Home Contact Us  

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5046, 31 May 2016

India vs Pakistan: Why canít we just be friends?

Book Review: "Much Ado About Nothing"
Rana Banerji
Member, Governing Council, IPCS, & former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India

Title: India vs Pakistan: Why can’t we just be friends?
Author: Husain Haqqani
Publisher: Juggernaut Books, New Delhi, India, 2016

Apart from the rather melodramatic disclosure of former Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) chief, Lt Gen (Retd) Ahmed Shuja Pasha admitting that “log hamare thay, operation hamara nahin thha” (the people involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attack were ours but the operation wasn’t the ISI’s), Husain Haqqani’s new book on India-Pakistan relations hardly contains novel academic research or much anecdotal reflection, which could satiate the palate of sensation mongering audiences here.

Starting in promising vein from Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s March 1948 "beach-walk confidences" shared with then US ambassador to Pakistan Paul Alling, Haqqani mentions his founding father’s lament about failure to establish "normal" relations with India. His introductory chapter on why "we can either be more than friends or become more than enemies’ provides a broad, if somewhat sketchy and selective historical narrative, of how conflict evolved in both countries.

Moving to Kashmir as "Pakistan’s Jugular Vein," Haqqani talks of "lack of strategic thinking" "on part of Pakistan’s soldiers and military planners," as also "their circumscribed knowledge of history," which made them "reject partial solutions" when offered. He also blames India for "promising, then putting off, and finally cancelling a UN-organised plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir" "sixty years ago," persisting "human rights violations and the extensive militarization" there. Since then, Haqqani believes, "Pakistan has been strong in rhetoric without appearing to have a well-considered" plan B, "once Kashmir was engulfed by militancy during the 1990s". Without openly acknowledging State sponsorship here, Haqqani does grudgingly admit that "moral or legal arguments notwithstanding", "proliferation of Kashmir-oriented jihadi groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad have eaten away support for Pakistan’s position internationally."

Perhaps his own travails in his short-lived role as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US after the `Memogate’ catastrophe in May 2011 (a controversy revolving around a memorandum addressed to Admiral Mike Mullen, ostensibly drafted by Haqqani, seeking help of the Obama administration in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid to avert a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan), lead him to aver that "any Pakistani suggesting normalization of ties with India, preceding a final settlement over Kashmir, runs the risk of being dubbed a traitor."

Talking of Pakistan’s nuclear quest (Chapter 3), Haqqani narrates the interesting experience of an American journalist, Peter Landesman, who came across a slightly depressed Brig Amanullah, head of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence in Sindh. Amanullah not only wanted to nuke Indian cities – Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta (Pages 70-71) but who expected India’s reprisal, destroying Lahore and Karachi. This would result in massive deaths but enable children of both nations to make a fresh start! (Article in The Atlantic: `A modest proposal from the Brigadier’, March: 2002). The military officer was adamant about using the nuclear option as he saw India as the font of all Pakistan’s problems. Haqqani suggests that a similar mind set still prevails among Pakistan’s top security planners. To buttress his argument, he refers to Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s March 2016 statement averring "India, not terrorism, is the biggest threat to the region and urging India to reduce its stockpile before Pakistan could reciprocate."

Unlike scientists in other countries who avoid politics, Haqqani contends, Pakistani nuclear scientists "became active proponents of Islamic and anti-Indian state ideology." While serving as Adviser to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1996, Haqqani met Dr AQ Khan when the latter was "aspiring for Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, which he was later awarded," in August 1996. Khan told Haqqani "he had not been honoured enough and should have been elevated to Presidency for life."

Haqqani flags "a bit of James Bond stuff" wherein Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany Jamshed Marker openly reminisced about Pakistan’s well known clandestine nuclear procurement endeavours to diplomatic correspondent, Mariana Baabar. He tellingly points out, "for Pakistanis, deception and violation of other countries’ laws in this nuclear quest to equal India became a matter of pride."

