New Trends and Paradigm Shifts in Pakistan and Pakistan-India Relations: Pakistan’s Perspective
Dr. Huma Baqai
Journal of International Relations and Foreign Policy, 1(1), pp. 55-68.
Pakistan’s foreign policy is a story of constrains and compulsions rather than the leeway to exercise fair options. Its geographic location dictated, most of the choices it made, which also resulted in Pakistan getting entangled in super power rivalry. The last five plus years, Pakistan has faced the most serious challenges ever. This has resulted in several paradigm shifts and new trends that have emerged in the polity of Pakistan. These challenges can be turned into opportunities, if the new developments are consolidated. They may have a favorable impact on Pakistan itself and on its regional relations. The most prominent of these are the democratic transition in Pakistan, the changing Pakistan- US relationships, the situation in Afghanistan and imperatives of economic globalization. The paper takes into account and discusses their impact on Pak-India relations: Pakistan and India are on the dialogue table for the sixth time. This paper is an attempt to analyze how these paradigm shifts and new trends emerging in Pakistan, may actually result in sustainable better relations between the two protagonists of the region.


After a gap of three and a half years, India and Pakistan has returned to the dialogue table in July 2011, with the commitment to continue with the dialogue on all issues was reiterated.i And the beginning of 2013 again saw a frost in the relation because of border skirmishes between the two countries. However, restrained was exercised from both sides. Pakistan-India had several such occasions of cautious optimism, where both the countries from the lowest ebb in the relations have moved to a semblance of normalization. The ongoing peace process between Pakistan and India can be categorized as the sixth time when both countries have realized the need to move beyond conflict. The same realization resulted in October 2003 composite dialogue, the Agra Summit of 2001, Lahore declaration of 1999, Simla Agreement of 1972 and Tashkent Agreement of 1966.

These moments in the history of Pak-India Peace efforts, were adversely affected by the internal dynamics i.e. the apparent lack of internal conviction needed for sustainability of peace. An important query, in this regard today, is the sustainability of this ‘new found resolve’ to improve relations, keeping in mind the fact that the last five years have seen a substantial transformation in the regional and global backdrop of relations between Pakistan and India. There is optimism and skepticism regarding the ‘New Engagement’.

Will it be forward looking, and not the ‘Dialogue of the deaf’, that have taken place in the past, where meetings happen, photo opportunities take place and the glamour and drama of high profile diplomacy is in full display. However, nothing beyond tepid Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s) is achieved.

The CBM’s that should eventually culminate into conflict resolution and consolidation of relations –are absent. My thesis is built around the premise that there are emerging trends and paradigm shifts in Pakistan and Pakistan-Indian relations; which may result in the sustainable improved relations. This is a perspective from Pakistan.

Pakistan-India relations can fit into William Zartman thesis of mutually hurting stalemate.ii According to Zartman, the parties to the conflict may feel the pain of mutually hurting stalemate at the same time but not necessarily at the same level. They both calculate the cost benefit analysis of conflict and peace and come to the realization that they pay heavily and gain nothing by being in a state of constant conflict. In some way, coming to the ripe moment to resolve the conflict and this may have three elements; gains and losses, dead lock and the realization of the dead lock by the parties. The India-Pakistan impasse has probably reached that point.

The Democratic Transition in Pakistan:

Pakistan and India have experienced some period of joint democracy, since 1947. Hensel Goertz, and Diehl looked at twenty three rivalries that experienced both joint democracies and non democratic period.iii Consistent with Moaz’s findings militarized conflicts are less likely in periods when both rivals are democratic then in periods when one is nondemocratic. iv Despite the assertion that there is a decrease in conflict frequency under democracy the transition year is especially a dangerous time.

The possibility of a dispute is greater during this time than at any other time, which in line with Snyder’s warning about the dangers of democratization.

Nevertheless, there is a substantial drop of conflict frequency post transition time, with the main number of disputes per year quickly declining by almost half, within five years and then approaching zero. This suggests that joint democracy may be associated with complete rivalry elimination. Pakistan has had an elected, democratic government for less than a third of the time. Yet, as Tremblay and Schofield argue, Pakistan is best understood as a hybrid democracy/autocracy during this time also.

