Twist in Indo-Pakistan relations: Neemrana track 2 diplomacy is back
Politics never remains static whether it be national, regional or even global. Dynamism is thy name politics. Even a single minor event may change the entire path of politics in and around the immediate community. Laymen may not go deep into the implications of an event that may have happened locally though, but yet its implications could be felt somewhere else near and far in its own mode. The crux of the matter is that since we are living in an interdependent world and thus any event that has taken place in, for example, Nepal's neighborhood or any part of the world, its impact may approach us though it may take some time which may also depend on the magnitude of the political event thus taken place. Ripples could be felt sooner than later. And if the origin of the political turn of events is close to our own environ then it is sure to have its bearing on the countries situated in the same area or say neighborhood. To come more closer, if India or Pakistan take steps to mend their differences or even otherwise, that would have its positive or negative impact in the entire South Asian region and the countries neighboring India and Pakistan may feel its impact, positive or negative both, depending on what steps they have taken? Whether it is for ensuring security or disturbing the same shall much depend on the steps taken by these two countries. And here we have a good news this time. Thanks wisdom appears to have prevailed among a section of the informed and peace loving citizenry on both sides of the border. Needless to say, India and Pakistan after the partition have fought several wars and some political fanatics on both sides at times encourage their respective governments to spit venom against each other and the media adds fuel to the fire. The political leadership of the two countries, mostly the Indian side, has been playing tricks with their people its side to garner votes at times of the election. This may apply to Pakistan also. However, at the people to people level, the ties are more than pleasant and vibrant even as of today and gives an impression to the outsiders that the two nation theory is all backwash and gaffe and that basically the partition of the sub-continent remains limited to geography but still remains pulsating socially in the minds of the people across the borders that they were single an united. The language and culture brings them even closer as could be noticed. This can be felt easily despite the fact that the LoC, (Line of Control) still remains in a tensed situation and the army men of both the countries could be seen directing their rifles against each other. Though the two governments, India and Pakistan, are not even is speaking terms and both uninterruptedly accuse each other of fomenting troubles along the border and inside but yet there is a feeling on both the sides that “peace must be given a chance” so that the entire South Asian countries can take a sigh of relief. Understandably, it is the smaller neighbors of India and Pakistan in South Asia remain in a constant fear that these two arch rivals can go to any extent any time they wish and may create security threat in the entire region. In addition to this threat there is the additional menace of a nuclear war should the two sides think of teaching a lesson to the other. Both India and Pakistan are now countries equipped with nuclear capabilities. Any wrong and hasty decision taken by any one of the two shall bring in a sort of catastrophe in the entire South Asian region and beyond that is unimaginable to comprehend the dangerous consequences of the nuclear disaster. Such a scenario could befall on SA should the wrong button be pushed either by Pakistan or India. However, despite the deteriorating ties in between the two, the wrong button has not been pushed. Thanks the two rivals from Nepal. Good news is that the Neemrana track-2 initiative comprising of experts, former government officials and retired diplomats from India and Pakistan have met recently, to be more precise last month end, in Pakistan and held a two day meet and discussed on how India and Pakistan live in peace for all time to come. Reports have it that the Indian team was comprised of two influential persons in their own right. The first one was Vivek Katju, a person presumably very close to the ruling BJP government and the other one was former Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood. Mr. Sood served in Nepal as India's Ambassador. He was excessively arrogant and thus was misbehaved by some nationalist nationals while touring a hilly district in Nepal prior to his departure to Delhi. The Pakistani side was represented by Former foreign Minister Inam-Ul Haq and former governor of State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Ishrat Husain, write Pakistani newspapers. The Neemrana track 2 initiative is a Western effort initiated right in the early 1990s, to be more precise 1991 October, which later became dormant for some unknown reasons. Neemrana is a fort located in Rajsthan in India and this initiative came into existence with the active support of United States Information service, USIS. Needless to say, the sudden emergence of this Neemrana track-2 diplomacy must have been the backing of the US information agency which is in itself not bad as this prefers to bring in peace in the entire South Asian region more so in between the estranged neighbors, India and Pakistan. What is remarkable in the revival of this track two diplomacy this time is that the Indian delegation comprising of the two gentlemen as stated earlier traveled to Pakistan and were treated by their Pakistani hosts in a befitting manner? The climax was that the incumbent Foreign Secretary of the Pakistan Government, Ms. Tehmina Janjua threw a lavish dinner in honor of the men engaged with the Neemrana track two diplomacy thus hinting that the Pakistani government without hesitation recognizes the efforts being made by the private sector. Available reports have it that the two sides though have not issued the formal joint statement of the outcome