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Nation-Building Through Accommodation

T. Ananthachari

By Humayun Khan  and G. Parthasarathy. Series editor David Page
Lotus Collection, an imprint of Roli Books, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 138, Rs. 225.00


Diplomatic Divide co-authored by two eminent diplomats of India and Pakistan, in a mere 138 pages, brings out in a very readable form, numerous anecdotes, incidents and behind the scene activities which has also influenced, even if momentarily, the crucial phases of India’s relationship with Pakistan. Readers get a glimpse of the sensitive nature of a diplomat’s role, from the narration, particularly in evolving and managing the relationship between two countries which have deep-seated suspicion about each other’s intentions. While the objective of both the diplomats was the same, namely, to improve Indo-Pak relations while safeguarding their respective country’s interests, they worked in two very differing settings. While the world witnessed the end of the Cold War, the liberalization of world trade, the growth of fundamentalism and a revolution in communications, the Indo-Pak relations continued to be dominated by the unresolved dispute over Kashmir, the growth of military spending, moves towards nuclearization and the perpetuation of what one of the authors describes as an ‘adversarial psychosis’. According to Dr.Khan (‘Reflections of an Ambassador’) “India is almost an obsession with Pakistan’s policy-makers and whenever an important decision has to be taken, on any front, one of the chief considerations is whether it would strengthen or weaken our position vis-à-vis India.” Observations by Parthasarathy echo this. “Successive Pakistani Governments have paid more attention to how they could forge regional and global alliances to attain ‘parity’ with India, rather than on promoting, literacy, health and human development.”       When Khan assumed charge in India ‘relations between India and Pakistan were showing a rare upward trend’ only to deteriorate drastically, thanks to allegations of Pakistan’s involvement in fomenting terrorism in the Punjab and to the two major incidents of hijacking of Indian aircrafts. The Indian Army’s presence in the Siachin Glacier was also noticed by Pakistan only then.       ‘Memories of Pakistan’ by G.Parthasarathy covers the two tenures he had in Pakistan—first as Consul-General in Karachi and later as India’s High Commissioner in Pakistan. Between these two assignments, he saw the Pakistani State gradually being reborn as the center of religious fundamentalism, radical growth and spread of the gun culture and the enormous and long-lasting impact of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan.       Despite General Zia’s talk of Islamization, Pakistani society seems to have remained  basically liberal and moderate in the 1980s. But the ISI-sponsored ...

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