― Kautilya, The Arthashastra
The name of Kautilya, meaning crooked, is invoked by former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran's book “How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century”. This invocation of Kautilya in the title of the book makes the above quote about "neighboring state is an enemy" particularly relevant to how Indian policymakers like Shyam Saran see Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Kautilya (“crooked”) is believed to be the pen name of the ancient Indian minister Chanakya who served Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire (322 BC-185 BC). German sociologist Max Weber once called Kautilya's Arthashastra “truly radical ‘Machiavellianism’ . . . compared to it, Machiavelli’s The Prince is harmless.”
Arthashastra on Foreign Policy:
Some of Kautilya's Arthashastra’s "wisdom" deals with international relations and foreign policy which is laid out mainly in books 7, 11, and 12.
Kautilya presents a theory of international relations called the “circle of states,” or Rajamandala. It says hostile states are those that border the ruler’s state, forming a circle around it. In turn, states that surround this set of hostile states form another circle around the circle of hostile states. This second circle of states can be considered the natural allies of the ruler’s state against the hostile states that lie between them. Put more succinctly, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
|Kautilya-Loving Modi With Pakistan's Neighbors: Iran's Ruhani & Afghanistan's Ghani|
Influence on India's Pakistan Policy:
Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) can be seen in action today in India’s foreign policy. It sees Afghanistan as a natural ally against Pakistan. Similarly, it sees Japan as a natural ally against China.
To understand how India uses Afghanistan against Pakistan, let's examine what former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says: "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".
Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, recently acknowledged India's use of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group against Pakistan in an Op Ed he wrote for Hindustan Times. Karnad believes US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is trying to get Pakistan's cooperation in Afghanistan by asking India to cut its support of the TTP. Then he added that "Severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions".
The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses this subject with Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
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Ironically the Arthashastra was written in Taxila University where chanakya was the head of the political science department and where he raised the adopted orphan Chandra Gupta maurya. But hey Pakistani history begins with Bin Qasim! Thanks for gifting India all your pre Islamic history and making a fool of yourself by claiming to be Arab and Turk descendents..
there is only one problem. If we assume that India is following Kautaliya's principle, then it also means that a muslim nation Afghan is enemy of Pakistan. Woh Kaise ho gaya.
Too bad for you. Maybe Pakistan should accept it's natural status, as the land of Pakistan had always been - a vassal/tributary state to the gangetic empire based in Delhi. That is the natural order that will preserve peace.
Kautilya stated the fact which is true for everyone.
If we see japan as an ally, japan see the same in us without following Kautilya.
What is string of pearl if not Rajamandala?
Majumdar: "If we assume that India is following Kautaliya's principle, then it also means that a muslim nation Afghan is enemy of Pakistan. "
India finds Afghanistan useful to squeeze Pakistan. Indian intelligence is spending a lot of money in Afghanistan to promote the Pakistan ISI as the bogeyman, according to a British major who served in Afghanistan.
During his three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Major Gallimore could hear all the radio conversations going on but never heard any Pakistani accent. He did, however, see "buckets and buckets of money" and rising Indian influence in Afghan Army that blamed Pakistan for all their problems. Pakistan is their bogeyman.
Anon: "Too bad for you. Maybe Pakistan should accept it's natural status, as the land of Pakistan had always been - a vassal/tributary state to the gangetic empire based in Delhi. That is the natural order that will preserve peace."
Peace is just as necessary for India as for Pakistan. And "the natural order" in your head is not conducive to regional and global peace.
Here's Shyam Saran on this subject as reported in the Indian media:
Replying to a question on the role of the SAARC, he said, it is today "more important for India" than any other country.
He said SAARC was the "only vehicle" which India had for bringing about the kind of economic integration that it was committed to and that without it any hope of playing an effective regional or global role would not mean anything.
"Your ability to be more successful regionally as an Asian power, your ability to play a credible and effective global role, is very much dependent on how you manage your own periphery," he added.
"But if that becomes a constant constraining factor and if your are constantly involved in trying to deal with crises operating in your neighbourhood, most of the oxygen you have is taken away by Pakistan....how much you have left for doing other things," he said.
You may want to watch chanakya the TV series...childhood to founding of Mauryan Empire..
Indians have Kautilya,Chinese have Sun Tsu,The West has Machiavelli.
