When will India and Pakistan stop complaining to Uncle Sam?
In India, we live and grow with the belief that the ISI and several non-state actors in Pakistan are responsible for terrorism in the country. That the trouble in Jammu and Kashmir is sponsored from across the border and people of the valley do not have their own grievances. That Islamic terrorism is spreading its wings in India, courtesy of our neighbour. That it is Islamabad which is responsible for the animosity between India and Pakistan and that the latter does not want to see peace in the region. Everything wrong on the security front is taken as a handiwork of Pakistan’s intelligence network.
This predominant narrative forms the debate and goes unchallenged and unquestioned. We take it as a gospel of truth and anyone challenging the narrative is taken as an anti-national.
But the media and people in India generally, keep away or remain oblivious or uninformed about the activities of our intelligence agencies. We live with the argument that India is a non-interfering nation and does not plant troubles or take interest in the internal turmoil of the neighbouring country.
If there is a report that India interferes in Balochistan and supports the disgruntled elements there, the larger public look at it with pride, gloat over the fact, and remain smug.
It is no wonder that when the news came that Pakistan has submitted a “dossier” to top US officials detailing evidence of involvement of Indian secret agencies in stoking and supporting militancy in the country’s troubled regions, it remained significantly unreported in the major sections of the media. Imagine a similar dossier being submitted by India to the US officials, the whole nation would have been debating the nefarious role being played by Pakistan in the internal affairs of the country.
We grow imbibing this duplicity. Chauvinism is taken as a sign of patriotism.
My point is that why can we not openly debate about India carrying out activities on foreign soil. It is interesting to know that the media is somehow open to discuss the role and design of New Delhi in neighbouring countries, like Nepal, but is silent when the issue concerns Pakistan.
We all live with the belief that India is an ardent friend of Afghanistan and it is Pakistan which is the troublemaker in the Hindu Kush. It is also true to a great extent. But the people in large remain uninformed that India’s deepening presence in Kabul is also a cause of instability in the landlocked nation. Media chooses to remain silent on how India’s entrenchment in Afghanistan causes insecurity to Rawalpindi and Islamabad. There is hardly any informed debate about the need to improve ties between India and Pakistan in order to stabilise Afghanistan.
There is no denying the fact that India’s big brotherly attitude has contributed to a great extent in the militarisation of Pakistan. Whatever might be the reason for New Delhi in supporting the creation of Bangladesh, Islamabad sees it as India’s blatant interference in the Islamic nation’s internal affairs.
The dossier that Rawalpindi has presented to the US administration is the reflection of this mistrust; it shows how India’s unfriendly gesture poses an existential crisis for the country. It has to be taken in the context of the recent bickering between the two neighbours. The cancellation of secretary level talks and the subsequent escalation of skirmishes at the border have created a sense of unease in Pakistan, which has been looking forward to having productive relations with this Narendra Modi government. The dossier is also a statement on Modi’s Hindu right-wing regime, which is largely perceived to be anti-Muslim. The initial euphoria generated in the wake of Modi inviting Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi has given way to heightened concerns about the design of the new regime.
There is hardly an attempt by popular media and political establishment to address the mistrust between the two nations. India is liberating its economy but remains a prisoner of past prejudices.
It’s not a question of how much truth there is in the dossier; the question is why, even after more than six decades, the two neighbours cannot handle their concerns bilaterally?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.