Posts Tagged ‘India Pakistan relations’

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Musharraf’s Solution – An Af-Pak Political Surge

December 7, 2009

As President Obama announced a troop surge in the Af-Pak war, former leader of Pakistan General Musharraff weighed in with specifics a solution would require.

In the Wall Street Journal this week, he explainedquitting is not an option”, and “time limits” should not drive our exit strategy. Rather, in tandem with additional troops, a “political” surge is key. With firsthand military and political experience in the Af-Pak region and War on Terror, Musharraf gives us substance with which to understand the situation. He explains that when the United States “liberated Afghanistan from the tyranny of Al Qaeda and Taliban, they had unequivocal support of the majority of Afghans.” What we didn’t do though, is establish a “truly representative national government” giving proportional representation to Pashtun’s who are the ethnic majority. He says:

The political instability and ethnic imbalance in Afghanistan after 9/11 marginalized the majority Pashtuns and pushed them into the Taliban fold, even though they were not ideological supporters of the Taliban.

As a result, despite Pakistani efforts during Musharraf’s tenure where “600 Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leaders, some of them of very high value” were captured in tandem with the establishment of “1000 border check posts”, the Afghan government never gained legitimacy, and ultimately, sufficient authority. He further attributes insufficient NATO forces and the distraction of invading Iraq as leading causes to the Taliban’s capacity to gain ground, and reassert its center of gravity toward northern Pakistan.

With a grand strategy to destabilize the whole region, the Taliban and al Qaeda established links with extremists in Pakistani society on the one hand and with Muslim fundamentalists in India on the other.

It’s a complex situation, but Musharraff’s recommendations are rooted in a wealth of experience and offer details on a practical solution.

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Who Wears the Taj (crown)? : South Asia After 26/11

November 26, 2009
Remembering 26/11: outside the Taj Mumbai: Courtesey Bhavik Vasa

Remembering 26/11: outside the Taj Mumbai

At the heels of 26/11, Pakistan charged seven people involved in the Mumbai atrocities today. The Virginia Quarterly Review has a four part article revealing the ordeal in harrowing detail and after reading it, I’m still stunned. On 26/11 last year I got a call from a friend born and raised in Mumbai who was flying out there that afternoon, he said his parents were fine but his voice was wrought by a despair I hadn’t heard from him before. He didn’t specifically say he was distraught or describe how he felt in detail, but i recognized the frustration instantly because I’d heard that voice before: from friends in Karachi who witness countless threats and acts of terrorism since 9/11. I identified immediately with my friends frustration and despair on a humanitarian level, and even further because although the perpetrators in Mumbai were allegedly trained in Pakistan, I knew they’d ultimately hurt Pakistani’s the most.

As India forges ahead economically and internationally, Pakistan is deteriorating. Terrorism has brought vanishing security that has perpetually halted foreign investment, stagnating the economy leaving no trickle down for the lower and middle class majority population who simultaneously realize a widening gap in their position vis a vis the wealthy. Terrorism has rendered governance in survival mode since 9/11 making leeway for decreased oversight and increased corruption, which was rampant to begin with.

A year after the Mumbai atrocities, we see Manmohan Singh hosted at the White House in elaborate fanfare with progressive talks on bilateral trade rooted in liberalism that is fitting for a country with roughly 8% growth in GDP and a middle class that’s now larger than our entire population in the United States.

In attendance at the State Dinner was, Secretary Clinton, House Speaker Pelosi and Ohio governor Strickland whose state was picked by Indian conglomerate the Tata Group for its “North American Delivery Center in Milford. Ohio offered $19 million in tax credits and other incentives to get Tata’s project that is expected to create 1,000 positions within the first three years“. Deepending economic interdependence signals a rosy picture for US relations in Indian South Asia.

Conversely, relations with Pakistani South Asia in light of that progress are a valid point of comparison because we have a strategic interest in both countries. More than ever, it’s apparent we have economically strategic interests with India, and security based interests in Pakistan. And like previous presidencies the Obama administration quickly realized the delicate art of balancing both interests given that either country feels progressive relations with the United States inherently comes as a direct expense of one another. Engaging India as it expands economically and Pakistan geopolitically for security’s sake (i.e. in the War on Terror and in the face of an ascending China) pose an opportunity for us to strike a creative balance in South Asia.

It’s not about who wears the crown, (“Taj”) in South Asian U.S. relations, it’s about engaging both sides for the long haul.

