Pakistan's Security Perceptions & Indo-Pak Relations
Hussain Haqqani is an intellectual with strong academic background and firmly rooted in the politics and executive decision-making structure of Pakistan. He has held senior positions with both the democratic political parties during their governance in the 1990s. Since the imposition of military rule in Pakistan, he is settled in the United States, first at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and from now on at the Boston University both as a Professor and as Head of the South Asia Institute, a think tank of the University. His writings reflect fresh thinking on Pakistan and its policies and his ideas present numerous possibilities for India-Pakistan relations.
India-Pakistan relations are similar to that between a divorced couple in which one side was keen on divorce but the other was not and the one who was opposed to it took a long time to reconcile to the reality of divorce. In 1947, Pakistan had a literacy rate of 16 per cent and whereas it was 18 per cent in the case of India. Today it is 65 per cent in India and 35 per cent in Pakistan. The situation has reversed in the field of agriculture too. Per acre yield in Pakistani Punjab was higher in 1947, whereas today it is much less than eastern Punjab.
The economic cost of competing with India has made Pakistan even less competitive. Pakistan's biggest problems has been its inability to come to terms with the circumstances of its birth as it did not get the advantages that India got in 1947. The advantage of 5,000 years of history went solely to India and not to Pakistan despite being part of the same entity. Secondly, Pakistan is a nation born out of an 'idea' whose justification is a constant psychological preoccupation. A security issue in Pakistan becomes a psycho-political issue rather than a substantive issue. Thirdly, the strongest proponents of the idea of Pakistan came from territories that did not eventually become part of Pakistan. This is one of the biggest contradictions in the circumstances that Pakistan was born in 1947. In addition, the election results of 1945-46 have never been properly analyzed. Only 15 per cent of the total population of undivided India was allowed to vote out of which only 51 per cent voted; among which, the Muslims in the minority provinces voted overwhelmingly for the Muslim League whereas the Muslims in the majority provinces did not do so. Thus, the idea of Pakistan was not supported by a large majority of people living in what is today Pakistan. Besides, the Indian National Congress did not give any support or assurances to help set-up Pakistan.
The 'Pakistan Paradigm' was born during its early history and was meant primarily to ensure that Pakistan emerges as a nation with an identity distinct and separate from India. There are three important elements of that paradigm:
Emphasis on religion since it connected everyone. The corollary to that was an attempt to make Pakistan a West Asian rather than a South Asian state.
It was feared that India would dilute the identity of Pakistan; therefore, an attempt was made to create a historic justification of Pakistan to prevent that. Even now in Grade V or VI, Pakistani children learn that Pakistan was born the day Mohammad Bin Qasim set foot in Asia.
Pakistan ended up with 33 per cent of the British India Army but only 17 per cent of a united India's revenue sources. This discrepancy was attempted to be made up with the help of the United States, thereby making Pakistan its strong ally. Thus, American ambitions snared Pakistan and resulted in Pakistan becoming the eastern anchor of America's West Asian policy. This gave Pakistan an opportunity to escape South Asia.
In 1947, Mr. Jinnah's response to a question by the first US ambassador to Pakistan on the future of India-Pakistan relations was that he hoped these relations will settle down in future like the relations between Canada and the United States. A little known fact is that there are still at least nine territorial disputes between Canada and the US. Despite that, both states share soft borders and are important trading partners. The US makes sure that the identity of Canadians remains intact and unharmed and both have strong defence arrangements that are very detailed in nature. There is still a long way to go for India and Pakistan to reach that stage. Both need to do the following to facilitate that process:
Evolution of a Pakistan's political system into a fledgling democracy.
India has to make a concerted effort to assure the safety of identity and sovereignty of an average Pakistani. India will have to accept Pakistan as a separate independent state.
Pakistan will greatly benefit from India in a Canada-US type relationship. This idea needs to be propagated in Pakistan.
India has to be aware that its policies and conduct internally as well as externally affect Pakistan. It is similar to sleeping with the elephant where no matter how friendly the elephant might be, every time it twitches it causes discomfort to whoever is sleeping with it. Indians should try to reduce that twitching.
