Pakistan has no interest in subverting Indian ascendency.
But India does need to live up to the words of its first premier Jawaharlal Nehru
and its commitments to the United Nations regarding plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
In an article titled ‘Are India-Pakistan Peace Talks worth a Damn’ Mr. Ashley Tellis writes as follows:
“The international community’s routine call for continuous India-Pakistan dialogue is not only misguided but also counterproductive. This entreaty, which often follows major Pakistani-supported terrorist attacks in India, fails to recognise that the security competition between the two nations is not actually driven by discrete, negotiable differences. Rather, the discord is rooted in long-standing ideological, territorial, and power-political antagonisms that are fuelled by Pakistan’s irredentism, its army’s desire to subvert India’s ascendency as a great power and exact revenge for past Indian military victories, and its aspirations to be treated on par with India despite their huge differences in capabilities, achievements, and prospects.”
For Pakistanis, there is nothing surprising in such self-serving characterisation by Indians, as their primary rancour with Pakistan is that it carries a mirror that tells no lies about the true face of India. What’s surprising is that an American is writing this article. Well, not really, the author Ashley Tellis is indeed an American citizen, but in his previous incarnation he was an Indian, born in Bombay who studied at St. Xavier College for his BA and MA before going to University of Chicago and after settling in America he joined the US Foreign Service. More interestingly, until recently he was tipped as the new US Ambassador in New Delhi but Trump nominated Kenneth Juster. Tellis has served in the Delhi Mission under Ambassador? Blackwell.
A greater surprise is its inclusion in a publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. One thought that Carnegie publishes unbiased research and not the personal views of so-called experts. More importantly, as the title suggests, far from promoting peace, the article is fanning Indian frenzy against Pakistan, similar to what her foreign minister did in her speech to the UN General Assembly. But then one is struck by the fact that Mr. Ashley Tellis occupies the Tata Chair for International Affairs at the Institute.
There is scorn in his tone for the international community for its calls for
Dialogue between India and Pakistan, condemning them as worthless. Every such round, he believes, emboldens Pakistan to execute a new round of terrorist attacks on India. His basic thesis, in the quote above, is that Pakistan is fuelling the discord through (1) irredentism; (2) subverting India’s ascendency as a great power; (3) nursing a desire to avenge past Indian victories; and (4) aspiring to be treated at par without being a match in any way. Mr. Tellis looks more like a child boasting his toys in a bid to exact appreciation of his neighbours. This is the stuff of Indian Cinema not of scholarly research.
Pakistan did not ‘lose’ India; it is India with her aspiration for Akhand Bharat (Undivided India) who seeks to redeem ostensibly ‘lost’ areas. Irredentism—a movement to reclaim and reoccupy an area considered lost—cannot, by definition, characterise Pakistan; it is patently the hallmark of the Indian mind. On June 15, 2015, its sitting Prime Minister Narindra Modi received ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour’ on behalf of Atal Bihari Vajpai, another former prime minister from the same yoke. On the occasion, admitting that there had been a conspiracy to divide Pakistan, he said ‘the establishment of Bangladesh [read break-up of Pakistan]was a desire of every Indian and that’s why India’s forces fought along with their creation, the Mukti Bahini, thus creating a new country.’ He also admitted that ‘I was one of the young volunteers who came to Delhi in 1971 to participate in the Satyagraha Movement launched by Jana Sangh [forerunner of BJP]as a volunteer to garner support for the Mukti Bahini members.’ With such brazen admissions, how can one accuse Pakistan of irredentism? The current Indian National Security Advisor routinely hurls threats that even the present Pakistan would be dismembered by India.
Pakistan has no interest in subverting Indian ascendency. But India does need to live up to the words of its first premier Jawaharlal Nehru and its commitments to the United Nations regarding plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the unfinished agenda of the Partition and India is illegally occupying the State by force and against the wishes of its people, a vast majority of whom are Muslims. Its security forces are violating human rights of Kashmiri Muslims at a scale that surpasses the current atrocities in Myanmar. Pakistan, like every other country that stands for international law, has a moral obligation to use all diplomatic channels to compel India to end her gross violations of human rights in the valley, and conduct a plebiscite in line with her commitments embodied in Security Council Resolutions.
Pakistan does not nurse a desire to avenge past Indian aggressions in violation of international law (‘victories’). But one wonders why India would like to have a presence in Kabul when it doesn’t share a border with Afghanistan. The world knows that the only Indian objective is to use Afghan territory to fan terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi, in pursuit of Indian irredentism. A serving Indian naval officer, Kalbhusan Jadhave, in Pakistan’s custody has provided all the details on how he had been instigating terrorism in Pakistan on behalf of the Indian government.
The most amusing protest from Mr. Tellis is of Pakistan’s aspiration to be treated at par with India—in line, it might be noted, with the UN charter that seeks to build a peaceful community of sovereign equal nations. How else would he like Pakistan to aspire? A country ‘liberated’ by Indian forces like Bangladesh! Or an Indian satellite? Or like Bhutan or Nepal? Or does he feel that Pakistanis should behave like a scheduled caste in relation to Indian Brahmans? For seven decades Pakistan has defied all predictions of its demise, despite the dismemberment of its Eastern part. It has successfully defended all Indian designs, including on its nuclear capability, to create Indian hegemony in the region. This is a sufficient justification to demand equality to promote peace in the region. And there is no objective reason why Pakistan should accept India’s desire to be a hegemon, or allow India to renege on its international commitments or shy away from protesting Indian atrocities and violations of human rights in Kashmir.
If the call for dialogue is not worth a damn, how else would Mr. Tellis like the issues in the sub-continent to be resolved? Is he suggesting to Americans to allow India to ‘sort out’ Pakistan? Bhutto had once remarked that Pakistan would fight for a thousand years but not accept Indian hegemony. This is the bottom line for Pakistan.