He presents in this book his narrative of the progress of Indo-Pak relations, from the ’70s to the opening years of the new millennium. His writing bears the style of old classical historians like Badauni and Lahori. He also discusses issues like Kashmir and the pursuit of nuclear and missile capabilities in the face of non-proliferation and missile technology control regime. Remember Z.A. Bhutto’s menacing statement that the people of Pakistan were determined to possess atom bombs even if it meant eating grass? He discusses all these issues and the Agra summit of July 2001 too without emotion, in a factual, dry style.
The book itself is a lucid, readable account of the refusal of Indo-Pak relations to move towards any kind of normalcy or neighbourly co-existence, despite their ability, from time to time, to negotiate and accept meaningful agreements like those of Tashkent and Simla. Dixit explains that within its first decade, Pakistan abandoned the new state’s objectives as laid down by M.A. Jinnah. These were to create a modern, democratic, multi-religious, perhaps secular state. The state Jinnah’s successors built up found it unavoidable to invent an enemy they perceived as anxious to pounce upon Pakistan and gobble it up; denying them their rights of acquiring J&K; keeping large segments of Islamic populations under their tyranny and thralldom; a ferociously inimical state which Pakistan must, to defend itself, fracture and fragment. And this monstrous state of Dinia (as originally argued by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali) had to be subdued and occupied by the True Believers in Pakistan. The theme rather subtly runs throughout the book.
But by far the most interesting of Dixit’s material lies in the annexures: a chronological list of all bilateral Indo-Pak meetings from 1994 to 2000: the texts of the Lahore joint statement, Lahore memorandum of understanding (which covered nuclear matters), and the Lahore Declaration signed by Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif; the texts of the Simla Agreement 1972, and of the Tashkent Declaration 1966; detailed statistical material reflecting the India-Pakistan military balance for the year 2000-01. The most remarkable of these annexures is an analytical account of the origin and growth of the concepts and theories that led to the coining of the word Pakistan and its translation into concrete reality. For instance, the writings of Chaudhury Rahmat Ali in his pamphlets. Ali obviously had a fertile imagination and a great facility for coining terms and titles like "Dinia", which he imagined would be a (sub)continental home of an Islamic state, for people who, he was convinced, were "waiting to be converted and subordinated to Islam through the proselytising zeal of its sons". He calls Bengal and Assam ‘Bangistan’ or ‘Bangush’, and the Muslim homelands to be carved out of Bihar, UP, and Rajasthan to be named, respectively, Faruquistan, Haideristan and Muinistan. Similarly Hyderabad was to be called Osmanistan. Dixit, in this annexure, underlines that this process of fermentation of the ideas of separation was greeted enthusiastically by British colonial rulers who appeared to applaud the impulses and dreams of the Muslim League in general. This annexure is the piece de resistance of this book, for it contains analysis based on considerable original research.
One must admire Dixit’s precision and sympathise with his predicament of indicating where the complex relationship between these two countries could lead, especially now that the US has got itself involved in the Afghani and Pakistani territories for combating international terrorism. During the presidency of George Bush Sr, the US was forced by its domestic legislation to take negative note of the nuclear and missile games then being played by Pakistan with China’s not-entirely-innocent assistance. Also with the Pakistani government, military, and establishment comprehensively involved in exporting terrorism into J&K, and into other parts of India through Nepal and Bangladesh, especially in India’s Northeast. During that era, the Americans came close to declaring Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism. The current President Bush, however, finds it difficult to take a definitive stance on Pakistan’s qualified support against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The image Pakistan projects about its activities in Kashmir has the effect of conditioning India’s responses, as also US elaborations of its own attitude and policy. Dixit has tried to solve the problem by writing two final chapters. Oil and natural gas pipelines tend to project their own politics and economics. These elements are now intruding on the Central Asia-Afghanistan scene. Inevitably all this affects neighbours like Iran, Pakistan and India. One hopes that in another book, Dixit will use the oil and gas geopolitics with the continuing blood-stained story of terrorism and the shadows of jehadi swords of this region. He must surely recognise that history never ends, whatever the pretensions of sovereigns, warriors or political theorists of a specific era.