Since Pakistanis revel in disowning their Pre Islamic heritage what is the shariah compliant handbook for statecraft?
Anon: "Indians have Kautilya,Chinese have Sun Tsu,The West has Machiavelli. Since Pakistanis revel in disowning their Pre Islamic heritage what is the shariah compliant handbook for statecraft? "
It's not about being a specific nationality or religion....it's about the ideas. Clearly, the West does not view Machiavelli and his ideas in a positive light, nor does the world. However, it seems to me that you and some of your fellow Indians embrace Kautilya's ideas of statecraft in spite of the fact that the world sees Kautilya as much more radical than Machiavelli.
As to Islamic statecraft, there are many philosophers who have written about...for example Ibn Khulfun and Al Farabi. The bottom line for them is that you can not divorce morality from statecraft.
Please stop blaming india for a long term bad blood between Afghanistan and al Bakistan.
Fact is, Afghanistan never accepted the Durand line and Pak army / ISI want their pithoos in Afghanistan (talibans are pithoos)
Majumdar: "Please stop blaming india for a long term bad blood between Afghanistan and al Bakistan.
Fact is, Afghanistan never accepted the Durand line and Pak army / ISI want their pithoos in Afghanistan (talibans are pithoos)
It's not unusual for neighbors to have border disputes; what is unusual in South Asia is the extent to which India actively promotes and exploits the Durand Line issue to use Afghanistan against Pakistan as part of its well-thought-out policy following the teachings of Kautilya the crooked.
The correct and closest sanskrit to english translation for Kautilya is "sagacious" not crooked. Yes, Kautilya is often compared to Machiavelli.
It is fair to mention that Kautilya is not merciless all the time and he also writes about the moral duty of the king/government: he summarizes the duty of the king/government by saying “The happiness of the subjects is the happiness of the king; their welfare is his. His own pleasure is not his good but the pleasure of his subjects is his good”.
Some scholars have seen in the ideas of Kautilya a combination of Chinese Confucianism, benevolence, and disciplined Legalism.
Ex Chiefs of #RAW, #ISI meet in #London, Both agree war not an option, #India and #Pakistan talks must via @htTweets
AS Dulat and Ehsan-ul-Haq, who served as head of the RAW and ISI respectively in the early 2000s, came together at a seminar in the LSE that was marked by much banter and barbs.
Dulat and Ehsan, who served in their respective offices in the early 2000s, were key players in sensitive issues, often taking adversarial postures and actions, but at LSE they could not agree more with each other on Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and peace talks.
Ehsan dwelt on what he called the “mass uprising in Jammu and Kashmir since July last year”, following the death of jihadi commander Burhan Wani, and harped on the need to resume the stalled dialogue between the two countries. Dulat agreed with him that India had committed “mistakes” and created “a mess” in the state.
Dulat also agreed that talks should be resumed between the two sides, since war is not an option and dialogue is the only way out. India, he said, needs to make an exception and talk along with terrorism (New Delhi has ruled out parleys until Pakistan-backed terrorism is stopped).
The former RAW chief said: “The magic of it all, as Ehsan-sab said, is mainstreaming and also democracy. The mistakes that we are making (in Jammu and Kashmir), apart from the mess that we have created, still not talking to people, high time we started talking to people…We need to deal with Kashmir in a more civilised manner.
“These red lines about Hurriyat…we have got it absolutely wrong because the whole idea of talking to the Hurriyat is to mainstream them, get them into the democratic process…The PDP-BJP coalition was expected to bring Jammu and Srinagar closer, but it has taken them further apart because Kashmiris have never forgiven the PDP for bringing the RSS into the (Kashmir) valley.
“In the BJP’s mind, the RSS may have come into the valley but the RSS is not going to achieve anything there,” he added.
Another point of agreement between the two former spooks was the need for cooperation between Indian and Pakistan intelligence agencies.
Dulat, an old Kashmir hand who headed India’s external intelligence agency during 1999-2000, said there were instances when interaction between RAW and ISI had “produced more than the desired results”, and Ehsan had been witness to at least one such major result.
Amid knowing guffaws and smiles, Dulat chided Ehsan and reminded him of his “relationship” with his Indian counterpart, of India tipping off Pakistan about a potential threat to the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, and of covert talks defusing a major flashpoint in the early 2000s.
