Escaping history in India and Pakistan

July 20, 2009

When France and Germany put years of enmity behind them after World War Two, they made a leap of faith in agreeing to entwine their economies so that war became impossible. With their economies now soldered by the euro, it can be easy to forget how deep their mutual distrust once ran – from the Napoleonic wars to the fall of Paris to Prussia in 1871, to the trenches of World War One and the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.

As India and Pakistan begin yet another attempt to make peace, they face a similar challenge. Can they put aside years of distrust to build on a tentative thaw in relations?

Many analysts argue that a sketchy roadmap to peace is already available, based on negotiations between advisers to former president Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in which Pakistani action against militants was matched by Indian moves towards a peace deal on Kashmir. But reviving that roadmap – or for that matter finding another way forward – would require both countries to put aside their past and accept that history is not the only guide to the future.

Indian newspaper, the Business Standard, summarised what many Indian commentators say about past attempts at peace-making – that Indian peace offers have never been matched by a sincere effort by Pakistan to curb Islamist militants. “Pakistan has a history of trying first to get what it wants on the battlefield and, when that fails, to get it at the negotiating table,” it says in an editorial. “Indian leaders meanwhile fall into the traps of magnanimity (make a gesture to a smaller neighbour) or gullibility (concede this or that and it will deliver peace).”

Pakistan has its own version of history, seen from the perspective of a smaller country that believed it was cheated of Kashmir at partition in 1947, and then torn in two with Indian help when Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, won independence in the 1971 war.  Both sides accuse the other of breaching the Simla accord which followed that war – the last major peace treaty between the two – Pakistan by sponsoring militants to fight in Kashmir, and India by starting the Siachen conflict in the mountains beyond Kashmir in 1984.

Many other arguments about the past, too numerous to mention, come up every time anybody discusses India and Pakistan until the weight of history becomes an immoveable obstacle to peace.

So how did France and Germany put their history behind them? And are their parallels with India and Pakistan?

Their reconciliation was in part due to a real change in Germany after World War Two, when it renounced a tradition of militarism dating back to its roots in Prussia.  But New Delhi has yet to be convinced that Pakistan has really changed in its attitude to Islamist militants it once nurtured, fearing that while it attacks the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, it will leave alone other groups used against India like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in its Punjab province.

In a column in the Daily Times, Pakistani analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi has an interesting take on this question, suggesting the next few months could be decisive.

“It seems that these (Punjab-based militant) groups are no longer favoured by Pakistan’s security and intelligence authorities. These have been put on hold because the army is busy in the tribal areas and does not want to open a new front in mainland Pakistan. Further, it does not want to seen as taking action against these groups under Indian pressure,” he writes. “The Punjab security and intelligence apparatus is now targeting activists of these organisations and monitoring the madrassas that have a reputation for militancy and maintain links with the Taliban. This effort is aimed at destroying their networks, isolating them and discouraging recruitment.

“The next two months will show if Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities will exert more pressure on Punjab-based militant groups and ensure that they do not force a foreign policy situation on Pakistan in its interaction with India. If the role of these groups is neutralised, it will be possible to argue that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy has made a historical shift.”

Franco-German reconciliation was also encouraged by the United States, which wanted both to work together against a common enemy in the Soviet Union. The United States, keen to see an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan to help stabilise the region as far as Afghanistan, is now quietly trying to persuade them that they both face a common enemy in terrorism.

As for the benefits of greater economic cooperation between India and Pakistan, these are rarely questioned by either country, from increased bilateral trade, to pipelines bringing oil and gas to India from Iran and Central Asia, and to the opening up of transit trade from India via Pakistan into Afghanistan.  So the parallels are there – in the possibility of real change (and the jury is still out on that one), in the backing of the United States, and in the potential economic gains.

Where the parallel falls down is perhaps in vision and leadership. While Franco-German reconciliation was inspired by men who had lived through the horrors of World War Two and saw European integration as the best way to stop history from repeating itself, there is no clear vision of where India and Pakistan might end up. And while France and Germany benefitted from leaders who were powerful enough to push change through, only in India does Prime Minister Singh enjoy a relatively strong position having just won a renewed mandate in a general election, while in Pakistan the civilian government shares power with the Pakistan Army on foreign and security policy.

A much-quoted aphorism is that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But only very rarely do two countries like France and Germany escape their history. Can India and Pakistan do the same?

(Photos: French President Francois Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Verdun (1984), Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (undated); Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (1983).)

(Please keep comments short and on topic. Those which are overly long, or do not address the post directly, will be deleted.)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

A well written piece Myra. However, even if the Pakistan govt gives up their ‘support’ for the militant groups that does not mean that these groups will just disband. these groups have their own agenda which they will continue to address how they see fit. Pakistan has a lot more to gain out of economic co-operation than India does. Zardari, soon after becoming President, stating that he wanted to see Pakistani goods on sale in India. Currently, Pakistan has asked the IMF for $4bn extra as an insurance aganist recession.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

IF, I mean a really BIG IF, Pakistan decides to not favor all of P’stani Punjabi groups there is a serious chance of rift inside the Army. As G. Parthasarathy said… you have families which have one member in PA and other in Govt sponsored militant groups…it will in all likelihood result in a civil war …..not to mention they will eventually have to question the very existence of P’stan as a state.

Posted by PGB | Report as abusive

As a Indian Muslim, I have never learned to respect Pakistan as a neighbor. Due to the partition of India, Indian Muslims, suffered for decades and we have no desire to suffer anymore. Pakistan never matured into a state it was meant to be and in my opinion, never will. It’s history is littered with militay coups which are so imbedded in it’s culture making it impossible to seperate. As time went by, Pakistan learnt the art of proxy war through establishing nefariuos organizations. Now these organizations are threatening the very existance of Pakistan, it wants to, once again divert attention. Kashmir is an issue that will never be resolved. It belongs to India. If Pakistan chooses to focus on improving the lives of it’s citizens through more accepted means, then perhaps India will embrace them, otherwise, India should not.

