, it should not hinder the dialogue as it did during the Agra Summit and others.

This paper suggests that the flexibility shown from both sides during the Composite Dialogue should be emulated especially because it continued even with the triggering events – this time, however, with an international overseer to aid things if necessary. With the increased economic activity and the improved trust deficit achieved due to the road map’s initial economic focus, a structured, multifaceted, and continuous back and forth between the two states (like the Composite Dialogue) could do wonders for both countries.

The issue of liberalizing visa regimes must be seriously contemplated. Currently, it is extremely tedious and bureaucratic to visit either country. This must be extended to Kashmir so their people can travel more seamlessly through the border. The potential of religious tourism is huge across the subcontinent with a plethora of Shrines, Mosques, Temples, Stupas, and Sikh Gurdwaras.

Familial ties can also be reinforced through familial tourism. Improving tourism offers multiple benefits as it allows citizens from the other country to not only enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the host country but more importantly helps engage them in people-to-people contact. Pakistan and India can also promote tourism in Kashmir on both sides of the border.

This would allow the average Pakistani and Indian to experience Kashmir in its totality and would aid the economy of the underdeveloped region as guesthouses, hotels, and restaurants, etcetera would be utilized. Tourism creates cultural links that can eventually heal the “enemy syndrome” mentality amongst the general populous of both countries.

Regular meetings between foreign and prime ministers (Track I diplomacy) should become a staple of Pakistan-India relations. This will also improve SAARC’s credibility and strength as turbulent relations in the past have undermined the regional organization. Track II diplomacy has found success in recent times and this should be encouraged more so. In the recent past, students, lawyers, teachers, journalists, NGO workers, and celebrities have visited each country to exhibit trust and build a lasting peace.

Track II diplomacy should run parallel with Track I diplomacy and play a supportive role to it.In 2018, Indian and other journalists were invited to 7 Division Headquarters at Miranshah, North Waziristan, which was a safe haven for terrorists, to showcase how the Pakistani armed forces have not only cleared the area of terrorism but also introduced development initiatives such as a new cricket stadium, orphanages, schools, and even a golf course.

Initiatives like these are very important because they highlight Pakistan’s struggle against terrorism. These images and narrative must penetrate through to the Indian and other international media outlets rather than the “double game” or “do more” rhetoric that constantly undermines Pakistani efforts in combatting terrorism since 2001.

Sports resumption, and as mentioned earlier, the inception of annual sports tournaments will allow people-to-people contact to increase. Initiatives like the bus service from Delhi-Lahore (commenced in 1999), and the Samjhauta Express should be reinforced, and like-minded initiatives should be started throughout. Concerning Kashmir, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service (launched in 2005) was a breakthrough in terms of CBM’s.

The bus called the Karvan-E-Aman runs weekly and has helped thousands of divided families to reunite with one another. Creating a new bus schedule that allows the bus to run throughout (or most of the week) would help even more people meet loved ones. The long-term plan should be to streamline the bureaucracies such as tedious visas, wait times, security checks, at the border and make it as easy as possible for the Kashmiris to travel back and forth on their land.

Military contacts must also be emphasized. The DGMO (Director General Military Operations) hotline (established in 1990) should be an uninterrupted line of communication between both countries especially in times of a crisis. This hotline should not be disbanded as it has been in the past due to political tensions. Nuclear CBMs should also be improved upon – for example, greater transparency towards one another’s nuclear facilities and programs should be addressed. This point cannot be stressed enough as Pakistan and India, both nuclear-armed countries, have been engaged in a decades-old arms race and a security dilemma that might not cease anytime soon.

Pakistani and Indian soldiers go abroad for training purposes in various military institutions such as the National Defence University (NDU) in America. This endeavour is also conducted in Pakistan and India but usually without the rival nations’ officers. Pakistan’s version of the NDU hosts many officers from the entire world and India should be included in this list (and vice versa). Defence cooperation must be initiated between both countries.

Lt. General Singh (2018) emphasises that India has only conducted defence cooperation in a superficial manner, especially with its neighbours – instead India should take a leaf from America’s book who proactively sought to engage with the Pakistani Army due to its pertinent position in the country. Other than this, film, TV, and journalists should contribute towards building strong ties. Pakistani and Indian media thrive on sensationalism and bashing the other.

A regulatory framework should be adopted and applied by each government that keeps the independent media sensationalism in check. A priority should be given to news that features positive developments between both countries rather than scandalous and exaggerated ones. These are only some specific examples of CBMs ranging from cultural to political that could take Pakistan-India relations to new zeniths.