In spite of this deficiency, India-Pakistan rivalry was less disputes prone under joint democracy. The probability of a new dispute arising in any given year during the joint democracy period was approximately 40 percent (seven disputes in seventeen years) as opposed to almost 100 percent ( thirty-six disputes in thirty-eight years) when there was no joint democracy.v

Out liar is Kargil almost like a puzzle for democratic peace theorist. However, on the face of it, it may seem that it was the first war between democratic states of modern eravi breaking the democratic peace mold however there are several significant caveatsvii. The two most prominent being Pakistan was not a stable democracy at the time and a military overthrow took place shortly afterwards with substantial public support fueling the current recurring debate on Pakistan’s democratic deficit.

Two categorical decisions resulted in many of its present day challenges were taken without sufficient political input and wisdom. One was Kargil and the other was the 9/11 turn around. The realization of this is very tangible in Pakistan today; serious questions are raised about both in the intellectual circuits and the public domain.

The formation of the parliamentary committee on national security (PCNS) in 2008 to conduct a “review of the national security strategy and revisit the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability through an independent foreign policy,” can be termed as a step forward. The Parliamentary Committee fares better when compared with the performance of the Senate and National Assembly's Committees on Defence.

The overall evaluation of the National Assembly standing committee on national security may be that of under performance in the past three years. However, post NATO attacks on Pakistani Forces in Mohmand Agency, the parliamentary committee, for the first time, reviewed pacts signed between the US and Pakistan since 2002. In 2011, several issues have been referred to the parliamentary committee on national security.

The committee a political entity perhaps for the first time in the history of Pakistan came up with 16 points recommendation called “Guide lines for revised terms of engagement with US/NATO/ISAF and general foreign policy.

The Committee has discussed a variety of issues during November 2008 March 2012 including Pak-US relations, Memo Scandal, Anti- Terrorism legislation, Counter-Terrorism Authority and relations between Pakistan and India, etc. The Committee formally made its recommendations during this period on 4 issues:

1. Recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
2. Recommendations on Indo-Pak Relations.
3. Recommendations on London Conference on Afghanistan.
4. Guidelines for Revised Terms of Engagement with US/NATO/ISAF & general Foreign Policy.viii

Figure 1: Score Card of the Assessment of the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan: Year 2011

Civil Military Relation

The civil-military equation of Pakistan is also constantly referred to when the democratic deficit of the country is discussed. The deficit is largely blamed on the military’s consistent refusal to subject its self to legitimate civilian authority. This is also seen as an impediment to sustainable improved relations with India. Another contributing factor is the weakness of Pakistan’s political institutions and also the international patronage of the existing skewed civil-military relations for their own advantage. There are three serious paradigm shifts that have taken place which may result in the strengthening of democracy, improving the civil-military relations and will also impact the regional equations of Pakistan favorably. These are:

1. Pakistan’s Military Today
2. The Politicians of Pakistan
3. Pak-US Relations

The Pakistan’s Military Today

Post four military coups Ayub Khan 1958 to 1969, followed by General Yahya Khan 1969 to 1971, General Zia-ul-Haq 1978 to 1988 and finally General Pervaiz Musharaf 1999 to 2008. There is a maturity of conduct shown by the Pakistan’s military. Observers of Pakistan’s situation will vouch for the fact that Pakistan military on the pretext of threats to national security has intervened and disrupted the political process and dislodged political governments for far less in the past.

It is interesting to note that the alleged corruption of electoral government hardly ever triggered that dismissal, on the contrary civilian governments were thrown out only after they crossed red lines drawn by the military. The October 1999 dismissal of the Sharif government is a case in point.

Upon assuming power once again in 1997 with a resounding majority, the PML-N under Nawaz Sharif repealed article 58 (2) B, eliminating the president’s power to dismiss elected governments.x Acutely aware of Pakistan’s precarious economic situation, Sharif was keen to divert the country’s limited economic resources from defense to development. By entering into a substantive dialogue with New Delhi, the prime minister had also hoped to ease bilateral tensions and sideline the military internally. Not unsurprisingly, the army sabotaged his peace overtures to India by sending troops into Kargil. Wary of the army’s discontent, Sharif made a futile attempt to remove General Musharraf when the former was on a trip to Sri Lanka. The army then seized power, dismissed the Prime Minister, and suspended the parliament and the constitution.

The last political government (2008---2013) has crossed several such lines and has survived with new dates of dismissal being identified every other day. The nation in general, political analyst, pundits and lobbies, that benefit from the military takeover, waiting for the inevitable to happen. The political militancy of the Pakistan army is on the decline and may be on its way out.

