Indo-Pakistan Talks and the expected result

December 22, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sattar Rind

New but expected talks between India and Pakistan have been announced on the occasion of the fifth meeting of the heart of Asia-Istanbul process held in Islamabad, jointly hosted by Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on 8-9 December.

“Talks between two countries – India and Pakistan would fail” – could be the most expected answer if anyone conducted a survey or enquired from any Pakistani citizen.

Surprisingly one may hear good wishes and prayers that the forthcoming expected dialogues succeed and the longest conflict between the neighbouring countries should end. They have witnessed three regular wars – 1947, 1965, 1971 and most recently the Kargil war, in a short period of time since becoming independent in 1947, although Kargil was not declared a war but was claimed to be an action of Kashmiri freedom fighters.

However, it was very much equal to a full war as it is also claimed that the number of deaths of fighting forces were more than had died in all three declared wars between India and Pakistan combined.

Besides the constant border and Line of Control (LoC) clashes there seem very much routine and normal activity from both sides, as is the killing of civilians and army personnel.

Thus it can be said that conflict between the two countries is part of history of the subcontinent, since it was a single country under the British Raj for at least three hundred years.

Before the British Raj, the Muslim Mughal emperors, founded by the Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur– of Turco-Mongol origin from the area of the existing Central Asian country Uzbekistan that ruled South Asia for the longest period in a very organized way, for four hundred years. Despite Muslim rule to India, going back to the 12th century when first time Delhi Sultanate established by the Qutb al Din Aibak.

There were many differences between the invaders and local people of the Indian subcontinent however and over a period of time we are able to observe the social-cultural infusion between people of two different backgrounds, at a mass level, values and customs and to some extent their points of view.

The British Raj’s ruling tactic to divide and rule damaged such social harmony at a great level, ruling South Asia for three hundred years. In its very last movements and, barely a few years before in World War II, the subcontinent’s political leaders had started to demand separate nation states on the basis of religion – Muslim and Hindu.

The British Empire after WWII was not able to control such a huge subcontinent for long and they decided it would be better for them to leave South Asia. Therefore for such purposes, the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom announced that they were leaving the Subcontinent and appointed Lord Mountbatten, a new viceroy, to finalise matters of the handing over of India to their political leaders to rule.

He started talks with political party leaders, princely state heads and other politicians for finalising the process of governmental powers to the leaders of India. Since the process became very visible that the British were leaving India, the political issues became more confused. In particular the public as they were in an enigma, uncertain and confused that they knew not what was going on in the decision maker’s minds and what the verdict was for their fate and destiny.  

Politicians sensed this however with many perhaps deciding to exploit it for their own vested interests. Thus two nation state theories were propagated and hit the public minds but they never knew how it would turn out.

Especially the Hindu or Sikhs, who were living in Muslim populace dominated areas, the same anxieties and questions were also hammering the Muslims, who were living in scattered and Hindu dominated areas.

It was a time of great uncertainty and confusion and painful anxiety for the Indian subcontinent’s people.

In early June 1947, the last viceroy Lord Mountbatten stunned everyone by announcing August 15 as the date for the transfer of power— ten months earlier than expected. Barrister Cyril Radcliffe, a British judge assigned to draw the borders of the two new states, was given barely forty days to remake the map of South Asia.

Amazingly it might be a unique example of its own kind that with an enormous religiously diverse society that was divided into two domains and states or countries, their borders were finally announced two days after India and Pakistan’s Independence.

This ill planned and most unorganized division was bound to inhale many lives as killings had already started from the very day of the announcement and, everyone was able to imagine what would happen on one particular independent day on August 14, 1947, nevertheless on the same day, at the evening in the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi, Mountbatten and his wife settled down to watch a movie.

It was nothing but a political and communal disaster. The tragedy of Partition, as it seems was intentionally created. It was criminal negligence by all political leaders, though the basic responsibility was of the British Empire. This independence of two countries had taken 5 million people’s lives, 10 million lost their houses and land, looting and raping women and other destructions were witnessed at its height. It is remembered as the great mass migration in the history of the modern world.

Today, both India and Pakistan remain crippled by the narratives built around memories of the crimes of Partition, as politicians of both countries continually put fuel on the hatred of 1947 for their own ends.

The rivalry between India and Pakistan is dangerous as the two countries’ nuclear arsenals are growing, militant groups are becoming more capable, and fanatical media outlets on both sides are lessening the possibility for moderate voices and it seems in a sense, 1947 has yet to come to an end.

The main conflicting point is Kashmir. For Pakistan its part of his breathing Vein and for India its an integral part of India. A princely state Kashmir, a Muslim populace was in majority but their ruler was Hindu maharaja Hari Singh. He desired to be part of India and the first Indo-Pakistan war break out between two countries in 1947.

On a Number of occasions talks were held and even the UN intervened, but no result has been observed by the south Asian people vis-à-vis the region.

The recent talks will be due after three long years, announced by Indian foreign affairs minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj along with the Pakistani foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz on the December 9th at a press briefing in Islamabad.

Talks between both countries had become disconnected and even the visits of Foreign Affairs ministers were in great doubt, until a few days before the Heart of Asia – fifth Ministerial meeting she announced that she was visiting Islamabad for the same meeting.

During the sideline meeting of the Prime Minister with the visiting ministers Ms Sushma surprisingly came to announce that both countries were going to resuming talks once again.

Such talks would be comprehensive covering all issues including the two needed most to be solved including Kashmir. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj also announced that Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan in 2016 to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit and will accompany the Indian premier during his trip. The last prime ministerial visit from India to Pakistan was by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in January 2004, also for the SAARC summit held that year.

This all sounds great but does anyone have a hope of the talks being successful and improving relations in this changing world? People can only hope and pray for successful talks but will observe what they have been observing for a long time by the people of two different countries.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

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