In Pakistan that means cooperating today for security’s sake and uprooting terrorism and fundamentalism for tomorrow. Key from there is not abandoning ship, but remaining engaged so that Pakistan too has a route to economic expansion in the future. Without security, viable development won’t take place. And so long as we are engaged in an Af-Pak war, our policymakers have a responsibility to establish a roadmap that is rooted in long term success. This is our chance to get it right in South Asia, and that begins with an intention for a permanent solution. Assisting Pakistan to navigate the rising tide of development in our globalized world could be the key to ensuring they remain a strategic, long standing ally.

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Fareed Zakaria Interviews Musharraff

November 9, 2009

Pervez Musharraf was on Fareed Zakaria GPS this morning discussing the Af-Pak situation in two segments. The second segment focused on Pakistan where Zakaria prefaced Q&A by reminding viewers that General Musharraf is an “authentic representation of Pakistan’s military” and that his comments will reveal that the situation in Afghanistan is rooted in a 60 year geopolitical rivalry that we just walked in to, and its between between India and Pakistan“. Sounded like grand stuff.

And Zakaria jumped right in. He began with questions on whether the Pakistan military is as committed to eliminating terrorists in the north who launch cross border attacks as they are to obliterating terrorists in the South who are responsible for domestic assaults. He said the military “never seems to get around to attacking North Waziristan who attacks India or Afghanistan because they were supported in the past”. Musharraff made clear that during his tenure, he insisted on drone technology needed to obliterate terrorists from both regions, especially given Baitullah Mehsud who assassinated Bhutto and that terrorists were never supported by the military or any government policy. He mentioned that ISI “ingress” in terrorist groups is standard procedure practiced by all Intelligence operations, clarifying that “ingress” is not be equated to “support”, rather it’s standard maintenance of contacts with such groups for the states advantage.

When questioned about the widespread notion that Al Qaeda leader Mullah Umar is in Pakistan, Musharraf said it’s “200% wrong” explaining Umar would have no interest in leaving a safe haven in the northern areas where Taliban has de-facto control for Quetta where US and Pakistani intelligence/ military roam rampant. It was a reasonable response and Zakaria’s questions sounded increasingly implicative.

Zakaria probed the notion saying that the “Afghanistan government and intelligence say he’s in Pakistan” to which Musharraff firmly explained “don’t talk about the Afghan government and intelligence. By design, they mislead the world, they talk against Pakistan because they are entirely under the influence of Indian intelligence”.

Wow, he just said it. It’s often documented in Pakistani media that Indian intelligence is widely responsible for insurgencies in northern areas of Pakistan and the province of Balochistan by way of material support, but rarely is that view expressed in mainstream U.S. media. Former Foreign Minister Sharifuddin Pirzada recently explained to me that warming of relations between Delhi and Kabul come at a direct expense of Pakistan because of such subversive, Indian led dealings with Afghanistan. Similarly, Musharraf explained he has provided “documented evidence” of this activity in the past.

From the first question on Pakistan’s commitment to uprooting cross border terrorism, to the question on Mullah Umar, Zakaria elicited Musharraf into discussion of a supposed “geopolitical rivalry” between India and Pakistan wherein Afghanistan is used as a “client state” by either nation as a buffer against, if not to subvert one another. And although I can’t say that is entirely untrue, Zakaria approached today’s interview with this preconceived notion, and overstepped neutrality by implicating Pakistan in the process.

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Back Channel Diplomacy for India & Pakistan?

September 26, 2009

Riaz Mohammad Khan is being considered for the position of Pakistan’s Special Envoy to India says Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Attempting to resume talks that are stalled since the Mumbai atrocities, Minister Qureshi suggests using “backchannel diplomacy” through informal talks and in parallel with a formal peace process to achieve a warming of relations and overall progress in relations. In a recent statement to Indian TV networks, Qureshi clearly states he is “instructed by the President to move on. We want to normalize with India”. Such top level recommendations reflect Islamabad’s growing desire for more progressive relations with their neighbor, as consistently pursued by the Zardari administration.

Attributing initial moves toward back channel diplomacy to Musharraf era policies in resolving the Kashmir issue with India, Qureshi stresses that progress can only be made if both “front and back channel (diplomacy) move in tandem”. It’s a reasonable assessment given relations have been held up despite three high level meetings between leaders at the sidelines of international summits since June. Back Channel diplomacy, being secret and inherently less formal can eliminate domestic political concerns policymakers face that might stifle open, progressive discussion.