Dulat said: “He (Ehsan) is still using the ploy of plausible deniability and being rather modest about his relationship which was well known. And from all that I know it was a great relationship that produced results. I think Sir, you recall the 2003 ceasefire took place because of you and your friend.”
The remarks evoked laughter from Ehsan.
Dulat added, “And if I can go beyond, your friend also tipped you with intelligence which may have saved Gen Musharraf’s life. And I think that is something that even Gen Musharraf in a way acknowledges. So I don’t think we need to deny that. It is a feather in your cap, Sir, and a feather in your friend’s cap.”
#Pakistan: Mad Dog #Mattis Will Bark, but #Islamabad Won't Bite. #Afghanistan #Trump #terrorism #TTP https://goo.gl/ZU1FK1 via @Stratfor Worldview
As President Donald Trump's administration searches for an exit from the war in Afghanistan after over 16 years of U.S. involvement, the United States is making another high-level diplomatic outreach to Pakistan. On Dec. 4, Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistan's top military and civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. In these meetings, Mattis' mission is to convince Pakistani leadership to do more to attack militant safe havens and, in the long term, facilitate peace talks with the Taliban to end America's longest-running war. But Pakistan's leaders won't be easy to convince.
In the discussions, Mattis adopted a conciliatory approach by acknowledging Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, but he also reiterated Washington's demands. The United States has called for Pakistan to take more action against the militants that find refuge on its soil. Among them, crucially, is the leadership of the Taliban operating in Afghanistan.
Diplomatic outreach is just one of the ways the United States is trying to compel a change in Pakistan's behavior. Military aid is another. Last week, the latest report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service showed that the United States would further trim its annual aid package to Pakistan. In 2017, Washington doled out $526 million to Islamabad in exchange for its cooperation, which includes providing overland NATO supply route access through Pakistani territory. In 2018, that number is projected to drop to $345 million.
The United States has gradually trimmed the amount of aid it provides to Pakistan over the last several years. In 2014, for example, U.S. aid to Pakistan amounted to nearly $2.2 billion. For now, it appears that the U.S. strategy is to pursue incremental punitive measures against Pakistan, rather than pursue harsher tactics such as revoking Pakistan's non-NATO major ally status or cutting aid altogether. The United States isn't fully ready to bring out the stick, but the carrot is slowly being drawn back.
Pakistan wants to maintain its relationship with the United States, but it's willing to suffer the cost of deteriorating ties. From Islamabad's perspective, supporting the Taliban follows a rational calculation to ensure post-conflict Afghanistan is friendly to Pakistani interests. Support for Taliban leaders is aimed at denying Pakistan's rival, India, a foothold in Afghanistan. Because of this, Mattis' visit probably won't convince Pakistan to change its behavior, especially considering the Trump administration's calls for India to play a greater economic role in Afghanistan.
What the Success of the Left Alliance Means for Nepal
BY BISWAS BARAL ON 10/12/201
But perhaps the biggest reason people rejected the NC this time has to do with the 2015-16 shutdown of the Nepal-India border. As the Congress has always been close to New Delhi, its leaders were at the time seen as mincing their words in condemning the ‘Indian blockade’. But while they vacillated, Oli and his comrades felt no such qualms. They openly blamed India for bringing misery to Nepalis.
Deuba and company were seen as weak and doing ‘India’s bidding’. In contrast, Oli came across as a strong nationalist leader who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. Oli, the blockade-time prime minister, got the credit for courageously standing up to the ‘Indian bully’.
Oli back then also signed the landmark trade and transit agreements with China. These agreements ended Nepal’s total dependency on Indian ports for business with third countries and put paid – at least in terms of optics if not reality – to India’s monopoly on the supply of fuel. Both these acts were seen favorably by Nepalis who had felt humiliated by India’s highhandedness during the standoff. India-bashing has traditionally been a foolproof electoral strategy in Nepal, and Oli milked it.
Perhaps Prachanda, who has long since abandoned his revolutionary zeal, also realised that it would for the moment be wise to align with Oli and try to steal some of his thunder. On the campaign trail, Prachanda was seen as openly projecting Oli as the new prime minister. Apparently, the deal is that while Oli will lead the country, Prachanda will head the new party formed after the left merger. (A more cynical interpretation is that Prachanda is looking for Oli, who has multiple heath issues, to step down sooner rather than later so that he can then become the undisputed communist leader in Nepal.)
