Caution is not enough. India-Pakistan relations must always be handled with caution, precaution and, if one may coin a phrase, post-caution
8/12/2015 4:29:34 PM
|written By : M J Akbar|
The India-Pakistan relationship is vulnerable to history, geography, ideology, sabotage, uncertainty and miscalculation. Ever since Pakistan launched its first war for Kashmir, within ten weeks of freedom in 1947, the corpse of good intentions has been repeatedly buried in the malignant shroud of warriors. War in all its nuanced dimensions - declared, semi-declared, undeclared - has sent even the well-meaning into the retreat of a fragile status quo.
The ideologies of India and Pakistan are at cross-purposes, if not inimical. Those invested in confrontation litter communications with barely concealed landmines. And uncertainty has always been the father of miscalculation. Legacy issues are fraught with peril. The future is hostage to a strategic ecosystem into which no less a person than a nation’s defence minister can casually drop mention of nuclear weapons. Perhaps there is a justification. A strident war cry is often fed to hawks when the leader sets off in search of a dove.
One cannot fault Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for being careful. The last time he made a bid for amity with India, he lost his job and almost his life to an army coup. His successor, General Pervez Musharraf, attempted, after some sabre-rattling, to sustain the peace process, but lost his nerve at the last minute during the most difficult day in India-Pakistan talks, at the Agra summit. Politics, and Providence, have given Nawaz Sharif a second chance. He has displayed the courage to make another effort. Experience of failure will serve both Islamabad and Delhi well as they search for success.