Perhaps a more pertinent development is that several experts which included Mr. Shuja Nawaz; the author of the famous book; Crossing the Swords on the civil military relations of Pakistan, Dr. Ishrat Husain an eminent economist and former governor of State Bank and several retired generals said that the military is committed to exercise restrains and give political leadership a fair chance in spite of its failings and short comings and is desirous of sound political guidance and direction on issues of foreign policy.

This is evident from the fact that during the times of high political crisis, the civil and military leadership of Pakistan has made a conscious effort to be on the same page, especially with its relationships with the US. The government publicly defended the military in face of criticism from the media and political parties. However, post ‘Memogate Scandal’, we saw the Prime Minister, publicly reprimanding the military by calling it ‘state within a state’. An open public position that has never been taken before; he not only took it but also survived it. The open criticism of the military, a culture of accountability of its conduct by the media and political parties are all new trends in the polity of Pakistan. The May 11, 2013, elections to usher in a new civilian government, reflects a shift in the relationship between civilian and military institution of Pakistan, for this is a first in the country 60 plus years history that a civilian government will transfer power through the ballot box.

Former military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says both the military and civilian leaderships have matured since the country first became an Islamic republic in 1956.

"I would say the military leadership of this time has taken the principled decision to support democracy and not to allow the system to derail in any case, because they believe this is the way forward, as far as our nation, our country is concerned," Abbas said, That decision is a milestone for Pakistan's democratic development and an expansion of the democratic process.

This year for the first time, political parties are being allowed to campaign in the militarycontrolled northwest Federally Administered Tribal Areas –known as FATA -- on the border with Afghanistan. Ashraf Ali, president of the FATA research center, says permitting those campaigns are a first step to integrating the region into the country's political mainstream.

Ali further said this sense of inclusion may also help the civilian leadership to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, which in turn could affect how the military moves forward in the militant strongholds.

"I believe that things are getting changed in FATA, in the given circumstances," Ali said. "I believe the civil-military relations are going to be getting better, and I believe now there is a realization on the part of the army, as well that it is the job of the civilian governments, that it is not the military to deliver on that front. It is going to be the job of the political administration to deliver."

Former ambassador Karl Inderfurth of the United States Institute of Peace says the changes taking place within and between the civilian and military leaderships will prove extraordinarily important for Pakistan. But he cautions that it is a relationship that cannot be taken for granted.xi

Constitutional Dimension

The failure of Democratic institutions in Pakistan is also attributed to constitutional and judicial weaknesses. The much needed legal sanctions provided to military interventions by the country’s judiciary has also had a substantial contribution to its democratic shortfall.

Ayub Khan’s coup was validated by the Supreme Court on the grounds that coups d’etat were an internationally recognized legal method of changing a constitution. Similarly, Zia’s assumption of power was legalized on the grounds of state necessity which was invoked again in May 2002 for Musharraf’s coup. However, blaming the judiciary for legalizing military rule reveals only one aspect of the situation. Military rulers have skillfully preempted any opposition from the judiciary by ‘encouraging the superior judiciary to be compliant and to mandate their extraconstitutional practices’.

For instance, Zia promulgated his own Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) requiring judges to take a fresh oath of office. Refusal (by four Supreme Court judges) resulted in their retirement. Similarly, an executive order issued by General Musharraf on 31 December 1999 decreed that superior court judges take a fresh oath under his PCO. Six justices of the Supreme Court and nine judges of the High Court who refused to take the new oath were promptly retired. xii

In 2006-2007, General Musharraf tried the same and failed. He could not convince the defiant Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to do his bidding and this stand-off weakened General Musharraf considerably.xiii The suspension and restoration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan is a new chapter in Pakistan’s Constitutional history and may also significantly contribute to strengthening constitutional institutions of Pakistan and act as the deterrent to military intervention.

Musharraf’s attempts to maneuver the judiciary failed miserably and tarnished the military’s image in the eyes of the public.xiv The role of the media in bringing the saga to its logical end cannot be down played.

A more recent example, which may become a transformative movement in the history of the civil military relations of Pakistan, is the revival of the Asghar Khan casexv, which will make the likes of General Aslam Baig and General Assad Durrani accountable for their conduct and will bring the contentious issue of military establishment manipulation of politics in Pakistan into the public domain.xvi More recently, the lawyers of the ISI and the military intelligence were chastened by the Supreme Court over missing persons. On the whole, the Supreme Court in Pakistan today, serves as a strong deterrent against excesses by all.