Speculations are rife that with the Left alliance poised for at least a simple majority, and very likely a two-thirds majority, the new government under Oli will firmly align with China. But this would be an over-simplification of the ground realities in Nepal. Oli understands very well – as does Prachanda, who in 2009 lost his prime minister’s chair after angering India – that no government in Nepal can afford to be seen as openly anti-India. Former Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon rightly refuses to label Oli ‘pro-China’ and thinks of him as ‘just another politician doing whatever is convenient to get to power’.
Oli, who was until a few years ago among India’s most trusted lieutenants in Kathmandu, embraced the pro-China nationalist image because he knew it would pay off electorally. But once in power, he will not need to be so openly hostile to India and will, in all likelihood, make efforts to mend his frayed ties with New Delhi, safe in the knowledge that there is no immediate threat to his government.
Strategic Insights by #India's Sunil Sharan : #Pakistan, a rising power
https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/strategic-insights/pakistan-a-rising-power/ … via @TOIOpinion
Yet, one nation is a rising power, ready to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, while the other is deemed a global pariah, a jelly state if not a failed state. Huh? How did this happen?
The reality is different. The world pays lip service to India for its large middle class and its ability to buy arms on a large scale. India seems to consider this courting as its emergence on the world stage.
Scratch the surface, and you will find something else. The US is denying Indians H1-B visas. The US has delinked the Haqqanis, who they want, from Hafiz Saeed, who they couldn’t care less about, so that they can give dollops of aid to the Pakistanis.
Today the Yanks hector the Pakistanis, but that is empty bluster. The Pakistanis have trumped them; the Yanks’ wails appear like crocodile tears. The Yanks forgot when they invaded Afghanistan and enlisted the Pakistanis’ help by threatening to bomb them into the stone age that the Pakistanis had been there once before.
That time they trumped the Russians, with significant money and arms from the Americans and the Saudis. But the Americans never took to battle in Afghanistan the first time round. Sure they had read that Afghanistan was a graveyard for empires, from the British to the Soviet, but they believed, foolishly, that they themselves would win out.
They struck a Faustian bargain with the Pakistanis, without ever realizing that they were dealing with the devil. In the nineties, the Pakistanis used Afghanistan to hijack Indian planes and launch jihad in Kashmir. Afghanistan had become both strategic depth as well as a launching pad for them. How were they expected to give up this twin treat?
Once the Yanks entered Kabul, the Taliban vanished. Into thin air? Oh no, many of them disappeared into Pakistan. The Yanks forgot about Afghanistan, until first the Iraqis, and then the Taliban, started knocking their teeth out. One by one their Nato brethren fled Afghanistan, until the Yanks realized that they had to flee as well.
Go to Kabul today, and you will find disdain for Pakistan everywhere. But the Pakistanis don’t care. The real people who matter in Afghanistan are the Taliban, and you don’t find many of them in Kabul. The writ of the government of Afghanistan extends over only Kabul, much as the later-day Mughals were derided as the mayors of Delhi.
The Taliban control over sixty percent of the country. The Talibs don’t like the Pakistanis, referring to them often as blacklegs. But the Talibs need Pakistan to capture Kabul, much as the Pakistanis need the Taliban to capture Afghanistan.
The Pakistanis are disdainful of the threats emanating from the Yanks. The Yanks need Pakistani territory to transport supplies to their legionaries in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis blocked their land routes once, and all hell broke loose then. It’s almost impossible to transport goods from the west of Afghanistan.
Today Pakistan stands on the cusp of victory in Afghanistan. It spurns the Americans for the Chinese, and lo and behold, the Russians, the very people it had helped kick out of Afghanistan. Politics, or rather realpolitik, sure does make for strange bedfellows.
Pakistan is able to stymie India at every international forum, be it the UN or the nuclear suppliers group. There have even been strong rumours about the Obama administration offering the Pakistanis their own nuclear deal. Trump yells and curses at the Pakistanis, but is the first one to give it gobs of military aid.