With a climate of mistrust exacerbated by the Mumbai atrocities and on the Pakistan side, claims that India is constantly funding militant separatists in Baluchistan, back channel diplomacy can mitigate both states political need to formally construct ever toughening stances against one another.

The Baluchistan and Mumbai issues are highly sensitive to citizens in both countries and assuaging those concerns is rightfully a priority for politicians on all ends. As a result, official talks between India and Pakistan wind up inherently staunch  as they are subject to international media portrayals and reactionary sensitivities of masses in either country. This has done little to advance peace talks in any tangible way. And because the United States has a stake in ensuring stability in Pakistan given increased investment in the form of the Kerry Lugar bill and additional troops to Afghanistan, perhaps special envoy Holbrooke, or another appointed official on behalf of Washington might serve to mediate initial attempts at back channel diplomacy.

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Peace Pipeline Causes Concern for DC

September 15, 2009

Iran-Pakistan-India Natural Gas pipeline

The anticipated Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI/”Peace Pipeline”) pipeline may end up running only through Iran/Pakistan as India backed out from the project last week says Muhammad Abbasi, Pakistani Ambassador to Iran. Delhi’s withdrawal comes simultaneously as the US pressures Islamabad to disengage from the multibillion dollar project set for completion in 2013. This adds to the list of obstacles IPI faced since it was conceptualized in the 1990’s. From international pressures, prolonged funding negotiations, to domestic insecurities and reservations, the pipeline has yet to begin construction. However, Pakistan stresses urgency in moving forward with construction in the face of alarming energy shortages :

Only 60% of households have electricity and 18% access to pipeline gas for heating. Energy demand is expected to increase 250% over the next 20 years. To meet expected demand, electrical generating capacity must grow by 50% from 20.4 gigawatts to 30.6 gigawatts by 2010

As a result, Islamabad works diligently to address the issue. President Zardari is dealing closely with the Chinese on hydel projects in underdeveloped areas of the north and this May, the 7.5 billion dollar deal allowing Iranian oil supplies to Pakistan was officially signed. It initially permits 30 million cubic meters of gas per day and later to 60 million whichgreatly begins to alleviate the energy crisis:

Pakistan’s domestic gas production is falling and import dependence growing tremendously. By connecting itself with the world’s 2nd largest gas reserve, Pakistan guarantees a reliable supply for decades. If the pipeline were to be extended to India it could also be an instrument for stability in often tense Pakistan-India relations. Under any scenario of pipeline expansion which makes Pakistan a transit state, Islamabad stands to gain from transit fees hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Given such potential, it’s not surprising Pakistan is intent on moving forward with IPI regardless of pressure from D.C. Despite Special Envoy Holbrooke’s diplomatic suggestions that the United States might “link funds committed by the Democratic Friends of Pakistan” to their cooperation with Iran on IPI, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi maintained Pakistan’s urgency:

“The  gas pipeline construction agreement with Iran and Pakistan will by no means go under the U.S. pressures,”

But some experts insist that without American support to release funding and loan guarantees, financing of IPI will make the 2013 deadline unfeasible. This poses problems for Pakistan, and on the American front, there are differing concerns. Hoping to maintain US authority and secure interests in the region, President Obama shifts starkly from the previous administration using more engagement and soft power with Iran. So American moves to work with the international community in economically choking Iran and ultimately eliciting behavior from Tehran are diminished as Iranian influence increases through international projects such as IPI. Hardline Bush Administration and more diplomatic Obama led policies are interesting yielding similar ends as Iran continues to expand trade and relations with the international community. This flouts hard, soft, all stances the United States takes in attempting to contain Tehran.

For instance, a vastly constructed pipeline running over 2,775 kilometers (1,725 miles)from the Persian Gulf in Iran, through Baluchistan to a port in Karachi and then north to New Delhi creates “an unbreakable long term political and economic dependence” of billions of people from Pakistan, to India and potentially extending to China.

The prospect of the entire subcontinent being “dependent” on Iran actually sounds alarming, but if we look at certain realities it’s perhaps far fetched. Firstly, any semblance of an actual dependence is most likely only applied to Pakistan given their current energy crisis, the cost effectiveness and efficiency of natural gas as opposed to developing LNG sources: India on the other hand has “two LNG terminals and will complete a third terminal by this year. Two additional terminals have also been proposed, and several companies are examining viability of constructing additional LNG import sites”. So Delih is far less likely to be entirely reliant on Tehran for natural gas because developments in LNG and civilian nuclear projects. Plus, India’s long, strong alliance with Russia allows for a convenient energy supplier to the north if need be. In fact, for Moscow IPI is an opportunity to quell thoughts that Tehran will compete in supplying natural gas to EU markets. Russia’s deputy energy minister explains:

“It is therefore in Russia’s interest to derail the Nabucco project by diverting Iran’s gas away from Europe and locking it to the Asian market. We are ready to join the project as soon as we receive an offer”

Thus a point of contention for Moscow and Washington. DC’s fears are further exacerbated by a potential of IPI eventually ensuring energy supplies to long standing Pakistani ally, China with shipments along the Karakoram Highway through future pipelines . The argument made is that hopes of modifying Iranian behavior with economic pressures plus our mutual hedging with China suffers if IPI is constructed. Again, this relies on the assumption that billions of Indians and Chinese become “dependent” on Iranian gas supplies, which I find unlikely. Pakistan if anyone, is likely to become heavily reliant on those supplies in the next couple decades should IPI be executed as planned. Thus suggested solutions point to alternative pipelines that bypass Iran:

“A rival gas-pipeline project — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) carrying gas from Daulatabad in Turkmenistan via Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan to Multan in central Pakistan is one such alternative”

But this concept is contingent to a stable Afghanistan, which most experts indicate is not in the near future. Without stabilizing Afghanistan and given chilly relations with India, TAPI is not likely to move forward without overcoming numerous diplomatic and security obstacles.  And Pakistan’s energy crisis doesn’t afford Islamabad time to wait for the international community to stabilize Afghanistan or warming relations with India.

Critics of IPI also insist it is conducive to US interests for Pakistan to develop LNG supplies rather than natural gas. This probably entails cooperation with Europe and the United States as opposed to Iran, which is an unviable suggestion. Firstly, LNG development is more expensive than natural gas supplies through a pipeline.  Plus, it’s more probable that Pakistan receive lower cost, soft term loans in dealing with Iran as opposed to the EU or US.  IPI also presents a possibility of improved trade opening import markets for Pakistan where Iranians can purchase food items. Pakistan has a strong agricultural base and produces wheat, sugar and rice that can be exported efficiently to its neighbors. So for Pakistan, IPI is a viable solution to the energy crisis in addition to creating future revenue generation.

Finally, US critics warn that the security situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan at the moment bodes badly for practicable pipeline construction:

Should the worst happen and a Taliban style regime take over Pakistan, the economies of the world’s most radical Shiite state and that of what could be the world’s most radical Sunni state would be connected to each other for decades to come like conjoined twins.

This is an outrageous misgiving. Al Qaeda and the Taliban spilled over into Pakistan since our War on Terror began in 2001, meaning the Taliban are nowhere near rampant in number or have many sympathizers amongst the mostly moderate population. The Pakistani army made strides in efficiently securing the Swat valley and continue to make progress in eradicating militants. Assuming the entire Pakistani military and heads of state can not obliterate 20-40K (at maximum) Taliban is unreasonable. Many experts have indicated, it’s not that it can’t be done, it’s working to ensure the job gets done efficiently and to secure the long term which is taking time. I think the suspicion of Taliban influence in Pakistan is used perhaps to sensationalize the consequences of IPI construction.

Still, critics maintain that IPI is against our interests and hope lies in it never being constructed given diminutive chances of getting the needed 7.5 billion in funding and because of the volatile location of construction. IPI would run through the province of Baluchistan where resentment and instability with the federal government is historical, underprivileged masses prevail and prior instances of attacks on water pipelines ensued.  These facts might impede construction of IPI but it’s important to note that even the most critical voices against the pipeline maintain we not intervene in aiding any subversion of federal government projects in Baluchistan:

US open support for opposition groups who might be willing to undermine the project is unthinkable as any collaboration – overt or covert – would severely cripple our relations with Islamabad

Pakistan’s deep cooperation and commitment to fighting the War on Terror trump other priorities. Plus, in the long run, economic interdependence  at the cost of our diminishing influence is maybe preferred to a possibility that this region become increasingly rife with groups well armed and trained at subverting national governments. The Soviet Afghan War was our best teacher of that lesson.

