The Kashmir issue has proven that Pakistan and India refuse to learn from history

Published: August 15, 2016

The pot and the kettle are calling each other black. The truth is that they’re both black – and neither of them is willing to accept it; just like India and Pakistan. New Delhi holds Pakistan responsible for spreading terrorism in its territory and Islamabad claims vice versa.

India is not willing to accept its faults in Jammu and Kashmir and alleges that the Islamic Republic is solely responsible for the trouble in the valley. Pakistan, on the other hand, says that the cry for freedom in Kashmir should not be equated with terrorism; the Islamic republic itself is a victim of terrorism and is as keen to root out this menace as India is.

The meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad became a battleground for both nations, thereby denigrating the multilateral grouping that was, ironically, created to hone harmony and mutual cooperation among the South Asian nations. We hardly know what transpired in the two day conclaves in Islamabad. The media in both the nations is full of stories regarding the spat between Rajnath Singh, India’s home minister, and his Pakistani counterpart, ignoring the larger discussion that took place amongst the eight countries on the issue affecting the subcontinent.

As soon as he landed in Islamabad, the Indian home minister’s body language, along with the stiffness with which he presented himself shows just how juvenile Indian leaders can be while representing their country. There was smile on his face, there was no desire to connect with the host; the tense visage appeared as if it was a war-like situation. The entire visit ­to Islamabad– from entry to exit – he appeared to be calibrating moves as though he was enacting a drama and making sure that no step deviates from the written script lest the core audience of his theatrics get angry.

Singh’s demeanour can be explained by the fact that he belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – a party that is very critical of talks with Pakistan and is known as an anti-Muslim grouping. Therefore it’s obvious that they, and therefore he, are more invested in the interests of the Hindu majority. For him to talk peace with Pakistan would have been a betrayal of his core voters. Singh was representing his hard core constituents – not India, when he led the team in the SAARC meet.

The Pakistani leadership also played to the gallery in their interactions with the visiting Indian leader. It seemed as though the Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar, too, acted in accordance to a predetermined script, keeping in mind Pakistan’s vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Kashmir.

When you approach a neighbour with such a narrow political prism and a pre-set frame of mind, the result will never be positive. There was no harm for both parties to accept that Kashmir is a matter of concern for both countries and needs to be resolved. Why do they both not acknowledge how redundant it is to constantly bounce the blame off one another instead of coming to terms with their own errors? Especially when there is more at stake than just one’s ego and pride. The tragedy is that, in this game of parochial politics and one-upmanship, the victims are the people themselves – of both, India and Pakistan.

Almost three generations have gone by and the two neighbours adamantly refuse to learn from history.

It’s not just Kashmir – the whole subcontinent is suffering as a result of this India-Pakistan animosity. South Asia has become a prisoner of conflict between India and Pakistan. To a large extent even Afghanistan is a victim of this tussle. For seven decades, the two half-brothers have held the evolution of the region as a viable economic and political entity hostage.

India shares the larger blame for being a negative force in the region. New Delhi refuses to grow emotionally; it is the same now as it was back in 1947. In fact, the situation is more volatile now than ever before; the distrust shared between the two nations has magnified beyond all limits.

This animosity has only bred terrorism, radicalism and fundamentalism in the subcontinent. Today, Pakistan is badly within the grip of all these evils. The monster that it nurtured as a state policy is out of control and become a threat to the larger society. India has also become a far more radicalised society now than it was seven decades ago. Hindu majoritarianism is India’s biggest threat today and, if allowed to proceed unchecked, the very idea of India is in great danger. The narrow nationalism is breeding a generation which shirks reasoning, hates rational argument, detests multiculturalism and feel shy of secularism.

At a time when regional barriers are breaking down in other parts of the world, South Asia is witnessing the emergence of even more physical and economic barriers despite the region sharing the same history and culture. This is anachronistic and completely out of sync with the evolving world. English daily, Hindustan Times, states that,

“South Asia regrettably remains the least integrated region in the world; an area that has 16.5% of the world’s population accounts for just 2% of the world trade. Economists point out that its intra-regional trade is less than 6% of its total trade and accounts for 2% of the region’s GDP.”