Question & Answers:
Question: How much influence do fundamentalists and militants have on the Pakistani Army?
Answer: General Musharraf has made considerable effort to root out the influence of fundamentalists and religious groups on the Pakistani Armed forces and restore the 'pucca sahib" tradition inherited from the British. Musharraf's efforts have been deliberate but the effectiveness of his actions cannot be ascertained at this stage. The influence has been ideological in nature and is not quantifiable. Therefore, it is important that the political discourse in Pakistan changes from ideological to being functional in nature and until this happens, the pre-eminence of fundamentalists will remain in Pakistani politics and society.
Question: Thinking logically, should Kashmir have been with Pakistan?
Answer: Logically, I do think that Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, but at present the reality of the situation demands Pakistan to review and rethink its desire to have Kashmir. However, no constituency in Pakistan is willing to relinquish any moral or political right over Kashmir. In this scenario, Pakistan cannot be expected to give up all claims on Kashmir and such a scenario would be highly unsustainable.
Question: What role have political leaders played in promoting militancy and religious groups in Pakistan?
Answer: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was responsible for letting the Islamists enhance their influence. He appointed Zia ul Haq as the Army Chief, which was a major error of judgment as it cost him his life. The Benazir Bhutto government is lot less to blame for promoting Islamists and fundamentalists as even before assuming office, she was made to strike a deal with the military establishment. She surrendered four critical areas to the establishment: (1) Kashmir Policy, (2) Afghanistan Policy, (3) Macro-economic policies in relation to the World Bank and IMF, and (4) Military decisions including nuclear policy. When she did try to influence the Afghan and the nuclear policy she was booted out within 18 months of being in power. General Naseerullah Babar, member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was more a man of the military establishment and was used by the establishment and Pakistan's covert agencies to shift blame on to government policies. Militancy has always been managed by Pakistan's security apparatus and aided by Jammat-e-Islami and now by Al Hadid groups. Mr. Nawaz Sharif is also to be blamed for encouraging militancy until 1998, when he consciously changed his policy. The root of the mistakes in Pakistan is the control of politics by the permanent Pakistani establishment comprising security agencies, military establishment and a section of Pakistani bureaucracy. Militancy will be wiped out only if a civilian democratic government comes to power.
Question: The Pakistan establishment consists of 60 odd families. To what extent are these elites guiding the political process in Pakistan?
Answer: The electorate of the elections in 1945-46, which determined the decision to partition India in 1947, had to have one of the following qualifications: (1) College graduate, (2) Landed community, (3) Taxpayers, (4) Service in the British Indian Army and, (5) Service in the British Civil Service. These qualifications have come to characterize the Pakistan's elite since 1947. The democracy problem in Pakistan is characterized by the "Elite Consensus Theory", where democracy is considered a result of the consensus existing between the elites of the country. Unfortunately, in Pakistan this consensus does not exist.
Question: When and under what circumstances will a civilian government come to power in Pakistan? What will be its political orientations?
Answer: The accession to power by a civilian government is only possible under three conditions:
Widening of the gulf between civilians and military establishment will make the military revisit its perspective and policies as no army likes to be disliked by its own population. For example, General Baig held elections in 1988 immediately after Zia ul Haq's death fearing the loss of popular support.
Mobilization of the general population by the civilian politicians and ability to strike a better deal with the military.
Worsening international circumstances resulting in qualitative decline in US assistance.
However, it is highly unlikely that a democratic government will come to power after 2007 elections. It is also unlikely that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto will be allowed to return to Pakistani politics in the coming elections.
Question: If Musharraf relinquishes power after the 2007 elections, will he be able to carry along the military establishment? How will it affect the ongoing peace process?
Answer: Unless and until Musharraf is willing to change the overall national discourse in Pakistan, which he has not done so far, it seems difficult. Changing the national discourse would entail focusing on social security and developmental issues. Presently his policies seem to be fixated on Kashmir. Pakistan should make efforts to move beyond the Kashmir issue and concentrate on trade and commerce. Logically, India and Pakistan should be biggest trade partners. Though annual trade has gone up to $600 million dollars, it is still very small. India can import sugar from Pakistan. Conversely, India can invest in Pakistan, which is facing an investment deficit presently. Therefore, there is tremendous potential in India-Pakistan economic relations.
