Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has never hesitated to walk not just an extra mile but an extra ten miles to try and secure a stable, peaceful and prosperous relationship with Pakistan. This has eluded Prime Ministers in India since 1947, but that has not stopped successive PMs from making the attempt. Jawaharlal Nehru sacrificed the geopolitical, not to mention geographic interests of India and permitted Pakistan to retain fully a third of his own home state, Kashmir. Rather than accept the inevitable, as Nehru thought would be the case, the concession made to Karachi (at that time the Pakistan capital) only increased the hunger of Pakistan to grab hold of the rest of Kashmir. The reason given was that the state had a Muslim majority. From the start, unlike across the border, Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Nehru in particular made the Muslim community regard themselves at home and safe in India, despite the fact that M.A. Jinnah and Winston Churchill had succeeded in their plan to vivisect the subcontinent. Whether a state be Hindu or Christian or Muslim majority makes no difference, all are equal members of the India family. The frenzied efforts by Pakistan, assisted in the past by the US and subsequently by China, to grab the rest of Kashmir have surprisingly not received the censure such conduct merits. Instead, it has been India that has been getting homily after homily designed to prise more concessions from the world’s biggest democracy to a country run on the basis of religious intolerance and exclusivism, and which is moreover controlled by a military that has exclusivist struggle as its official motto. Rather than ignore such moves, successive governments in India have sought to placate Pakistan, for example by the gifting back of the Haji Pir pass to Pakistan in 1965 by Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi surrendering the gains made by Indian forces in the 1971 war against genocide in Bangladesh at the negotiating table in Shimla less than a year later, so strong was the overpowering impact of Z.A. Bhutto. Almost as soon as the soon-to-be-deposed and executed Prime Minister of Pakistan landed back in his country, the vituperation against India that had long been his forte was resumed. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee did not insist on PRC recognition of Arunachal Pradesh as part of India before rushing to completely rubber stamp that country’s occupation of Tibet in 2003, a series of unilateral concessions made to both China and Pakistan that have continued long after such behaviour should have been stopped.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in on 26 May 2014 and subsequently made a number of friendly gestures towards Islamabad. In this, he was following the example of the first BJP PM of India, A.B. Vajpayee, who rescued the dictator Pervez Musharraf from international obloquy by giving him VIP treatment at Agra in 2001. This was the first time that the leader of a democracy had in a sense legitimised the illegal takeover of power by the military junta in Pakistan and forgotten all about the deposed Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif was elected by the voters of Pakistan, while Musharraf was chosen by the Corps Commanders of the Pakistan army. Fortunately for Sharif, unlike what was done by the mastermind of the complete Wahhabi takeover of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq, the new military dictator allowed the deposed PM to escape and avoid execution. What figures are available will show the manner in which the proportion of minorities (mainly Christian and Hindu, as very few Sikhs were left after the rampage against them during 1946-48) fell even more sharply than before once Zia took full charge of the country as Chief Martial Law Administrator. PM Modi has avoided any legitimisation of the self-proclaimed right of the Pakistan army to control the civilian establishment, and has always dealt with the elected representatives of the people in Pakistan rather than the actual fount of authority, the Corps Commanders of the Pakistan army. In contrast, both the US and China concentrate on the Corps Commanders and on the army in general, without wasting much time on the civilian government in Pakistan. The seat of authority in that country is not Islamabad, but Rawalpindi, the home of GHQ. Despite this, PM Modi showed his desire for friendly relations with Pakistan by even dropping in on a family function of the Pak PM of the time, Nawaz Sharif. Of course, as expected, the gesture went unreciprocated by any change in conduct of the Pakistan military and its auxiliaries so far as India was concerned. To this day, PM Modi has not hesitated to show his sincerity in the quest for peace, this time by seeking the facilitation of cotton and sugar trade between Pakistan and India. Although the government led by PM Imran Khan initially was receptive to the offer, this was swiftly overruled by the very same military whose Chief of State had just a few days ago made billing and cooing noises towards India. The latest rejection of India’s repeated efforts at forging a durable peace with Pakistan indicate that such a quest will remain impossible so long as the military runs the country and not the civilian establishment. Poor Imran Khan. His lack of authority has once again come into full view with this reversal of policy by his government on the import of low cost cotton and sugar from India.