Rajiv Dogra, India’s former consul general to Karachi, has written a compelling account of the more than six decades old conflict between Pakistan and India. The seasoned former diplomat provides a firsthand account of the fractious relations between the two countries, which were born from the same womb, the Indian subcontinent, on 14/15 August 1947.
In his anecdotal account, Where Borders Bleed, the author has chronicled the events leading up to the partition of the subcontinent. With his succulent brush, he has painted vivid accounts of the personalities that shaped events: Lord Louis Mountbatten, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, et al, to the modern political players like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Since the crossing of the nuclear threshold in May 1998, both India and Pakistan have been on the international radar. The close scrutiny is because the neighbours have been to war thrice in 1947, 1965 and 1971, and have been on the verge of armed conflicts on numerous occasions. Being nuclear weapons equipped, any future conflict between the two hostile nations is likely to be devastative.
Rajiv Dogra, the former diplomat, who besides serving in Karachi from 1992 to 1994, has also served as India’s envoy to Italy, Romania, Moldova, Albania and San Marino, and permanent Indian representative to UN agencies in Rome. The 1974 batch Indian ministry of external affairs officer, while covering historical, diplomatic and military perspectives in his epic Where Borders Bleed, asks some piercing questions with the postulation of Pakistan and India reuniting: “Would terror have affected the world the way it has, if Pakistan and India had been a benign single entity? What if India and Pakistan were to reunite, much like East and West Germany? As the now-largest nation in the world, would the mammoth Pakistan-India radically change the globe’s geo-political framework?”
The veteran diplomat does not shirk from engaging with a range of contentious issues that have shaped Indo-Pak relations like water sharing, the flashpoint of Kashmir and the Indian Constitution’s Article 370 that affords special status to the disputed territory, which is the core issue between Pakistan and India.
One would have expected the experienced foreign service officer to avoid speculation and be more factual especially while discussing the sensitive topic of cross-border terrorism. The intricate art of diplomacy entails sticking to facts and presenting concrete logic. Unfortunately, Rajiv Dogra gives in to the temptation of taking a swipe at Pakistan generally and, more specifically, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif. He makes the startling disclosure that Mian Nawaz Sharif not only knew about the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in advance but had also actually given his approval for them. This claim negates Pakistan’s long-standing position that terror is the work of non-state actors.