The capture on 5 August of a Pakistan-based terrorist by courageous villagers in Jammu shows yet again the reality. Which is that the military establishment in Pakistan will not relent on its campaign of seeking the destruction of the Indian state, even if in the process it succeeds in destroying its own country. The obsession of Rawalpindi GHQ to get revenge on India for the 1971 break-up of Pakistan ignores the fact that the separation was the consequence of treating the people of what was then East Pakistan as lesser breeds. The civil service was dominated by those from the western side, especially from the province which dominates Pakistan, the Punjab. People from this province now occupy and control most other provinces, not to mention the territory in Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan as a consequence of the decision by Jawaharlal Nehru to rush into a ceasefire in 1948, thereby denying the Indian Army the opportunity to liberate the entire state. Nehru’s weakness towards Louis Mountbatten played no small part in this disastrous decision, the consequences of which are being paid for by the people of India to the present. However, he was not alone in indulging Pakistan. Who can forget Morarji Desai, who was rewarded by Pakistan’s highest civilian honour by General Zia-ul-Haq (the creator of the extremist force that the military in Pakistan has become) for disbanding the information and action networks in Pakistan, which had been laboriously built up over decades? Or Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and a successor, Manmohan Singh, who too showed extreme solicitude towards Pakistan. As did Atal Behari Vajpayee, whose embrace of Nawaz Sharif at Lahore was met by Kargil, and whose repeated unilateral ceasefires in Kashmir gave oxygen to the terror gangs operating in that state. It was not coincidental that both the Kathmandu hijack as well as the attack on Parliament took place during Vajpayee’s watch. None of this stopped the country’s first BJP Prime Minister from giving respectability to a military dictator closely linked to terror operations against India, Pervez Musharraf, by inviting the usurper of authority in Pakistan to hold talks with him in Agra.
Clearly, the soft and forgiving approach followed by successive Prime Ministers towards their counterparts in Islamabad have not yielded any result other than a continuation of rogue behaviour on the part of the military-backed terror machine spawned by that “army with a country”. This being the case, what are the options? Suspending the Indus Waters Treaty would be a start. This one-sided agreement accepted by PM Nehru over the private objections of many gives as much as 80% of the water of the Indus to Pakistan, when a fair share for that country, given its smaller size and needs, would be 45%. Unless Pakistan acts the way a good neighbour does, rewarding it would be an exercise in folly, as the experience of decades — the 1949 ceasefire, the 1965 surrender of Haji Pir at Tashkent, the 1972 Simla accord, the many concessions given by Prime Ministers in succession — have shown the futility of showing generosity to get Islamabad to change its approach. It is time for India to “punch at the level of its strength”, as so evocatively mentioned by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Walking away from the Indus Waters Treaty would be a good way to start.