More importantly, Pakistan should realize that India has no desire to conquer Pakistan but India will defend it’s territorial intergrity with all it’s might. I am sure radical elements of Pakistani society will try to disrupt India’s progress to provide security to it’s citizens but let there be no mistakes that India and Indians will persevere.

At this rate while the world moves on, Pakistan risks becoming another Afghanistan.

Posted by Syed Rizvi | Report as abusive

There is a greater possibility of peace in the middle east than on the Indian sub-continent while the state of Pakistan exists in its present form. The raison d’etre of Pakistan was, and far more so now, a lie that Muslims cannot co-exist and advance along with others and Hindus in particular. India has proven, despite decades of communal riots, that Muslims can advance in every sphere of life from business to education to the defense establishment.

Parallels between France and Germany do not really apply. India’s leaders lived through the horrors of partition and yet there never has been any suggestion at any point by the Pakistani leadership that partition’s bloodshed could have been avoided nor have they apologized for the pogrom they inflicted on the citizenry of erstwhile East Pakistan. Further, India has had stronger leaders than Manmohan Singh in the past and Musharraf notwithstanding other strongmen in Pakistan have shown little inclination for any sustained rapprochement. Most relevantly, Franco-German relations were advanced with considerable infrastructure help and not so subtle coaxing from key world powers like the US and the UK. Indo-Pak relations however have not had the same impetus from those and others as most of the financial help has gone to sustain Pakistan’s military.

Posted by Vijay D | Report as abusive

I have one question to ask: What if another Mumbai occurs? Will Manmohan Singh be able to face the nation at that time. Time has shown us the real face of our neighbors, time to time promises have been made and then they go in slumber. Can India afford one more Nehru?

Posted by Aaruni Upadhyay | Report as abusive

The main hurdle in India-Pakistan reconciliation is ‘Pakistani Army’. Eversince the acquisition of ‘nukes’ and facilitating the collapse of Soviet Union through Afghan war many in the Pakistani military and intelligence establishement entertained grand delusions of toppling western power by proliferating the Nuclear technology and Jihadism. India was the training ground of their Al Quaeda, Taliban and Kashmir terrorists. Morevoer, Pakistani military’s business interests in the country also spread through investments in industrial and real estate sectors. Today, Pakistani veterans department has wide ranging investments in every sector of Pakistani economy. To protect their interests and also to further their political and religious goals Pakistani army has to topple any every democratically elected government that asserts iteself or threatens the Army’s interests. The excuse for this has always been the external threat from India. Pakistani army and intelligence agencies create havoc in India with their terrorists and provoke a response from India and use that as an excuse to hang on to power or usurp power.

Franco-German peace was made by economic interdependece but dont discount the demilitarization of Germany as a critical factor for the peace in Europe. My point is that demilitarization of Pakistan coupled with ‘No War’ pact between India and Pakistan guaranteed by US and NATO is the only way. This is never going to happen because who is going to buy the military weapons made by US, UK, France, Sweden, Germany and Russia?

Posted by Prasad | Report as abusive

Whom are we trying to fool here? What is the very substance of this so called Indian threat to Pakistan? Do Indians want all of Pakistan to become Hindu? Do Indians want Pakistan to bleed to death with a thousand cuts? On the other hand what do you expect of a nation which names its missiles on barbaric invaders who looted and plundered India? Pakistan is a failed state and is no match to secular progressive India, please don’t ever make the mistake of comparing the both and come up with an “unbiased” equal-equal analysis. Reflects deep intellectual vaccuity coupled with what we call the compulsive “Pseudo-Secularist” streak in India!!!

Posted by Yogendran G | Report as abusive

Mombai drama is near to disclose, I hope we will see Indian RAW behind this drama.
A line between India and Pakistan relations was drawn by England when they redraw it against the rules that were agreed by both parties. All the regions having Muslims in number should be a part of Pakistan. Indian try to break Pakistan in parts is the key issue being waited to resolve. They world’s most powerful countries have fear from Atomic Pakistan and they want to distory it. India and Israel are key players. They are using American power.

Posted by Mubashar Sulehria | Report as abusive

The comparision with France and Germany is not very apt. India has, by IMF 2008 statistics, more than seven times the population, almost five times the square footage, and eight times the GDP of Pakistan. Framce and Germany are similar in size and population. Even in the best case scenario, it will be more a USA/Mexico or USA/Canada relationship.

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive

It is amazing to read the comments labeling Pakistan as a Terrorist sposering country. While doing so the viewiers here seem to be ignorant and one sided. The success of Pakistan-India relations depend, according to most of views here, on Pakistan curbing upon Terrorism. Well, what about India promoting Terrorism in Pakistan? Its not just an illusion, rather a fact. What about helping promote separtism movements in The then EastPakistan and now in Balochistan and What about gross human rights voilations in Kashmir, Gujrat and else where?
Unless Pakistan and India take steps together to change, nothing will happen. Both are not sincere to the peace and India being the bigger, should make the first move.
I know one thing for sure that the fire laid to destroy the next reaches owns home soon. Stop blame gaming and be sincere, because only so can something be reached. Be fair is the answer to all.

Posted by smas | Report as abusive

indian bellicose attitude is the main hurdle in achieving peace in the region. It has always tried to push pakistan to the wall and created every hurdle and propaganda to convert this country into a ‘failed state’. india is a wicked enemy of pakistan. india is a two-face country. one hand, it talks peace while on the other, it wants to further break pakistan and is currently fanning violence in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. indians are incorrigible. they interefered in every neighbouring country including Bangladesh which was their own creation.

