Is India damaging the peace process with its Pakistan bashing?

If Pakistan's High Commissioner Salman Bashir is to be believed the recent criticism of Pakistan over the killing of two soldiers, one of whom was decapitated, was only part a larger trend of India choosing to accuse its neighbour of crimes whenever it found it convenient to do so.

But defence experts in India refute Bashir’s accusations of indulging in 'Pakistan-bashing', saying the country can't be expected to remain silent over such an incident.

“Just when people are talking about something as barbaric as beheading a soldier, which has put the peace process to a temporary halt, it cannot be called Pakistan bashing. And it is not only India. The whole world has condemned the act. So, has the whole world indulged in Pakistan bashing?” Ajay Sahni, executive director, Delhi based Institute for Conflict Management, said.

Have the accusations against Pakistan been unnecessary? Reuters

Sahni added that rather than blaming India of blowing an issue out of proportion, it is time for Pakistan do some soul searching.

“Pakistan is bashing its head into the wall and then crying hoarse. Its own people have been killing each other. Also, any terror activity anywhere in the world can invariably be traced to Pakistan,” he said.

Ceasefire violations were reported from Pakistan well before this month. But it was "business as usual" with the two countries working on the modalities of visa-on-arrival, playing cricket and talks to boost cross-border trade.

According to Sushant Sareen, senior fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Pakistan should not take India’s silences over such violations as a sign  of weakness.

“The latest incident has been building up for quite sometime. Reports indicate a 100 per cent rise in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army. But we were playing it down. We talked about convergence and not divergence. But when certain red lines are crossed people are bound to speak,” he said.

It doesn't help that the ties between the two countries are as driven by emotions as practical considerations, Sareen said.

“We should not deal with Pakistan like we are two long lost brothers. We cannot keep harping on the emotional bonding. We should treat it like any other like country. Since we have created certain hype with this one country, we get worked up every time such incident happens. For instance, had it been China instead of Pakistan, I don’t think India would have reacted in the same way,” he said.

A popular conspiracy theory has also been that the incident was a result of Pakistan struggling with its internal demons and using an attack on the Line of Control to distract its populace from their other woes. But according to Islamabad-based political analyst Ayesha Siddiqa said that while Pakistan is struggling with internal issues, the condition is not as bad as Indian media would want one to believe.

“In a way, he (Salman Bashir) is right. It is not that we don’t have problems. But the India media projects it as failed state, a country which is on the verge of collapse,” she said.

In the process of Pakistan bashing, said Siddiqa, India is contributing to making peace a casualty.

“By raking up minor problems as major issues, India will make its people believe that there is a solution outside the peace process as well. And the next logical thing is that people will demand war,” Siddiqa said.

According to Siddiqa, the killing of soldiers by both the armies is a consequence of the stalemate between the two countries which are yet to resolve some of the crucial disputes.

“Sir Creek and Kashmir remain unsolved and hence, both the countries continue to deploy their armies on the border. And as long as there are armies on the border, there will be such issues,” she said.

Updated Date: Jan 18, 2013 16:47 PM

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