Op-Ed: The Problem With Pakistan and Its ‘Non-existent’ Solution!

“Find a solution to the problem and we will find a problem with the solution!” That seems to be the dominant narrative of those ill at ease with the nationalist (err.. jingoist) frenzy sweeping the country and calls for retribution reverberating in the air everywhere after the deadly terror attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left 40 jawans dead on Valentine’s Day.

The mere mention of ‘war’ draws howls of protest. “Are you crazy? Do you even know what war means? The loss of lives and all-round devastation it would leave in its trail on either side of the border?” And then comes the inevitable clincher. “Don’t forget Pakistan is a nuclear power! So just stop talking irresponsibly without thinking of the consequences.” That effectively silences those calling for war (even though the fact that we are an even greater nuclear power doesn’t seem to prevent Pakistan from pursuing the diabolical course it has opted for!). We Indians, after all, are peace loving people and can’t ‘stoop’ to the level of Pakistan!

If not war, can’t we strengthen our capability to pre-empt terror strikes and deal effectively with them as and when they take place with greater technical cooperation with Israel, which has long experience of fighting terror? “And make enemies of the whole Muslim world, right? We should have never established diplomatic relations with that rogue country. We have already lost our goodwill in the Arab world because of the Himalayan blunder committed by the Narasimha Rao government in 1992. Any further strengthening of relationship, especially in the strategic front, is bound to pit us irrevocably against the Muslim world.” “But why should the Muslims have a problem with fighting terror? Isn’t Islam a religion of peace? And terror, after all, has no religion.” Pat comes the reply: “Terror is what the Israelis are doing to the people of Palestine!”

Well, can’t we at least abrogate the Indus Water Treaty and force the rogue nation to see reason? “Think before you speak, you brainless moron! If we stop Indus water to Pakistan, its good friend China would do the same to India by stopping water from Brahmaputra. In any case, do you really think these terrorists and those who prop them up give a damn if their farmers starve? If anything, they would have one more handle to beat India with. They would just tell their people, ‘Look, India has pushed you to starvation by stopping water’ and turn them even more against India than they have been so far.”

But surely we can use our economic might to bring Pakistan down to its knees? And leverage our huge market to force China, Pakistan’s consistent and all-weather friend, to abandon its support for Pakistan? “Banish the thought. It seems you are buying into the myth propagated by the Modi government that India is an emerging economic superpower. For all our so-called economic might, the share of India in the global trade is just 3%. If you think you can hit China, the real economic powerhouse that it is, it can hit you even harder.”

We can, at the very least, withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan, can’t we? “You sure are an economic ignoramus. MFN involves Indian reduction of import duties on goods. Don’t forget that Indian export to Pakistan is four times our imports from the country. Hence, withdrawal of MFN status would hit India more than Pakistan. In short, it would be a self-goal.”

Can we think of having the plebiscite/referendum that we are committed to by a UN resolution to find out if the people of Kashmir want to stay with us? If they don’t, let us grant them the independence they have been clamouring for? “You must be out of your mind. The world has changed beyond recognition since 1948. In any case, a plebiscite can take place only after Pakistan withdraws completely from PoK and the Pandits return to the Valley – both of which are in the realm of impossibility now.”

Can we then think of abrogating Article 370, which confers special status on J & K? “No way! Article 370 is sacrosanct and reflects the commitment made to Maharaja Hari Singh at the time of its accession to India in 1948.” But the Govt. of India did go back on the commitments like Privy Purse it had made to other princely states, didn’t it? “But Kashmir is not just another princely state, you fool! It is a strategically important global hotspot and we can’t mess around with the feelings of the people.”

If nothing else, we certainly can enhance our vigil in the Kashmir valley to ensure that terrorism and support for it does not flourish there? “That would only further alienate the already alienated Kashmiri people and push them towards militancy.” Should we then withdraw all our security forces from Kashmir and leave them to their fate? “That would mean handing over the Valley on a platter to Pakistan.”

Exasperated by now, you ask; “But surely there must be a way to force Pakistan to abandon its support and patronage to terrorists, no?” “Of course, there are. First, we must build up international opinion and isolate Pakistan globally. Second, we must keep talking to them (the ‘uninterrupted and uninterruptible’ talks that the great Manishankar Aiyar had spoken of!) and hope that they would see reason some day.” But haven’t we been doing precisely that all these years? “Yes, we have. But we must have patience and hope for the best. Who has seen the future? A change in the geopolitical situation could force Pakistan to abandon the dangerous course it has chosen for itself.”

Moral of the story: a nation of 1.3 billion people, the third largest economy of the world with one of the largest armies in the world, a country that presided over the vivisection of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh at a time when almost the whole world was ranged against us, has no real option but to wait endlessly for good sense to prevail among those call the shots in Pakistan and the terrorists they nurture! And remain eternally grateful to them for the periods of peace between two terror strikes that they are kind enough to grant us!!

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)