an indian perpective, by m.d. nalapat

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Jun. 22, 2003
    Don't condemn Israel to India's fate

    On August 15, 1947, India became free. But the day before, nearly a third of the country had been cut away from it to form Pakistan.

    Since 1948 Pakistan has conducted a continuous war with India, from overt conventional assault as in 1948, 1965 and 1971, to the covert war that has engulfed Kashmir since 1989. The bigger neighbor has exhibited all the hesitation and restraint typical of a democracy, while Pakistan, where the army has been in effective control since the first declaration of martial law in 1958, has shrewdly played its limited cards to great effect, combining with the United States "against communism," and with Communist China against India, getting repaid with weapons for use against one of the only three consistently democratic countries in Asia, together with Israel and Japan.

    After India's first nuclear test in 1974 China began funneling technology to Pakistan which, by the end of the 1980s, made it the only Muslim country with a nuclear device, together with missiles that could hit large parts of India. The US, which after the Soviet collapse had bought the Saudi argument that Pakistan could be a bridge into Muslim Central Asia, looked the other way while this cross-border proliferation took place, while putting a virtual technological quarantine on India.

    By creating a state with an ideology totally opposed to that of its neighbor, Britain condemned India to a constant state of external conflict and internal insecurity. Looking at the present meltdown in Pakistan, it does not seem likely that peace will break out anytime soon.

    The constant chatter about an "imminent" India-Pakistan conflict has resulted in a flow of foreign investment to India that is less than 10% of that going to China. Most of the diplomatic interaction between New Delhi and the European Union or the US is an endless rehash of formulae for "resolving" differences between the two countries.

    For that to happen, either Pakistan or India would have to give up its core ideology, for Pakistan is an Islamic republic where jihad is the official motto of the army, while India is a democracy.

    WERE AN independent state of Palestine to be established alongside Israel, the latter would be condemned to the same fate that India has faced for the past 55 years a permanent state of insecurity. Just as Pakistan believes it is the successor to the Mughal Empire and that therefore historical justice demands it reestablish Muslim rule over the whole subcontinent, almost every Palestinian believes that the entire territory "from the river to the sea" belongs to him by right.

    Yet just as the "Pakistani" identity was a fiction brought to life by the colonial power, so was the "Palestinian" identity. In reality, there is no "Palestinian people" with features distinct from the other Arabs of the region.

    Were an independent state of Palestine to be created, Arab Israelis might suffer from dual loyalty. Just as Pakistan tries to establish its influence over India's 156 million Muslims by posing as their champion, elements within the proposed Palestinian state would try to create an allegiance between Arab Israelis and the new country.

    In brief, the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the lines laid out in the road map would not bring peace. Instead, it would condemn Israel to decades of conflict with its new neighbor.

    If Israel tries to please the US, the UK, the rest of the EU, and assorted busybodies around the world by failing to ensure that it has defensible borders, and if it agrees to the creation of an entity that by its very nature will be hostile to it, its present leaders are creating a monster that will certainly emaciate, and may even devour, their nation.

    What needs to be done is for Israel to annex the territory required to be secure, while ensuring that the residue gets formed, not into a single state but into several entities such as a city-state of Gaza, on the Singapore model. Some of the territory abandoned by Israel could get absorbed into Jordan, where One Person, One Vote would then become the norm, as it is in India or Israel.

    India and its people are still suffering from the "unwisdom" of its leaders in permitting the creation of a country that has become an ulcer on its flank. Will Israel's leaders learn from this example, or will they too condemn their people to the kind of hell Pakistan has created for its neighbor?

    They must not allow Israel's borders to be militarily indefensible nor welcome the creation of a state whose people find their identity solely in the quest for Israel's destruction.

    The writer is director of the School of Geopolitics, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India.

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