WEB DESK: “We would like to ensure that saboteurs do not succeed in derailing the (Pakistan-India) dialogue,” said the Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj in her briefing to Indian parliament on her visit to Islamabad and the joint statement issued following her meeting with her Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process ministerial conference last week.
That such an act of sabotage could be the handiwork of her High Commissioner in Islamabad, we are disinclined to believe. But what to do when something like this happened in broad daylight. At a function in Islamabad, High Commissioner Raghavan said, “his country was only prepared to discuss Pakistani Kashmir in the upcoming peace talks” and that ‘The first application (in the United Nations) was moved by India and it was on grounds that a part of the state which acceded to India, is under illegal control of the Pakistani army’.
Conceded, India was the first to go to the UN, and thus succeeded in pre-empting the imminent fall of Srinagar to Kashmiri freedom fighters. But the same very United Nations also resolved a number of times that the future of the disputed state should be determined by the people of Kashmir through a plebiscite. It was this kind of spanners in the way of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue that the two sides have agreed the Indian foreign minister was talking about.
Raghavan should know that not only ‘most people’ but all, without exception, in Pakistan believe India is in illegal occupation of Jammu & Kashmir and unless it is vacated there would be no lasting peace between India and Pakistan. An urgent clarification on the part of Indian government is in order – to pre-empt the perception of a Trojan horse that the proposed dialogue is bound to acquire in the wake of its envoy’s comment.
Walking the Pakistan-India peace talks was always problematic, much more now that it is expected to take off in relatively more inhospitable environments. The first question people would like to ask is: Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi sincere in jumpstarting the long-stalled peace process with Pakistan, and why now? Although crystal-gazing someone’s mind is still not a perfect science, there are quite a few broad hints on India’s political horizon which tend to suggest why the Modi dispensation is now amenable to the imperative of clinching a peace deal with Pakistan.
As to what triggered this change of heart, there is a ‘mix of factors on domestic and international fronts’ – described in some detail in a write-up in the Business Recorder. Narendra Modi’s one-point agenda on terrorism had lost relevance after Pakistan launched the ‘dossier diplomacy’, and convinced the world that it could lead to a wider armed conflict in the region and potentially a nuclear clash. Then, his party suffered a series of electoral setbacks, as Indian intelligentsia frowned over the steep rise of Hindutva mindset which is rejuvenating rival Congress. And also, the Modi circles must have perceived increasing marginalization of India’s Muslims who might turn out to be ‘a ticking bomb for India’.
‘Put simply, Modi’s strategy wasn’t going anywhere. So, he corrected the course,’ says the write-up. Sushma Swaraj says the talks with Pakistan should be uninterrupted ‘despite provocations by saboteurs’. That is what Pakistan always wanted. But it was New Delhi which kept hinting at the possibility of ‘Cold war’ and ‘Limited War’ in case of another Mumbai carnage or something of that kind, without showing any degree of appreciation of fact that a terrorist is nobody’s friend and he has his own agenda.
That there would be a separate table for discussions on terrorism is a possibility that appears a bit enigmatic because it tends to suggest that progress on the rest of the issues would critically depend on the performance of this table. Or crudely said, all other issues agreed for bilateral discussion and resolution in the framework of Comprehensive Dialogue would be on the backburner until there is tangible progress on the issue of terrorism. The incidence of terrorism is home-grown stemming as much from India’s oppressive control as from the communal and racial faultiness. It is our hope that the two governments would try walking the talks on both; the issue of terrorism and other bilateral issues including the future of Kashmiris.
Source: Business Recorder