An insight into dynamics behind Indo-Pak hostilities
Hindustan Times- Jaipur, India
January 20, 2014
by Urvashi Dev Rawal
Haqqani: Fear that India doesn’t accept its existence drives Pak militancy
The diplomat’s book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, was a scathing critique of the alliance between the two countries
Husain Haqqani, diplomat, scholar and journalist, has been a vocal critic of the military-mullah nexus in Pakistan and of political Islam. His views have not always found favour in the Pakistan establishment, especially the military. Haqqani, currently senior fellow and director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute and director of the Center of International Relations at Boston University, has been a votary of friendly ties between India and Pakistan, saying that the two countries should build on their shared history and culture. But a sense of fear holds back the nuclear armed neighbours from realising their potential.
“We need to understand the essential dynamics that drive hostilities. We need to get to the root of issues. In Pakistan, a fear pervades that India does not accept Pakistan’s existence and this drives Pakistan to militarism and militancy. In India, Pakistan is used as bait in its communal politics and that doesn’t do well for either country.”
Asked about Kashmir always being a bone of contention between the two countries and being used to further their respective agendas, he pointed to a lack of political will and said a great idea approach was needed.
“Efforts so far have been technical in nature. We need a great idea approach. We need to recognise our shared history and that we inhabit the same subcontinent. We should resolve our differences,” says Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the United States.
“When leaders decide that cooperation is more important than conflict then an atmosphere can be created where cooperation is possible. We need more voices that speak clearly on the need for cooperation,” he says.
“We have to root out terrorism from our (India-Pakistan) equation completely. And that onus lies on Pakistan. It has to assure the world community that it does not and will not support terrorism. It is complicated but it can be done. And other countries should help Pakistan in this,” says Haqqani. He adds that India should play a role in helping Pakistan do away with this fear. “I have questioned the logic of that fear, and that is my contribution.
But the fact remains that the voices of war-mongers still carry more weight than moderate voices that call for peaceful coexistence.
Haqqani says, “There are a lot of voices for sanity in India and Pakistan but they don’t get the amplification they deserve because there are forces in both countries that prefer hawkish stances. Unfortunately, in the media too there are hawks on both sides who say provocative things as they are more newsy. Sane voices make a one-time news story but hawkish comments lead to counter-reactions and comments and it becomes a chain reaction. That’s the bane of rational decision making.”
He denied comment on whether a government led by the BJP coming to power in India after the general elections would be more hawkish, saying it was India’s internal matter.
Will the new government in Pakistan led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promote a peaceful agenda vis-a-vis India? Haqqani, whose book Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military was a scathing critique of the alliance between the two, says civilian governments in Pakistan have tried to check the rise of militancy.
“If Pakistan had been democratic for a considerable length of time in its political history, the conservative forces wouldn’t have succeeded. Hafiz Saeed (terror mastermind who is accused of orchestrating the 2008 attacks on Mumbai) offers us only eternal conflict and destruction, while democratic forces offer us development, alternative policies and world views.”
“Pakistan is a fledgling democracy saddled with past baggage. People must understand their history more correctly. Being a Pakistani, I can identify Pakistan’s problems and be a harsh critic. But at the same time I am also optimistic about its future.”