The fact remains that sustainable democracies are not about holding elections but also require the establishment of strong civilian institutions; bureaucracy, political parties, judiciary and the media. The judiciary and the media are powerful in Pakistan than ever before. Both will and should contribute towards creating a balance between civil military relations and a culture of accountability. This will, in time, thrust the policy makers of Pakistan to opt for foreign policy options that are more pro-people and aim at positive sum relationships with our neighbors especially India, Afghanistan and perhaps even Iran.

There is also a new culture of accountability i.e. emerging in Pakistan vis-a-vis military. Red warrants have been issued against General Musharraf. On his returned to the country Musharraf is facing charges of abrogation of constitution and for barring superior court judges to function. This is done against a First Information Report (FIR) registered against Musharraf on August 11, 2009. The Secretariat Police Station, Islamabad, had registered this FIR against Musharraf at the order of an additional session judge of Islamabad. The appellant in the FIR had stated that, due to unconstitutional and illegal steps of Pervez Musharraf, the whole judicial system of the country were disturbed that earned a bad name for Pakistan.xvii All of this is rather new in the history of Pakistan’s civil-military relations. In the new construct of things, military is being held accountable for its actions by the politicians, the judiciary and the people of Pakistan.

The Political Front of Pakistan: Political Parties

The political front of Pakistan also stands strengthen and should play a vital role in determining the foreign policy options Pakistan may exercise in future, including better relations with its neighbors.

After the political musical chairs of the 1990s the mainstream political parties of Pakistan are wise enough to avoid approaching the General Head Quarters, of Pakistan military, for dispute settlement a common practice of the past. The effort of the main opposition party PML-N to remain committed to the charter of democracy in spite of earning the misnomer of loyal opposition is a case in point. The pursuance of politics of reconciliation and accommodation by PPP even some times at the cost of alienation in its own party rank is also a step in that direction. The sheer survival of the political leadership in Pakistan is termed by some as the years of toughest challenge Pakistan has ever faced. This has strengthened and sobered the political parties of Pakistan. They all have learnt several important lessons and survival techniques. All mainstream political parties have refrained from strengthening any counter democratic trends. The Tahir-ul-Qadri phenomenon was the last one to be handled.

The political leadership is also more accountable to the public opinion and international commentary now than ever before. The rightist leadership with electoral aspirations does not resort to rhetoric of war with India and of Kashmir’s liberation. The narrative now is less aggressive than in the past. The more recent example was of Mualana Fazal ur Rehman in a rally, while referring to the Kashmir issue, stressed upon the importance of the dialogue process. In fact all mainstream political parties support dialogue and are for peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The Pakistan-Us Equation: Implications for Pak-India Relations

Pakistan-US foreign relations have almost seen the same kind of up and down as that of India and Pakistan. Pakistan has swung between being the most sanctioned ally to the status of the non- NATO ally. The relationship is a story of various constraints and compulsions and a mismanagement of expectations.

This resulted in a situation where when working with countries like Pakistan in South Asia, US worked with who ever could deliver on its objectives without getting into the moral and value judgment. Therefore, it supported and consolidated military-authoritarian set up. This in turn allowed these institutions to expand their clout inside the country and indulge in adventurism on the borders. This resulted in impacting their relations adversely; the shift that took place in Pakistan India relations, post 1965 war is a case in point. Prior to 1965, the construct of India-Pakistan relations was quite cordial to a point where people would derive from East Pakistan to Calcutta for a dinner and movie. Even issues, as acrimonious as water dispute, were settled through the good office of the World Bank. The Indus Water Treaty has come under strains and stresses but continued to serve its purpose.

If Pakistan civil military relations and military’s clout over foreign policy decision making is seen as a factor contributing to the lack of sustainability of better relations between the two protagonist of the region, there is a major paradigm shift especially because this is also attributed to the support, the US has provided to Pakistan’s military janta.

The sustenance of military and economic aid to Pakistan from the US was also based on the same premise. One casual look at the aid graph of US aid to Pakistan will indicate a consistent pattern of strong support to military regimes as compare to civilian set up. This has changed largely for two major reasons. Ten plus years of war on terror, in which Pakistan is given the status of non-NATO ally has resulted in a total mismanagement of expectations from both sides and the relationship between the US and the military has fallen to its lowest ebb.

The over arching reason has been the trust and intention deficit that seeped into the relationship between the intelligence network of the two countries.

