Skip to main content

Pakistan’s Military Reaches Out to India

Kamal Alam
Commentary, 3 May 2018

Senior Pakistani officers, led by Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, realise that the way to peace and prosperity is through military cooperation with India. Will New Delhi reciprocate?

In a historic first last month, Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa invited Sanjay Vishwasrao, the Indian military attaché, and his team to the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad.

And in a sign that ties between the two foes are warming up Javed followed this two weeks later by saying that the Pakistan military wanted peace and dialogue with India.

The two countries will also take part in joint military drills in Russia in September, with Chinese participation.

These initiatives come against a background of almost weekly exchanges of fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir. However, they mark a change in attitudes that started when Bajwa became COAS in November 2016.

Bajwa himself, speaking at RUSI last year, announced that ‘the Pakistan army is now no more insecure and feels confident of its future and that he welcomes Indian participation in Pakistan’s flagship infrastructure project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’.

Attempts to open a dialogue come against a background of almost weekly exchanges of fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir

Both countries have tried to forge relationships before. In the 1980, the Pakistani military leader, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi,became close. 

In his book, The Great Game in Afghanistan,Kallol Bhattacherjee details the talks between Gandhi and Zia on the fate of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, relations with Moscow and the US and, most importantly, the stability of South Asia.

Like the Zia–Rajiv meetings, Pakistani military leader General Pervez Musharraf and then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came close at a 2002 summit in Agra to resolving the Kashmir conflict despite a year-long tense situation on the border.

Approaches by Pakistani generals military have been welcome by some in India, because they are seen to be able to deliver on peace.

Another senior Pakistani  officer, Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz, headed the first-ever high level contact group with India as Director-General Military Operation.

According to Riaz, Pakistan sees the CPEC project as key to its economic future and, he has made public his stance of welcoming Indianparticipation in this, Pakistan’s largest infrastructure effort. However, he said that India could ‘share the fruits of future development by shelving the anti-Pakistan activities and subversion’.

Another top officer, Major General Ahmed Hayat, the Director-General-Analysis of the Inter-Services-Intelligence, in 2013 authored the so-called India Plan in 2013, which tried to ascertain how and when Pakistan should approach India.

A  siege mentality in the Pakistani General Headquarters in Rawalpindi has meant that that there has been practically no major defence diplomacy between the arch-rivals

He concluded that the Pakistani military would approach India once Pakistan’s own defence diplomacy was strengthened and not under American threats or pressure. ‘It is a no brainer that one cannot live in an environment of perpetual enmity with a neighbour six times your size, but the indicators have to be right', he said. 'History teaches us to be cautious when approaching India – history paints India as an anti-status quo entity’. As Pakistan feels more stable politically now, Hayat’s plan could come to fruition this year.

A siege mentality in the Pakistani General Headquarters in Rawalpindi has meant that that there has been practically no major defence diplomacy between the arch-rivals. However, since the army launched antiterror operations Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 and Radd-ul-Fassad in 2017, Pakistan has seen a turnaroundin its security.

The generals also feel that this strengthens their bargaining power with the US after President Donald Trump accused the Pakistanis of ‘lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!’ Pakistan has also embraced Russia, and strengthened ties with Turkey and China.

With growing security and stability on the western border, the army understands that talking to India will help the country’s upward economic trajectory and allow regional trade flourish.

However, India has so far rejected Pakistan’soffer of a transit trade dialogue on Afghan–Indian commerce. But with a sustained approach by Pakistani officers to India, it could only be a matter of time before Delhi agrees to at least talk to Islamabad.

Despite continued tensions and fire-fights in Kashmir at their fiercest for a decade, Pakistan’s generals want to talk and feel the ball is in India’s court.

There is some rapprochement, but it is stuttering and there’s a long way to go yet.

Banner image: The Beating of Retreat ceremony at Pakistan–India border at Wagha. At sunset, the Border Security Force of India and the Pakistan Rangers of Pakistan perform a perfectly coordinated lowering of flag and closing of door ceremony. Courtesy of Koshy Koshy/Wikimedia

The views expressed in this Commentary are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of RUSI or any other institution


Popular posts from this blog

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

Balochistan to establish first medical university

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017