Under the British partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. The Maharaja (local ruler) of Kashmir, Hari Singh, chose India despite the majority of the population being Muslim and a two-year war erupted in 1947 and then again 1965, and limited war in 1999.
Both nations have had a fragile cease-fire in place since 2003 but regularly exchange fire across the border.
The presence of educated Indian Diaspora in the west especially the United States has given India a cost-effective tool for soft diplomacy for India and is a force multiplier for India in international affairs for its foreign policy objectives. This alongside Bollywood films and music India has been working on peoples mindsets outside India.
Meanwhile, Pakistans concentration on education and economy effectively ended after President Ayub Khan with the rise of Bhuttoism which stripped Pakistans economic potential in the 1970s and Zia and his bastardisation of the countries education system in the 1980s the after effects which consecutive governments have aimed to reverse.
Promotion of freedom of expression alongside investment in people neutralises multiple tactics used against a country such as Pakistan as the people are freer to think things outside the box creatively in how to support their country.
Narratives against Pakistan go unchallenged by academics in Pakistan who instead of concentrating on how to build a stronger more confident mindset among the populace instead feel comfortable withdrawing into their limited understanding of religion and spurt out conspiracy theories. Pakistan’s perspective in international arena needs to be told without the fig-leaf of religion coming in the way where competing narratives are being heard by the world including fellow Muslim nations – Pakistanis need to ask themselves how they are reaching the hearts and minds of the world? It certainly isn’t through religion.
In 2014, after India elected Prime Minister Modi who then invited then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration, there were hopes that Modi’s government would pursue meaningful peace negotiations with Pakistan.
This move toward meaningful talks came to an end in September 2016, when armed militants attacked a remote Indian Army base in Uri, near the Line of Control, killing eighteen Indian soldiers in the deadliest attack on the Indian armed forces in decades. Indian officials accused Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad of being behind the attack. Following this in September 2016, the Indian military announced it had carried out “surgical strikes” on terrorist camps inside Pakistani-controlled territory across the Line of Control, while the Pakistani military denied that any such operation had taken place.
India’s economic growth remains strong, but worries have been mounting inside India for months about a worsening jobs crisis and falling farmer incomes which was the main reason Modi’s BJP suffered heavy losses at state level polls in December.
The attack on more than 40 Indian soldiers on 14 February in a suicide attack ends hope of meaningful dialogues between the two nations as India blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group for this deadly attack targeting Indian soldiers in Kashmir since the insurgency began three decades ago.
Meanwhile, the Indian attack on Balakot Pakistan boosts Modi’s image as being strong on Pakistan with Amit Shah, the BJP president, tweeting about the airstrikes “action further demonstrates that India is safe and secure under the strong & decisive leadership of Modi.” Politically, this strengthens Modi as India heads to the polls.
The rise of Hindu extremism pushed Modi into power as Indias Prime Minister but this hijacking of Hindu religious identities in India (the same as the rise of Islamist extremism which hijacked Muslims religious identities in Pakistan) to control and manipulate peoples emotions for political expediency remains a danger to the fabric of India.
Thankfully the tide is turning against religious extremism in Pakistan but has now gained a foothold within India the world’s most populous secular democracy with hundreds of nuclear weapons between them.
Pray that the current ‘skirmishes’ between Indian and Pakistani forces do not escalate and nations of Pakistan and India can embrace a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Indian and Pakistan politicians need to study Sun Tzu’s Art of War to understand the deeper understanding of what war really is about and how honourable soldiers should not be used for political games.
As Sun Tzu taught a successful general is one who fully calculates his approach and plans to fight in a battle – and both Indian and Pakistani militaries have extensive plans on how to fight wars with each other – and should this war happen and lead to something more deadly like a nuclear war – it will not be the fault of the noble soldier or general – but of politicians who can see no further than the next election.
Pakistan Zindabad, Jai Hind.