By Aymen Ijaz :
The changing geo-political imperatives and threat perceptions at regional and global level have pushed Pakistani government to review its foreign policy towards its neighbours particularly India. Although Nawaz government has shown considerable tilt towards development of better relations with India, these measures have always proven futile due to India’s hostile and rigid stance. Recent unprovoked border violations by Indian security forces along the Line of Control (LOC) and Working Boundary between Kashmir and Pakistani territory are glarer example of Indian such aggression.
Although the exact cause of border escalation is yet to be ascertained, Pakistani strategic analysts fairly believe that the escalation has been triggered by the explosion of an IED killing one Indian soldier in Balnoi sector in Occupied Kashmir. However, the main reasons which could be attributed to these skirmishes are: India’s hegemonic designs in South Asia, Modi’s government hawkish policy towards Pakistan, anti-Muslim sentiments within and outside India, emerging Indo-US relations, Indian domestic concerns and growing role of Indian Army, to vitiate the current political turmoil in Pakistan and to engage Pakistani army at two fronts.
Firstly, India’s regional policy has long term hegemonic designs to maintain its position as a regional power by counter balancing Chinese influence in the region and by the isolation of Pakistan. Since Pakistan is a nuclear state, so nuclear deterrence would not let India escalate a full fledge war against Pakistan so it would focus on political, economic and cultural means to attain its regional and strategic goals.
After NATO withdrawal, India wants to play more proactive role in the region particularly in Afghanistan as compared to Pakistan. Establishment of Indian consulates to train Afghan Para-military forces and investment of 1.5 billion US Dollars for Afghan reconstruction process are the key steps taken in this regard. It has been reported that India RAW and Indian consulates in Afghanistan are also involved behind insurgency in Balochistan to create instability in Pakistan. To isolate Pakistan on the economic front, India has opened larger market access for Chinese products, making China its largest trading partner and strengthening its trade ties with Iran for its energy needs and to have safe access route to CARS through Iran instead of Pakistan.
Secondly, Narendra Modi is a hardcore politician committed to Hindutva or revival of Hindu nationalism being once a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His party manifesto includes abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, suppressing the right of self-determination of Kashmiris. His anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim mind set can be seen during his election compaign or earlier over the large scale massacre of Muslims in Gujrat state when he was Chief Minister. The BJP government political animosity and rigidity has led New Delhi to take the following decisions: 1)to ask United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) to vacate its office in Delhi 2)cancellation of Indo-Pak foreign secretary level meeting scheduled to be held in August 2014 in context of Pakistani High commissioner meeting with Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders at New Delhi and 3) India’s expectation to be requested for talk by the Pakistani side besides UN meeting at New York, which was not reciprocated b y the Pakistani government. Another reflection of assertive Indian posture is obvious by the blunt Modi’s statement that the resumption of the bilateral dialogue depended on the creation of an appropriate environment by Pakistan with reference to Nawaz Sharif’s address highlighting Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly.
Thirdly, India’s PM recent visit to US has opened new overtures of hopes and opportunities for India; Washington has warmly welcomed Modi and role of India to counter Russian and Chinese influence in South Asia in order to have power access to CARs and maintaining its role in Afghanistan to counter terrorism as “US Pivot to Asia policy”, in which India can be used as an effective regional ally. India having Indo-US strategic partnership, Obama’s bid for India’s Security Council membership, US favoring India’s deep role in Afghanistan to counter terrorism, several Indo-US trade and economic agreements, co-operation in the field of health, space, climate, defence, security and US ignorance over India’s HR violations in Kashmir have stepped up Indian confidence. India feels more self-assured to project itself as a peace loving nation and secular democracy despite records of extremism and terrorism in the region and aggressive policy in Kashmir.
Fouthly, at domestic level India’s concerns are linked with its domestic politics and domestic mindset which has resulted in an increase in these border clashes. These LoC violations are chained to India’s rejection of both Karachi Agreement and Simla agreement which mandates both Pakistan and India to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line and the ceasefire line was to be monitored and violations reported to the United Nations Military Observers. While Pakistan continues to report violations of the LoC to the UNMOGIP, India has stopped doing so since 1972 considering it as a bilateral issue. Even the Pakistani request for an inspection by the UN Military Observers Group has been rejected by India, in light of fear of being caught. These border violations can also be linked with the elections scheduled in October and November in Indian states (Maharashtra and Haryana) and in Indian Held Kashmir in order to gain sympathy of Indian voters at home afte r BJP’S poor governance to provide flood relief and rehabilitation to the flood victims in Kashmir.
Finally, the Indian military growing role in the politics and aggressive statements by Indian army Chief and army’s veto over Siachin conflict or military aggressive role in Jammu & Kashmir has been a major determining factor in Indo-Pak relations. The Border Security force at the Indian side has been provided with heavy weaponry unlike routine defence forces and there mode of warfare has been targeting civilians rather than combat forces which is quite questionable.
The success and glory of Pakistan army is also against India’s aspirations as it will build up a very positive image of Pakistan in the eyes of US and Western world as Pakistan’s dedicated efforts to counter the menace of global terrorism. Due to Pakistan’s army three months successful Operation Zarb-E Azb in Waziristan and involvement of Pakistan army at Afghan border, India is trying to engage Pakistan army at the Indian front as well. This is to divert attention of Pakistan army as India does not want total elimination of Talibans from Pakistani soil to keep instability on going within Pakistan tribal areas and Baluchistan which is in the interest of India.
The current political turmoil in Pakistan has an advantage for Indian side to weaken Pakistan at domestic and international level by creating civil-military imbalance by propagating dichotomy between Pakistani military and government foreign policy objectives and to spoil Pakistan’s reputation abroad by blaming Pakistan behind these escalations while reviving its own flagging economy through economic pragmatism and diplomatic toughness.
In short, the Indian government is using military means for achieving its political goals outside Kashmir. Although India has developed strategic ties with US, Modi’s recent visits to Japan and China are reflective of India’s divergent foreign policy goals. As far as Indo-Pak relations are concerned, India’s hard-line approach shows its unwillingness to negotiate over Kashmir and keeping it side-lined and unresolved. India did not even like this issue to be raised at an international forum like United Nations as done by the Pakistani PM. Unfortunately, both the states cannot move forward and co-operate freely unless and until Kashmir issue is resolved. Pakistan and India must pursue a sustainable dialogue over Kashmir and stop these border tensions to promote peace and stability in the region.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and not The London Post