War cannot resolve any crisis. We should avoid war and try to resolve crises through peaceful negotiation. A modern civilised society follows these rules. And if a war becomes inevitable, we should opt for a decisive war. To fight a shadow war is meaningless. Perhaps, Pakistan has failed to realise this. They have been fighting a shadow war against India for the last three decades. Islamabad has also been fighting a war with a shadow, the shadow of its own, for long.
Pakistan recently violated established diplomatic protocols, as it prevented visiting Sikh pilgrims from meeting the Indian envoy and other Indian diplomats based in Islamabad. The Sikh pilgrims from India arrived in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi last week. Officials of Indian High Commission in Islamabad tried to contact the pilgrims, as they wanted to communicate with the High Commission. However, the concerned authorities in Pakistan didn’t allow the visiting Indians to meet the High Commission officials.
Islamabad’s gesture shocked not only the Indian High Commission, but also the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the pilgrims, and New Delhi strongly criticised Islamabad’s ‘undiplomatic’ behaviour. However, ‘unperturbed’ Pakistan gave India no assurance that there would be no such incidents in the future.
The diplomatic ties between the two South Asian neighbours reached its lowest level in recent times. They accused each other of harassing their diplomats. Although the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has claimed that the issue has been resolved, the latest incident has made it clear that Islamabad is not ready to resolve the issue. Indian pilgrims were in trouble in Pakistan because the country is still fighting a shadow war against India.
Since the 1980s, Pakistan has been using ‘terrorism’ as a weapon against India, as Islamabad decided to fight a shadow war against its eastern neighbour. Islamabad has used terrorists to trigger attacks in India, violated the international border and the Line of Control (LoC), launched attacks on the Indian Armed Forces and backed the separatists in Kashmir as parts of its policy to continue fighting the shadow war against India. Their miserable defeat in 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars against India prompted Islamabad to concentrate on the shadow war. Islamabad believes that it will help the Pakistanis forget those defeats.
Pakistan should realise that it’s fighting a war against its shadow – the shadow of East Pakistan (or current Bangladesh). Pakistan – once described as ‘Asian Tiger’ by its leaders – has become a ‘failed and anarchist’ state. After its emergence as an ‘Independent’ state in 1947, Pakistan captured some areas in Kashmir, received financial help from the US and other Western nations, and highlighted its global importance by showcasing the photograph of former US President John F Kennedy and former ruler Ayub Khan. The Pakistanis took nearly 18 years to realise that they were not the ‘Asian Tiger’. The defeat in 1965 war against India destroyed their ‘confidence’. The birth of ‘Independent’ Bangladesh in 1971 changed the landscape of South Asia and Pakistan became one of the ‘weakest’ states in the region.
The so-called ‘Asian Tiger’ is no more, but its shadow is still there. The shadow used to instigate Islamabad to wage a shadow war against India in the past. The scenario has changed recently, as the US has isolated the nation by declaring it as a ‘state that harbours terrorism’. In Pakistan, democracy is under attack and the ongoing political turmoil has rocked its economy. As expected, the country is trying hard to overcome the crisis. Unfortunately, the top political leadership in Islamabad has failed to identify its ‘real’ enemy. As a result, Islamabad is still fighting a war against its shadow…called the ‘Asian tiger’….. and the shadow identifies India as its only ‘target’.
If Pakistan manages to win the war against its shadow, then only it will stop waging the ‘shadow war’ against India. Till then, the bilateral ties remain the same.
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