As tensions between India and Pakistan escalate, the question of what could be a suitable solution for peace looms large.
The answers are clear, though almost always ignored. It has been hard to believe that Pakistan is serious about peace-making. Why? Consider the following, the attack on Kargil in 1999 came only months after a much-hyped bus ride by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore where he met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
The 2008 Mumbai attacks, now known as the 26/11, came less than 20 weeks after Pakistani exhortations for peace talks. A fortnight after an India-Pakistan joint statement on peace in 2015 in Russia, there was a terror attack on a police station in Gurdaspur, Punjab reportedly carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). After Narendra Modi became prime minister in India, he broke protocol to visit Lahore – and soon afterwards the Indian Air Force Station in Pathankot was attacked.
Don't forget that the 2016 Pathankot terrorist attack happened seven days after PM Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to wish Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister of Pakistan at the time, on his birthday and in a bid to improve relations. Even the terror attack in Uri in 2016 came after a goodwill phone call from Modi to the then prime minister Sharif before the latter’s heart surgery. The Pulwama attack was weeks after the current Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan spoke about using the opening of a new pilgrim corridor to make a fresh start with India.
Why do Pakistani prime ministers talk peace when they cannot deliver it? Some of them at least are genuine in wanting a better future – but, as everyone knows, it is the Pakistani Army that is really in power in that country. Civilian governments rule at the leisure of the army. This is why it is infamously said that usually it is nations that have armies but in Pakistan, the army has a nation.
But if Pakistan is serious about peace there are two simple ways it can make this happen. First, it should handover Hafiz Saeed, a man designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations and the U.S., to international law enforcement agencies from who India could get access to him to try him as the mastermind of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, and it can agree to longstanding demands to declare Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the attack in Pulwama on February 14 that killed more than 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers. JeM has also been accused of the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
Along with this, it is important also to reiterate at this fragile juncture that any peace between India and Pakistan cannot be based on the four-point formula that was negotiated but never concluded between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Pakistan’s former president and general (retd.) Pervez Musharraf. The four points of the formula are demilitarisation or phased withdrawal of troops, no change of borders of Kashmir, but people of Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to move freely across the Line of Control, self-governance without independence, and a joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
While this was deliberated once upon a time, it is unlikely that any future government in India would agree to such terms – especially clause two. The free movement of people between the two sides of Kashmir means only one thing – long-term complete demographic change via endogamy (many strategic analysts suggest that in fact this has already been done in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).
The only way such a clause can ever be accepted is with the simultaneous removal of Article 35A and Article 370 of the Indian constitution. This would remove the bar on people from other parts of India to buy property and settle in Kashmir. Kashmiris have always enjoyed this right everywhere else in India, and it is time this right is reciprocated. If Pakistan genuinely wants peace, these ought to be the Indian terms.
Without this tool of demographic balancing, the four-point formula only defers the crisis from the Indian point of view to a later date when India would have even less, or little, control on the situation.
Pakistani hardliners balk at the alternative – but if they are serious about peace, they should agree to bring onto the table the alternative to convert the Line of Control into the international border.