At a time when Asia is becoming the economic and political hub of global attention, the regional wrangling in South Asia limits the potential of such a vibrant territory. India is quite ambitious in its need to play leader in South Asia and emerge as an important political and economic player on a global platform. Unfortunately, its parochial vision in dealing with its western neighbour (vis-à-vis South Asia) limits its clout. It questions its potential to emerge as a serious geopolitical player.

India needs to demonstrate greater farsightedness in its dealing with Pakistan if it wants to be the leader of South Asia. Pakistan’s constraints are its low economic and political growth, and geopolitical wisdom informs that New Delhi needs a paradigm shift in its policy towards its western neighbour vis-à-vis other South Asian neighbours.

Kashmir is a challenge to the Indian democracy and its multiculturalism and religious tolerance. Without talking to Pakistan you cannot resolve the Kashmir issue. Therefore, engaging with stakeholders is the best policy forward. Pakistan also needs to show greater wisdom and flexibility in dealing with New Delhi. Many of its economic woes will go if it fosters lasting camaraderie with its eastern neighbour.


Sanjay Kumar

The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rtnguy

    This is the tragedy of indian liberals. They have not understood pakistanRecommend

  • BlackHat

    Any sensible person would admit both the pot and the kettle are indeed black, even if one is a tad blacker. The conflict between utensils is one of ego. There happens to be no antidote for that.

    It is time to replace ego with compassion for the people and come up with a face saving formula that be win-win for all. Alas, we are not blessed with commonsense!Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    India learnt from history. Don’t trust Pakistan!Recommend

  • rtnguy

    Compassion is not possible in this caseRecommend

  • Anonymous

    Just giving confort to India’s enemiies. Fifth column comment.Recommend

  • Rohit

    Coming from the Author: “For him to talk peace with Pakistan would have been a betrayal of his core voters”. That just shows that you are painting Hindus as war mongers or at-least the 30 odd percentage of middle class which actually voted for him for other reasons. This is naive writing. It also ignores the fact the machinery and the intent to foment trouble in Kashmir (should I put India held )as a Policy is still upheld by Pakistan’s actual decision makers. Whom should you talk to in Pakistan and what about?Recommend

  • Premangshu Ray

    What is written in the blog is ridiculous, especially so in the light of the events of the past 96 hours, which is reflective of what has been happening almost since Pakistan gained Independence. India should talk to Pakistan about bilateral matters, which incidentally do not include Kashmir, only after it becomes amply clear that Pakistan has stopped sponsoring, supporting and encouraging terrorist or divisive activities in Kashmir and when it decides to walk out of PoK.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Dont even expect india to talk to pakistan on kashmir. Kashmir is in india.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    If kasmiri muslims r not happy here they can move to pakistan like pak hindus r doing now.Pakistan must accommodate them, after all this land was created for muslims of subcontinent.Recommend

  • AB CD

    India should maintain status “Q” for Kashmir. Kashmir and Jammu is an internal part of India and Pakistan has no right to talk about it. Otherwise India can raise issue about Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan. India can make break Pakistan into many parts. Pakistan stay away from J & K issue.Recommend

  • AB CD

    Your are 100% right brother.Recommend

  • TikaKaar

    Totally un-objective and biased reporting, void of good analysis of facts. I do not know what political persuasion or what/which national loyalties he maintains, unless his views appearing on Pakistani publication site is any clue. Stating Singh as stiff while ignoring the “whys” based on the events immediately preceding his visit, with Pakistan creating a poisonous environment in India and the pressures of even the opposition parties in desiring to call off the visit as a result is completely ignored by this so called journalist who appears to be more of a paid reporter. He forgets the fact that the current Indian administration appears to be more engaged with Pakistan, al be it with firmness in India’s message on terrorism emanating from Pakistan, than the times immediately preceding that. Both countries need to be at peace to develop. Occupation of land by any country through military conquest would not prevail in the new world order as the International community would simply not accept its legitimacy.Recommend

