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Historic Compulsions


Even as Imran Khan’s Government continues to behave as though Pakistan is a state in the Indian Union, albeit recalcitrant as in the case of West Bengal, in many ways it is being impelled by forces beyond its control. Unable to psyche the Modi Government into blinking on J&K, it is reportedly undertaking its own ‘merger’ in the part of the state that it occupies. The next move is expected to be making the area part of its Punjab province. This is believed to have been instigated by taking seriously the Indian threats on ‘next taking over POK’. The result would be what was largely believed to have been decided in the Musharraf-Vajpayee talks that failed – each country keeping the area it controls.
There seems, strangely enough, a greater coincidence of interests between India and Pakistan than ever before. One reason for this, obviously, is that the many attempts made by Pakistan to find identities other than the sub-continental ones have failed miserably. The more it tries to pull away, the more ‘it is sucked in’. Even the latest move to establish a joint ‘Islamic’ front with Turkey and Malaysia is facing serious problems as Patron Saudi Arabia is not amused. There is greater realisation that there is not just the natural cultural affinity with India, but economic compulsions also require further integration.
It’s only outdated politics and the Pakistan Army, with its Islamist proxies, that are getting in the way. How little the Army cares for the constitutional niceties can be seen from its reaction to the death sentence against former General Parvez Musharraf. Added to his many headaches, PM Imran Khan will find this also difficult to resolve. The generals may even decide to settle the issue with another coup.
It is not as though some version of ‘Akhand Bharat’ is about to happen in the near future, but it is also a fact that historical forces cannot be denied. The smart politicians are those who recognise these and plan accordingly. The clash between political ideologies and politicians’ self-interest in both countries will take things in unexpected directions. Should the Kashmir issue be settled, even if in de facto manner, the possibility is strong of developing a sub-continental economic zone. This would be enormously beneficial and could lead on to other things. Ironically, this would emerge not from India adopting the traditional conciliatory line, but the present hard one.