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Is Pakistan’s invitation to Modi for SAARC Summit merely a posturing?

By : Srishty Choudhury | Updated on: 28 Nov 2018, 01:32:32 PM
Imran Khan has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the SAARC Summit. (File Photo)

New Delhi:

In his cricketing years, Imran Khan was known for giving even the toughest batsman hard times with his in-swinger and out-swinger balls, years after since then he as Pakistan Prime Minister is seen adopting the same tactics in his country’s engagement with India. After accepting India’s proposal to build a corridor up to Kartarpur Sahib from borders of the two countries, the Imran Khan government has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. But will the once bitten twice shy Indian Prime Minister accept his Pakistani counterpart’s invitation? It is a million-dollar question.

After Modi’s surprising visit to Pakistan on December 25, 2015, Islamabad, in confirmation with its villainous character, conducted two major terrorist attacks—first, on the Pathankot airbase on January 2, 2016 and second, on the Army base camp in Uri on September 19, 2016 in which 19 army personnel were killed. It was after these terror incidents, Modi scrapped his plan to visit Islamabad to attend the SAARC Summit which was scheduled to be held in November 2016.

Read More | Kartarpur corridor doesn’t mean resumption of India, Pakistan bilateral dialogue: Sushma Swaraj

With this, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan also expressed their inability to attend the summit, leading to its cancellation and consequent isolation of Pakistan in the region. Upset India compounded Islamabad’s international isolation further after New Delhi started promoting seven countries’ group, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). In October 2016, the first BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach was conducted in Goa and then in August this year, the fourth BIMSTEC Summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal’s national capital.

However, with the change in guard in Islamabad, Pakistan tried to sprinkle warmth in the chilled relations of the two countries. But as usual, Pakistan has never been serious in calling a spade a spade. India had to cancel foreign minister-level talks, which were to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet this September in New York, after three policemen were abducted and brutally killed in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan released a postage stamps glorifying Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani.

Without building atmospherics, the two countries’ relations can’t improve. Pakistan Army Generals sitting in Rawalpindi-based GHQs are hell bent on to see that the two countries never come together and exist side by side peacefully. Living in its own myriad world, Pakistan Army’s perceived understanding is that so long as Pakistan and India keep on fighting with each other and don’t allow deep-rooted hatred to melt, it will have ensured numero uno position in the undeclared power structure of Pakistan. Unfortunately, over 70 years have passed since Pakistan and India got independence and parted ways. The Pakistan Army has not done away with this negative psyche, which has otherwise harmed Pakistan itself. It is the only country in the world where terrorists are recognised as strategic assets.    

In the 60s and the 70s, Pakistan’s economy was better than India.  Thanks to the US and Western nations-backed programme of industrialisation and privatisation, Pakistan was chugging along the high growth of economic trajectory. In fact, its economic growth was so impressive that South Korea, awestruck by it, had ended up copying its five-year plan in its bid to develop Seoul in a short period of time. But from the mid-70s onwards, things started worsening as Pakistan started promoting rabid form of Islam and fanaticism.
In the 80s and the 90s, it turned into a breeding ground for terrorists who were used to cross Afghanistan’s border to uproot the Soviet Union-backed government and in India to dislodge democratically elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. But this way, it completely changed Pakistan’s internal landscape. India, meanwhile, was deeply engaged in improving economic situation and the living standard of its people. With the gains of the Green Revolution, the country is today able to cross one frontier after another with ease of the bird’s flight. It has opened up to the world, whereas neighbouring Pakistan is labouring under the weight of jehadism and Islamisation of institutions. While Pakistan is busy producing men and materials for terrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Islam, Taliban, Hakkanis and others, India is engaged in producing and exporting IT professionals, medical practitioners and teachers to the world.

Pakistan has today turned into a pariah state. Hardly any multi-national company ventures into Pakistan for investment there. In fact, so much unsafe has it become that day in and day out, one nation after another keep on issuing advisories to their citizens on their travel plan on Pakistan. It has a highly talented cricket time, but no country dares to play cricket with Pakistan inside Pakistan after terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team on March 3, 2009. Indeed, the same terrorist outfits, which grew and proliferated under the nose of the country’s defence establishment, are now a pain to their masters.

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If Imran Khan is moving from one country to another with begging bowl in his hands then for this condition, the blame lies at the door of Pakistan’s Army which is indeed a factor of instability that terrorism and sectarian violence have brought in the country. Khan first went to Saudi Arabia and then the UAE to secure loans for his country; he then leaped frogged to China to seek more loans. China has so far not revealed whether it has given loan to already debt-ridden Pakistan or not. Whatever be the truth, Pakistan is heading towards becoming another Sri Lanka. It is in this desperate situation the Pakistan prime minister wants to extend olive branch to India. But the trust gap between the countries has widened so much that Pakistan’s foreign office announcement that it will invite the Indian prime minister for the SAARC Summit, appears merely as posturing.

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First Published : 28 Nov 2018, 01:32:22 PM