Book Reviews Dr. Riaz Shaikh, Back from the Brink India-Pakistan Ties Revisited,


  • Erum Muzaffar


The events of the past do cast their shadows on the developments of future but normally with the passage of time new realities overshadow the legacy of the past. The history of the European countries sufficiently demonstrates that the compulsions to live interdependently helped remove those misgivings which had created apparently insurmountable cleavages between them in the past. Today, Europe appears more united than it had ever been. South Asia, unfortunately, tells a different story. The two big countries of the region, Pakistan and India, have travelled a long course of six and a half decades as independent and separate entities but there has never been a period when their relations could be regarded as normal, if not cordial. This long history of adverse relationship owes itself to the times and tribulations of pre-partition era. The long years and decades since then have not been able to help these countries come out of the quagmire in which the people of united India were entrenched once. Anchored in the past, India and Pakistan have fought three major wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971. To this can be added the Kargil event which may be designated as a semi-war. The efforts on the part of different agencies, groups and individuals to harmonize the two countries’ positions and to put them on a course leading to wiser solutions have not yet borne fruit. Now it has become a general pattern that one day one hears about the success of a diplomatic initiative or a track II or track III behind the scene activities. One also hears about CBMs being agreed to between the two countries. But, then, all of a sudden one hears that all this has gone in vain. The ministries of two countries start labeling charges against each other, their respective foreign offices take to threatening tones and at times the military establishments also show their muscles. Media also comes out and takes hard hitting positions.