Posted by youeffo | Report as abusive

The relations in india and pakistan can only be normalised once the countries population understands the need of it.Right now by the way i can read the postings by both indians and pakistanis there seems to be a mistrust.Both have there valid points.But to say pakistan will become a failed state or india should try to make pakistan a failed state.What will and where will india stand if pakistan becomes a failed state.A failed pakistani state can be a danger to india and rest of the world.So every country should try not to destabilize pakistan and work with them to imrove the situation.

Posted by Jim Sanders | Report as abusive

India will have to shun coercive diplomacy and resolve outstanding disputes with Pakistan in order to achieve peaceful relations. The days to intimidate Pakistan are gone. While Pakistan is being accused of terrorism, India itself is involved in terrorism in Baluchistan. Currently there is huge mistrust between India and Pakistan. Can Indian leadership convince Pakistan’s security establishment that it has no hostile intentions towards Pakistan? this will determine the future of Indo-Pak relations.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive


Congrats, this is really well written piece . and like you and many others , I also join the chorus of Indo-Pakistan unity on the line of Franco -German union .

In order to achieve this objective (though hypothetically), we will need to highlight the current situation in Pakistan and Pakistan mindset at all levels. Firstly, it starts with the child education , the history lesson in Pakistani school prescribes that the whole land (combined India-Pakistan-Banlgadesh) was ruled by the forefathers of Pakistanis . Some hindu infidels joined hands with British colonialists to throw out muslim from this land which led to creation to Pakistan. Hindu infidels living formerly east pakistan , also collaborated with hindu army of India to create separate Bangladesh. Secondly, they treat J&K as a part of Pakistan. Thirdly , Pakistani children are taught from their childhood that their only enemy is hindu India .

Pakistanis are also led to believe that India is root cause of all problems of Pakistan including the insurgency in Balochistan .

I wish if Pakistan one day will realise that evil lives in their mind, and instead of blaming others for all their problem, they must put their house in order.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

The involvement of US in France-Germany and India-Pak (and the region) is of very different nature. As you said “Franco-German reconciliation was also encouraged by the United States, which wanted both to work together against a common enemy in the Soviet Union.” The war of Normandy against Nazis was the decisive in WWII in many ways and Americans were TRULY seen as liberators. The commonality here is US/pak alliance to throw out Soviets, which was shown as liberation of Afghansitan from Soviets. But liberation for what?–for giving the control ultimately to Talibans, nurtured by Pakistan and Al-Qaida? Worse deal for each of the 3 countries involved.
While in WWII US was anti-Nazi, now US says it wants to eradicate terror globally. But in reality even in the region USA is sadly working militarily against certain terrorists both militarily and diplomatically, leaving enough breathing room to LeT etc. terrorists. So saying “The United States, keen to see an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan to help stabilise the region as far as Afghanistan, is now quietly trying to persuade them that they both face a common enemy in terrorism.” is not enough. Just like neither India and Pakistan are ready for the settling the issues, nor is USA which has not come to grip with the reality that “terrorists are terrorists”. Let us also not forget the fact that USA still fancies the idea of negotiations with certain Talibans. So USA itself is not all out against terrorism. The problem might get worse if Pres Obama with holes in the pocket will slowly lose the leverage against Pakistan. Pakistan did not accept Taliban as terrorists until forced, Pak will not act until against LeT etc. until it is forced by US. US will not be doing any favor since LeT and other brotherly org are big enough to fill Al-qaida’s shoes.
And did I miss in here that while US was anti-Nazi, US’s anti-soviet strategy was the reason of the creation of these Jihadis in the region and the terrorists were brazenly nurtured by Pakistan and some like Talibans were deviously propagated even while USA was fighting them using US’s money. The USA is not there yet in terms Indo-Pak relations as it was with Franco-German reconciliation. The USA has homework to do.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Until the element of Religion is there no neutral talks are possible between India and Pakistan. Very foundation of Pakistan is based on religion and religion will be the thing of the past by the end of this century. So if Pakistan remain a “FAILED STATE” for a long time it is only going to hurt Pakistan and not India. Biggest threat to India is her growing population and Possible Chinese invasion and not Pakistan. Pakistan is going through ‘the midlife crisis’ and need help from countries like India and China or the end is very much near for Pakistan.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Though Indians have clearly won the marketing/PR war, I still think that Indians live in a fantasy world. The involvement of Indians in 1971, is the reason why Pakistan will perhaps never trust India again. In fact I think getting ivolve in 1971, India screwed itself. It now has to deal with two nations instead of one weak one and it created an enmity with Pakistan that has lasted up till now. Kashmir struggle and insurgency in India are all aftermath of 1971. BTW, I am all for peace between India and Pakistan but Indians do need to come out of teh fantasy world of being a super power, currently they are not even a regional power.

Posted by Esms | Report as abusive

Pakistani’s are so drowned in propaganda from childhood and learning from an alternate set of history books, which exist no where else in the world, that Paksitani’s are incapable of self-introspect outside of a context of Islam and Hating India and they are also incapable of corrective action. Pakistan gets a failing grade.

A country built on hate cannot survive.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

“So how did France and Germany put their history behind them? And are their parallels with India and Pakistan?”

They could put their history behind, but most important thing is Present and future. If Pakistan Army which runs the country too, can start an operation against Punjabi Terrorists of LeT, JuD and JeM etc then things can be different. Latest issue is Mumbai incident, and if they could do something for it, India should also start an initiative. Problem with Pakistan is that they have created a Monster and when it is out of their control they are saying they are the biggest victims. IF they cannot control this terrorism let us bomb the hideouts and training camps in Pakistan but it will harm their already tarnished sovereignty.

India Pakistan are not France Germany, France and Germany are almost equal while India is much stronger and bigger than Pakistan. Governments also works quite differently in India and Pakistan. India is run by Indians (elections) while Pakistan is run by Pakistan Army. Moreover Indians have no intention to attack Pakistan, while even ordinary Pakistanis like some commentators here, dream about settling scores of 1971.

