SITUATION IN PAKISTAN AND ITS IMPACT ON SOUTH ASIA
Pakistan is in crises – crises of all sorts – political instability, institutional dysfunction, economic free fall, and a natural disaster that has left around 30 million people homeless. And now, the former PM of Pakistan, ousted 7 months ago, is attacked. Pakistan is known to have been under a long shadow of the military. The accusations and counter-accusations can affect credibility and transparency in the investigation. The troubled country has seen the worst floods in the living memories of its people. Despite the revival of the IMF programme, cash injections from friendly countries and other international financial institutions and assistance for floods, the country’s needs are enormous to finance the current account deficit and to meet external debt obligations. Foreign exchange reserves are at a three-year low, enough to cover just six weeks of imports.
Political stability can be guaranteed only when the Parliament’s vote of confidence is genuine, the bodies such as Election Commission and the High Courts and Supreme Court are impartial and uninfluenced, and the mandate of the people is respected. Governments function by checks and balances, not diffusion of responsibilities – on whom to blame.
PAKISTAN’S OUTLOOK TOWARDS INDIA EVEN DURING THE CRISIS
With all this, Pakistan’s senior officials have all the time in the world to accuse India – ‘India prays that Pakistan should always remain an entity in turmoil’. Pakistan is passing through humanitarian and economic crises, and instead of focusing on resolving these pressing issues, the Indian Army faces infiltration bids on the LoC. If ever fault lines have deepened, they have deepened because of this outlook.
The issue of poverty and forced conversions first affects the most vulnerable – poor little girls of Pakistan, and this aspect disturbs India equally.
IMPACT ON SOUTH ASIA
–The US and NATO’s haphazard exit from Afghanistan has already threatened the security situation in the region. And now, with Pakistan in crisis, terrorism will only flourish, with flood aid being diverted for arms and drugs trade; terrorist groups will influence people to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
–The suspicion amongst the ranks of General level officers, serving or retired, the civilian leadership, incumbent or elected, and the ISI, favoured or unfavoured, will only increase if bridging of the communication gap does not take place.
–As seen by the assassination attempt on the former PM, long marches and preemptive actions, the spillover effect will be seen in people carrying pistols and rifles, threatening society at large.
–Radicalisation will lead to more crime and create deplorable security conditions in entire South Asia.
–The China-Pakistan nexus will gain ground for destabilizing India and South Asia, the Arabian sea, and the Indian Ocean region.
–Political turbulence will cause the food and fuel crises in the Afghan-Pakistan region to exacerbate.
–Pakistan is now called a fractured state with uncertainties and unrest. The resultant terror emanating from Pakistan soil cannot then be termed as an action of ‘Non-State Actors’.
PAKISTAN SHOULD FINALLY CHANGE
–Common civilians of Pakistan at times seem more mature than those in the government.
–The time has come for a Civil-Military relationship in Pakistan to be built based on trust based on the Constitution of Pakistan, rather than control based on political engineering.
–Pakistan must focus on rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of its flood-affected people, rather than blaming India.
–Common sense should prevail on international platforms such as the UN. Raking up the Kashmir issue every now and then, does not provide any locus standi to Pakistan. Pakistan by now should understand that the so-called ‘Azad Kashmir’, Gilgit Baltistan, Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin are all integral and inalienable parts of India. The sooner Pakistan understands this, without an all-out war, in which Pakistan also knows that it will flunk, the better. The Pakistan military should not have an existential motto of bleeding India.
–Providing safe haven for terror snakes and providing milk to them in order to inflict a thousand cuts on India, will in turn entice those snakes to bite and poison their well-established masters themselves.
–All weather friend, China is not seen in the picture for assisting in any resolution of the crisis. The debt trap of the revived aid and the China-Pakistan Economic corridor after the PM of Pakistan’s visit to Beijing should require a closer look.
–Pakistan should in fact seek advice from economists in India, on how to sail through the economic crisis, what should be the Central Bank of Pakistan doing, and what should be their government’s fiscal policy at the moment, for India is closer to understanding, evaluating the situation and advising in good faith. The establishment of such an advisory council should come from Pakistan’s end. This is far better than seeking advice from the UK or the US or asking for loan waivers from the International Monetary Fund.
–In turn, Indian assistance should not be reciprocated by killing Indians, Kashmiri Pandits and poor migrants and cross-border infiltrations.
WAY FORWARD FOR INDIA
–Keeping terrorism and the 26/11 attack in mind, all efforts must be taken to create combat capabilities and military readiness for handling any unforeseen event. The development of Tri-Services Rockets and Missiles Theatre Command and increasing drone detection capabilities are a step in the right direction.
–Though, the Balkanisation of Pakistan is not in India’s interest. Our people should stop dreaming about that. In a practical sense, however, bitter it may be, an unstable western neighbour will do more harm to India than good. Balkanisation or breaking of Pakistan into independent pieces, distributing parts to Iran and Afghanistan, in the hope of achieving lasting peace, is wishful thinking.
–India can take initial steps for building an interface of Civil-Military authorities and officials. DGMO-level talks do take place, but we should go beyond that.
–Polio vaccination, providing wheat and rice, medicines, joint climate action for the Indus river, joint coordination teams for handling avalanches and earthquakes in the Himalayas, collaborative programmes of ‘Army Wives Welfare Association – India and Pakistan’ for helping widows and children on both sides, can form starting points. All this is never to undermine the supreme sacrifices of our soldiers and officers who laid down their lives in safeguarding our nation.
–Humanitarian assistance is guided by humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality. For now, humanitarian assistance taking political risks will count as political willpower. For trade, we will require trust.
–A stronger South Asia will have the leverage of strategic autonomy, of not being pulled into the hegemonistic West camp or the ulterior assertive Russia-China camp, not a weaker one.
–BY YOGITA KADU