of the two day meet held in Islamabad, however, what has been so far given to understand that the Indian and the Pakistani sides shall submit the final outcome to their respective governments soon. This is simply an ear pleasing news in that both the countries have kept the communication channels open despite the fact that the warlike situation yet prevails along the Line of Control. Revival of peace process should be hailed by India's neighbors as well in that the South Asian security depends much on the settlement of the long drawn Kashmir imbroglio. Now whether or not peace be given a fresh chance depends much on Indian PM Modias to how he takes up the Neemrana outcome and then expresses his willingness for an active engagement with Pakistan or not? The same theory applies to Pakistani side also. Since it is a two-way-affair and thus the two warring sides must come to the table or else the Neemrana initiatives and the efforts made by it shall have no meaning at all. In yet another surprising political development, the Pakistan Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, has made it clear that “peace and prosperity in Pakistan could be brought only by having military cooperation with India”. In a grand departure from the usual practice and perception, the Pak Army Chief perhaps has spoken something that is apparently very close to truth. But what makes Military Chief Bajwa to speak so? Let the domestic experts in Pakistan themselves begin dwelling on the issue as this statement in many more ways than one demands serious discussions for multiple reasons internally. However, since he has spoken of peace then observers in Nepal at least find no valid reasons to dismiss General Bajwa's frank admission summarily. That General Bajwa said or hinted so has been revealed by one think-tank based in United Kingdom the Royal United Service Institute, RUSI. Mr. Kamal Alam, expert on South Asia and the Middle East claims that the Army Chief of Pakistan recently invited the Indian Military Attaché Mr. Sanjay Vishwarao and his entire team to observe the Military day parade held in the Month of March, 2018, and perhaps conveyed through the Indian attaché that “he wanted peace and dialogue with India”. Interestingly, India and Pakistan are all set to take part in a joint military drill to be held in Russia this September wherein China too reportedly is to join the said military exercise. Very interesting developments indeed. What appears above ground is different than what is going underneath. Tricky politics that it is always. The two rival nations, India and Pakistan, are set for this drill despite the daily scuffle
along the border. Unsubstantiated reports have it that Major General Ahmed Hayat, the Director General of the ISI authored the planned “Indiatalk plan” as back as in 2013 itself, however, but awaited the right moment on how and when Pakistan should approach India for peace talks. And here is General Bajwa speaking on the same lines. “It is no brainer that one can't live in an environment of perpetual enmity with a neighbor six times your size, but yet the indicators back home have to be right, said general Ahmed Hayat. All put together, it appears that both India and Pakistan need peace, more so Pakistan has already exhibited its desire for having peace with India and that since the almost dormant and defunct Neemrana Track 2 diplomacy appears very much alive and kicking and has begun already working in helping India and Pakistan to mend their differences so a ray of hope could be seen in the South Asian horizon hinting that soon a day may come when the two declared arch enemies join their hands and change the face of the troubled South Asian region. The best way would be to resume the functioning of the SAARC regional body wherein the two leaders from India and Pakistan could shake hands with each other on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit. This is what Nepal believes as current Chair of the SAARC regional body. The Pakistani Army Chief has thrown the ball now in India's court. How India responds to this Neemrana initiatives and the Army Chief's peace proposals shall perhaps determine the security of the entire South Asian region and beyond. But thanks US information service, USIS that it encouraged the Neemrana to resume its work for which it came into existence. The US must be thanked for this friendly gesture. President Xi Jinping and Indian PM Modi met recently in Wuhan, China. Much ahead of this meet some international scholars have aired their comments as to the possible fall out of this meet on Pakistan. So let's have a look. “I am sure there is a bit of unease among the Pakistan military brass about this Wuhan Summit (President Xi and Modi meet) and the apparent détente. Still the military won't be overly concerned, as it will conclude-rightly so-in my view-that China very much remains in Pakistan's orbit, regardless of this new India-China warming period that could well prove short lived”, so said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. Likewise, Arif Rafiq, a nonresident fellow at the Middle East Institute, another think tank, said recently that “since the Pakistan Military was the communist party of China's principal strategic partner in the region”, he didn't think Beijing was willing to damage relations for tactical benefits vis-à-vis India. “But at the same time, I think there is recognition in Pakistan that dependence on a single strategic partner puts them in a position of weakness, he told This Week in Asia. Before I conclude, have a cursory look at this. In yet another stunning political development as it is claims that “China is confident that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO, with Pakistan and India as its full members will emerge as major regional forum for promoting security and common development. The SCO meet is being held in Qingdao, China wherein for the first time, India and Pakistan are sharing the common platform of the SCO together. Let's wait and see how the politics evolve hereafter in the region. Is it that world politics taking a paradigm shift with China being in the center?