How can one compare apples to oranges ?

Posted by singh | Report as abusive

“what about India promoting Terrorism in Pakistan? Its not just an illusion, rather a fact. What about helping promote separtism movements in The then EastPakistan and now in Balochistan and What about gross human rights voilations in Kashmir, Gujrat and else where?”

Posted by smas :

As we have discussed many times earlier, If Pakistan thinks India is spreading terrorism in Pakistan, why don’t Pakistan complains it on International forum ?

Why don’t Pakistan send a dossier of Evidence to UN and prove it in front of every country.

If Pakistan is not doing it and Pakistanis shouting it on Reuters, then its a waste of reuters space nothing else. Better thing will be do a “Long March” on this issue and demand your govt to do some action against Indian terrorism in Baluchistan. Its only you who could protect your country from “Hindu Terrorism” not Myra or other people here.

For Bangladesh issue, please see h.html and tell why India should not interfere.

Posted by singh | Report as abusive

Thank you Syed Rizvi.

People like you should speak up loudly.

Muslims in India and everywhere else in the world are suffering because of Pakistan army and ISI. Even people in Pakistan are suffering. All civilized and progressive muslims and muslim countries should confront this wretched country called Pakistan.

Posted by Eddy | Report as abusive


Unlike the ideas of France & Germany, the ideas of India and Pakistan are mutually toxic; where one is rooted in religion and the other is not; one stands for exclusion and the other stands for inclusion. The idea of Pakistan, which usually means ‘not India’, has not evolved beyond the reasons why it was created as a separate nation. The idea of Pakistan also took a heavy blow after creation of Bangladesh.

Post world war, France and Germany were almost similar in size, population and economic strength for the peace to take root and survive test of time. There is no match between India and Pakistan on the above factors; which I think, is the cause for the desire to wage asymmetrical warfare through militant Jihad. If 9/11 attack had not happened, Pakistan would have unabashedly continued its Jihad against India and Afghanistan. Peace is possible if Pakistan plays its role in South Asia commensurate with its assets and its capacities instead of hoping to cut the other down by any means.

We may have to wait and watch how Indo-Pak relations take shape. Much work has to be done by Pakistan on this front.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

[…] Pakistan: Now or Never? » Blog Archive » Escaping history in India … […]

Posted by French language pack for Nokia N81? | Foreign Language Online | Report as abusive

Unlike France and Germany, India and Pakistan are divided by religion. Besides, Pakistan’s very existance and its identity is defined simply by its anti-India stance and its obsession with Kashmir. This is also a source of power for its military. While India is looking to improve its economic future, Pakistan is bogged down by its idealogical past. It is ironic that Pakistan’s own internal security now faces the very terrorist groups it harbored and supported in the past. Pakistan must dismantle the terrorist infrastructure it has created over the years because this monster now threatens not only India and the U.S but also Afghanistan and Pakistan itself. In order for India and Pakistan to secure mutually beneficial co-existance, Pakistan must also abandon any hope that India will compromise on its territorial sovereignty in Kashmir. These may be tough challenges to handle but it is the only way to a peaceful and prosperous future for Pakistan. India and the whole world would welcome that outcome.

Posted by Anil Bhalla | Report as abusive

Well, one REALLY BIG difference remains. Not only both countries are predominantly christian, Miterrand and Kohl also shared in that both their families were (devoutly) catholic. Now, personally, I don’t know what it is with religion, but history, as well as recent politics, show that religious differences tend to become an insurmountable obstacle to peoples getting along. True, money (greed, really) is a very good motivator, somehow, I don’t think it is going to be enough.

Posted by Laz | Report as abusive

Well there is a will there is a way, but in this case you need a firm one.
I think the problem why we SE-Asians look behind in history, is the history itself, it never answered us well, we don’t know what really happened and why we got divided at first place and since then we are just fighting on some issue, but we also share some very common things like our common Culture / Music / Food / values e.g. is Bollywood :-), which every Pakistani/Afghan/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi / Nepali all eagerly watch forgetting if the actor is a Hindu or Muslim? or its been a product of India? in Pakistan itself first 40 channels are Indian and all Pakistanis of all age are almost glued to these channels 24X7.
I think there is a flaw in Logic, and one has to be correct either (that)past was wrong or this is wrong??

Posted by sam | Report as abusive

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace; one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it; one must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

How many times did the Pakistani Army allow the peace process between the two civilian governments go on peacefully?
Why should Zardari face the wrath of top brass of Army/ISI for making a statement that India is not a threat?
Can Pakistani Army enjoy the present ‘God-like’ status if there is peace between India and Pakistan?
Will it be able to get billions for its weaponry if there is peace?

Was this the situation for France/Germany?

Unless the civilian government in Pakistan is strong enough to rein in the military, it is futile to think of peace.

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive


Mr. Singh, I always say to average Paksitani’s who believe India is causing an sort of terrorism in Baloch, or wherever, please provide detailed evidence and accurately chronical it within a dossier and please have your Government deliver the Dossier to Mr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

The world is growing irate and tired of false and baseless accusations without proof against India. India asks that you send proof. Ajmal Kasab, the Mumbai Monster admitted he was Pakistani, Pakistan refuted it, then when India provided proof and dossiers numerous times, it was finally accepted that he was Pakistani. Kindly please send evidence, and proof in the form of an official dossier, if you have proof of Indian terrorism.

I don’t believe the Mr. Gilani or Mr. Zardari have sent anything yet, it has been a while, perhaps there is nothing credible for them to complain about against India, imagine that?

Please do not believe lies vomited in your madrassas by men with Grade 4 education against India, they are not true. Kindly please use your God given brain before you indulge in conspiracies and inwards behavior.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

The France-Germany analogy, although well intentioned, does not fit into the current India-Pakistan scenario. While France & Germany were quite similar in terms of size & socio-economic factors, India & Pakistan are not.