Outside the Box Approach for Kashmir

While easier said than done, if the pre-requisites are present and the roadmap is followed to a certain degree at least, it would create amicable relations and a sturdy foundation for future relations. Unfortunately, the Kashmir issue without an outside the box solution will remain a dispute no matter how much the relations improve.

Even if both countries use the 10 years to shrink the economic, political, and cultural deficits, Kashmir would still be too “black and white” to solve. Pakistan will never hand over Azad Kashmir to India, and India will never hand over Jammu &Kashmir to Pakistan as a gesture of goodwill no matter how amicable relations are.

Realistically, to resolve the territorial aspect of Kashmir, both countries must leverage good bilateral relations achieved by following the roadmap and come up with an “outside the box” solution. President Musharraf displayed this when he suggested a 4-point formula in 2006 that strayed away from the historical UN plebiscite demand from the Pakistani side.

The 4 points included demilitarization in phases from both sides of the LoC; no change in the border or redrawing of borders but the movement of Kashmiris and trade will be free across the LoC; self-governance or autonomy in Kashmir without full independence; overseeing the progress via a joint supervision mechanism consisting of representatives from Pakistan, Kashmir, and India.

The paper suggests that a similar approach should be adopted if not the same. This kind of approach thinks of Kashmiris first rather than Pakistan and India — and hence is more humanitarian and selfless in its approach.


The paper deliberated on the opportunities for friendship with regards to Pakistan and India. The logic of doing this was to highlight and subsequently contemplate the contentious nature of the relationship and how to use the opportunities to overcome it. The barriers consisted of proxy wars, terrorism, international interference, Hindutva machinations, and trust deficit faced by both countries while the opportunities consisted of CPEC, trade, and collaborations in other sectors.

Keeping these barriers and opportunities in mind, the final section provides a roadmap that the paper considers applicable if certain pre-requisites and sequencing of events are done. The roadmap states that Kashmir’s territorial dispute should be put on hold for 10 years at least. An independent overseer must be involved to oversee and investigate any triggering incident that could potentially disturb the peace process.

During the 10-year time, economic relations should be the prime focus (for 5 years) after which political, socio-cultural, and military CBM’s should commence. There are obviously myriads of things that could go wrong or regional and global shifts that could hamper or even aid the process – nonetheless, a concerted and conscious effort must be made from both sides to resolve not just the Kashmir dispute but to create a lasting friendship that can be cited as a miraculous example by history.

Sarmad Ishfaq works as a research fellow for the Lahore Centre for Peace Research. He completed his Masters in International Studies and graduated as the 'Top Graduate' from the University of Wollongong in Dubai. He has several publications in peer-reviewed journals and magazines in the areas of counter-terrorism/terrorism and the geopolitics of South Asia and the GCC.

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S. Jaishankar’s ‘The India Way’, Is it a new vision of foreign policy?



S. Jaishankar has had an illustrious Foreign Service career holding some of the highest and most prestigious positions such as ambassador to China and the US and as foreign secretary of India. Since 2019 he has served as India’s foreign minister. S. Jaishankar also has a Ph.D. in international relations from JNU and his academic background is reflected in this book.

His main argument is simplistic, yet the issues involved are complex. Jaishankar argues that the world is changing fundamentally, and the international environment is experiencing major shifts in power as well as processes. China is rising and western hegemony is declining. We are moving away from a unipolar system dominated by the US to a multipolar system. Globalization is waning and nationalism and polarization is on the rise (p. 29). The old order is going away but we cannot yet glimpse what the future will look like. This is the uncertain world that Dr. Jaishankar sees.

Dr. Jaishankar also argues that India too has changed, it is more capable and more assertive. The liberalization program that began in 1991 has made the Indian economy vibrant and globally competitive and it is well on track to becoming the third biggest economy in the world, after China and the US.  The war of 1971 that liberated Bangladesh, the liberalization of the economy after 1991, the nuclear tests in 1998 and the nuclear understanding with the US in 2005, Jaishankar argues are landmarks in India’s strategic evolution (p. 4). So given that both India and the system have changed, Jaishankar concludes, so should India’s foreign policy.

But his prescription for India’s foreign policy, in the grand scheme of things, is the same as before – India should remain nonaligned and not join the US in its efforts to contain China. India will try to play with both sides it seems in order to exploit the superpowers and maximize its own interests (p. 9). But he fails to highlight how India can find common ground with China other than to say the two nations must resolve things diplomatically. He also seems to think that the US has infinite tolerance for India’s coyness. In his imagination the US will keep making concessions and India will keep playing hard to get.

