Hope for relationship between India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan are rivals. The chance that they might one day together form a security community, like the European Union and others, is widely thought to be small. Muhammed Shoaib Pervez, however, is not so pessimistic. In the thesis he defended on 20 December he presented a model to serve as a basis.
After Islamic Pakistan stepped out of the Commonwealth with predominantly Hindu India, in 1947, the relationship between the two countries never returned to normality. There have been regular frontier skirmishes and wars, and the two are involved in a continuous argument about who controls Kashmir. Since 1947, India has developed into one of the largest democracies in Southeast Asia, as well as into a formidable economic power. Impoverished Pakistan, on the other hand, has had weak administrations over the years, which more than once were replaced by a military regime after a coup. Each country was quick to interpret any action in the other country as a threat.
Pervez’s optimism, he writes, is affirmed by an initiative by two leading newspapers in India and Pakistan, The Times of India and The News respectively, held around 1 January 2010. They launched the campaign Aman ki Asha ("Longing for Peace"). A survey held in both countries in this context led to the conclusion that in Pakistan 72% of the populace is keen to see both countries live side by side peacefully, in India the percentage is 60%. In Pakistan, 8% of the populace is not at all keen on the idea, and in India that number is 17%. This result confirms Pervez’s conclusions that it is not the broad mass of the population in both countries that is keeping the rivalry and animosity alive, but that it is the doing of the élites.
Pervez has an outlook that acknowledges culture. He writes that one way for states, or in this case the élites who run those countries’ affairs, to create their own identities is by defining their relationships with other countries. In both India and Pakistan, formulating the other country’s enmity is part of the élites’ ‘routine’ This way, they create their own social reality with the aid of myths. One example is the nuclear arms race between the two countries. Pakistan asserts it needs an atomic bomb to protect itself against India, whereas India claims it fears Pakistan, the only Muslim country to own an atomic bomb.
There are, however, many examples to be found of widely shared norms in the populations of both countries. Indian films, for example, are hugely popular in Pakistan; in both countries’ literary canons mutually nostalgic sentiments resound; both populaces understand the other’s language: and both countries have education curricula in which the seed is already sown of hatred of the one for the other.
Pervez advocates a path-dependent security community for India and Pakistan. Although he does study the EU and ASEAN as examples, he emphasises that there is no point in just copying the models of these two organisations, as each security community is formed on the basis of its own shared norms, in a unique regional context. The path-dependent approach is not a fool-proof recipe, but a process consisting of small steps that have to be taken on many different fronts. In this process, Pervez believes, the national authorities should connect with that which is positive and shared, and which unites the general populaces of both countries. At the same time, the élites should stop propagating their negative messages.
The model Pervez proposes consists of a set of norms for creating a security community of India and Pakistan. For his model he studied the EU and ASEAN. The norms are: shared experiences with certain traumas, as World War II was for the EU; and reducing rivalry and animosity. Once the élites start thinking in a more friendly way about the other’s country (‘desecuritisation’), then there will be room for ties that will prove mutually beneficial in numerous fields. This will result in the opportunity to develop a shared collective identity, as a form of alternative progression. The socio-cultural norms of the societies involved must match the regional norms of the security community; from these norms a ‘concealed’ normative structure will evolve, which can unite the countries, and which also might lead to rules dictating how to include or exclude any other countries.
An approach between India and Pakistan, Pervez claims, whichever way it comes, if it does come, it will be a bottom-up process. He also claims that the élites will have to make a contribution in many different fields: for example, by removing school books in both countries from mutual anti-rhetoric. And India should abolish the film-industry censorship, which deletes Indian anti-Pakistan scenes from films, but not those about Pakistan hostilities.
In the conclusion of his thesis, Mr Pervez, a Pakistani with a career behind him in the Pakistan government, contends that a security community need not even be the main objective of rapprochement for it nevertheless to be the result.
Monday 20 December 2010
Mr M. Pervez:
The socially constructed security dilemma between India and Pakistan: an exploration of norms for a security community
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Supervisor: Profesor R. de Wijk
(21 December 2010)