While there is an obvious difference in size, the real differences between India & Pakistan are socio-economic factors and those differences are widening as we speak. For starters, the Indian economy, despite the global recession is one of the fastest expanding economies in the world & India is destined to become an economic power (I know it’s hurtful for Pakistanis to accept this but it’s true). Pakistan’s economic woes on the other hand are no secret. It is on economic life support & fighting to stave off bankruptcy. In such a scenario, the balance is way too lop-sided for India to give anything up.

Secondly, the social factors are of paramount importance. While India’s literacy is rising rapidly, Pakistanis are becoming illiterate & radicalized by the day. As the author correctly pointed out, the biggest reason that France & Germany were able to move forward was the seismic shift in mind-set of the Germans. As Pakistanis become illiterate, radicalized & belligerent by the day, how can one foresee a seismic shift in the Pakistani mindset?

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Is peace between India and Pakistan possible? Yes of course.. provided Pakistan renounces the dangerously self-destructive notion of an Islamic state, puts an end to the practice of using state-sponsored acts of terrorism as instruments of foreign policy, ends the unholy nexus that exists between radical mullahs, wealthy landlords, military warlords, poppy-trading drug-lords, brought together by the inter-services intelligence agency (ISI), embraces secular democracy, and shifts its focus from countering a non-existent threat from India to providing food, shelter, education, healthcare, basic freedoms and human rights for its poor citizens. Unfortunately, Pakistan is a failed state in large part due to the misguided cold-war policies of the US government which helped create (with Saudi funds and US dollars) the monster of the Pakistani jihadi-military-intelligence nexus to counter the Soviet influence in Afghanistan. The terrorist infrastructure established to fight the Soviets, and later co-opted by Pakistan to bleed India in Kashmir has now turned against its Pakistani masters as well as its erstwhile US sponsors. At this stage, it might take global intervention in Pakistan on a scale comparable to what it took to bring Nazi Germany and its fascist allies to their knees during the second world war, to choke off the flow of Saudi funds to hate-preaching madrasas, to dismantle the terrorist training camps, to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and to rebuild Pakistan from the ground up, as a secular democracy. It took nearly 50 years after the second world war for Germany to be fully integrated into the rest of Western Europe. It is likely to take at least as long for Pakistan to rejoin the civilized democratic world and make peace with India.

Posted by Gautama | Report as abusive

When you mention Pak blames India for Bangladesh please mention the real reason Bdesh fought to separate from Pakistan: total financial exploitation for decades by Pakistan. Else,like Pakistanis, readers may forget. Do mention the treatment Bangladeshi Muslims got from Pakistan’s Muslim army and how Bangladesh was deliberately starved. India refused to intervene in a neighbor’s fight until repeatedly asked to do so by the west for humanitarian reasons. There was absolutely no plan or question of separating Pak.

Pakistan has attacked India four times, using American arms and training and lost each time. America continues to supply more aid and arms, knowing these are always aimed at India. India has given Pak Most Favoured Nation status for trade, almost 2 decades ago. Goods made in Pak enter India duty free, the reverse has not been granted to India.

So India tries for peace, gets written in the US press as ‘India and Pak went to war’, without any mention of who attacked and with whose help.

Ms Clinton came to sell nuclear stuff, so important to big US concerns and to tell India to ‘support’ Pak.

Militants in Kashmir wear copied Indian army uniforms and call themselves Shankar as in the Kandahar hijack, Kashmiri vilagers are told to blame the Indian army or see what happens to your village.

Still we must try for peace, even after the Mumbai terror attack.

Posted by bharatikurien | Report as abusive

A very well written article, Myra.
Although India- pakistan differ a lot in Size , religion and Economic criterias still the hate feeling is same as was in the case of Germany-france.
But the thing is can we indians trust pakistanis?
The answer is a Big No.It will be in our best interest not to trust them and clean up our house as much as possible.
The fact is that even the so called leadership of pakistan dont have full control over the nation.I mean how can they have!!They only encouraged the gun culture and now when the Child has grown to be a gun totting monster, why will they obey his master’s commands.
The future is really Bleak for them.The best case scenario will be to break in into several smaller nation states.
It will be difficult to allow the France-Germany analogy for now.

P.s:Three cheers to Syed Rizvi.We are proud of u!!

Posted by Kidoman | Report as abusive

Well the deeper difference between India and Pakistan I believe is ideological. Gandhi founded the nation on secular principles and Jinnah on Islamic. While India kept itself engaged in democracy Pakistan played with it to the utter frustration of its own people. My belief is that Mr Singh like Mr Vajpayee before him realizes that their is no other way besides peace when it comes to Pakistan. Also given India’s economic growth there is also a sense of urgency to get these issues out of the way.
For lasting peace – India needs a stable , democratic and focussed pakistan. I hope for the good of both these nations pakistan is able to bring itself to that position very soon.

Posted by Mudit | Report as abusive

Ajmal Amir Kasab, Mumbai terrorist finally fingerpoints the Pakistani plotters of Mumbai 26/11 and confesses his role in court before his lawyer and the judge. KG23Df03.html

Will Pakistan finally put Lakvhi, LeT leader on trial? Probably not, even after all the evidence and Kasab’s confession, they will find a pathetic excuse to wash away all the work India, the FBI and all others have put into the dossier.

