he Pakistanis, including many doves turned hawks just to fault Mr. Khan, who oppose Imran Khan’s relentless pursuit of peace with India seem blindfolded to both sense and history. Vacuous egos can lead to destruction but cannot assure long term prosperity and progress of nations. Also, there is no shame in seeking peace from a place of dignity. Shame, instead, lies in belligerence and bellicosity.
Shame lies in starting a war that you cannot win, as Ayub Khan did in 1965 – the single biggest mistake in the history of Pakistan. Pakistan, traversing a generally ascendant path till that fateful moment, has never been the same since 1965. It has turned into a security state that has made a science out of turning history and polity into a hoax. A population that has been conditioned to blame our problems not on ourselves but on others.
Not that India is not a state hostile to Pakistan. She thinks that sowing hostility suits her to make sure that Pakistan continues to borrow security for herself by pledging the future of her coming generations. This has brought the region to a capability of assured mutual annihilation unlike any other place on the planet. Sooner or later this game is bound to lead to a miscalculation or a folly resulting in massive destruction.
Back to Pakistan. The danger hanging over small countries near aggressive large countries is one of the earliest and most gripping themes of history. The lesson in a nutshell is that a small nation in such position needs to develop extremely strong deterrents but can only ill afford an exercise in ceaseless friction and hostile engagement.
In his history of the Peloponnese War, the Athenian historian Thucydides describes how the small Greek island of Melos responded to the pressure from the powerful Athenian Empire. He recounts how Malians were unrealistic in their estimation of the situation and ended up paying with their lives and enslavement. Conversely, the Finns in the middle of the twentieth century quickly embraced reality to learn how to deal and coexist with the USSR.
The lesson is that small countries threatened by large neighbors should remain alert, build strong deterrents, consider alternative options, and appraise those options realistically. Sadly, this lesson has often been ignored since it was disregarded by the Malians.
It was ignored by the Paraguayans, who waged a calamitous war against the combined might of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay from 1865 to 1870, resulting in the deaths of 60% of Paraguay’s population. It was ignored by Finland in 1939, before it learnt its lessons. It was ignored by Japan in 1941. It was ignored by Iraq, Libya, and many others. Most recently it was ignored by Georgia and then by Ukraine in their respective confrontations with Russia.
It does not mean that any of the two South Asian countries should bow to other’s unrealistic demands or unreasonable behavior. It simply means that seeing the light and actively preparing the soil for peaceful coexistence is a much better (and perhaps the only other) option than negotiating the slope descending into an inevitable nuclear confrontation.
Mr. Khan seems to understand this, if Mr. Modi doesn’t then he is not doing any service to the future of the region or to his countrymen.