Jaishankar has a profound contradiction in his thinking. He argues that the future will be determined by what happens between the US and China. In a way he is postulating a bipolar future to global politics. But he then claims that the world is becoming multipolar and this he claims will increase the contests for regional hegemony. The world cannot be both bipolar and multipolar at the same time.

There is also a blind spot in Jaishankar’s book.  He is apparently unaware of the rise of Hindu nationalism and the demand for a Hindu state that is agitating and polarizing India’s domestic politics. The systematic marginalization and oppression of Muslim minorities at home and the growing awareness overseas of the dangers of Hindutva extremism do not exist in the world that he lives in. He misses all this even as he goes on to invoke the Mahabharata and argue how Krishna’s wisdom and the not so ethical choices during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas should be a guide for how India deals with this uncertain world – by balancing ethics with realism (p. 63). Methinks his little digression in discussing the ancient Hindu epic is more to signal his ideological predilections than to add any insights to understanding the world or India’s place in it.  

One aspect of his work that I found interesting is his awareness of the importance of democracy and pluralism. He states that India’s democracy garners respect and gives India a greater opportunity to be liked and admired by other nations in the world (p. 8). Yet recently when he was asked about the decline of India’s democratic credentials, his response was very defensive, and he showed visible signs of irritation. It is possible that he realizes India is losing ground internationally but is unwilling to acknowledge that his political party is responsible for the deterioration of India’s democracy.

This is also apparent when he talks about the importance of India improving its relations with its immediate neighbors. He calls the strategy as neighborhood first approach (pp. 9-10). What he does not explain is how an Islamophobic India will maintain good relations with Muslim majority neighbors like Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan.

The book is interesting, it has its limitations and both, what is addressed and what is left out, are clearly political choices and provide insights into how New Delhi thinks about foreign policy. So, coming to the question with which we started, does India have a new foreign policy vision? The answer is no. Dr. Jaishankar is right, there is indeed an India way, but it is the same old way, and it entails remaining nonaligned with some minor attitudinal adjustments.  

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India’s open invitation to a nuclear Armageddon



Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that “India was not averse to the possible demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier ,  the world’s highest battleground and an old sore in India-Pakistan ties , provided the neighbour accepted the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) that separates Indian and Pakistani positions. Acceptance of AGPL is the first step towards demilitarisation but the Pakistan side loathes doing that”. He said, ‘The Siachen situation occurred because of unilateral attempts by Pakistan to change status quo and countermeasures taken by the Indian Army’ (Not averse to demilitarisation of Siachen if Pak meets pre-condition: Army chief, Hindustan Times January 13, 2022).

Reacting to the Indian army chief’s statement, Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan reminisced that the Siachen could not fructify into a written agreement because India wanted Siachen and Kashmir to be settled together. India’s approach ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ scuttled the agreement. As for Kashmir, “a simultaneous effort was made through the backchannel …in what is commonly known as the Four-Point Formula” (Siachen recollections, Dawn January 16, 2022). Riaz laments Indi’s distrust that hindered a solution.

Shyam Saran, a voice in the wilderness

Shyam Saran, in his book How India Sees the World (pp. 88-93) makes startling revelations about how this issue eluded solution at last minute. India itself created the Siachen problem.  Saran reminisces, in the 1970s, US maps began to show 23000 kilometers of Siachen area under Pakistan’s control. Thereupon, Indian forces were sent to occupy the glacier in a pre-emptive strike, named Operation Meghdoot. Pakistani attempts to dislodge them did not succeed. But they did manage to occupy and fortify the lower reaches’.

He recalls how Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek agreements could not fructify for lack of political will or foot dragging. He says ‘NN Vohra, who was the defence secretary at the time, confirmed in a newspaper interview that an agreement on Siachen had been reached. At the last moment, however, a political decision was taken by the Narasimha Rao government to defer its signing to the next round of talks scheduled for January the following year. But, this did not happen…My defence of the deal became a voice in the wilderness’.

Saran says, `Kautliyan template would say the options for India are sandhi, conciliation; asana, neutrality; and yana, victory through war. One could add dana, buying allegiance through gifts; and bheda, sowing discord. The option of yana, of course would be the last in today’s world’ (p. 64, ibid.).

India’s current first option

It appears that Kautliya’s last-advised option,yana, as visualised by Shyam Saran, is India’s first option nowadays. Kautlya also talks about koota yuddha (no holds barred warfare), and maya yuddha (war by tricks) that India is engaged in.

