Situation in Pakistan and its Impact on South Asia
Pakistan is in crises– crises of all sorts – political instability, economic free fall, and natural disaster that has left around 30 million people homeless. And now, the former PM of Pakistan, ousted 7 months ago, is attacked. Pakistan is known to have been under a long shadow of the military. The accusations and counter-accusations can affect credibility and transparency in the investigation. The troubled country has seen the worst floods in the living memories of its people. Despite the revival of the IMF programme, cash injections from friendly countries and other international financial institutions and assistance for floods, the country’s needs are enormous to finance the current account deficit and meet external debt obligations. Foreign exchange reserves are at a three-year low, enough to cover just six weeks of imports.
Political stability can be guaranteed only when the Parliament’s vote of confidence is genuine, the bodies such as Election Commission and the High Courts and Supreme Court are impartial and uninfluenced, and the mandate of the people is respected.
Pakistan’s outlook towards India even during the crisis
With all this, Pakistan’s senior officials have all the time in the world to accuse India, saying that India always prays that Pakistan should remain an entity in turmoil. Pakistan is passing through humanitarian and economic crises, and instead of focusing on resolving these pressing issues, the Indian Army faces infiltration bids on the LoC. If ever fault lines have deepened, they have been deepened because of this outlook. The issue of poverty and forced conversions first affects the most vulnerable – poor little girls of Pakistan, and this aspect disturbs India equally.
Impact on South Asia
The US and NATO’s haphazard exit from Afghanistan has already threatened security situation in the region. And now, with Pakistan in crisis,terrorism will only flourish, with flood aid being diverted for arms and drugs trade; terrorist groups will influence people to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
The suspicion amongst General level officers, serving or retired, the civilian leadership, incumbent or elected, and the ISI, appointed favourably or otherwise, will only increase if bridging the communication gap does not yield results. Radicalisation will lead to more crime and create deplorable security conditions in entire South Asia.
The China-Pakistan nexus will gain ground for destabilizing India and South Asia, the Arabian sea, and the Indian Ocean region.
Political turbulence will cause the food and fuel crises in the Afghan-Pakistan region to exacerbate.
Pakistan is now called a fractured state with uncertainties and unrest. The resultant terror emanating from Pakistan soil cannot be termed as an action of ‘Non-State Actors’.
Pakistan should finally change
Common people of Pakistan at times seem more mature than those in the government.
Time has come for a Civil-Military relationship based on trust rather than control, either way. Pakistan must focus on rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of its flood-affected people, rather than blaming India. India stands ready to help the common poor and hungry people of Pakistan.
Common sense should prevail on international platforms such as the UN. Raking up the Kashmir issue every now and then, does not provide any locus standi to Pakistan. Pakistan should by now understand that the so-called ‘Azad Kashmir’, GilgitBaltistan, Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin are all integral and inalienable parts of India. The sooner Pakistan understands this, without an all-out war, in which they too know that they will flunk, the better. The Pakistan military should not have an existential motto of bleeding India.
Providing safe haven for terror snakes and providing milk to them in order to inflict a thousand cuts on India will turn those snakes to bite and poison the well-established owners themselves.
All weather friend, China is not seen in the picture for assisting any resolution of the crisis. The debt trap of the China-Pakistan Economic corridor and the aid, after the PM of Pakistan’s visit to Beijing should require a closer look.
Pakistan should seek advice from economists in India, on how to sail through the economic crisis, what should be the Central Bank of Pakistan doing, and what should be their government’s fiscal policy at the moment. The establishment of such an advisory council should come from Pakistan’s end. This is far better than seeking advice from the UK or the US or asking for loan waivers from the International Monetary Fund.
In turn, Indian assistance should not be reciprocated by killing Indians, Kashmiri pandits, poor migrants and cross-border infiltrations.
Way forward for India
Keeping terrorism and the 26/11 attack in mind, all efforts must be taken to create combat capabilities and military readiness for handling any unforeseen event. The development of Tri-Services Rockets and Missiles Theatre Command and increasing drone detection capabilities are a step in the right direction.
Though, the Balkanisation of Pakistan is not in India’s interest. Our people should stop dreaming about that. In a practical sense, however, bitter it may be, an unstable western neighbor will do more harm to India than good. Balkanisation or breaking of Pakistan into independent pieces, distributing parts to Iran and Afghanistan, and then achieving lasting peace, is wishful thinking.
India can take initial steps for building an interface of Civil-Military authorities and officials. DGMO-level talks do take place, but we should go beyond that. Polio vaccination, providing wheat and rice, medicines, joint climate action for the Indus river, joint coordination teams for handling avalanches and earthquakes, collaborative programmes of ‘Army Wives Welfare Association – India and Pakistan’ for helping widows and children on both sides, can form starting points. All this is never to undermine the supreme sacrifices of our soldiers and officers who laid down their lives safeguarding our nation.
Humanitarian assistance is guided by humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality, but trade requires trust. For humanitarian assistance, taking political risks will count as political willpower. A stronger South Asia will have the leverage of not being pulled into the hegemonistic West camp or the ulterior assertive Russia-China camp, not a weaker one.
By Yogita Kadu