Pakistan sure doesn’t seem like a loser. It appears to have come out of Afghanistan smelling of roses. It can blackmail America to its heart’s content, and what is more, happily get away with it. Does it seem like a failed state? A terrorist state? A terrorized state? At least not now. For now it seems that Pakistan’s star, that star in their beloved crescent, is rising. And rising.
INDIA AND THE UNITED STATES SHOULD REVISIT THEIR OPPOSITION TO CHINA-LED CONNECTIVITY
Others in this series have noted the need for more pragmatic realism in Pakistan’s foreign policy, but India too would benefit from a dose of realism about the gap between it and China and what it gains from absolute opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative. In terms of physical infrastructure, India is in many ways better positioned to be a beneficiary of multilateral support than a leader or lender. Its road infrastructure is at least a decade behind China’s. It needs Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean expertise in developing and financing road and high-speed railway networks. India, whose productivity pales in comparison to other large economies, also lacks the ability to build the successful industrial zones that are generally paired with thriving ports.
But India, along with Japan and South Korea, can compete with China on electric power projects and, perhaps down the road, on metro rail transport projects. India and Japan have had success in outcompeting China in Bangladesh’s power sector.
In a previous contribution to this series, Daniel Markey noted that “China’s deeper involvement in Southern Asia is stirring competitive Indian tendencies rather than cooperative ones.” A decade from now, India will have to assess what it has gained in opposing the Belt and Road Initiative and instead spending hundreds of millions of dollars on connectivity with countries like Afghanistan (assuming New Delhi fulfills its pledges on Chabahar). India may find itself to be the odd man out.
India’s interests and regional stability will be better served by a greater effort to look for economic convergences with China and Pakistan. That does not mean India should return to its pre-1962 war naivete and call for Sino-Indian brotherhood (Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai). The two countries are and remain strategic competitors. But strategic competition has not inhibited trade between the two Asian giants, which grew from $2 billion to $70 billion from 2000 to 2014. India ought to view Chinese investments in Pakistan with similar pragmatism. And to unleash the region’s economic potential, New Delhi should engage Islamabad in dialogue to find pathways toward de-escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistani Balochistan, where India and Pakistan are engaged in shadow wars. By 2019, when the general elections in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are complete, deescalation can perhaps yield to a composite bilateral dialogue on resolving outstanding issues — including Kashmir — allowing South Asia’s two largest economies to redevote energy toward regional economic cooperation.
India has territorial disputes with:
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Pakistan has friends in Kabul
By Taimur ShamilPublished: January 25, 2018
After returning from my recent trip to Kabul, many people that I met back home were concerned about Pakistan’s image in Kabul — opportunities for cooperation and the intensity of anti-Pakistan sentiment in Afghanistan. My answer to them was simple. Pakistan, socially and politically, has friends in Kabul and the opportunities for Pakistan are many, if we try.
Here are the facts: in terms of social relations, every day between 2,000 to 3,000 visas are issued from Kabul alone to Pakistan. The numbers of visas issued from the rest of Pakistani consulates are additional, that may vary from 800 to 1,000 as per Pakistani officials. The Afghans who travel on these visas are usually travelling for health and educational reasons. The patients who travel to Pakistan feel more comfortable in Pakistan than any other country. The reasons being obvious, most of them share the same culture, language, religion and most of the times clans and tribes as well. Also that many of them have been frequently travelling to Pakistan for the last many years. Majority of them have their families in Pakistan that either migrated during the Soviet-Afghan war or later during the last decade. These Afghans who come to Pakistan also find Pakistan economically affordable as compared to other countries in the region. It is to be kept in mind that most of the Afghans live in abject poverty and lack basic health facilities. Therefore, Pakistan is the logical and economical option.
Interestingly almost every third person that I met, Dari (Persian spoken in Afghanistan) dominated, Kabul could speak and understand Urdu. Most of the people who could speak Urdu were young Afghans. They had either been educated or had spent considerable time doing jobs in Pakistan. They have good memories attached to the neighbouring country which welcomed and hosted them.
After meeting the young Afghans, I realised that when it comes to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, higher education is Pakistan’s strength. While Pakistan has itself improved the quality of higher education, it has worked on giving scholarships to Afghan students who want to pursue their academic ambitions. Islamabad is generally multi-linguistic city and multi-ethnic as well. One can find Hazaras, Persian speaking, and Pakhtuns in large numbers in different universities of the capital. This naturally gives the Afghan students a conducive environment to blend in.
