To boldly go where no government has gone before. Well, at least, since Nehru.
According to the Indian Express, pragmatism, the latest victim of abuse by India’s pundits and journalists, “tells us that international guarantees for an Indo-Pak settlement on Kashmir would indeed be useful.”
Pakistan, which sees itself as a weaker party, will always need some reassurance that India will abide by the arrangement. India, too, with its bitter memory of Pakistan walking away from the Simla Agreement of 1972, might find it worthwhile to have an international endorsement of the settlement on J&K. International endorsement, however, does not mean an â€œinternationalisationâ€ of the Kashmir question. For the negotiations will remain strictly bilateral. [IE]
The Express does not go back far enough. If it did, it would have realised that the ‘bitter memory’ of 1972 pales in comparison to the more bitter memories of 1948-51, when taking the matter to the United Nations resulted in some very unhappy results for India.
If, in the event of Pakistani default — either through a Kargil-like aggression or through the use of those age-old ‘tribal lashkars’— is the international community likely to unequivocally support India’s position? Or is it likely to issue travel advisories, advocate maximum restraint, engage in shuttle-diplomacy and ‘bring the two parties together to the negotiating table’? Real pragmatism rules in Washington, Beijing, London and Moscow. Those governments will never approve tough action against Pakistan. Nor will they allow India to do so (think ‘nuclear war’). International guarantees will be plainly useless if Pakistan decides to default.
That leaves the question of whether international guarantees can prevent Pakistan from defaulting. Perhaps. But is it necessary for India to seek formal international guarantees to keep the peace? Certainly not. It is well within India’s capability to negotiate a settlement on Kashmir. Pakistan (and India) will be as obliged to respect a bilateral treaty as an internationally guaranteed one.
Despite what the Indian Express believes, pragmatism does not dictate that India should accept international guarantees for its own security. On the contrary, pragmatism dictates that ultimately India is responsible for its own security. That the international community is concerned about what happens between India and Pakistan is fact. But to expect that it will always protect India’s interests is wishful thinking.
Related Link: Seven Times Six has more on pragmatism