Vivekananda International Foundation: Occasional Paper 01 June 2017
Many in India often wonder why don’t we have better relations with Pakistan and how long will we keep on bickering and fighting. Many also point to the perils of a miscalculation given that the two countries are nuclear weapons states. The most famous articulation has, of course, been that the bilateral dialogue should be ‘uninterrupted and uninterruptible’.
For the last 70 years every political government in India has tried to engage with Pakistan, to develop a policy that would enable us to live like normal neighbours; some of our finest diplomats have spent their careers in implementing such policies; there have been hundreds of back-channels discussions – track 1.5, track 2, track 3 and so on. All such efforts have mostly come to naught. Today, 70 years after India was partitioned, we are still where we were with Pakistan even as the world around us has changed fundamentally. This must compel us to ask a basic question – what is the missing element in our policy formulation and practice that has resulted repeatedly in a one-step forward-two-steps- backwards relationship with Pakistan.
We have possibly ignored one key element on a long-term basis in our approach towards Pakistan. This is whether a positive relationship with India fits into Pakistan’s ideological and security narrative based on its perception of India.