Question: Indian Muslims have never supported religious parties in the last 50 years. The Muslim League barely got any support in places like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It got some support from Hyderabad and parts of Kerala. Secularism as a political idea was a majority idea even in 1947 and this explains the reasons for its success in India. On the other hand, Pakistani elites made a conscious effort to associate with West Asia. In what sense did this feeling help shape up the idea of Pakistan?
Answer: There is a difference between an unidentifiable connection and actual geo-political connection of being part of West Asia. Though many Pakistanis did talk about ancestral connections with West Asia, they felt very South Asian. Their religious affiliations were always with a dargah located in their region. Pakistan was politically conscious at a geo-political level thanks mainly due to its alliance with the United States. The US has divided the world under various commands. There is a Central Command that extends from Morocco to Pakistan. The Pacific Command begins from India. According to President Bush, a greater West Asia comprises of Central Asia, West Asia and Pakistan. In fact, John Foster Dallas called Pakistan the 'eastern anchor of United States' Middle Eastern Policies." The Pakistani elite have imbibed these feelings and made conscious efforts to affiliate with West Asia.
Question: Do you think the East Germany-West Germany model works better in case of India and Pakistan rather than the US-Canada model?
Answer: If India-Pakistan peace process has to move forward, drawing analogies between India-Pakistan and East Germany-West Germany will have to stop. The German analogy implies a unified government. India and Pakistan relations can be based on Canada-US model and have soft borders, low tariffs, free trade, and absolute permission for citizens to work in each country. Peter Jennings the, famous media personality was a Canadian and got an American nationality after 9/11 as a symbolic gesture to show his affection for the US.
Question: When Mahboob-ul-Haq came up with the idea of Human Development Index (HDI), Pakistan fared better than India. Now the situation is reversed. How can one explain that?
Answer: Mahboob-ul-Haq came up with the idea of HDI in 1988. There is a vast difference between now and then. The HDI is extremely sophisticated and with each passing year takes into account many more factors than it originally did. The reforms in India have worked and helped in improving its macro-economic indicators. Though Pakistan's indicators were better than India in 1988, it suffered a great deal due to the US economic sanctions. As a result, its macro economic indicators worsened, investment in human development took a plunge and educational and healthcare spending decreased substantially.
Question: Is the US-Pakistan alliance 'unholy'?
Answer: Politics cannot be holy or unholy. However, the Americans have fallen far too often for the point of view that somebody is a saviour of Pakistan. In the 1950s and 1960s, John Foster Dallas was thinking of Ayub Khan as the saviour of Pakistan from Communism, whereas Pakistan never had a threat from Communism. Zia ul Haq was expected to save Pakistan from populism that would have made Pakistan fall in the hands of the Soviet Union. Today, Musharraf is seen as a saviour by the US to protect Pakistan from the Islamists. In Pakistan, the Islamists and militants work very closely. In the 2002 election, all major political parties had some of their candidates disqualified from contesting elections. Islamic parties like the MMA did not have even a single candidate disqualified. The PPP was barred from holding large public meetings whereas the MMA was not. Special favours to the MMA such as these resulted in it securing 21 per cent of the seats with only 11 per cent of the votes, thus becoming coalitional partners in Baluchistan. They also managed to control the North-West Frontier Province and allowed Musharraf to keep on his uniform until 2004. The Islamists are a minority and they do not favour democracy.
Question: What chances does Asif Zardari have of contesting election in 2007?
Answer: Both Benazir and Zardari will be acquitted of all the charges that they have been accused of as the charges have not been proved so far. Asif Zardari would like to contest elections in 2007. Musharraf should have cut a deal with Benazir and Zardari, which would have enabled Musharraf to make a gentle transition and for them to come in a more gentle way.
Question: Do you think the PPP, PMLN and PML (Q) will remain united in the 2007 elections?
