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Mistrust and Resentment: Stumbling Blocks in the Way of Normal Relations between India and Pakistan

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Message Muhammad Irfan

With the recent convening of a meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart, it was hoped that the longstanding adversarial and volatile relations between India and Pakistan might take a turn toward a more stable bilateral relationship. This hope was quickly dashed, however, soon after the Indian prime minister made a speech at the diplomatic forum of United Nations Organizations (UNO) on September 28, 2013. Against all expectations, he stated: "The epicenter of terrorism in our region is located in our neighborhood in Pakistan." [i] Understandably, the statement was not taken lightly in Pakistan.

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Following the statement, all quarters of Pakistani society denounced the country's political regime for its one-sided tilt toward better relations with India. That reaction in turn gave further momentum to the animosities the two states have reciprocally developed toward each other since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. Resentments, animosities, grudges and suspicions are deeply rooted on both sides, and are evident in both official and public statements. Here are some recent illustrations:

On September 26, 2013, in a program sponsored by AMAN KI ASHA and organized by GEO NEWS, the Pakistani Deputy General Secretary of Jama at-i-Islami, Freed Ahmed Paracha, blamed India for not accepting Pakistan as a strong sovereign state. He castigated the Indian policy slogan AKHAND BHARAT, terming it a grave threat to the sovereignty of the whole South Asian region. Responding to this attack, the Indian parliamentarian MANI SHANKER expressed the angst felt by Indians in asserting that peace cannot be restored when people like Fareed Paracha are strongly active in Indian-held Kashmir.

In another TV program, broadcast on September 30, 2013, the two guests, Zaid Hamid (a so-called defense analyst based in Pakistan) and the Indian Major General Mukaram, both attacked the other side with threatening language. Zaid Hamid, who is known for his irrational statements and for misrepresenting historical facts, asserted that the Indians are utilizing their energies predominantly to destabilize Pakistan. However, when Zaid Harnid spoke of the battle of PaniPat on January 14, 1752, in which Ahmed Shah Abdali defeated the Marhatta Hindus, Major Genral Mukarram for his part reminded Zaid Hamid of the events of the year 1971, when India decisively defeated Pakistan and partitioned it into two parts. The exchange plainly shows the profound resentment developed by each side toward the other.

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In still another recent illustration of mutual animosities and suspicion, the Indian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Salman Khurshid, strongly attacked the Pakistan Army's involvement in political decision-making. On September 30, 2013, he stated: "The Pakistani Army is impeding the Pakistani government's efforts for peace with India."

Each Side Blames the Other for a History of Offenses, Conflicts and Instability. But Is Either Side Principally To Blame?

All of these illustrations reveal the dark shadows of misapprehension that shroud Indian/Pakistani relations and dim the recent hopes for reconciliation. Those hopes are further undermined by arguments each side makes to blame the other for the offenses, conflicts and instability that have characterized their relations from 1947 to the present. Charges made by India against Pakistan include the following:

1) Indians claim that both the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, and the insane act of sabotage against the TAJ MAHAL Hotel in Mumbai in 2008, were clandestinely perpetrated by Pakistan-based militants. This claim loses its credibility, however, on the basis of statements by none other than a high-profile official in the Indian ministry of internal affairs. He has declared that those who committed the acts of terrorism both in New Delhi in 2001 and in Mumbai in 2008 were planted by the Indian intelligence agencies

2) Indians also allege that to this day Pakistani infiltrators constantly penetrate Indian boundaries across the Line of Control (LOC) and butcher Indian troops on duty there. This claim does seem to have at least partial validity, based on revelations that some JAMAT-UL-DAWA-based fighters are in fact aggressively engaged in inflicting harm to Indian troops deployed alongside the LOC.

Charges made by Pakistanis against India are more ardent than those made by Indians against Pakistan. Pakistanis focus on the entire history of aggressive acts perpetrated against them by India since the partitioning of the Indo-Pak continent in 1947. They also insist that, given the very long duration of these offenses, they deserve special attention from neutral parties in the international community.

Specific Pakistani grievances are far more numerous and include the following:  

1) Pakistani policy-makers are of the opinion that in 1948 India violated the Kashmiri Muslims' right of plebiscite and aggressively occupied the majority Muslim area of Kashmir. The occupation continues to this day.

2) Pakistanis assert that the Indians played a negative role in the disintegration of Pakistan in 1971. They contend that in the wake of the nuclear test by India in 1974, Pakistan was repeatedly subjected to the language of blackmail.

3) They maintain that Indians have illegally diverted the water of the western rivers, the Indus, the Jhelum, and the Chenab, by constructing thousands of dams in those rivers in Indian-held Kashmir. The Indian actions violate the Indus Basin Water Treaty of 1960.

4) They believe that the Indians have not yet accepted the partition of the Indian sub-continent, and still do not accept Pakistan as a sovereign state.
5) To substantiate this grievance, Pakistanis cite abusive slogans chanted by the Indian public during a cricket match between Pakistan and India in Mohali in 2011. It included the cry: "We separated Bengal in 1971; now we are determined to separate Lahore and Karachi."

6) They maintain that the Sawat Valley operation was a secret mission of  Indian forces, in which Indian Gorkha Regiment soldiers fought directly against the Pakistan Army in the guise of the belligerent Taliban. The ruse was apparently confirmed when it was found that the dead bodies of the so-called Taliban showed no evidence of circumcision. In accordance with Sharia law, no members of a Muslim sect in Pakistan are allowed to remain uncircumcised.
7) The Pakistanis are not accepting Indian patent involvements in Baluchista due to the training there of BLA miscreants.

8) Similarly, educated Pakistanis cite the Kutillian tactics and strategies pursued by the Indians, which are aimed at weakening the adversary by containing it from the front as well as, at times, from the sides. They see this tactic in evidence in Afghanistan, where the Indians are solidifying their presence at the back of Pakistan by establishing a secret center for clandestine training of the BLA.

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Muhammad Irfan has authored many books. He is an internationally recognized scholar. He has presented his papers in national and international conferences. He is also a freelance journalist and contributes to both national and international (more...)

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