Finally, critics argue how it’s against US interests for Iranian influence to expand in South Asia through IPI because it would add regional instability should Tehran become nuclear and support terrorism. However, this relies on the assumption that heads of state are engaging in bilateral trade with Pakistan on this project for an ultimate goal of international terrorism and that heads of state are irrationally going to create instability in a region that they are increasingly economically interdependent with.

Certainly, a successful natural gas pipeline that spurs economic growth for Iran and helps solve South Asia’s energy crisis might increase Tehran’s influence to some extent, but overall instability and supporting terrorism runs counter to basic arguments of liberal theories of capitalism. With increased trade and interdependence, might increased peace and less interest and instability ensue?

Thus in accepting the reality of what Fareed Zakaria calls, “The Rise of the Rest” wherein increasingly interdependent and economically stable states using minimum or zero US intervention are growing into regional powers President Obama is beckoned to reassess foreign policy. Iran won’t likely rival American hegemony through IPI, but increasingly such situations require we evolve policies to effectively deal with long standing allies like Pakistan who are inevitably drawn into relations that could diminish our influence.

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Arms Race in South Asia : To be Continued….

August 31, 2009

This summers meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani and Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at the Non-Aligned Summit (NAM) resumed cooperative talks since they had stalled after the Mumbai atrocities. The summit marked a breakthrough in Indian-Pakistani relations when both sides decided to bracket issues of terrorism from future peace talks, by signing an agreement that identifies terrorism as the tantamount, mutual interest at this time. But the meeting has proven costly for Prime Minister Singh who some speculate, in attempt to leave behind a legacy of progressive cooperation with Pakistan, might have gone too far. Members of the opposition BJP party, and even some in his own Congress party say the NAM declaration does little else but soften India’s position in foreign policy to Pakistan.

Singh addressed criticism in Parliament during debate with a BJP member who accused him of “surrendering” and “walking into the Pakistani camp”. The prime minister countered that unless tensions and possible war are desired, such engagement is necessary and by in large, did not retract his statements. Although, he did try and recover some political base by later clarifying: “ talks between the two countries on broader issues like trade and travel cannot continue unless Pakistan pursues strong action against terror”. The clarification however, maintains his stance that peace talks can take place bracketing concerns on terrorism but would still allow leeway for trade and travel issues to be used as leverage later. Delinking peace talks thus leaves open the possibility of including Kashmir in future discussions with Pakistan, (although there is no specific mention of Kashmir in the agreement), and could mark a beginning of more progressive dialogue. Singh specifically cited Prime Minister Gilani’s providing an  additional dossier on the Mumbai atrocities at the NAM summit had convinced him of Pakistan’s commitment to uprooting terrorist groups given that:

“this is the first time that Pakistan has ever formally briefed us on the results of an investigation into a terrorist attack in India. It is also the first time that they have admitted that their nationals and a terrorist organization based in Pakistan carried out a ghastly terrorist act in India.”

Under current leadership it seems relations are moving with some positive direction, with emphasis on the word “some”. Because such instances for optimism  are not entirely rare in South Asian history. A recent article in Dawn reminds us that while positive dialogue takes place,

“India-Pakistan relations do not move in a straight line. They zigzag from crisis to crisis. In the interregnum the two countries either engage in negotiations or struggle to revive an interrupted dialogue”

That’s a very perceptive notion. The agreement at NAM is hopefully indicative of future cooperation, but history has shown us a reality that the arms race in South Asia tends to impede diplomatic progress. Ultimately, the message conveyed with development of arms, is immediate, tangible, and potentially hostile. On the other hand, diplomacy is gradual, inherently more subtle and less concrete.

So earlier this week on the anniversary celebrating India’s retaking of military posts in Kargil when Delhi symbolically launched its nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant (Destroyer of the Enemies) realpolitik dictates a clear message to Pakistan that is explained by their Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit:

‘continued induction of new lethal weapon systems by India’ is ‘detrimental to regional peace and stability’.
The obvious concern in Pakistan then is whether this capability is a potential “platform to launch nuclear missiles”

Thus when either neighbor develops such armaments, basics of power politics teaches that the risk of not responding with deterrent armaments could be akin to state suicide. Whether or not one assumes conflict to be inevitable , an arms race is almost certain in situations like this. So, even though Pakistan is unlikely to announce nuclear submarine capability soon, in some capacity armaments of defense will be sought to counter India’s recent development. This will be considered necessary even though the Indian launch is directed at China’s rapid military modernization and not limited to a focus on Pakistan. Realpolitik will still drive Islamabad to invest in counter armaments despite the fact that Pakistan is heavily invested in the costly War on Terror, and more than ever in need of funding for social developments and aid for the largest refugee problem in the world.