Haqqani says clearly that serving Pakistani troops crossed the Line of Control in Kargil in 1999. Benazir once told Haqqani that Pervez Musharraf had come to her with a similar plan in 1995 when he was Director General, Military Operations (DGMO), but she had shot it down. Haqqani is less certain "whether, in 1999, Nawaz Sharif mistakenly signed off on the venture or was never fully informed of its scope."

The chapter on 'Terrorism = Irregular Warfare' narrates old facts and cites secondary data to recount known positions. Haqqani does acknowledge though, that "ideologically motivated jihadi militancy is not a tap that can be turned on or off by governments at will." Throughout the 1990s, Pakistani official media encouraged discussion of Ghazwa-e-Hind’ hadith (practices and interpretations of Koran) as a justified way to motivate jihadists. Today, Haqqani points out, many Pakistanis realise that the country’s embrace of terror as strategy has rebounded, endangering lives of Pakistanis, engendering lawlessness and making Pakistan "a potential international pariah." "Still, Pakistan’s generals remain fundamentally wedded to the idea of irregular warfare."

Haqqani notes that "in Pakistan’s case, treating India just as a neighbour has proved difficult because of India’s centrality to Pakistan’s identity as a separate nation." The ISI’s view remains that "jihadi terrorism only counters the R&AW’s operations to weaken Pakistan’s ideology." As long as this belief exists, "that Pakistan must undermine India before India does the same to Pakistan; it is unlikely that terrorism will stop being an issue in the subcontinent."

Dwelling on "The shrinking space for Friendship" in his last chapter, Haqqani reiterates, the India-Pakistan relationship has become a victim of two parallel and contending nationalisms. Under the military’s influence, Pakistani nationalism has evolved as "anti-Indianism." Indians too are to blame, as they "insist on describing Pakistani identity as inherently communal," and, according to Haqqani, "constantly reiterate the need to dispute the two-nation theory." "This puts Pakistan on the defensive instead of making it feel respected and self-confident."

Haqqani ends with an evocative reference to Fehmida Riaz’s poem, ‘Tum Bilkul Hum Jaise Nikle’ (you turned out just like us), though he cites only its English translation, by Shabana Mir. It is a pity, perhaps, that Haqqani penned this book in haste. In many ways, it is a disappointing work. One hopes it will not detract from his standing as an academic of repute, which was justifiably predicated on his two previous outstanding works: 'Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military' (Carnegie Endowment, 2005) and 'Magnificent Delusions- Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding' (Public Affairs Books, 2013).

Still, for Pakistan enthusiasts it may be worth a read.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Election Year in Pakistan: Key Dynamics and Prospects

Pakistan: Census Complexities

Trump's Afghanistan Strategy

Pakistan: The Nawaz Ouster

The ISI and Kulbhushan Jadhav's Second ‚ÄúConfession‚ÄĚ

India-Pakistan: Three Years of Wasted Effort?

Pakistan and the Panama Papers Verdict

In Context: Pakistan's New Army Chief Gen Bajwa

Fragility in Pakistan

Pakistan: Kamalís Dramatic Return and the Fate of MQM-A

Has Peshawar Changed Pakistanís Approach to Tackle Terrorism?

Pakistan: MQM Under Siege

The Military Reshuffle in Pakistan: Is the Army Chief firming up his control?

Pakistan: A Hyper-national Security State

Talks with the Taliban: Endgame for the Military

Pakistan 2013: Civil-Military Relations

Pakistan: The Military Shuffle and Consolidation under the New Chief

Pakistan: The Hakimullah Mehsud Killing

Intrusions along LoC/IB in J&K: Pakistanís Objectives

Pakistan: Who will be the next Army Chief?

Pakistan: Civil-Military Relations and the Instrumentalisation of Political Power

Pakistan: The Abbottabad Commission of Enquiry

B. Raman (1936-2013)

Special Commentary: The Military and Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan

Pakistan Elections 2013: Caretaker Prime Minister & the Election Scenario

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.