The state of Pakistan, its judges, its army and its police protect those terrorists, which want to hurt India.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

We all would like to live in peace. The only guarantee that we Pakistanis desire is that our Islamic identity is not threatened. Our nation was founded on the principle of a nation for Muslims in the sub-continent. Our apprehensions about that principle being attacked need to be understood. There are groups and parties out to destroy this principle as a myth and have always worked to prove that point. There are still people who believe that Pakistan has no right to exist. To prove that they have balkanized us in 1971 and have taken up Kashmir which rightfully belongs to us. And to prove that they are a secular nation, they are holding Kashmiri Muslims under gun point. There are things right and wrong with Pakistan and so is the case with others. Our sentiments need to be addressed and respected and then peace will definitely prevail. Whatever has happened so far has been due to our integrity being threatened. We have been proactive and preemptive sometimes which is being misconstrued as attacking others. Attack is a form of defense. It softens up the enemy and deflects his power off. To understand Pakistani perspective, one has to make the necessary effort. We are not evil people. If our fears are not genuine, we will not be standing up to India the way we have been all along. I am all for peace and treaties. But win our trust first.

Posted by mohammed Anjum | Report as abusive -content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/ books-and-authors/money-and-politics

No wonder why conspiracy theories are so popular in Pakistan.

Maybe Umair would immediately go and buy this book so that he can atleast quote this book while making baseless arguments

Posted by FS | Report as abusive


May I ask what’s wromg woth my posts that they are not being uploaded?


Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Good blog. Wish this were possible. But in Pakistan today, there are too many vested interests in painting India as the evil Hindu enemy. Particularly the Pakistan Army, whose enormous assets — land, agriculture, and industries — help maintain the senior officers’ lavish lifestyles in a poor country. (See Ayesha Siddiqua’s book on the Pakistan Military).

To justify such a huge army, they need enemies everywhere. The education system is geared to keep the threat from India or the West alive in the minds of children, so that they are likely to believe conspiracy theories when they grow up.

Thus, you find so many educated Pakistanis believing that the 9/11 attacks were sponsored by the CIA to create an excuse to invade Afghanistan (ex-ISI chief Hamid Gul said this), or that Indian secret agents are responsible for separatist movements in Pakistan and for the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, etc. The press is muzzled. The intelligence services can pick anybody up and disappear them. The military owns the country, whether they are directly ruling it or allowing civilians to nominally be in charge, just to show how corrupt the bloody civilians are.

Under these conditions, whom can the Indians talk to? When a civilian government is in office, it is powerless. When a military government is in power, it is in cahoots with Islamist extremists. How is any negotiation possible?

Posted by Boston Brahmin | Report as abusive

One of the sensible articles in ‘Dawn’ -content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/14-t ime-to-shun-the-past-01

But how many in Pakistan would think rationally as this author? A drug addict has to spend a lot of days in rehabilitation center to get rid of the habit. The present day Pakistanis, whose minds have been filled with hatred towards India right from their childhood(thanks to Zia),might have to spend a number of years to get that trash out of their minds and focus on building a peaceful,democratic,stable and respectful Pakistan.
May God help Pakistanis in getting rid of the clutches of Punjabi dominated Army

Posted by FS | Report as abusive

Hey Myra,

As for the benefits of greater economic co-operation. I am not sure India would like to have Pakistan dragging its economy down. WHY should India even HELP Pakistan with its economy? Helping them will not change Pakistanis’ madrassa educated mind set. I am sure they would love to visit Islamic sites in India, but still keep that ‘India is enemy number one’ in their minds.

What I love about economics is that they are facts and figures that speak volumes.

Still vulnerable (The Economist, 10/07/2009)
Pakistan’s economy remains in bad shape, despite emergency help from the IMF.

Pakistan is asking IMF, USA, Friends of Pakistan, the EU, Saudi Arabia for money, military aid and oil defferments. Plus, all previous debts to be written off.

India has Secretary of State Ms. Clinton visiting and USA and India have inked a defense deal.

If Pakistan wants to do business then it should stop behaving like a proud, begging bully. It should stop demanding tax incentives for the USA for its goods and interest free loans. It should know better that you do not get something for nothing.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

I’m afraid you read too much into the article you posted. I agree it is somehat of a moderate article, admitting some home truths.

The author uses the phrase “occupied Kashmir’, and talks about Indian hegemony.

There is no salvation for them if they still talk along these lines when the “occupied” Balochistan, “occupied” Pashtunistan are all bursting at its seams.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

A very interesting and thought provoking article. I hope one day in my lifetime we can have peace

Posted by Param | Report as abusive

@ History in Pakistan

Report by Pakistani Scholars about history being taught in Pakistan schools: “The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan.” tate%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@There are still people who believe that Pakistan has no right to exist. To prove that they have balkanized us in 1971 and have taken up Kashmir which rightfully belongs to us. And to prove that they are a secular nation, they are holding Kashmiri Muslims under gun point.”
-Mohammed Anjum

-And perhaps u also somehow think that all Muslims in the rest of the country are also held against their will and India is holding them. Why is that no Pakistani has the b$$$s to talk about 1971 holocaust.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@The only guarantee that we Pakistanis desire is that our Islamic identity is not threatened. Our nation was founded on the principle of a nation for Muslims in the sub-continent.”
-Mohammed Anjum

–And coumnist Nadeem Pricha is worried of the opposite–too much Islam. -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/nadeem-f-paracha-schools-out-ss-0 1

In Dawn he writes: “Pakistan is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and a multi-religious society. Non-Muslims are an integral part of it. Many of them have contributed to the country’s image, stature and well-being. However, according to the scholar and educationist, Professor A. H. Nayyar, the culture, the idiom and the manners of Muslim ‘majority-ism’ started gaining currency after 1971 and, in turn, got reflected in the educational process. A certain brand of Muslim sensibilities was imposed on all.”

Any comments on SDPI report by Pakistani scholars Prof. Nayyar et al on history taught in Pakistani schools? You have not realized yet that the Pakistan’s main problem is over-emphasis on the Islamic identity of Pakistan. If there is a threat it due to over-emphasis resulting in religious fundamentalism hijacking the true Islamic identity. That’s the reason Indian Muslims despite communal tensions and all sorts of problems that are part of Indian society do not respect Pakistan. Harsh but true. Ask for reference and I will provide.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

In the past when ever I posted these things, Myra McDonald or whoever at Reuters wouldn’t post them. Some times make me wonder if the idea of this blog is to bring peace or prolong conflict.