Cartographic annexation

By unilaterally declaring the disputed Jammu and Kashmir its territory does not solve the Kashmir problem. This step reflects that India has embarked upon the policy “might is right”. In Kotliyan parlance it would be “matsy nyaya, or mach nyaya”, that is big fish eats the small one. What if China also annexes disputed borders with India?  India annexed Kashmir presuming that Pakistan is not currently in a position to respond militarily, nor could it agitate the matter at international forums for fear of US ennui.  

India’s annexation smacks of acceptance of quasi-Dixon Plan, barring mention of plebiscite and division of Jammu. . Dixon proposed: Ladakh should be awarded to India. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (including Gilgit and Baltistan) should remain with Pakistan. Whole Kashmir valley should have a plebiscite with no option to independence. Jammu should be divided on religious basis. The river Chmab should be the dividing line. Northern Jammu (Muslims dominated) should go to Pakistan and Hindu majority parts of Jammu to remain with India.

In short Muslim areas should have gone with Pakistan and Hindu-Buddhist majority areas should have remained with India.

India’s annexation has no legal sanctity. But, it could have bbeen sanctified in a mutually agreed Kashmir solution.

India’s propaganda

India portrays the freedom movement in Kashmir as `terrorism’. What about India’s terrorism in neighbouring countries?

The world is listless to accounts of former diplomats and RAW officers about executing insurgencies in neighbouring countries. B. Raman, in his book The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane makes no bones about India’s involvement up to the level of prime minister in Bangladesh’s insurgency.

 Will the world take notice of confessions by Indi’s former intelligence officers and diplomats?B. Raman reminds `Indian parliament passed resolution on March 31, 1971 to support insurgency. Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented from ruling Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of the military junta. Kao, through one RAW agent, hijacked a Fokker Friendship, the Ganga, of Indian Airlines hijacked from Srinagar to Lahore.

India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, with the consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, `coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces’… `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments, refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds through his brother in London, Wali Massoud’, delivered circuitously with the help of other countries who helped this outreach’. When New Delhi queried about the benefit of costly support to Northern Alliance chief Massoud, Kumar explained, “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan.”

Death of back-channel

In his memoirs In the line of fire (pp.302-303), president Musharraf had proposed a personal solution of the Kashmir issue.  This solution, in essence, envisioned self-rule in demilitarised regions of Kashmir under a joint-management mechanism.   The solution pre-supposed* reciprocal flexibility.

Death of dialogue and diplomacy

Riaz warns of “incalculable” risks as the result of abrogation of Kashmir statehood (Aug 5, 2019). Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. In the absence of a dialogue on outstanding issues, war, perhaps a nuclear one,  comes up as the only option.

Concluding remark

Sans sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or, perhaps divine intervention.

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Major Challenges for Pakistan in 2022



Pakistan has been facing sever challenges since 1980s, after the former USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan. The history is full of challenges, but, being a most resilient nation, Pakistan has faced some of them bravely and overcome successfully. Yet, few are rather too big for Pakistan and still struggling to overcome in the near future.

Some of the challenges are domestic or internal, which can be addressed conveniently. But, some of them are part of geopolitics and rather beyond control of Pakistan itself. Such challenges need to pay more attention and need to be smarter and address them wisely.

Few key areas will be the main focus of Pakistan in the year ahead. Relations with China and the US while navigating the Sino-US confrontation, dealing with Afghanistan’s uncertainties, managing the adversarial relationship with India and balancing ties between strategic ally Saudi Arabia and neighbor Iran.

Pakistan has to pursue its diplomatic goals in an unsettled global and regional environment marked by several key features. They include rising East-West tensions, increasing preoccupation of big powers with domestic challenges, ongoing trade and technology wars overlying the strategic competition between China and the US, a fraying rules-based international order and attempts by regional and other powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighborhood.

Understanding the dynamics of an unpredictable world is important especially as unilateral actions by big powers and populist leaders, which mark their foreign policy, have implications for Pakistan’s diplomacy. In evolving its foreign policy strategy Pakistan has to match its goals to its diplomatic resources and capital. No strategy is effective unless ends and means are aligned.

Pakistan’s relations with China will remain its overriding priority. While a solid economic dimension has been added to long-standing strategic ties, it needs sustained high-level engagement and consultation to keep relations on a positive trajectory. CPEC is on track, timely and smoothly progress is crucial to reinforce Beijing’s interest in strengthening Pakistan, economically and strategically. Close coordination with Beijing on key issues remains important.