International summits such as the Non Aligned Movement or even SAARC  meetings which yield progressive diplomacy then work secondary to an expensive, and expansive arms race which in turn, perpetuates a now notorious and mutual mistrust that plagues South Asia. So, Prime Minister Singh’s alleged “softening” with Pakistan might be conciliatory in a diplomatic way, but continued development of armaments eclipses that rhetoric. Progressive relations will ultimately require more tangible approaches that enhance a meaningful trust rather than perpetuate an arms race.

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India Pakistan: Hostility Grows Stale

August 27, 2009

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, better known as the founder of Pakistan when India was divided in 1947 is making headlines today with controversy surrounding ex-Indian Parliamentarian Jaswant Singh’s recent book: India – Partition – Independence. Immediately following the books release, Singh was expelled from his position in the Bhartiya Janata (BJP) party,  protests wherein the book was burned and a prompt ban on the work in Gujarat ensued. But why the uproar?

In a recent interview, Singh reveals the following views on Jinnah  that are now apparently too controversial in India, but receiving mostly praise across Pakistan:

  • Jinnah was an Indian nationalist
  • He joined the Indian Congress party before the Muslim League implying an original loyalty to a United India and eventual shift to non secularism as a result of Congress party politics later
  • Jinnah fought the British for an Independent India, in tandem with fighting “resolutely and relentlessly” for Muslim rights in India
  • Jinnah is admirable for being a self made man, having created a position in politics for himself without the luxury of prior wealth or status
  • Jinnah was not anti-Hindu
  • Jinnah failed insofar as he received a “moth eaten” piece of divided India in the form of Pakistan and left Muslims who stayed back in India without sufficient guidance
  • Gandhi himself referred to Jinnah as a great Indian, so there should be no controversy in recognizing him as such today
  • Muslims in India today are downtrodden, live in pain and are “robbed of the essence of psychological security”
  • Both Indian Muslims and Pakistani’s have paid a price for Partition since both would have been stronger under a united India

To those who have not grown up or spent much time in South Asia, it may be difficult to understand why such ideas can be controversial and strike such polar chords in the hearts and minds of people divided by a man made border only 60 years ago. But the division of India, into two states resulting in an independent Pakistan saw extreme violence, mass refugee migration and that carnage left a lasting scar on South Asian mindsets. Put in a most blunt form: India suffered the bitter taste of a fractured state that is rooted among the great civilizations in history.  And Pakistan suffered the bitter reality of as Singh put it, “a moth eaten”, post colonial state with perhaps an inevitably fractured and frail territory from inception. From the bizarre geopolitical landscape of Bangladesh not contingent to, yet officially part of Pakistan to the conflict over Kashmir at the very onset of partition, Singh makes a fair point in explaining partition caused profound suffering on both ends. The subsequent bitterness is manifest in perpetual hostility between both states in the form of conflicts, and in India, even on a communal level where according to Singh, Muslims are still downtrodden.

So praising Jinnah as a “great man” in India may be akin to condoning the very fracturing of India. In Pakistan, it’s lauded as an admission that their founder heroically created a homeland where Muslims would no longer be downtrodden. Singh’s work also might acknowledge that partition dealt an unfair hand to Pakistani’s, an idea that can come across as unpalatable on the Indian side. But relying on interviews from Jaswant Singh on the book so far, I think the controversy is a tired insinuation of hostility from the state. Banning the book on the grounds that:

“the text in it is misleading for the public and against interest of the state, and therefore, the book must be forfeited and prohibited”

only fuels a hostile polarization of India and Pakistan. Mind you, India and Pakistan as states are increasingly polarized, which in turn results in a division of peoples. Because my guess is that had government kept its hands out of censoring Singh’s book it might have spoken to the hearts and minds of South Asian’s disseminating novel ideas that are not divisive. Noam Chomsky once said that “states are violent institutions”, in South Asia, at the very least they are bitter, but people inherently are not. Singh’s work might have tapped into that sentiment and in the banning of it, states tighten their grip on citizens by perpetuating division and hostility in South Asia. Against a backdrop of a desire for economic growth, stability and globalization, that kind of bitterness is stale 60 odd years later. So I’m looking forward to reading the book and am lucky that my copy was reserved before the ban, in safe hands far from from protests and government intervention.

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