The US desire to undermine the security establishment of Pakistan, micro management of it and last but not least the presence of likes of Raymond Davis on Pakistan’s soil, Salala Check post, drone attacks, Haqqani network, Abottabad operations etc. have resulted in a desire to review the relationship especially from Pakistan’s side. US in spite of its recent misgivings about Pakistan’s also realize the importance of remaining engaged. However, the terms of engagement are now changing. Pakistan wants less interference from the US side in its internal affairs and the US is in turn looking for more transparency in Pakistan’s conduct whether it is the utilization of aid’s money or its engagement and relationships with the non-state actors.

This will definitely impact the functioning of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Moreover, the US has realized over the years that only strengthening the security establishment of Pakistan has not delivered the desired results and the constant neglect of non-traditional sources of conflict in Pakistan’s society has resulted in destabilizing Pakistan. It has also resulted in the radicalization of the society and has given rise to anti-American sentiment. The latest thrust in its relationship with Pakistan is to consolidate relations with the people of Pakistan and sustain and strengthen democratic dispensation in the country. This changed mind set is also a result of Arab Spring initially found the US on the wrong side of things.

Another very interesting development which has not jelled yet is that a lot of right wing politicians and even the centrist are now viewing Pak-India relations from the prism of Pak-US relations. America's overall image is viewed unfavorably by 73% of Pakistanis and favorably by just 12% while only 6% see it as a partner and 69% see it as an enemy.xviii The new realization because of this is that if improving relations with India would mean getting out of the clutches of American control and clout than let’s go for it.

Last but not least China now in its back door diplomacy with Pakistan insists that Pakistan improves its relations with India for the overall well being of the region and more importantly to curtail US influence.

The American manipulation of Pakistan’s economic insecurities, the ‘do more’ mantra and its attitude of clubbing Pakistan with Afghanistan, with its infamous Af-Pak policy has caused serious disillusionment with the US. The recent congress bill, on Baluchistan, added insult to injury. The public opinion in Pakistan is decisively against US intervention in Pakistan’s internal matters. One trajectory of this is that the challenges Pakistan faces right now can be addressed by having better regional relations including relations with India. The economic dividends of this would also address major Pakistani concerns. This should translate into further consolidation of relations with China and improving of relations with Russia, Iran, Turkey and a change of attitude towards India and Afghanistan.

Dialogue of the Deaf

The reason why several dialogues between India and Pakistan, have remained the dialogue of the deaf, is because both India and Pakistan have harped on their respective beats, which is Kashmir for Pakistan and terrorism for India, without listening to the other. Terrorism is not Pakistan’s problem alone. It has to have a regional response. Various international factors have resulted in Pakistan abandoning the policies of the past. These must be acknowledged and appreciated to be consolidated.

Also a new trend is that Pakistan functions under two search lights; one is the national and the international media and the other is the US. These are automatic constraints on the mindsets and conduct of the past.

These militants have created serious problems for Pakistan.

They now pose a serious challenge to the writ of the Pakistani state. Many of these factions, work independently, have found sources of finance and mentoring outside Pakistan and hence pose a real threat to the Pakistan itself. The thinking in Pakistan today has completely changed the support for such acts are declining because Pakistan has suffered so heavily at the hands of terrorism. Pakistan has had to conduct military operations on its own land to re-establish its writ.

Two thousand and six hundred and fifty four civilians have been killed in terrorist violence from January 2010 to May 2011 as compared to sixteen hundred civilian deaths from 2003 to 2006. These groups use sectarian warfare as a tool against Pakistan. Pakistan’ security forces are not party with them, they are struggling very hard to confront them. There has been an attack on the GHQ and security establishment has been targeted several times by these groups. In October 2009, militants attacked the military head quarter in Rawalpindi and held around forty people hostage for over 20 hours much to the army’s embarrassment.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan


The whole paradigm of having the strategic hedge by investing in these groups against India and Afghanistan stands revisited. In October 2009, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, ISI Chief said the ISI is a professional agency and does not have links with any militant outfits including the Taliban’s.xx

The option to continue to invest in this conflict politics is declining. The media constantly highlights the atrocities committed by these groups resulting in a decline for their support amongst the masses.

The media’s exposure of the tactics of the Tehreek Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) specially their attitude towards women and the security establishment of Pakistan contributed towards it. The tide turned after media footage of a 17-year old girl child’s public flogging in Swat on April 02, 2009 of was flashed across the media and the spokesman of TTP Haji Muslim Khan confirmed that it happened and will do more of the same if need be. In 2007, 1,503 terrorist attacks and clashes, including suicide attacks, killings, and assassinations, resulted in 3,448 casualties and 5,353 injuries, according to the PIPS security report.