I don’t know how many Indians know …students are required to take Islamiat and Pakistan studies at technical and medical colleges!! The SDPI report outlines what is taught in Pakistan Studies.

Here is a link to the curriculum of Rawalpindi Medical College : n.htm

If some one has any link on Hinduism studies or “India studies” taught at Engineering or Medical colleges in India, please feel free to post them.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Pakistan’s ‘mock war’ on Taliban

But Mr Afridi, the ANP secretary in charge of FATA affairs, said the military was being dishonest about its operation there.

“These are mere mock operations in order to convince NATO and the US that Pakistan is serious (about fighting) extremists and that Pakistan is not the mother of extremism,” he told The Australian. ry/0,25197,25821004-2703,00.html

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

I don’t think it is the same as the Franco-German relations before WWII. They fought an open war. Two colonial powers in Europe. Win or fail situation. Here in India and Pakistan, its a disputed territory, Kashmir. As far as economy is concerned, Pakistan milks the American cow for money and aid. This is contrary to the Indian model which, is trying to stand up on its own in all fields and has been successful.

As far as swallowing the enmity and moving forward, not going to happen as the lives of so many people on both sides have been scarred.

(Read other user’s comments). I think that, people of any religion are welcome in India and are safe. Nobody holds anyone else in gun point in India. People of different religions live peacefully in close quarters, contribute and thrive. For example, the rice that you buy from a shop in India could have been cultivated by a Hindu farmer, taken by a Christian middle man and finally sold in a Muslim’s Shop.

This is something India’s neighbors find difficult to understand and simply cannot do themselves. Indians call it Secularism. Finally, this secular nature of India make them look real bad because other nations have not grown up enough to accept people of different faith.

Posted by Krishna | Report as abusive

Mr. Krishna: “I think that, people of any religion are welcome in India and are safe. Nobody holds anyone else in gun point in India. People of different religions live peacefully in close quarters, contribute and thrive. For example, the rice that you buy from a shop in India could have been cultivated by a Hindu farmer, taken by a Christian middle man and finally sold in a Muslim’s Shop.”

Hee, Hee, Hee…

The wolf ate the lamb and said that they have become inseparable. You must be living in some dream land. Your Shiv Sena, VHP and BJP are volunteer organizations like the red cross. Tell the joke to someone else. Muslims have been attacked in Bombay, Gujerat, Ayodhya and Kashmir, not only by your goons, but also by uniformed soldiers. A lie told a thousand times begins to sound like truth. Looks like you guys are repeating this lie over and over again. Go to Kashmir and tell me how “peace” is being maintained. Explain why Kashmiris are protesting daily against your army occupation.

People of different religions are ducking under the table in order to survive. Christian missionaries have been killed and churches burnt by your peace loving citizens. There is enough on the newspapers on that. Go read them.

“This is something India’s neighbors find difficult to understand and simply cannot do themselves. Indians call it Secularism.”

Yeah, we know exactly what you mean by your “secularism.”
So long as minorities live on the fringes with their mouths shut, “peace” definitely prevails. Tell that to those Sikhs who died at the hands of Hindu mobs in 1984.

Self-glorification is a part of propaganda and brain washing methods. While you guys accuse Pakistan of the same, please go have a look in the mirror.

Posted by mohammad Anjum | Report as abusive

mohammad Anjum:

Krishna’s message might sound dramatic but not untrue. your hee….hee…is no answer to his comment. It is not hunky dory in India, but if you care to watch and follow Indian Muslim’s view (their blogs), you will resrve your hee..hee for some other event. First off Pakistan is not a role model of Indian Muslims if you need to hear it bluntly. It is not me it is what the Indian Muslims say. From my personal experince living in a pluralistic society and having friends of all religions, I have no complaints with Muslims or with others and nor do they have. It does not even occur to me what religion my friend has. It is hard to understand that people living in pluralistic society find natural way to co-exist. Now you belong to islamic Republic of pakistan and that society is entirely different. This is not to blame a common Muslim in Pakistan but the fact of the mattter is that minorities in pakistan are lawfully oppressed. It is no doubt that given these scenarios an Indian is in better position to comment on communal harmony in India than a guy like you who is not exposed to the reality of it.
@Shiv Sena, VHP and BJP: Your missed many more! but what is the point? I am not a fan or follower of these org/party but BJP is a political party that has the record of ruling India as competently as any other govt. BJP started the kashmir peace process with Musharaf and the procrss was continued later by Congress. Do you get it or not? Shiv Sena, VHP et al have national agenda that has no bearing across the border. This is in diect contarst to Pakistan agenda (ARMY/ISI) of killing innocents in India in the fake name of morally supporting Kashmir freedom.
@Kashmir peace: Pakistan Army/ISI disturbed the peace in Kashmir through LeT,JeM, HuM. ISI trained LeT fought Kargil war along with regulars. In Kashmir, LeT wears Indian Army uniform and commits crime which many times are attributed to the Indian Army.

–When is pakistan going to apologize for the genocide of Million Pakistani Hindus/Muslims in the them E.Pakistan? when are you Pakistani bloggers going to talk about it.
Pakistan needs to take care of what is on the plate than putting more on the plate. Also huffing and puffing does not make you any braver or smarter. Any one can do that and Indians have all the right reasons to do so. Do what you have not been trained to do so far which is to take chill pill and focus inside pakistan.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive


I have been meaning to comment for weeks on this absolutely excellent article. I just finished reading “India and Pakistan: Friends, Rivals or Enemies?” by Duncan McLeod. It provides a good realist/neo-realist perspective on the historical narrative of South Asia, the relations between Hindus and Muslims, the impact of European involvement on that balance and the eventual split into India and Pakistan. As a person of South Asian descent, it was an eye-opener. It left me with both hope and despair. And it left me wondering, just like you, if these countries can escape their history.

