Islamabad, March 4 Certain events in 1999, such as the Pakistan Army bypassing the civilian government to launch a war on India, has had immense consequences for the India-Pakistan relationship and have worked to make Pakistan progressively irrelevant in the international community, said an article in the Daily Times Wednesday.
“In the context of Pakistan-India relations, the year 1999 can be called one of the most significant years of the post-Cold War phase starting in 1991,” wrote columnist Qaisar Rashid in an opinion piece.
He pointed out that the end of the Kargil war “suggested that India could persuade or coerce the US to intervene in (a) regional conflict (replete with nuclear repercussions) and rein in its (US) ally, Pakistan, which had to eventually withdraw its forces from Kargil”.
The Kargil conflict and its eventual settlement established the US as a new force in the region, Rashid wrote.
He noted that following the conflict, India and the US cosied up to each other at the cost of their relationships with Pakistan.
The US and India have gone so far on the alliance journey that Pakistan was fast becoming irrelevant, according to Rashid, who added, “Currently, the balance in the region — South Asia — is tipped more towards India.”
“The occurrence of events successively not only underlined the reality of civil-military conflict in Pakistan, but also underscored the reality of persistent bilateral animosity prevailing between Pakistan and India,” Rashid said.
However, according to him, what really hurt Pakistan was a lack of realisation that it was fast losing in 1999. “Pakistan lost its credibility in the eyes of both India and the US.”
The article, however, noted that the peace initiative undertaken by then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when he travelled to Pakistan in the Lahore-Delhi “dosti” bus in 1999, tried to “clear the air of misgiving that has existed between both countries since 1947”.
He signed the Lahore Declaration with Pakistan and his meeting with the Pakistani leadership was an effort to establish civilian-to-civilian contact between the two countries, according to Rashid.
However, the loss to Pakistan following the events in 1999, “can be gauged if Pakistan tries to answer the following questions: first, can Pakistan invite now incumbent (Indian) PM Narendra Modi through a friendly bus service (or even by air) to sign another Lahore Declaration? The answer is in the negative… Second, can Pakistan launch another Kargil war to accentuate the Kashmir issue? The answer is in the negative. Even China does not approve of that. Any such adventure will invite severe international reaction”, the article said.
Rashid pointed out that Pakistan was now seeking Russian help, which, according to him, was “the first expression of the realisation of our loss”.
“Today, India knows that Pakistan cannot dictate directly its terms of engagement and disengagement… Today, China is also asking Pakistan to improve its bilateral ties with India,” the article noted.