Perhaps, it has become mandatory for us, or we think so, that we should remain obsessed with Pakistan. Our preoccupation with Pakistan is borne out of our shared history, and the developments taking place in the neighbouring country
Going by the definition laid out by late Atal Behari Vajpayee – poet PM of India ( 1998 to 2004), the neighbours are an inescapable reality. Pakistan is our neighbour, it is not a matter of choice but a geographical reality.
Vajpayee, the co-author of Lahore Declaration, which envisaged friendly ties between India and Pakistan, shied away from stating the fact that Pakistan was part of India before the gruesome partition of the country in 1947.
It was his sensitivity toward the western neighbour that he omitted this fact to acknowledge the reality of the times that Pakistan is a sovereign state, where it is better to leave certain bitter parts of the history unsaid. That was the statesmanship of the man.
His words at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, if studied carefully, also sought to end the bitterness in Pakistan over the wiping out of East Pakistan that now sits as Bangladesh on the global map. That is history and what Vajpayee envisioned vis-à-vis Pakistan is in suspended animation, not dissolved altogether.
Our current fixation with Pakistan is because of the political storm that hit the country, and the way one institution was sought to be pitted against the other. It was an ugly spectacle that some of us enjoyed out of sheer sadistic pleasure.
This had to happen (in Pakistan ) after all how long a state that was born out of this country, could be at peace with itself. This section wanted to watch it and watch it endlessly because it thrives on the narrative that Pakistan is responsible for all what is happening to the Indians and the idea of India in Kashmir.
Pakistan is blamed and rightly so, for what it did in Kashmir, introduced militancy and the gun culture that kills people and leaves lives shattered. Pakistan’s problem is, and that is the case with all such countries which fail to achieve their illusory territorial ambitions, never admit to their fault lines.
In the same league Pakistan denies its involvement in the troubles in Kashmir and the consequences it brought to the Valley, its people, whether they are living over there, or those who migrated from the land of their ancestors.
So, our glee widened when we watched, how Imran Khan was trying all the tricks in the book, some from his cricketing days, and others as an Islamist fundamentalist and anti-American, to save his chair. Pakistan is punishing itself, and some of us believed that it is going to be an irreversible phenomenon in Pakistan. To some extent Imran justified these conclusions.
He did not succeed in blocking the no-confidence motion against him all the time. Once is enough, but he failed to read writing on the wall that there is vibrant judiciary in Pakistan, and the army had parted ways with his style of functioning.
The result is that Imran with hurt ego is trying to satiate himself by rallying his supporters against all others in the country – no exception is being made. The new government headed by Shehbaz Sharif, Army, Judiciary – all are being targeted with a typical slogan that whosoever befriends these people, they are traitors.
Imran is seeking monopoly on patriotism. That is his political campaign. It is understandable to that extent, but what next? He has not spelled out, nor he wants to. The reason is simple: he is obsessed with self. Nothing beyond that. That myopic outlook is self-defeating and also can become a source of balkanisation of the country.
The game is dangerous. The political polarisation which he has stoked in Pakistan, it is certain will have disastrous consequences for the country. There are many fault lines which he refuses to see- the patriots versus traitors is a theme of the individuals who think that they have absolute right in driving the narrative of the nation.
What is happening in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is known to Pakistanis more than the rest of the world. Escalating tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan will get complicated the way campaign is going on. There are two major aspects that Pakistan is facing in its relations with Afghanistan where it had got Taliban reinstalled in power in August last year, pushing Americans out of the place.
In the first place, the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is not behaving the way Islamabad would have liked to. Imran’s thesis is that he opposed American ways in Afghanistan, and the drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan that’s why Washington has turned against him.
Could be true, but he overlooked the other fact that Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line have common view on things. Anti-Americanism may appeal to them, but they are also aware that how Pashtuns in “Naya Pakistan” were subjected to atrocities.
There were mysterious disappearances of young men and they never returned home. Imran never spoke for them. This, may be the second point, betrayal by Pakistan is very much on the minds of Pashtuns.
We, the Indians, are committing a big mistake in cheering publicly and privately the plight of Pakistan, as if that is the answer to all the problems we see coming from across the border.
There is a need to understand that how much stability of the neighbouring country is critical to our interests. A disturbed place, occupied with the idea of disturbances spreads disturbances, and those countries that are steady on the stable ground, tend to preserve their position, strengthen the same by tapping other sources of stability, neighbours come first in that scheme of things.
The current situation in Pakistan needs to be viewed at with all the objectivity. The country is located in one of the most crucial geo-political locations in the world.
The western powers, the US in particular, has acknowledged that Pakistan serves interests of all. Americans know how important it is for them to stay on course with Pakistan, despite the bitter experience of the past in their relations with Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
Islamabad represents the civilian power, while Rawalpindi – where the General Headquarters or GHQ is located - holds the real power behind all the powers that be, no matter who rules the state.
America, though it was not involved, as has become clear after the army dismissed the foreign conspiracy theory in categorical terms, but Washington has always watched its interests. Americans also commit mistakes, and they have done it on umpteenth number of times. It is a superpower, but not the superpower in having all the intelligence and getting everything right all the time.
The point here is, as it should be understood that instead of cheering the flaws in Pakistan, we should be looking how it stabilises so that we could talk to it and resolve all issues.
New Pakistani government has desired dialogue, and our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought terror-free region for the success of the talks. Let’s take this prism into consideration.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.