Good news from Pakistan is dishearteningly scarce these days, but from time to time one sees evidence that more and more of Pakistan’s opinion makers realize that the contest with India is literally tearing Pakistan to pieces and that liquidating the competition is more important than anything Pakistan can hope to gain by continuing it.One problem: the army’s preponderant influence in the country is directly tied to the continuation of an all encompassing military competition. Exiting the doomed contest means transforming the armed forces’ role in Pakistan — and slashing their budgets to the bone.It would still be too much for Pakistani political leaders to get up in public and say the full truth, but opposition leader Nawas Sharif came tantalizingly close last week when he called for a fresh start and a true rapprochement between the two hostile neighbors.From an article by Muhammed Akram in the Daily Times:
LAHORE: Holding Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif’s point of view on Pakistan’s relations with India as just and close to the party’s own perception for peace in the region, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has instructed many of its mouthpieces to refrain from any diatribe on the issue.The sources in the PPP confided to Daily Times on Sunday that the instruction was quietly conveyed to those responsible for representing the party’s point of view on different national and international issues not to air any of their views contrary to the statement made by PML-N leader for the sake of politics as did by a small coterie of politicians and a section of the media.
The article goes on:
The country’s politics had seen a great turnaround since the 2008 general elections vis-à-vis country’s relations with India as almost all political forces, having representation in parliament are, seeking friendly and good neighbourly ties with India. Those who had been opposed to this idea of the majority of parliamentary forces are out of parliament, like Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Insaf, as they boycotted the general elections.Parliament at present is overwhelmingly represented by those political parties who are not just seeking good friendly ties with India but also opening up of trade corridors as a remedy to many economic ills of the country. The PPP and the PML-N, at the time of signing of the Charter of Democracy, had expressed the resolve to work for improvement of relations with all neighbours, particularly India and Afghanistan, and would support the ongoing peace process in the region.The political observers see the PPP’s overture of refraining its second cadre leadership from flowing with the tide to score small political points against the PML-N is a sign of increasing maturity in the country’s politics. This is also true that all political forces present in parliament, including the Awami National Party, PML-Quaid, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), had been unanimous in seeking friendly relations with India and had in fact supported the views expressed by the PML-N president on the country 64th Independence Day, they said.
Those same ‘observers’ have a penetrating analysis of the role of the India question in Pakistani politics.
The observers believe that ‘de-radicalisation’ of Pakistan that the federal government has recently approved for study and subsequent implementation to eradicate fundamentalism and extremism from society during a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet needs to include country’s friendly ties with its neighbours as a major component.This is important because radicalisation of society has roots in the country’s proxy war in Afghanistan and beyond that waging four wars with India on Kashmir disputes and covert jihadi operations across the Line of Control that has impoverished the country to a point that country’s growth rate is lower than even the poorest of the poor nations in the South Asian region, the observers said.The PML-N’s categorical stance on relations with India is also important because the party had been representing the opinion of central and north Punjab including the areas from Pakistan Army had massive recruitments, said the observers. The change in perception vis-à-vis India would help change the mindset that had been viewing India only as an enemy country and not as a competitor in areas that help growth of people on healthy lines, they said.
If it is true that more military circles are thinking this way, then there may yet be hope for Pakistan and its long suffering people. A Pakistan moving in this direction would also enjoy much warmer, more beneficial and less conflicted relations with the United States. Ultranationalists in institutions like the ISI show little sign of flexibility. But reality is a powerful force and can only be resisted so long. Pakistan will collapse into ruin if it doesn’t abandon its unsustainable course; one hopes its ‘nationalists’ recognize this before the disintegration of the country has become irreversible.