By Dr. Haider Mehdi
– From a song of the Irish Republican Army
“…peaceful activism is doomed to fail in the face of state repression,” wrote Eric Randolph on “Gandhi’s legacy at stake” (Guardian News)
What India is doing in Afghanistan against Pakistan’s interests and in Kashmir against its majority Muslim population fighting for its legitimate rights of political autonomy and independence are pure and clear examples of state-supported repression and institutional terrorism. From a humanistic perspective, which ought to be the guiding force in the management of a state’s affairs, both in its internal and external political conduct, India’s contemporary behavior can only be judged by its failure in political correctness – and therefore, by implication, a violation of Gandhi’s doctrine of peaceful co-existence. In terms of political sociology, India is also guilty of a grave philosophical error (which it shares with the US): “…the government (Indian) believe in the notion that if we kill our enemy, we will be safe and secure. The problem is that the enemy in this notion never dies.” (an observer of Indian affairs)
The question is: how long will the killings and moral-material destruction of less powerful nations and its peoples continue by the powerful countries? When will the notion of a self-fabricated “enemy” die in the minds and political conduct of the powers-that-be, which are in virtual control of global political management?
For example, consider the following: nearly a decade on, the US still remains deeply divided about what exactly its political and global objectives in Afghanistan are. For some in the US political establishment, American presence is justified to fight Al-Qaida – which by CIA estimates does not exist in Afghanistan anymore. Other national leaders claim that the US is in Afghanistan to prevent the terror group’s resurgence. President Obama in his review of Afghan policy said that his goal was “to refocus on why we’re there”: “We’re there because Al-Qaida killed 3,000 Americans and we cannot allow extremists who want to do violence to the United States to be able to operate with impunity.”
Will someone ask Barrack Obama the vitally serious humanistic question: How long will the killings of innocents and the obliteration of human habitats in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan (and most probably elsewhere in Islamic world) continue on the pretext of revenge for the destruction of the Twin Towers – which, in the first place, by several technological and scientifically-probed estimates, seems like an inside demolition job?
The Indo-US political plot to subjugate Afghanistan and Pakistan becomes thicker and more dense: Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in his recent meeting with President Obama in Washington, has categorically stated that New Delhi’s national interests in Afghanistan will be pursued unfailingly and with continued aggressive political determination. However, the Indian Prime Minister did not spell out what these “vital Indian interests in Afghanistan” are. Is a “terrorist campaign” aimed at destabilizing Pakistan, staged through Afghan territory by Indian military-diplomatic-political presence, a “vital Indian interest”? Or is India’s freshly burgeoning alliance with the US aimed at Indo-US political-commercial military hegemony in this entire region and the containment of rising Chinese global clout a “vital Indian interest” in Afghanistan?
Pakistan’s top priority at the moment should be to bring the Afghan war and insidious terrorism in the home country to an end. Without an end to the Afghan conflict, peace and stability will not come to Pakistan. And conflict in Afghanistan and growing terrorism inside Pakistan cannot be contained without political reintegration of the Taliban within the Afghan political process. President Hamid Karzai now fully appreciates the need to work out political reconciliation with the Taliban to bring peace to his country. He is also fully aware of Pakistan’s concerns regarding India’s pro-active political-military role and has said, “We don’t want proxy wars on our territory.”
In a reciprocal political gesture, the Pakistani Prime Minister, in response to Karzai’s remarks of appeasement and reckoning of Pakistan’s interests and concerns, has responded: “Pakistan places its full weight behind the agenda and the vision outlined by the Afghan people and their elected leadership.” However, ironically and unfortunately, the fact is that Pakistan continues to conduct its Afghan policy by supporting Obama’s doctrine of military surge and in practical terms has not taken any concrete political initiatives to help President Karzai’s efforts of reconciliation with the Taliban. The Karzai peace initiative with the Taliban necessitates a mediator or arbiter; Pakistan must assume that role.
Presently, the Pakistani leadership is failing in its diplomatic approach towards Afghan conflict resolutions. It has arrested Mullah Bradar, a pivotal political actor in the peace process, on America’s instructions. Consequently, it is supporting Indian objectives in Afghanistan and, by implication, against Pakistan itself. The fact of the matter is that the Indo-US alliance wishes to continue the Afghan impasse for its long-range political-commercial objectives in the region. The Indo-US endgame plan for the moment is to put on some kind of deceptive face of “peace settlement” that could help Obama’s re-election and ensure India’s continued presence in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s political future will remain compromised and uncertain without “containing” India in Afghanistan. It is obvious that the prevailing situation in Afghanistan provides a military-political base for India to operate against Pakistan’s interests.
In Pakistan’s diplomatic action plan, first and foremost, it must put its full political weight behind a Karzai-Taliban “reconciliation.” Taliban re-integration in Afghan political affairs will defeat Indo-US strategic plans for the continuation of a low-intensity conflict in Afghanistan justifying their political-military presence. As a result, terrorism against Pakistan will cease to a greater extend and will end completely in due course of time.
Pakistan cannot plan “India’s containment” on purely strategic-military polemics. What is needed is to evolve a “peaceful co-existence” doctrine that places India in its proper perspective and political context. Pakistan needs to understand and appreciate India’s legitimate interests; it needs to acknowledge India’s growing political-commercial clout in a world that is becoming increasingly inter-dependent.
Pakistan’s “peaceful co-existence” doctrine should focus much of its fundamentals on political-commercial “inter-dependence” with India. Another vital policy dimension of this diplomatic process should be the development of regional consensus and a mutually agreed upon political super-structure constructed to enlarge Indo-Pak political influence in the global affairs of the 21st century. India’s leadership, by soft-persuasion, should be guided to a closer and greater commercial-political alliance with China rather than with the ex-colonial powers in Western Europe and contemporary imperialist US (the nations who have not undergone much change in their political mindset of “control” over weaker countries).
In Paul Newman’s classic 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke, the prison warden says: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” The fact of the matter is that both India and Pakistan have consistently failed to communicate effectively. The incumbent Pakistani political leadership has failed in its “communicative approach” with India because of its inept foreign policy management and its solely “American-centric” approach towards its immediate neighbors – the Afghan people, and in the past, towards India.
For Pakistan, it is now necessary to redirect its energies to “contain” India with a soft diplomatic convergence and a politically refined “peaceful co-existence” doctrine.
Pakistan needs a constructive structurally-planned political management approach for a creative, useful and politically viable future engagement with India. India must be treated on the status of a “special nation”—a military adversary and yet a “partner” in a “peaceful co-existence” parley. To begin with, it will require imaginative and visionary foreign policy initiatives. Several special envoys to India will have to be appointed: a special envoy for peaceful reconciliation initiatives, a trade envoy, a joint industrial projects envoy, a joint infra-structural development envoy, a joint trade promotion envoy, a cultural-educational development envoy and a number of other common enterprises that can help both nations develop domestically and gain global eminence mutually!
After all, “the streets of sorrow” and “the streets of pain” in both countries must cease to exist.
But, we will have to make an effort, make painful choices, and take proactive initiatives!
We will have to change our attitudes and capitalize on available opportunities!
Our convictions are of utmost importance!