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India and Pakistan: what's going on?


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Last week Mohamed Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving member responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks which left 166 dead, was sentenced to death. Of Pakistani origin, Kasab represents the new bloody war of an age old animosity between India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have had a rocky relationship since their spilt back in 1947 following independence from the British Raj, and since then are yet to find long-term peace. The spilt was decided in accordance to majority-religious concentrations in certain areas. The north, founding Pakistan, was predominantly Muslim and the south, India, Hindu. As migration occurred across the countries, bloody riots were triggered, and war, lasting over 25 years, was raged in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

The wars were not merely religioon-based; there were also savage territorial disputes over Bangladesh and Kashmir. The latter still continues today, but the animosity has taken a sinister turn. Where before outright war was waged, recent decades have seen a jump towards terrorism. India has suffered many terrorist attacks over the past couple of decades, for which it blames Islamist extremists and unofficially, but not so quietly, suspects Pakistan’s involvement.

Both countries have been affected by exacerbated feuds between Muslims and Hindus, however Pakistan much more so. Due to India’s size and powerful economy it can afford to invest in a large military which in turn causes fear and hatred in the much smaller, in both land and economic size, Pakistan. Pakistan invests a large amount of it’s GDP on military, at the expense of its education and health sector. The obsession with defense in Pakistan has led to it give generals too much power. The army is far too powerful and often gets involved in the running of the country and political decisions, weakening the government and undermining democracy. It has also partially helped the Taliban party in Afghanistan in order to undermine India’s allies in Northern Afghanistan which continues, in part, today.

Pakistan is a terrorist breeding ground. Its obsession with hating India allows terrorism to foster and flourish. Islamist terrorist groups whose purpose is to attack India like Lashkar-e-Taiba – the group supposedly responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks – continue today. Pakistan concedes that it has tried to stamp out the group, which is illegal, but have been unable to do so as the group is too powerful and popular. India believes the government covertly assists the terrorists.  

Considering that now both Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed, neutralizing tensions between these two nations is vast becoming a question of international security. Both states are essential for securing stability in the Region, particularly considering the turmoil in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran among many others. India is considered the worlds largest democracy, and with an economy that is growing at lightening speed, a population that is increasingly becoming more educated and social services, albeit slowly, improving, it seems that it is in the interest of the international community to have the dispute between these countries resolved.

It is also in the interest of the countries themselves to find a peaceful resolution. Not merely as they need to restore their own national security, but also for the good of their people. Pakistan should redirect funds which are currently going to the military, towards education, health, and infrastructure. In doing so, Pakistan has the hope of running a true and capable democracy. India, in light of the new BRICS linkage, would benefit greatly from freeing up its attention and paranoia on its unstable relationship with Pakistan and instead focus on other things which would allow it to become a future big world power.

Despite peace talks resuming following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, India continues to suffer terrorist attacks at the hands of Islamist extremists. New Delhi suspects that Islamabad is not doing all the necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice. Pakistan is becoming increasingly enigmatic to the international community in terms of its running, and fostering of terrorists and the big ugly nuclear cloud continues to brew in our worried minds.

A solution must be found, the only question is how. 

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