Last year the Higher Education Commission announced scholarships to 3,000 Afghan students and a large number of those are females. These young students are the bridges and ambassadors of peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a huge potential for the future of democracy and peace in Afghanistan. The tapping of this potential needs the Foreign Office’s attention now more than ever.
A lot of Pakistanis are concerned about anti-Pakistan sentiments brewing in Kabul. The concerns are, no doubt, justified and show Pakistan’s concern and urge to improve its relations with the people of Afghanistan. After all, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the decades and expects that the refugees become the ambassadors of goodwill between the two countries when they return to their home country. For that Pakistan too needs consideration on smooth transition of refugees from Pakistani soil to Afghanistan. It doesn’t need to be rough and loaded with blame. That ruins the very spirit with which Pakistan hosted them for decades.
#Indian #Muslim: How I Got Over That Dark Geographic Shadow Called #Pakistan: “Musalman ke do hi sthaan, qabristan ya Pakistan” (A Muslim has only two choices of abode – graveyard or Pakistan). #BJP #Modi #Islamophobia
https://thewire.in/culture/how-i-got-over-that-dark-geographic-shadow-called-pakistan … via @thewire_in
Pakistan became an enemy that came between my friends and me occasionally, and between my country and me often. My yearning for acceptance of my loyalty as an Indian was strong, even though it came at the cost of irrationally bashing ‘Pakistan’ for its cricket and its politics, and anything that kept me on ‘the side of my people’ was acceptable to me.
So, Pakistan, with which I had maintained a safe distance growing up, came close, uncomfortably close, when my husband had to travel to Pakistan for his journalistic pursuits. It was almost an irritation when my father had to go to the Pakistan High Commission to fetch my husband’s visa in his absence.
My work got me in touch with Pakistani academics and researchers, and that is when I began to know Pakistan as its people. I found a window into their research, courses, and universities, daily email exchange and communication grew, and very soon my Facebook profile could list at least a hundred ‘friends’ in Pakistan. In early 2017, as my son recovered from a major heart surgery at Jaypee Hospital, I learnt of a family who had traveled from Pakistan for their son’s surgery. Our children were in the same ICU, fighting bravely for life, and outside, their Indian and Pakistani mothers shared their grief and bonded over the pain that they were going through. After three months of tough fight, the Pakistani boy passed away, and I remember his inconsolable mother as she cried in disbelief at her misfortune and the futility of her struggle. The little hope and courage that I would gather every day to see my son for two minutes every morning in the ICU seemed ruptured, and I could feel her pain. I hugged her, as this was the only solace that I could offer to another mother, who happened to be a Pakistani.
A few days ago, I was at the Chaophraya Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue in Bangkok. A first of its kind in a nine-year-old Track Two dialogue between India and Pakistan, the dialogue brought together mid-career professionals who represented the next generation of leadership across industry and scholarship from both countries.
I can claim to know the ‘people’ side of Pakistan now, which is as humble, passionate, and desirous of amity as are the people in India. They are also progressive, articulate, and ambitious, as are my people.
I can appreciate them for what they are without the fear of being abused and demonised for this. I have come of age. But not all Indian Muslims who are subjected to verbal abuse and violent attacks and are repeatedly asked to ‘go to Pakistan’ will have the opportunity of mental healing. School-going Muslim children, who are derogatorily called ‘Pakistani’ by their classmates, will grow up as vulnerable and marginalised adults. No cricket enthusiast will ever be able to appreciate cricket for the spirit of the game, and no one will offer a hand of friendship.
So next time, when some Vinay Katiyar (founder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s youth wing, Bajrang Dal) asks Indian Muslims to go to Pakistan, we should be able to tell him: I belong to India, it is my homeland, and Pakistanis are friends.
The reality is a lot more complicated than this Eurocentric view of Pakistan’s civil–military relations, which tends to reinforce a perception of Pakistan that serves Western powers and interests. At the core of this Eurocentrism is a tendency to view Pakistan’s civil–military relations through a foreign policy lens, while almost entirely neglecting the domestic political and structural issues at play. Western commentary also tends to treat civilian political leaders as passive actors, overlooking their role in the imbalance.
