It was June 23, 1757 when British defeated Nawab of Bengal Siraj ud-Daulah in Battle of Plassey, consolidating East India Company’s rule over rich and vital eastern state of India.
Till the start of 19th century, the colonial power had taken control of over 60 percent of India, defeating many rajas, nawabs in south, east and west of India including powerful Maratha Empire which was founded by warrior Shivaji Bhonsle in 1674 in what is today the state of Maharashtra.
Internal conflicts, religious and political divisions among local rulers & people pave the way for British conquering of India and they continued divide and rule policy during their over 100-year rule over sub-continent which ultimately led to the division of India in 1947.
The partition, though, provided opportunity to both neighbors to live with peace, the goal could not be achieved so far. And it seemed people of the region developed a habit to live with same environment as was prevailed 250 years ago during the time of Battle of Plassey, making great rich region vulnerable to the world powers.
Wars of 1947-1948, 1965, 1971 and numerous armed skirmishes and military standoffs including Siachen conflict, Kashmir and Balochistan insurgencies (both countries put blame on each other of support to militancy), nuclear armed race, Kargil war, 2001 Indian Parliament Attack, 2007 Samjhota Express Bombing, 2008 Mumbai Attack, 2016 Pathankot Attack and latest 2019’s Pulwama Atttack precisely define the 70 years long bloody history of two South Asian neighbors whose more than 2.8 billion people (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) otherwise share much common culture, social values, history, geography, caste, creed, custom, food, music and literature.
The few positives, however, in Pak-India relations are 1962’s most successful water treaty, 1963 Swaran Singh-Zulfiqar Bhutto (foreign ministers of India and Pak) talks, Shimla Summit of July 1972, Agra Summit of 2001 and Lahore Declaration of 1999.
Distorted history about partition, Islamic fundamentalism and militancy which took root in Pakistan during Ziaul Haq regime (1978-1988) and political point scoring by leaders of different parties on Pak-India traditional hostility are main spoilers of peace from Pakistani side. India shares its own factors including its tough stance on Kashmir and growing Hidutva factor.
When a minister of PTI government says Hindus are idle worshippers and drink cow urine, it is not his own fault, but he narrated what he read in school books.
(Video Courtesy: Rabwah Times)
Similarly, when Prime Minister Imran Khan himself rushed to tweet hardliner cleric Dr Israr Ahmad video to justify why Pakistan got freedom, he repeated the history lesson he read about partition.
Zia regime converted major portion of Pakistan population into ‘angry Muslims’ and it established an overall hegemony of religious politics in the country. Though religious groups never attracted voters, they always played important role in raising people’s emotions against Indo-Pak friendship.
Protests of an Islamist organization and its student wing during Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrival in Lahore in 1999 are a known fact.
The pan-Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami, nascent Bralvi/Sunni organization Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Deobandi/Sunni JUI-S of late Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, Ahlesunnat Waljammat (Old Sipahe Sahaba), Ahlehadith groups including banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamiat Ahlehadith all are united on one point agenda that India is worst enemy of Pakistan and who tries to develop tied with India, he will also be consider a traitor and enemy of the state.
Politics parties also take full advantage of the Indo-Pak revelry when leaders go to public for vote or propaganda.
“Modi ka Yar- Friend of PM Modi” slogan haunted ousted and jailed prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif for years. PM Imran taunted his political rival Nawaz Sharif over his friendship with Modi in country’s general election of 2018. Bilawal Bhutto who’s PPP otherwise calls itself secular party made the same statement against Nawaz in 2016. Now when Imran Khan is trying to approach Indian PM, he has to face the same criticism from opposition groups and his party men are unable to defend him.
Interestingly, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi himself took a different position on India-Pak talks contrary to Imran’s position. Qureshi, during the 19th SCO Summit at Bishkek, Kirghizstan, said Pakistan would not chase its neighbor for talks and that “We gave befitting response to India’s aggression in February (after Pulwama incident).
The traditional hostility between two neighbours not only remained limited to politics, it now also made en route to playgrounds.
It recently started when Indian cricket team wore army’s cap to “pay homage” to Pulwama victims, Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor trolled India over Pakistani born Austrian Army batsman Usman Khawaja century in the same match. Former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary also tweeted against the Indian team act.
The same episode was repeated when General Ghafoor tagged Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah over former’s controversial tweet on Indian team victory against Pakistan in a World Cup match.
When Shah ostensibly compared the victory with “India Air Force airstrike of February in Balakot”, Ghafoor tweeted: “Two things with different denominators can’t be compared. So are strikes & match. If in doubt please see results of our Nowshera counter strikes & response to IAF violation on 27 Feb19 downing two Indian jets.”
Gone are the days when entire Ghaddafi Stadium had started shouting “Bala Ji Bala JI” when the fast bowler smashed a sixer to Shoaib Akhtar in a one day match during Indian team 2004 tour to Pakistan.
Chennai crowed gave a standing ovation to Wasim Akram-11 during 1999 test match at India’s M.A Chidambaram Stadium. Not only cricket, but in Hockey both countries enjoyed sweetest memories of love and respect for each other.
Indian magician Major Dhayan Chand was the chief guest during 1951 Pakistan Independence Celebrations and he along with other team players made a train journey from Delhi to Lahore.
It is said that platform ticket got finished due to rush of the people who came to see Dhayan at Lahore’s railways station. The train reached hours late at Peshawar due to massive reception of Dhayan at every station.
Video Courtesy: BBC News Hindi)
Latest: India rejected Pakistan media claim that it was ready for talks with Pakistan.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made no such reference in their response to congratulatory messages from their counterparts in that country,” India foreign office stated less than an hour after Pakistan media ran the story.
At this stage when Pak economy is under tube and sword of FATF is permanently hanging on it, it is in favour Pakistan that Islamabad takes ruthless action against religious intolerance and militancy for the prevalence of peaceful environment in the region.
India also needs to act strongly against growing Hidutva sentiments and violence to keep its secular image intact in the world.
Without these steps, goal of peace and prosperity between Pakistan and India is impossible to achieve in coming years.
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