These casualties figure 128% and 491% higher as compared with 2006 and 2005, respectively. The report states that Pakistan faced 60 suicide attacks (mostly targeted at security forces) during 2007, which killed at least 770, besides injuring another 1,574 people.xxi Post 2003 Pakistan became a victim of rising religious and nationalist fundamentalism and the resultant religion triggered violence. The suicide bombing which had the support of 47 percent people of being a justified methodology of revenge in 2004 went down to 8 percent in 2010.xxii The rising number of civilian casualties and the total callousness on the striker’s part became public knowledge. It became apparent that the objectives were instilling fear among the masses and challenging the writ of the state anywhere and everywhere, working against the interest of Pakistan and its people and cloaking the acts under religion.

The thinking elite of Pakistan are constantly writing against these policies and in their consequences how detrimental they have been for Pakistan. Questions about the Punjabi Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban are being raised constantly. This vibrancy of the civil society and citizen groups has contributed in countering to a certain extent the militancy and extremism in the Pakistani society.

There are serious internal negative sanctions to this paradigm and that is the new trend that should be allowed to consolidate.

The militancy and extremism remain a potent threat to Pakistan and Pakistan needs all the support and help that it can get to counter it.

Coming back to the Kashmir issue, its peaceful resolution according to the will of the Kashmiri people remains the major stance of Pakistan. However, it is not incorrect to say that the world peace is hostage to the Middle Eastern Conflict and South Asia’s peace is hostage to the Kashmiri conflict. It is also true that lot of terrorist groups in Pakistan, thrive, survive and find recruits on the basis of the Kashmir conflict and have tried to sabotage India-Pakistan peace parlays on more than one occasion.

It is not a co-incidence that the very sad and regrettable incidence of 26/11 happened at a time, when Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi was on Indian soil. More, recently India’s home minister claimed that police foiled a major attack from the suspected militant from Lashkar-i-Taiba, who was caught with explosive at a rail station. The pair is to be produced before local court and detained for ten days. This happened on the eve of the announcement of restriction free trade with India from January 2013. The decision will allow the import of about 90% of all the items India normally export. One of the observations on high tensions between India and Pakistan is the absence of economic cooperation despite new opportunities.

This was an effort to once again sabotage the same. Some experts believe the relationship between the military and some Kashmiri groups has greatly changed with the rise of militancy within Pakistan. Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within, says the ISI "has certainly lost control" of Kashmiri militant groups.

According to Nawaz, some of the groups trained by the ISI to fuel insurgency in Kashmir have been implicated in bombings and attacks within Pakistan, therefore, making them army targets.xxiii

There is a change of heart on the Kashmir issue. More and more people in Pakistan are more convinced of finding political solutions to the issues rather than the use of hard power and also the fact that the internal problems of Pakistan have taken over all other concerns. The issues of economic meltdown, rising food inflation, unemployment, chaotic law and order and situation in Baluchistan have all contributed towards an inward looking approach.

The Unspoken War: Afghanistan-India- Pakistan Triangle

Afghanistan is largely seen as peripheral in South Asian security complex. The sustenance of peace and stability in Afghanistan with the announcement of US troop’s withdrawal, has raised the stakes of involvement for both India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. In fact, it has emerged as a new competing ground of Pak- India rivalry and is re-enforced further by the rivalries between the global powers. Pakistan and India both want to be recognized by the US as important regional actors in resolving the crisis and reaching the end game in Afghanistan.

The opaqueness of the US policy adds to the confusion and exacerbates the conflict further. The US wants India to continue with its soft power thrust in Afghanistan and consolidate its position to a point where it is permanent. India has made considerable advancement in Afghanistan; New Delhi is the fourth largest donor for the war-torn country for which it has pledged $1.3 billion in aid. US also views India as the curtailing front against China’s rising influence in the region. At the same time US knows fully-well, that it cannot work on an exit strategy in Afghanistan without the active and positive contribution of Pakistan.

India cultivates US support for its presence in Afghanistan but at the same it is very conscious of US-Pakistan and China-Pakistan nexus in general and in Afghanistan in particular and therefore pursues good relations with Russia and Iran. This is largely to be able to counter it if need arises, because of the takeover of Afghan control by Sunni Taliban. All of this is in some way is negated by both India and Pakistan, wanting to be a part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO –which has China and Russia at the lead. Pakistani leadership has also tried to improve its relationship with both Moscow and Tehran. This can be an indication of allowing Afghanistan to emerge as a zone of cooperation rather than conflict and contest. Where, the sensibility of both India and Pakistan are taken into account.

This will also disallows the opaqueness of US policies, of keeping both India and Pakistan, insecure. Further on it will minimize the role of extra-regional powers in Afghanistan allowing indigenous and regional options to emerge.

Buzan and Weaver observe that none of the states surrounding Afghanistan is capable of establishing its hegemony over it or occupying it. The surrounding states have security concerns in other directions.xxiv Pakistan’s policy of the past of having strategic influence in Afghanistan is not conducive to contemporary ground realities. There are two very obvious reasons for it, one Pakistan lacks the capacity, two the new dynamics of the Afghan resistance. The foreign minister of Pakistan, emphasis this further when she said that the relationship with Afghanistan should be based on trust and called for leaving behind the past, associated with interference in that country and support for Taliban. She further said that its time to get rid of “strategic depth” hangover.xxv

In the Pakistan-India-Afghanistan equation; Pakistan cannot compete with India’s soft power thrust in Afghanistan because of its economic constraints. However, it can benefit from it immensely. A good infrastructure and stability in Afghanistan has huge economic potentials for Pakistan. Pakistan’s desire to become an energy corridor and a trade corridor becomes a reality. Moreover, Pakistan’s own energy needs can be taken care of if Afghanistan is stabilized. India- Pakistan-Afghanistan is well connected through land routes. This connection can be used to foster peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan, where we can cooperate with each other without external interference, developing and executing joint projects of reconstruction, which may include reviving silk-trade route to the Euro-Asian region. None of this will happen overnight. But the political will to do so may go a long way.

Last but not least, the trans-border threats coming from the non-state actors in Afghanistan which include criminality, extremism and terrorism can only be addressed through a collective regional response. They will not go away with the going of the US. The South Asian region will have to find ways to curtail it.

The Imperatives of Economic Globalization

The rules of World Trade organization require the members to accord Most Favorite Nation – MFN status to each other, thus, facilitating the smooth flow of trade between the member countries. Pakistan was granted the MFN by India in 1996, but the Pakistan’s specific non trade barriers and breakdown of dialogue process resulted in Pakistan reciprocating in 2011. Although, both had already started crossborder trade in the region of Kashmir in 2008 as per the decision of the cabinet.

India’s Commerce Minister Mr. Anand Sherma called the change in Pakistan’s approach to this long pending issue as a paradigm shift with wider implication for South Asia.xxvi

Pakistan’s Information Minister Ashiq Awan called it a decision taken in the national interest where she stressed that Pakistan cannot live in regional isolation. This indeed is a paradigm shift keeping in view the fact that Indo-Pak trade is largely shaped by pessimism and stands at a meager 2.7 million dollars.

Geo-politics alone determining the thrust of the relations, what happened was not even imaginable a year ago. Pakistan and India were not even talking to each other. The commerce secretary level talks took place in April 2010 post which India agreed to dismantle all Pakistan specific non-tariff barriers, Pakistan on its part allowed the import a 5600 items raising it from a mere 1964 items. Prior to this decision the positive list only allowed seventeen percent of Indian export items to reach Pakistan. It is now being raised to ninety percent of all items India normally exports. The volume of bilateral trade is expected to reach 6 billion dollars by 2014, mostly to the benefit of the Indian exporters.

This is highlighted again and again by the right wing in Pakistan.xxvii Wall chalking appeared all over Karachi against the government’s decision to give India the MFN status. However, the positive reception of the same by the peace activist and the advocate of economic diplomacy are encouraging. Pakistan’s Readymade Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) stated, “Granting MFN to India is an economic issue by virtue of which Pakistan can gain a foot hold into one of the fastest growing market in the world. This step can bring millions of rupees to the exchequer in terms of additional export revenue and bring about job opportunities for the thousands of unemployed youth of Pakistan.” According to the economist (India is poised to become one of the four largest powers in the world by the end of the decade).

For the last five plus years it has been the world’s largest importer of weapons. War with India is not even an option the redressal lies in free communication and trade.

It is also more economically sane for both the countries to trade directly than through a third country or informal means. These include mainly Dubai and Singapore, which are free ports and accommodate legal agents of traders from both India and Pakistan. Pakistan and India exchange goods to the tune of $1 billion per annum through traditional sources like cross border smuggling and personal baggage.

