Pakistan as an enemy nation is already a threat to India, but it poses security problems even as a failing state. There are Indian experts who favour strategies that could see the break-up of that country into smaller entities, or the emergence of chaos due to inner contradictions. This approach ignores the fact that a politically weak Pakistan would permit the further rise of its many fundamentalist militant groups, as also the entry of the Taliban and ISIS from Afghanistan and elsewhere, all inimical to India.
Nobody is more aware of this threat than the Pakistanis themselves, as they are already facing the repercussions of pursuing the Zia-ul-Haq strategy of an all-embracing anti-India approach. Zia adopted it to keep Pakistanis’ minds off the real problems of economic and social development. The Army was projected as the sole defender of the nation against a hegemonic India. The ‘liberation’ of J&K was to be the beginning of ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’. The Pakistani on the street was made to feel that his or her sufferings were the sacrifice made for this great national objective, even as the generals and their cohorts amassed wealth and sent their offspring for better education and a prosperous existence to the western countries.
Civilian governments have attempted to expose the folly but have suffered from the Army’s interference, throughout, be it overtly or covertly. A stage has been reached that, at many levels, Pakistani polity has resulted in its global isolation. All the myths generated to fool the masses, such as the great friendship with China, the ‘new allies’ Turkey and Malaysia, the filial support of the Saudis, etc., have been exposed. Developments over the past year have revealed how each of these nations has put its interests first. Pakistan’s needs are not even a priority. The emerging alliances against China – be it the G-7 or the Quad – have brought home to Pakistan that it will be counted as on the other side. It has, thus, become even more vulnerable to Chinese blackmail and manipulation.
In contrast, the economic and other benefits accruing to Bangladesh from its good relations with India are like salt in the wounds. There have been periods when even limited economic, cultural and sports relations with India had brought prosperity to Pakistan, but the process was scuttled by the Army and the radicals. Sadly, the present Prime Minister is a stooge of the military, unable to act on his own. Time is running out and India must play its role in ensuring the saner forces across the border are strengthened, as also the security of the region.