Ca­coph­ony Drowns Out Pathankot

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Such is the fear of stray­ing off the stan­dard In­dia-Pak­istan script, that how to re­spond to the other side with re­gard to the Pathankot ter­ror­ist at­tack probe has be­come big­ger than the probe it­self. This is a shame. The Pak­istani me­dia re­port has deemed the Pathankot at­tack as “stage-man­aged” af­ter quot­ing an anony­mous mem­ber of Pak­istan’s Joint In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team (JIT). The JIT had been in­vited by In­dia hop­ing that bring­ing Pak­istani ‘state ac­tors’ into the pic­ture would im­prove ‘trust is­sues’ be­tween the two coun­tries. It turns out that the Pak­istan pub­li­ca­tion has re­sulted in yank­ing back the In­dia-Pak­istan nar­ra­tive to square one, forc­ing New Delhi to make a show of its out­rage against the me­dia re­port. It also shows that el­e­ments be­holden to Rawalpindi still hold more in store in ped­dling the ‘anti-In­dia’ nar­ra­tive than en­gag­ing against the com­mon threat of ter­ror­ism.

The Pak­istani re­ac­tion gives grist to the mills of op­po­si­tion voices in In­dia who saw the Modi gov­ern­ment ‘sell out’ to Islamabad as soon as the Pathankot JIT was in­vited. Delhi chief min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal, for one, sounds vin­di­cated now as he slams the prime min­is­ter for hav­ing “bowed down be­fore Pak­istan”. The truth is that there is no other con­struc­tive op­tion but to en­gage with Pak­istan. And for that, the gov­ern­ment should be ready to pour wax into its ears to block out all siren songs of po­lit­i­cal one-up­man­ship. To be seen do­ing its bit to make Pak­istan come on board is im­por­tant, if for noth­ing else than to make the global com­mu­nity judge for it­self which party of the two is walk­ing the ex­tra mile.

Ex­pec­ta­tions, of course, need to be based firmly on re­al­ism — not on peacenik ide­al­ism or the anti-Pak­istani at­tack dog­ma­tism. Canny diplo­macy is about chip­ping away. Even in the mid­dle of a whole lot of ham­mer­ing.

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