Pakistan wants to improve ties with the US. But relations will inevitably be affected by Washington’s ongoing confrontation with Beijing, which American officials declare has an adversarial dimension while China attributes a cold war mindset to the US. Islamabad seeks to avoid being sucked into this big power rivalry. But this is easier said than done. So long as US-China relations remain unsteady it will have a direct bearing on Pakistan’s effort to reset ties with the US especially as containing China is a top American priority. Pakistan desires to keep good relations with the US, but, not at the cost of China. In past, Pakistan was keeping excellent relations with US, while simultaneously very close with China. When the US imposed economic blockade against China and launched anti-communism drive during the cold war, Pakistan was close ally with the US and yet, keeping excellent relations with China. Pakistan played vital role in bring China and the US to establish diplomatic relations in 1970s. Yet, Pakistan possesses the capability to narrow down the hostility between China and the US.

Pakistan was close ally with the US during cold war, anti-communism threat, war against USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, and war on terror, etc. Pakistan might be a small country, but, possesses strategic importance. As long as, the US was cooperating with Pakistan, Pakistan looked after the US interest in the whole region. In fact, Pakistan ensured that the US has achieved its all strategic goals in the region. Since, the US kept distance from Pakistan, is facing failure after another failure consecutively. The importance of Pakistan is well recognized by the deep state in the US.

US thinks that withdrawal from Afghanistan has diminished Pakistan’s importance for now. For almost two decades Afghanistan was the principal basis for engagement in their frequently turbulent ties, marked by both cooperation and mistrust. As Pakistan tries to turn a new page with the US the challenge is to find a new basis for a relationship largely shorn of substantive bilateral content. Islamabad’s desire to expand trade ties is in any case contingent on building a stronger export base.

Complicating this is Washington’s growing strategic and economic relations with India, its partner of choice in the region in its strategy to project India as a counterweight to China. The implications for Pakistan of US-India entente are more than evident from Washington turning a blind eye to the grim situation in occupied Kashmir and its strengthening of India’s military and strategic capabilities. Closer US-India ties will intensify the strategic imbalance in the region magnifying Pakistan’s security challenge.

Multiple dimensions of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan will preoccupy Islamabad, which spent much of 2021 engaged with tumultuous developments there. While Pakistan will continue to help Afghanistan avert a humanitarian and economic collapse it should not underestimate the problems that may arise with an erstwhile ally. For one, the TTP continues to be based in Afghanistan and conduct attacks from there. The border fencing issue is another source of unsettled discord. Careful calibration of ties will be needed — assisting Afghanistan but avoiding overstretch, and acknowledging that the interests of the Taliban and Pakistan are far from identical. Moreover, in efforts to mobilize international help for Afghanistan, Islamabad must not exhaust its diplomatic capital, which is finite and Pakistan has other foreign policy goals to pursue.

Managing relations with India will be a difficult challenge especially as the Modi government is continuing its repressive policy in occupied Kashmir and pressing ahead with demographic changes there, rejecting Pakistan’s protests. The hope in establishment circles that last year’s backchannel between the two countries would yield a thaw or even rapprochement, turned to disappointment when no headway was made on any front beyond the re-commitment by both neighbors to observe a ceasefire on the Line of Control.

Working level diplomatic engagement will continue on practical issues such as release of civilian prisoners. But prospects of formal dialogue resuming are slim in view of Delhi’s refusal to discuss Kashmir. This is unlikely to change unless Islamabad raises the diplomatic costs for Delhi of its intransigent policy. Islamabad’s focus on Afghanistan last year meant its diplomatic campaign on Kashmir sagged and was limited to issuing tough statements. Unless Islamabad renews and sustains its international efforts with commitment and imagination, India will feel no pressure on an issue that remains among Pakistan’s core foreign policy goals.

With normalization of ties a remote possibility, quiet diplomacy by the two countries is expected to focus on managing tensions to prevent them from spinning out of control. Given the impasse on Kashmir, an uneasy state of no war, no peace is likely to continue warranting Pakistan’s sustained attention.

In balancing ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran, Pakistan should consider how to leverage possible easing of tensions between the long-standing rivals — of which there are some tentative signs. With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman keen to use economic power to expand his country’s diplomatic clout by making strategic overseas investments, Pakistan should use its political ties with Riyadh to attract Saudi investment through a coherent strategy. Relations with Iran too should be strengthened with close consultation on regional issues especially Afghanistan. The recent barter agreement is a step in the right direction.

In an increasingly multipolar world, Pakistan also needs to raise its diplomatic efforts by vigorous outreach to other key countries and actors beyond governments to secure its national interests and goals.

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