HT editorial – Peace with Pakistan remains elusive

Does Vir Sanghvi read the Acorn?

Peace with Pakistan?

In India, the interests of the government and the people are the same. (That’s because we are a democracy). But in Pakistan, the army has its own vested interests and they don’t always coincide with those of the people…

(Musharraf) knows also that Pakistan has nothing to gain from people-to-people contacts. Pakistanis are always being told that India is a poverty-ridden country where evil Hindus torture hapless Muslims on the streets. When they come here and see that India has managed to combine democracy with economic growth, that the President and the Prime Minister are both members of religious minorities and that, despite the obstacles faced by Indian secularism, it still manages to hold India together, they begin to question the sorry state of affairs in their own country. That’s why Musharraf has nothing to gain from people-to-people contacts.

So why does he talk about peace and the need to improve relations? The charitable view is that he is bowing to public pressure and that he’s recognised that his people want peace.

The cynical view is that he’s been forced into talking about the need to improve relations by his American benefactors who are concerned about tensions between two nuclear neighbours.

Neither view suggests a long-term improvement in Indo-Pak relations. Even if the General is sensitive to Pakistani public opinion, his own constituency (the army) and his critics (the mullahs) will not let him come home with an agreement that gives them nothing on Kashmir.

That’s the charitable view of Musharraf’s motives. The cynical view is that all his overtures have been insincere — this man was the architect of Kargil, for God’s sake! — and that he will back out the moment the Americans turn their backs on him. [HT]