Answer: The quality of democratic forces depends upon the democratic parties in a state. The PML (Q) will reunify but it is not a democratic force in the true sense. It is quasi-democratic in nature. The PPP and PML (N) will cooperate in the 2007 elections but will still be hard-pressed. The quality of democratic forces is not going to improve considerably after the 2007 elections.
Question: The ICG report on Kashmir from Islamabad quoted certain former MPs from PPP, stating that converting LoC into an international border is acceptable. What is Pakistan's endgame on Kashmir?
Answer: The Pakistani establishment has never been clear about an endgame on Kashmir. They still hope to resolve the Kashmir issue in Pakistan's favour. Alternatively, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have thought about an endgame on Kashmir by making some adjustments at the LoC and then settling it permanently. They have broached this issue at different times but have always been weaker in comparison to the establishment. However, it is possible to make some adjustments at the LoC if a stronger civilian government emerges in comparison to the establishment.
Question: Has Pakistan's foreign policy vis-ÃƒÂ -vis West Asia, OSC, Southeast Asia and Israel evolved and become more mature and pragmatic in recent years? Is the peace process with India part of this pragmatic orientation of Pakistani foreign policy?
Answer: The conduct of Pakistani foreign policy has always been very mature but it lacks in substance. Pakistan has an able diplomatic service having very articulate people but the question is what vision are they working on? Therefore, one needs to be cautious in assessing Pakistani foreign policy and go beyond its conduct and gestures to concentrate on the substance. There is a desire to change the orientation of the foreign policy but it is not translating into substantive policies.
Question: Pakistan has strong military relations with China. How is Pakistan infusing confidence in the peace process while having weapons development programme with China?
Answer: This is one of the big picture questions. Things will start falling into place if there is a paradigm shift in India-Pakistan relations. Nevertheless, normalization of India-Pakistan relations will have its own cost because when relations normalize between two states, it is difficult to object to actions of the other state. Having said that, India was not very critical of US-Pakistan F-16 deal because it did not want to disturb the peace process. A development of weapon system by one state is not always countered with another weapon system. Finally, relations between two states are determined a lot less by minutiae and more by the big picture. The very fact that India and Pakistan are still concerned with the finer details of their relationship and not looking at the big picture means that a comfort level has not been achieved about the long-term future.
Question: At the conclusion of the SAARC summit, Pakistan PM Shaukat Aziz said that India-Pakistan peace process should move from conflict management to conflict resolution. Are these two linear processes or complimentary in nature?
Answer: 'Conflict Resolution' and 'Conflict Management' are mere terms. It is more important to ascertain whether India and Pakistan are redefining their relations. It is important to reach a stage when the momentum for peace is based on mutual respect and recognition. The peace process is not going to be hugely successful if the paradigm shift in India-Pakistan relations is not achieved.
Question: Will it be possible to follow the US-Canada model if the MMA in Pakistan and BJP in India come to power?
Answer: The chance of MMA coming to power is highly unlikely as they got only 11 per cent of the vote in the last elections. They may become coalitional partners, but it is an unlikely political scenario of their forming the government. But, the scenario in which the MMA and BJP come to power will be nothing less than a nightmare as both have ideological agendas. However, the MMA coming to power seems to be impossibility.
Question: Is there still a sectarian dimension to Pakistan-Iran relations in the post-Taliban and 9/11 scenario?
Answer: It has diminished a great deal in the overall Pakistani foreign policy. However, it can resurge given the fact that at times domestic issues are entangled with foreign policy. However, Musharraf should be given full credit for rooting out sectarian violence from Pakistan. Sectarian factor will greatly diminish in Pakistan-Iran relations in future. There are other factors that will affect their relationship. Pakistan will continue to remain close to Saudi Arabia and Iran-Saudi Arabia relations will remain tense. In addition, worsening India-Iran relations will prompt the Americans to rope in the Arab conservative regimes to pressurize Iran. If that happens, Pakistan will find it difficult to balance a close relationship with the conservative Arab regimes and a congenial relationship with Iran at the same time.