So there’s another change of leadership in Pakistan. For some, there is a new found optimism with the way the next Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been making overtures to India. Of course, one still has to be wary of India’s arch enemy.
Things have gone wrong for India right from the very moment Pakistan was born. Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Prime Minister and under him were sown the seeds of discord in Kashmir, a problem which remains to this very day.
Despite being a new struggling state, Pakistan launched an immediate war with India over Kashmir. That they managed to capture a tract of land in the troubled state emboldened them for decades to come.
Liaquat was assassinated and very soon Pakistan settled down under martial law. General Ayub Khan had a long reign of Pakistan from 1958-69 and one would have thought that he would consolidate and his country would be relatively stable.
But Ayub watched India lose the war with China in 1962 and decided to take advantage. After making gains in the Rann of Kutch conflict of 1965, Ayub launched an all-out war over Kashmir in the very same year.
He was replaced by Yahya Khan in 1969 and in just a span of two years conditions were created for the Bangladesh War of 1971. While Pakistan lost decisively and lost a huge amount of land in the form of Bangladesh, there was no let-up in animosity.
While the Partition wounds were healing, new ones were created in 1971.
Yahya lost office due to that debacle and gave way to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a whiff of democracy. If India thought that democracy would mean peace, they were sadly mistaken. Bhutto hated India and made the famous declaration:
"Pakistan will fight, fight for a thousand years. If.. India builds the (Atom) bomb.... (Pakistan) will eat grass or (leaves), even go hungry, but we (Pakistan) will get one of our own (Atom bomb).... We (Pakistan) have no other Choice!..."
So while the dictator perished for waging war with India, the democrat promised a thousand-year war!
Dictatorship returned to Pakistan in the form of General Zia-ul-Haq and no real progress was made on the Indo-Pak front. In fact no matter how much Zia and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi talked peace, the Siachen Conflict took place in 1984.
Then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto came to power and in a way she could be called the worst ever leader for Indo-Pak ties. For before if there were long periods of peace punctured by moments of war, under her reign, militancy took root in Kashmir and continues to this very day.
In one way war has been raging in Kashmir for over 20 years now and we have part to thank Benazir for that tragedy.
After that Sharif became PM and things got steadily worse. For one the tit-for-tat nuclear tests took place and then the Kargil War happened. Indo-Pak ties nosedived again.
This was followed by a new low for Pakistan. Usually the norm was of dictators coming to power and then waging wars with India. This time the architect of Kargil, General Pervez Musharraf, became ruler of Pakistan after the war debacle.
Musharraf ultimately became a pariah in his own country.
Militancy and terror camps continued under President Asif Ali Zardari. In fact Zardari took over in September 2008 and 26/11 happened a mere months after that. 164 people were killed and more than 300 were injured and all fingers point to the establishments of Pakistan in that terror attack.
So we have Sharif again. In fact, this will be his third term as PM. Now will terror groups be emboldened under yet another leadership change? There hasn’t been a war with Pakistan for 14 years now and is something ready to give away now?
There are some who say that a man can only be judged by his past.
And Sharif’s past is Pakistan nuclear tests and Kargil.
It is all very well to talk of peace, but all the same India will have to be very wary of any new leadership change in Pakistan.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/