The Pakistan Syndrome

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I find it suitable to note that there are few things, emerging from the other side of the LoC, and yet, proving to be favourable to us. So, when a Pakistani author endeavoured to chronicle their saga of ‘foreign policy’, it was expected to liberate some sort of excitement in India. However, the fact that the formidability of the repercussions would be so disgraceful was never considered to be an issue. Probably that accounted for the outright condemnation, by the Indians who are still concerned about the country’s ethos, when the extreme right-wing political party ‘Shiv Sena’ decided to honour the author by disrupting his book launch in Mumbai and resorting to the highest extents of obscenity by smearing ink over the ORF Chairman, Sudheendra Kulkarni. But then, if a book is to be judged by the grandeur of its launch, then probably scores of sub-continental authors would already have clinched the Booker’s Prize. And that’s why, despite the unsuccessful launching ceremony, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ has found a generous market in India.
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri served as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan from 2002 to 2007 under Parvez Musharraf, a period when we came closest to settle a deal on Kashmir and catalyze our peace process. However, despite scores of unaccounted track two discussions, proposed bilateral talks and avid diplomatic channelizing, both the countries have maintained their historical status quo over the issue. Pakistan’s foreign policy has predominantly been shaped out by the policies of two regions, namely, the West and India. Therefore, it is quite propionate that whatever India plans out for its neighbours invariably ends up affecting their internal affairs. It’s not possible to pen down a synopsis of Pakistan’s foreign policy, starting from 1947, in a seven-hundred-words worth article. Hence, barring the golden age of Quaid-i-Azam, the speculative period of Ayyub Khan, the charismatic aura of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the lost decade of Zia-ul-Haq, let me focus on the period of developments between the ties of both the countries during Musharraf’s time.

Vajpayee had once boarded a bus from Amritsar to embark on a peace mission to Lahore. There, shaking hands with Mian Nawaz Sharif, the then PM of Pakistan, they committed to avoid the prospects of war at any cost. Meanwhile, a Pakistani Army General was covertly deploying his troops at the vacated Indian posts on the frontline in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. A couple of months later, the whole international community questioned the authenticity of that handshake as Pakistan’s adventurism in Kargil came to light. Although, these strategies of Pakistan did not earn them any substantial laurels, they sure enough acquired a decade long military dictatorship. But, looking through India’s perspective, this was the most fruitful period in terms of accelerating the peace process. In the words of Manmohan Singh, India inched closer than ever to close-in a deal on Kashmir. Even the previous NDA government had their share of milestones during this period. When Musharraf visited Indian in 2001 for the Agra Summit, speculations loomed large that the long yearned peace between the two brothers of partition was at last in the offing. Fourteen years hence the summit, we probably perceive the results as otherwise. It was also the period of realization for Pakistan, that the proxy war launched in Kashmir by Zia Ul Haq, as a counter measure to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation, was a long lost dream. Around that time, Kashmir restored from being an unfinished agenda of partition to a battle ground of egos. Pakistan’s involvement in Kashmir was directly governed by the very fact, out of many others, that their withdrawal would mark another voluntary surrender to India. However, parallel peace was also in their agenda as Musharraf presented his four-point solution to Kashmir in 2006. It was around that period that the reverberations caused by artillery guns stopped echoing the Saltoro Mountains. But today, with Mian Sharif back in Power, and Musharraf out of both the government and the barracks, Kashmir still remains a battleground for half a million troops on both sides of the border.

Kasuri had the most favorable view of this saga and now that he pens it down, we are left with more than just a mere opportunity of taking a glimpse at their side of diplomacy. Kasuri’s book is undoubtedly the most grasping tale of ‘foreign policy’ of Pakistan.

– Dikshit Sarma Bhagabati, YFFP Guwahati

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