Mistrust, Afghan insecurity loom over Indo-Pak talks

June 23, 2011

By Annie Banerji

As India and Pakistan begin diplomatic talks between the two countries’ foreign secretaries, Pew Research Centre published a survey this week that shows Pakistanis are strongly critical of India and the United States as well.

Even though there has been a slew of attacks by the Taliban on Pakistani targets since Osama bin Laden’s killing in May, the Pew Research publication illustrates that three in four Pakistanis find India a greater threat than extremist groups.

In similar fashion, 65 percent of Indians expressed an unfavourable view of Pakistan, seeing it as a bigger threat than the LeT, an active militant Islamic organisation operating mainly from Pakistan and Maoist militants operating in India.

Moreover, a majority of Pakistanis disapproved of the U.S. military operation that killed Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, located 35 miles from Islamabad. Only 12 percent expressed a positive view of the U.S. and most Pakistanis view the U.S. as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts.

In the midst of these unflattering opinions that India and Pakistan share of each other, U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer comes to the foreground as Washington’s expectation is to see India and Pakistan jointly fill its shoes. However, India feels it will be left to babysit a dangerous neighbourhood riddled with militancy.

Though both countries wish to have improved relations, Pakistan worries about India’s influence in Afghanistan as it would have to defend both its eastern and western borders from what it sees as its existential threat. In the same way, New Delhi fears the possibility of its nuclear-armed neighbour and the Taliban filling the vacuum left by the U.S. troops.

With a list of unsettled matters and an existing mutual apprehension between the rivals, time will only tell whether the two days of talks will augur well and pave a path of peaceful relations.


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From the Indian perspective it’s understandable. Indians are smart enough to know that LeT would not amount to much without state backing. Hence why they see Pakistan as a threat.

On the Pakistani side it’s more confusing. The groups that are butchering Pakistanis are well…Pakistani. The only explanation I can see for Pakistanis seeing India as a bigger threat is the constant barrage (particularly in the Urdu press) telling them so. That said, history has its own inertia. And I can certainly see how Pakistanis, having seen their country torn in two (or having read it in their history textbooks), would certainly view India as an existential threat.

Strange too is the view of the US as a military threat. Take out all the violent anti-Western fundamentalists hiding in Pakistan and the USA wouldn’t give a fig’s leaf about Pakistan.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Why do analysts give credence to Pakistani worries about India? Why would India ever want to control Pakistan? It is of no vital importance. Pakistan does not have any large deposits of natural resources, their living standards are below that of India, and the Indian government has shown considerable restraint despite being proviked so many times. Why does not the world dismiss Pakistani claims as being without merits and demand that the Pakistanis get their house in order or face consequence?

Posted by SimplisticView | Report as abusive

1. india doesnt want pakistan territory or people and wants a peaceful pakistan at which point the views of the peoples in distinct regions of j&k could well be considered. the worst thing that pak can do to india is seek reunion, next worst would be a nuclear conflict and third worst would be if pak disintegrates. of course, it doesnt mean india welcomes pak or agrees with 2 nation theory nor denies that pak has caused india alot of harm over the years. but pak is a reality; the least bad option for india (and the only positive way fwd from a very bad situation) is a stable, peaceful, democratic and prospering pakistan at peace with itself n its neighbours and if its tolerant and works closely with india then also a bridge between india and the gulf and central asia with the role of a middle power (as an amour propre so that the isi/pa pak idealogy of restoring -their distorted perceptions of-mughal empire first and then the caliphate can be forgotten n not revived). However, these would be the rewards for pak of changing policy and finally sincerely pursuing peace and friendship and any premature rewards to pak will only be seen as validating pak idealogy and notions of indispensability and renewing its fervour for its existing policies rather than be seen as an incentive to change course. believe this indicates sufficiently that india wishes pak well despite the bad history of the past 7 decades. pakistani hostility over these decades has understandably though regretably caused misgivings amongst the indian peoples as reflected in the pew surveys.
2. 1 issue missed (perhaps deliberately) is that a link between obl/al qaeda n hum involves the afghan taliban apart from the isi. when hum hijacked the indian airlines flight to kabul the afghan taliban provided security to the airport to defend against any (non existent) attempt to free the hostages further forcing india to release the terrorists in its custody as demanded. this incident though now being deliberately overlooked provides direct link between afghan taliban n terrorism, too.

Posted by buntyj | Report as abusive

Pakistani establishments anti-India madness has a method; namely, to convince the US and China that Pakistan can balance India. The moment that Pakistan stops spitting on India’s extended hand of friendship, is the moment that Pakistan immediately becomes irrelevant to it’s chief benefactors.It is in fact, a stated position of many Pakistanis that it will not be ‘Bhutanized\'(whatever that means).
Fearing Indian dominance, it has acquiesced to all kinds of insane demands from the US (post 9/11) and China(crackdown on Lal Masjid miscreants, Free Trade Agreement!!!).