The civilian and military leadership in Pakistan are on the same page when it comes to foreign and security policies. Disagreements are only over the right methods for achieving these foreign policy goals, and reflect an internal power struggle rather than an ideological difference between civilian and military factions.
For instance, after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif took power at the 2013 elections, he was interested in bold steps to move quickly on peace with India — often even going beyond state protocol and opening backdoor channels. The Pakistan Army was not disinterested in peace with India. Military leaders just wanted to mend relations in a systematic way that would not compromise Pakistan’s interests and that would make peace last beyond rhetoric.
Military leaders advised caution and small steps to achieving sustainable peace with India — advice which Sharif ignored. After several months of futile attempts to court Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pressed hard on Pakistan after his rise to power, Sharif faced an embarrassing situation. He accepted that his strategy had been a failure and allowed the military to devise a new strategy to engage India.
Civilian and military leaders were similarly split over issues of method when it came to tackling terrorist safe havens inside the country. In 2013, the then new government under Sharif was not interested in launching operations inside the country against the Taliban and other extremist actors. The government instead began peace talks with the terrorist outfits despite repeated advice from the Pakistan Army to the contrary.
The Pakistan army pushed the view that terrorist outfits use ‘peace talks’ as a pretence to regroup, develop credibility and then launch attacks again when the government is vulnerable. Months later, when the terrorists continued their attacks on Pakistan and US forces despite the ongoing negotiations with the Pakistani government, Sharif again was sheepish in front of Pakistan’s security establishment and allowed the military to launch an operation.
When it comes to Pakistan’s current foreign policy posture, there appears to be no rupture in civil–military relations. Both civilian and military leaders support deep ties with China, opening up to Russia, balancing the Middle East, defying the United States and finding a sustainable peace with India and Afghanistan. Even the ‘Dawn leaks’ controversy was less a matter of disagreement over foreign policy than a case of the civilian government trying to embarrass the military establishment.
While civil and military leaders in Pakistan are locked in a power struggle, they are on the same page in terms of foreign and security policy — which is why Pakistan has seen much policy continuity over the past four decades. Civilian leaders pitch this domestic power struggle to international audiences as a matter of ‘foreign policy’ and a ‘fight for democracy’ for the purposes of seeking international endorsements that can be leveraged in the local power tussle.
This absence of nuance in Western academic writing and commentaries on Pakistan is not just a blind spot. It is deliberate neglect whereby the dominant characterisation of Pakistan’s civil–military relations is constructed to suit Western political interests that include aligning Pakistan’s national security policies with that of the West, and having a strong check on its nuclear program.
Pakistan foreign policy 101
Ashraf Jehangir QaziUpdated January 26, 2019
Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.
India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.
Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?
The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.
Russia in partnership with China is a significant counterforce to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.
The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.
Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.
The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.
Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.
India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.
These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.
Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.
Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.
Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.
Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.
Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.
The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.
China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.
Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.
#Bangladesh PM refusing to meet #Indian envoy to #Dhaka despite repeated requests over 2 months. Hasina has ordered slow-down of all #India funded project while #Chinese funded projects are fast-tracked in BD. #Modi's #Hindutva rhetoric is affecting ties.
All Indian projects in Bangladesh have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2019.
A prominent newspaper of Bangladesh has said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not meet India’s High Commissioner despite repeated requests for a meeting in the last four months.
Bhorer Kagoj, a prominent daily, has reported that all Indian projects have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Hasina in 2019 with Chinese infrastructure projects receiving more support from Dhaka.
“Despite India's concern, Bangladesh has given the contract of building an airport terminal in Sylhet to a Chinese company. Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das tried for four months to get an appointment with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh but did not get it. Bangladesh has not even sent a note of appreciation to India in response to Indian assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the newspaper's editor Shyamal Dutta in an article on the recent tilt of Dhaka towards Pakistan and China.
PM Narendra Modi invokes Chanakya, Tagore in address to UN General Assembly
Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked Chanakya, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, and Rabindranath Tagore in his address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
PM Modi quoted words of Indian strategist Chanakya, who had said, “When the right action is not taken at the right time, then it is time itself that causes the action to fail.”
The prime minister emphasised, “ If the UN has to keep itself relevant, it has to improve its effectiveness and increase its reliability.”
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