India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues - A Reality Check

After six years of mouthing India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues platitudes prompted from Washington to serve its own strategic interests, the Congress Government finally discovered that a serious “Trust Deficit" persisted between India and Pakistan. So the recent dialogues between India and Pakistan at different levels were not about the contentious issues that bed evil and divide the two countries but as exercises in exploring as to how the Trust Deficit between the two countries can be obliterated. Did it require 60 years of meaningless engagements between India and Pakistan for this fundamental reality to dawn on Indian political leaders and the Congress Government of the day? Before 9/11, dialogue engagements between India and Pakistan were encouraged by external powers more to ensure that peace and stability prevailed in South Asia. But after 9/11, India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues have been prodded by pressures from Washington more to serve its strategic interests in obtaining Pakistan Army’s support for its military commitments in Afghanistan than in the interests of peace between the two countries. Therein lies the danger to India that Pakistan Army could leverage India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues prompted by USA to force solutions on contentious issues on Pakistani terms.

All this calls for once again a reality check on the history of India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues which reveal the following pattern:

In earlier years till 1971 Pakistan displayed the propensity to force solutions to contentious issues with India by force of arms by launching military aggressions.

  • After failing in such military misadventures, Pakistan resorted to launching proxy war and state-sponsored terrorism against India, initially limited to J&K. 
  • When that strategy was defeated in J&K by Indian security forces, Pakistan resorted to a widespread campaign of terrorist and suicide bombings in heartland India encompassing a wide geographical spread.
  • The crowning glory of the Pakistan Army onslaughts against India were the suicide bombing of the Indian Parliament House and rounding off with the 26/11 commando-level attacks on India’s financial capital, Mumbai. 

Against this pattern of armed provocations and confrontation with India, it was strategically ironic that India’s Prime Ministers, notably Atal Bihari Vajpayee and now Dr Manmohan Singh after making bold and assertive declarations that no Peace Dialogues would take place until Pakistan ceased its proxy war and lately that the guilty Pakistanis involved in 26/11 were held accountable, all of a sudden reversed gears and resumed Peace Dialogues. Obviously the reason was succumbing to United States pressures. This was against India’s national security interests and demonstrated the weaknesses of Indian Prime Ministers.

The pattern traced out above would indicate that Pakistan at no stage was seriously interested in pursuing peace with India. It resorted to military adventurism against India secure in the belief that Indian Prime Ministers were captives of US policy and that in the event of strong ripostes from India, though unlikely, Pakistan would be bailed out and protected from India’s military wrath by United States political intervention.

Therefore, it was not Trust Deficit that prompted Pakistan to resort to military adventurism against India persistently but a strategic obsession of the Pakistan Army and an arrogance that India could be militarily be ‘coerced’ into giving- in on contentious issues. So, why this new harping by Indian political leaders and analysts on the fact that the root cause of India-Pakistan rivalries lay in Trust Deficit?

A strategic reality of the India-Pakistan confrontation of the last sixty years or so would clearly indicate that the root cause of India-Pakistan confrontations lay in Pakistan’s own internal conflict to come to terms with its identity and that its strategic asymmetries with India were unbridgeable. Pakistan therefore should not be expected by Indian Prime Ministers to move positively in any India-Pakistan Peace Dialogues. It is high time that India stops engaging Pakistan despite external pressures and let the natural ‘balance of power’ prevail in India-Pakistan strategic and military equations.


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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