Think about it. Pakistan is tolerating American occupation, radicalization of it’s society, total bankruptcy, subservience to all major powers just so that it can stick it up to India. Is this a favorable background for any sort of political agreement?

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive

I remember last year or so there was a similar report (not PEW) and if I remember right around 58% Pakistanis considered India a threat and that was higher than those who considered the US a bigger threat. However, what was also mentioned that in spite of this, around 65% people wanted better relations with India.

This report makes no mention of having considered that aspect. It would be interesting to know how things are now and I would be most surprised if the figures have changed. I think that is also most relevant – that in spite of seeing a threat most people still want better relations. That is a far better indicator than the negatives highlighted here.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-w di&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&idim=country:IND &dl=en&hl=en&q=india+gdp#ctype=l&strail= false&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&scale _y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=cou ntry:IND:PAK&hl=en&dl=en

While the perceptions more or less swings in various directions and can be only a measure how frosted the relations between neighbours are, It is important for them kick start their economy from a low of 2.4 % to around 5% and then to 9% to be able to show some promise to the world and before India runs away with even bigger disparities with its neighbour on the economic front. If India would not give in to pakistan with 10 times bigger economy, India with even bigger economy would be more intrasigent.

The danger is it gets caught with population explosion rather quickly than thought and this is even bigger reason to confront extremism and improve governance structures.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/28/the-most- lethal-bomb.html

Posted by sensiblepatriot | Report as abusive

Over 60 years of independence and the world can see the failure of Jinnah for insisting on a seperate muslim state. Though the muslims of Pakistan distrust India, just ask the 200+ million muslims of india whether they would like to move to Pakistan and none would agree. Ask any of the muslims living in western countries if they would want to return to their roots and most would balk at the thaught.

There are over 50 Muslim dominated countries and hardly any seems to be at peace. The mullahs and dictators of those countries try to keep the populace under their control by using religion to keep them under their thumb.
It is time for fresh thinking for the safety of millions of humans in Pakistan from being radicalised, they should now think of reuniting again with india. This one act would bring them freedom, gender equality, democracy, economic growth and peace which they have never known. If the people of Pakistan really have a future then it has to reunite with India.

In a seamless world even the thaught of a seperate muslim state, muslim land etc. is foolish.

Posted by rrdas | Report as abusive


Its nice to get back to a ‘sensible’ topic! :)

Thanks for the data. I agree totally with your line of thought. Allow me to take off a little tangentially on this same thought.

Both India and Pakistan really have the same problems – over population, lack of basic health, educational and infrastructural facilities and poverty and of course corruption rampant throughout the system and pathetic administrations. However, there is a divergence in the way these are approached.

In one country, though the administration may be as unresponsive, people have been agitating for improvement and have made it clear that what matters now is economic progress and better standards of public life. In the other, the common man is still silent on these issues but somehow expends a lot of energy on the irrelevant. I know quite a few people who have served there or visited Pakistan and according to them, till about the 60s they were actually ahead of India in many spheres – when we were still celebrating and parading our socialism to the detriment of our people.

What has happened since? One surrendered itself to ideology and false machoism and jingoism by its administration, the other turned over a new leaf and looked at the future with some degree of optimism. Had pakistan maintained its healthy level of prosperity of a few decades ago and then when India arrived at finding a better model for itself, I am sure peace to-day would not seem such a difficult proposition as it appears to be to-day. I feel peace becomes a casualty because the Pakistani administration refuses to move for the betterment of its people only enriching itself and maintains a martyr approach towards India to hide its inadequate response to economic betterment.

I think with Afghanistan now starting a new life, as a democratic and free country, maybe these lessons need to be learnt afresh and applied in Afghanistan. There are two models to look at and if the best of both models can be incorporated and there is regional harmony, the Afghans can break out of their difficulties too and prosper. If the two antagonists are going to compete with each other there too, the principal sufferers will be the Afghans through no fault of their own. Neither India nor Pakistan have the right to inflict that on Afghanistan

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

The show must go on; the majority of Indians and Pakistanis do not want peace, but a continued war with each other, until the other party has been annihilated. This is their destiny and many of the leaders who went into dialogues to talk about talks and negotiations about the disputes ended the talks by adding new issues to the main conflict of Kashmir. The leaders of both countries have been the masters of deceit, duplicity and betrayal outwitting even the spin master of Politics, the famous Machiavelli. They have never tried sincerely to protect people’s interests or those of the coming generations, inspite of their supposed commitment to fairness and justice for their people.In the meantime they have acquired enough lethal weapons to annihilate each other, the genuine desire of both parties.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive