It hasn’t been long, in fact less than 100 days, that Pakistan and India showed renewed interest in improving their relationship. Since last one month, we have seen a huge increase in cross-border firing, the most I believe in recent memory. The relationship has been all but spiralling down with no hope in sight. Before we try to understand what went wrong, lets look at some notable points:
1. In Pakistan, power has rested in the hands of the military leadership for more than half of the country’s existence.
2. On matters of Defence and foreign policy, the military has called the shots since independence.
3. Civilian leadership does not and cannot take unilateral decisions on foreign policy.
4. The military coup of 1999 saw the then and now Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thrown out of power and General Pervez Musharraf established a military dictatorship that lasted about 9 years(1999-2008).
So now when Mr. Nawaz Sharif came to power in 2013 in the first ever democratic handover of power in the history of Pakistan, he had laid out two priorities among several others:
1. Improve ties with arch-rival India. Develop trade ties in particular.
2. Pursue treason charges against General Pervez Musharraf.
Now did Nawaz Sharif need to do anything else to “irk” the military leadership? Not to forget the current Chief of Pakistan Army General Raheel Sharif was once a close confidant of General Pervez Musharraf. Perhaps, the all too powerful army needed just one more excuse to finally step in and show the civilian leadership, who’s the boss.
And that excuse came in the form of Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi to take part in the then Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi’s swearing in ceremony. Not only did Sharif visited Delhi much to the unhappiness of many in Islamabad, he even refused to hold talks with leaders of Hurriyat Conference (a Kashmiri Separatist Group). Noteworthy it is that it’s a must for any high level Pakistani official to hold talks with Hurriyat Conference leadership on the former’s visit to India. Now to come to India and not talk about Kashmir or meet Hurriyat Leaders was in-effect the excuse the military leadership was looking for to step in.
So ever since Narendra Modi Govt has taken charge in New Delhi, skirmishes along the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan have increased dramatically. The military leadership knows that such cross border mischief would throw the current dialogue process started by the civilian leadership out of gear and for long. Not only that, the rise of the country’s democratic opposition forcing Nawaz Sharif to resign for allegedly rigging the last general elections and rising fears of another coup in Pakistan forced Nawaz Sharif to bend backwards and accept the powerful military’s diktats. Perhaps, it is the net result of Nawaz Sharif’s over enthusiastic endeavours to take control of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Hope you liked my analysis. Please feel free to leave your comments below.