  • Pure Ind

    Surely there is mistrust between India & Pakistan, who initiated all the wars, check independent videos of Pakistani Military generals on youtube you will find answers, the best eg. is Kargil war after all the denials in the beginning today the very same general Musharaff proudly accepts his Kargil adventure, do you feel this history can bring any trust factor, I guess NO.
    Pakistan is obsessed with Kashmir, India has never chased PoK that aggressively as compared to Pakistan when it comes to IOK, Kashmir is a major thorn between both the countries & both will not budge, Even though India is ok with the present division of kashmir, thats not the case with Pakistan, somewhere breaking Kashmir from India would be a Pakistani pay back to India for East Pakistan, which India wont accept.Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    Since the author is of the opinion that both India & Pakistan are equally to blame, he should answer these questions: Has India ever carried out Mumbai 26/11 type terrorist attacks in Pakistan? Has India given shelter to internationally designated terrorists like Saeed, Azhar, Lakhvi, Dawood, Salaludin etc who have blood of innocent Indians on their hands? Does Indian army train & facilitate proxies & “non state actors” which infiltrate Pakistan & kill Pakistanis? Does India resort to nuclear blackmailing?Recommend

  • Vikas

    “the Islamic republic itself is a victim of terrorism and is as keen to root out this menace as India is.” – really! Then why are all the terror masterminds roaming freely in pak, having rallies and firing guns in public? lolRecommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Pakistani military is taking on way too many fronts. It should just make friends with India and end this Kashmir non-sense once for all.Recommend

  • Bana Post

    I hate these pseudo liberals,communist,secularist,and rationalist to the core .These creatures are dangerous. For the sake of the nation they need to be controlled. Solacing point is that these creatures are considered majority of Indian population.Recommend

  • Cool Henry

    The author is supposed to be a journalist, i.e., must report facts. But, the whole article has almost zero facts and all opinions. Maybe, he’s not aware, but, one of the basic facts is that the Kashmiri rulers did not want to be part of India or Pakistan. Period. Immediately after partition – Indian leadership for focused on developing the country even as various ‘kingdom’s were being integrated. Kashmir was on the agenda of India as it’s hands were already full – so to speak. It was Pakistan who invaded Kashmir and the then Kashmiri rulers begged India to rescue it from the Pakistani marauders. Ever since, it is Pakistan that has been fomenting all the wars. Heck, it’s reach in creating trouble is global. Earlier, it was tight with America – and carrying out it’s criminal activities. Now, it has hitched on to the Chinese bandwagon – who are even more mean spirited than the Americans. At this time, China needs India for it’s South China sea position as well as does not want India to stoke the Tibetan fires.Recommend

  • Asad

    Kashmir is a disputed territory and you can’t win hearts with bullets.
    Kashmir has observed a black day on 15th August and celebrated 14 August with Pakistan.
    India blames that Azad Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan which is hilarious as by definition occupied is a place where you put your security forces and you only see that in Indian occupied Kashmir and not in Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir. Recommend

  • Jay

    India has learned 1 thing for sure , DONT TRUST PAKISTAN !Recommend

  • tatvavetta

    Lesson learnt by India is clear. Kashmir is not first and last conflict with Pakistan. Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    I pity you Sanjay, you keep on writing the truth. from your own countrymen. The fact is, both sides are acting in an immaturish manner. They will take thousand years to grow up and by the time it will be too late. The only consolation is that you and me won’t be here to witness it. Recommend

  • Sane

    Same we must learn. We are in illusion that someday India will talk logic and rationale. And shall work for peace and prosperity in the region. But, so far Indian approach is otherwise.Recommend

  • Ahmed Ata Khan

    Oh yeah? India hasn’t learnt anything. It is just playing the bully.Recommend

  • Ahmed Ata Khan

    The answer is YES. India is sponsoring terrorism in Balochistan through the rebel Bugtis, in Karachi through MQM and through Afghanistan. Pakistan is probably doing the same. None of the two countries are saints. Being an Indian, obviously, you’ll never think about a single wrong deed of India, and I cannot blame you. India wants to play the bully but Pakistan is not Nepal or Bhutan.Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    I actually agree and am glad that India is supporting freedom movements & insurgencies in Baluchistan & wherever else it can inside Pakistan just as Pakistan is doing in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Pakistan started this game in the 80s and has forced India to play it as well. Now India has the resources & the global clout to play this game on a much wider scale than Pakistan ever has or will. Now Pakistan can cry from rooftops or run to the UN every 5 minutes but nobody will believe or support you because of your bad reputation & internal weakness. If you guys wanted to avoid the fire, you should’ve stayed out of the kitchen buddy.Recommend

  • wanky

    and sir Balochistan celebrated its Independenc Day on 11AuguatRecommend