The obvious reality of indulging in economic diplomacy and increasing the volume of formal trade between the two countries was always there. They were also seen as real projectors of peace and stability in the region but it never happened. It is only now that we see a real political will on both sides of the border for this economic integration to happen.


The rationale, logic and call of sanity all demand from Pakistan and India to move beyond the cold war mentality of confrontation and competitive security to a 21st century framework, that involves nations to be connected by shared economic and security interests. The sharing of economic and security interests have unimaginable potentials for growth and progress of this region.

There is a tangible change in the mindset, regarding relations with India in Pakistan, these needs to be strengthened and reciprocated. Pakistan and India have tried everything, they fought wars, used each other’s land for proxy wars, have indulged in propaganda war against each other, have also tried to talk to each other and have failed five times.

Dr. Singh, author of the book, Indo-Pak Relations: Glamour, Drama or Diplomacy? has called Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, weapon of mass destruction of glamour unleashed on India. The author is all for it. It is a part of Pakistan’s non intrusive peace offensive in South Asia. It is much better than threatening each other with the use of nuclear weapons, which in our case is not even a real option because of our geographical proximity. Let’s give peace a fair chance.


i Jawed Naqvi, Petrol to Fuel Pakistan-India quest for Peace, Dawn, 24 March 2012,

i Dawn, 28 July 2011, Pakistan, India revive search for enduring dialogue process,

ii William Zartman, “Ripeness: The Hurting Stalemate and Beyond”, (Last accessed on 28 February 2012)

iii Paul R. Hensel, Gary Gpertz, and Paul F. Diehl, “The Democratic Peace and Rivalries,” Journal of Politics, Vol. 64, No. 4, Nov 2000,

iv Zeev Maoz, “The Debate over the Democratic Peace: Rearguard Action or Cracks in the Wall?”, International Security, Vol. 32, 1997

v T.V.Paul,“The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry”, Cambridge: New York, 2005, pg 48-49

vi Ibid.

vii Ibid.

viii PILDAT Citizens Monitoring Report, “Performance of the parliamentary Committee on National security,” Time, March, 2012, (Accessed: March, 2012)

ix PILDAT, “Assessment of the quality of democracy in Pakistan,” Time, January-December, 2011, (Accessed: December, 2011)

x Opcit, Aqil Shah, pg. 7. Also repealed was article 112(2)(b) that empowered governors to dismiss provincial Governments

xi Sharon Behn, “Upcoming Pakistan Vote Signals Change in Civilian-Military Relations,” Time, March 27, 2013, 1629445.html

xii Aqeel Shah, “The Transition to ‘Guided’ Democracy in Pakistan”, (Last accessed on 27 February 2012)


xiv, Also see; Judicial Issues in Pakistan, IPRI

xv Air Marshal Asghar Khan, in 1996, had written a letter to then Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah against former army chief, General Mirza Aslam Baig, former ISI chief Lieutenant General Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, relating to the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes. On the basis of Asghar Khan’s petition, Lieutenant General (Retd.) Asad Durrani took the stand in the Supreme Court and provided an affidavit that the army had indeed distributed Pak Rs. 140 million to anti-PPP political candidates only a few months before the October 1990 general election. See also Pakistan Observer xvi“Hearing of Asghar Khan case adjourned till 8 March”, Dawn 29 February 2012, (Last accessed on 29 February 2012)


xviii U.S. Image in Pakistan Falls No Further Following bin Laden Killing, Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center (Last Accessed: March 2, 2012)

xix “Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan 2003-2013,” Time, April 7, 2013,

xx Daily Times

xxi Huma Baqai, “Secularism: An Option for Pakistan”, International Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Vol.2, No.3, Jan 2011,

xxii Ibid.

xxiii Jayshree Bajoria, “The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations”, Council on Foreign Relations, May 4, 2011,

xxiv Barry Buzan and Ole Weaver, “Regions and Power, the structure of International Security”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pg 118-122

xxv Time to Get Rid of Strategic Depth Hangover, Dawn March 3, 2012, rid-of-strategic-depth-hangover-khar.html

xxvi Aurobinda Mahapatra, Paradigm shift in India Pakistan Relations, November 5, 2011 http://www.strategicculture. org/news/2011/11/05/paradigm-shift-in-india-pakistan-relations.html

xxvii “India hails Pakistan decision on trade ties”, Dawn, March 2, 2012, decision-on-trade-ties.html