I do not see the Franco-German model as absolutely applicable. France and Germany were like cousins quarreling. India and Pakistan is more analogous to a sibling rivalry where both are experiencing roid rage. And the real danger here is that as both countries try to bolster their nationalism by emphasizing their differences rather than their commonalities, the threat of cataclysmic conflict grows.

The rhetoric and lack of understanding can be both ridiculous and frustrating. Indians for example, often have huge difficulties in understanding the psychological trauma that the separation of Bangladesh imposed on Pakistan. Much of today’s paranoia in Pakistan has come from this episode. Pakistanis on the other hand fail to understand India’s equal concerns about the symbolic value of Kashmir. Indians see their growth in military power as inevitable for any rising economic power. But Pakistanis look at the growing tiger in their neighbour’s yard and worry. The only way they think they can prevent the tiger from turning towards them is to keep it busy in its own backyard.

Meanwhile, Pakistanis will prattle on endlessly about the lack of Muslim rights, the failure of democracy, etc. in India. But quite often they fail to acknowledge the fact that most Indian muslims today have a standard of living well above the average Pakistani, with significantly more freedoms and rights than granted by the various oppressive Pakistani regimes to their own citizens over the years. Pakistanis can’t seem to accept that the majority of Indian muslims, while they may cheer for Pakistan during a cricket match, have no real desire to live under a Pakistani banner. And while Indians would do well, not to play down or minimize some of their failures at protecting minority rights (particularly by their more hard-line compatriots), Pakistanis would do well to learn from the Indian experience. For all its failings, India remains remarkably peaceful and cohesive given its diversity. The same cannot be said for Pakistan, increasingly riven with inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian violence that challenge the very foundations of the state. It has always struck me as unfortunate and a lost opportunity that the Pakistanis have not learned more from the Indians. Consider for example, how the well the division of Punjab in India would be applicable for its Pakistani counterpart as a move to even out the distributation of political, provide better regional and ethnic representation, etc.

Looking forward, can they overcome their history? At this point, after years of looking at Pakistan for a living, I truly believe the ball is in Islamabad’s court. India has moved on. Only the Pakistanis can decide if they want peace or if they prefer the penury that comes from diverting significant resources towards maintaining a state of belligerence with their neighbour. I’d like to hope that someday India and Pakistan would be like the EU and that borders would not matter. And I truly believe that the biggest beneficiaries of such a peace would be the Pakistanis, not as conventionally assumed the economically rising Indians. Consider the horrendous state of Pakistan today and its young population. Continued belligerence means that there will be less and less resources for the development of the country, creating the real possibility that this generation will be left worse off than their parents. Maintaining this hostile relationship has also meant that the Pakistani have had to accept relationships they would not normally prefer (becoming a client state of the US) and giving up self-reliance (client state of the IMF) as they focus meagre resources on maintaining military parity witht their neighbour (too bad they don’t compete on life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, etc.). I firmly believe that when Pakistanis come to understand and accept the alternate reality and destiny that awaits them if they give up their belligerent relationship with India, that peace will reign supreme on the subcontinent. I am hopeful that a new generation of Pakistani decision makers who are confident and not driven by the post-1972 paranoia is starting to emerge that is capable of grasping this view and moving Pakistan-India relastions into the 21st century. They may not be in the majority yet, but they’ll get there over time. There might be peace in my lifetime yet!

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

The wolf ate the lamb and said that they have become inseparable. You must be living in some dream land. Your Shiv Sena, VHP and BJP are volunteer organizations like the red cross. Tell the joke to someone else. Muslims have been attacked in Bombay, Gujerat, Ayodhya and Kashmir, not only by your goons, but also by uniformed soldiers.

– Posted by mohammad Anjum

The attacks on Christians, Shias, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, etc. and the rapid decline in minorities as a percentage of the population in Pakistan says just as much if not more about the state of inter-sectarian relations in Pakistan. Say what you will about India, but at least they have far more minorities living there than in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan’s claim as the refuge for muslims in South Asia is getting thinner by the day as India’s muslim population continues to grow and looks set to surpass that of Pakistan. One can hardly to claim any serious oppression if their population continues to grow.

Just remember, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

pakistani people from the heart are obviosly envious of india and also are envious because they are even in the times os modernisation follow old radical rules and love bloody terrorists.

Posted by narendra upadhyay | Report as abusive

Hei to all,

Let you people know that we in india have a peaceful life with all religions (With More freedom than in pakistan) Do not Dream that we all separated inside india …You know if some one want to do any miscreants against any minority religion it will not succeed further in india becouse here people will not allow that type of nonsense (Some political strength will do peace less situation (Temporary)that is in some area’s ok).

SO My opinion is you pakistan also come forward for peace and make your country better living place. Forgot our past you have gone out from our land y this fight and envoy lets stop and hands together throw out the polititions who want to fight and make things worst..

Y this fight for land ethr our country citizens dont have proper facilities to live.

Goverment should concentrate for people growth not in border growth.

Love All ….

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Hei ,

God is one ..We splited in to many.. see people who belives Hindus living good life with huge money and same in christians, Muslims and others are all living better (poverty too dominating in all religions)… Then Who is god?

Finally We the Intelligent Humans are Idiots..fighting and killing the innocent people with the name of GOD…


India or china or USA or… people need peace and loving atmosphere don’t spoiled that in the name of Land and GOD.

Without people awareness Nothing will happen.

Posted by PAUL | Report as abusive

[…] inter-dependency a way that the United States once encouraged. As the history of Europe showed, only when France and Germany began weaving their economies together after World War Two did they put behind them years of conflict. And the governments of South Asia […]

Posted by India and Pakistan agree to expand trade, rewrite the rules | Pakistan: Now or Never? | Report as abusive