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Dealing with Pakistan, Climbing Down can only Work
Thursday September 29, 2016 9:45 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

Modi Sharif
[Prime Minister Modi with Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in a file photo]

Going by the reaction of Delhi Durbar, it appears that Pakistan has once again has become an obsession for India. There seems to be panic all around the current dispensation on finding means and ways to hit back the neighboring country.

From war to flexing military might to diplomatically isolating Pakistan, declaring it as a terrorist state, removing its MFN status to abrogating Indus water treaty and now pulling out of SAARC summit, every possible option are being weighed with all its pros and cons.

However, there is no consensus on how to deal with Pakistan. India’s all -weather friend Russia which had contributed immensely in the 71 war has not cancelled the joint military exercise with Pakistan.

China does not subscribe to India’s position on Kashmir and has openly admitted to stand with Pakistan. Our beloved PM Modiji who has so far met US president 15 times, 3 times this year has not able to win him on his side. Nor he has been able to make the nuke deal operational. He also is unable to muster support from other countries on this issue. The entire world opinion is centered on holding on talks and resolving the problems on hand.

However, India is in no mood to get on the table and more keen to play Bangladesh in Baluchistan. How that can be made possible, either pushing through Iran of Afghanistan is the thinking heads engaged in at the moment.

The psychic paralysis of Delhi Durbar is apparent in many ways in dealing with Pakistan. I remember the words of one south Asian professor who said that Pakistan is a lap dog of India that India has fathered to bark at it all the time. It can neither throw the pet away nor is it comfortable to keep it on its lap all the time.

This looks like an unending soap opera that has seen a few generations come and gone. All had witnessed the running theme that Pakistan is a lap dog of India whose bark is annoyingly painful.

In such scenario if you cannot stop the barking, what are the options to make the pet quite? No marks for guessing, resolve the Kashmir issue. How that can be done? It’s not difficult, if there is a political will. What is that? Well here is the road map.

I have written about the conspiracy of hope that is playing spoil sports in the resolution of the Kashmir problem. All the three parties India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri’s living in the valley have been nursing their own hopes from a long time.

The hardened position of each party sees no light at the end of the tunnel. A climb down from the stated position can only untie the knot and it can only satisfy the built up hopes.

The best possible solution that each can live with massaging their inflated egos could be... Let India and Pakistan give up their control of the valley and make the valley region (about 5% of the disputed area) into a quasi-independent nation with UN control or guarded neutrality similar to Switzerland.

This could act as a sort of buffer state (in the earlier days, major powers used to have such buffer days between them). India and Pakistan maybe China can provide 50% of armed forced each to this new authority.

What is the loss and gain in this solution? Well India would lose some territory but so would Pakistan and this kind of climb down could be more palatable to all three.

What India gains? The advantages are that the rest of state Jammu and Ladhak can be completely merged into India with no special status, reduction of army budget required to protect the valley, reduction of border disputes with Pakistan and improvement of overall security and law and order situation in the region.

What Pakistan gains? For Pakistan it could be the best exit route from the problem as it can claim victory assuming to have got some territory out of India that could satisfy its audience.

It may the beginning of the resumption of normal relationship between India and Pakistan. In such peaceful environment, talks of development and cooperation can flourish.

What Kashmiri's gains? As far as Kashmir’s, it will be great victory for them as they may claim to have got what they wanted after long drawn struggle. In such atmosphere the state can see new dawn and the development activity can leapfrog since inception.

It’s obvious that this solution maybe be unpalatable to many Indians, but there is no any other credible solution than this that could help India move on. It’s a choice between rock and hard surface to sit. The gains are higher than holding on to the hardened position.

India has many other things to worry about and fighting with history and religion to protect territory and lose our men and material is an exercise in futility. Sooner or later, a solution has to be found to this waxed problem. A climb down from the position of hope is the only option to silence the conspirators and the barking dog on the lap.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Chennai based journalist who can be contacted at]

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