Pak-In­dia peace process at low­est ebb

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS -

AM­BAS­SADOR Gopala­pu­ram Parthasarthy, a for­mer In­dian high com­mis­sioner to Pakistan (1998-2000) and a for­mer spokesper­son of Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice has writ­ten an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle about Pakistan-In­dia re­la­tions: “The gen­eral, the ‘spy’ and no talks with In­dia”. In­ter­est­ingly trash has come from a per­son who once had the re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that this bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship does not go astray. Poor Pakistan-In­dia bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship owes a lot to Parthasarathy syn­drome.

Cap­stone phrases read “Nawaz Sharif may have per­mit­ted the trial of Jaish-e-Mo­hammed ter­ror­ists for the Pathankot at­tack. But this fell apart be­cause of Gen­eral Ra­heel Sha­reef’s keen­ness to make Kulb­hushan Jad­hav the cen­tre­piece of global at­ten­tion… The worst kept se­cret to­day in Pakistan is that the coun­try’s elected prime min­is­ter and its over­bear­ing army chief loathe each other. This is more so, af­ter the army uni­lat­er­ally com­menced op­er­a­tions across the Pun­jab prov­ince — the heart­land of Nawaz Sharif’s po­lit­i­cal power — with­out both­er­ing to take the prime min­is­ter’s ap­proval”.

Writer ap­pears to be out his head be­cause Pathankot in­ci­dent is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion and In­dian in­ves­ti­ga­tors are still to visit Pakistan. And Ques­tion of trial would only arise af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Pathankot at­tack com­plete. Also there has be no com­ment from PM Nawaz Sharif’s of­fice that op­er­a­tions in Pun­jab com­menced with­out his ap­proval.

Theme is not new, In­dia has since long been try­ing to project Pakistan’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship in poor stand­ing— al­ways ob­struc­tive to civil­ian govern­ment who is dy­ing for good re­la­tions with In­dia but is help­less, as mil­i­tary lead­er­ship just does not let it move in that di­rec­tion. Hav­ing done Ra­heel bash­ing, Parthasarathy does not spare Nawaz Sharif ei­ther: “Nawaz Sharif him­self has a record of links with or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Lashkar-e-Tay­iba” and tends to con­clude that: “It is not sur­pris­ing that these de­vel­op­ments have in­evitably cast a shadow on the al­ready strained and com­plex re­la­tions with In­dia”.

More­over, in­stead of of­fer­ing an apol­ogy on Jad­hav episode, for­mer am­bas­sador re­sorts to give it a spin on tech­ni­cal grounds: “Pakistan’s de facto ruler, Gen­eral Ra­heel Sha­reef, chose not to be present when Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif met visiting Ira­nian President Has­san Rouhani. He sep­a­rately met President Rouhani, swag­ger stick in hand, the next day.The obe­di­ent army spokesman du­ti­fully tweeted that his ex­alted boss had given ev­i­dence to the Ira­nian president about the evil In­di­ans us­ing Ira­nian soil to desta­bilise the ex­alted Is­lamic Republic of Pakistan.An ob­vi­ously ir­ri­tated President Rouhani bris­tled with anger, when he was asked about this, not­ing that In­dia, like Pakistan, was re­garded as a friendly coun­try, by Iran”. If the writer was hon­est in his in­tent, he should have men­tioned that this is usual prac­tice in Pakistan that visiting heads of state/govt meet the po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship sep­a­rately.

In­dian ef­fort to pres­surise Iran to take a stance that Yadev was picked up by Pak in­tel­li­gence agen­cies from Ira­nian soil has also failed. Ar­restors of Kulb­hushan have re­cov­ered travel doc­u­ments and mul­ti­ple fake iden­ti­ties of spy-cum-ter­ror­ist, es­tab­lish­ing him as an In­dian Navy of­fi­cer who had en­tered into Balochis­tan through Iran, hav­ing a valid Ira­nian visa. Parthasarathy in­dulges into wish­ful think­ing that “Pakistan now faces a dilemma. Any­thing Jad­hav says while in Pak­istani cus­tody will be brushed aside as be­ing made un­der co­er­cion. If the Pakistan mil­i­tary re­leases him, he could well point out some un­pleas­ant truths about Pakistan”.

Pakistan has al­ready handed over 3 dossiers to UNSG on the eve of last min­is­te­rial ses­sion of UNGA doc­u­ment­ing In­dia’s sys­tem­atic use of ter­ror­ism as an in­stru­ment of state­craft while deal­ing with Pakistan. Ar­rest of Yadev and his con­fes­sions cer­tainly sub­stan­ti­ates in­for­ma­tion doc­u­mented in those three dossiers. Prov­ince went through peace­ful elec­tions for na­tional and provin­cial as­sem­blies as well as lo­cal govts. More­over, mid-term change of govt in Balochis­tan has taken place smoothly in line with pre­vi­ously agreed terms.

The govern­ment of Balochis­tan had al­ready an­nounced a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion pol­icy a few months back to pave the way for the res­o­lu­tion of is­sues re­lat­ing to the prov­ince which had been un­der the grip of In­dia spon­sored vi­o­lence for over a decade.As a re­sult, some high pro­file mil­i­tant lead­ers have al­ready been elim­i­nated or are re­con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tion; now a sense of se­cu­rity pre­vails among the peo­ple. As a re­sult of po­lit­i­cal par­leys Khan of Qal­lat has agreed to re­turn to Balochis­tan in due course.And to In­dia’s dis­ap­point­ment, work on China Pakistan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor is pro­ceed­ing smoothly. This has led to frus­tra­tion in In­dian in­tel­li­gence cir­cles that could have pan­icked Jad­hav into “let me go and fix it” mode.

In his dis­jointed com­po­si­tion, writer is fool­hardy enough to as­sume that Pakistan is fast los­ing in­flu­ence in the Arab World. And quotes Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s re­cent visit to Saudi Ara­bia to sup­port his anal­y­sis. He con­ve­niently ig­nore the snub Modi got from the Saudi King when he tried to lure away GCC coun­tries from Pakistan in exchange for help in sit­u­a­tions/ con­tin­gen­cies like Ye­men war dur­ing his UAE visit last year.

The am­bas­sador then re­sorts to shear black mail: “He [Nawaz Sharif] will have to host a very sparsely at­tended SAARC Sum­mit in Is­lam­abad later this year if the In­dian prime min­is­ter acts dif­fi­cult and makes his dis­plea­sure and griev­ances ev­i­dent at the sum­mit, es­pe­cially if Pakistan is seen to be not act­ing rea­son­ably on the Pathankot at­tack”. He also tries to scut­tle what­ever is left of the prospects of Pakistan-In­dia bi­lat­eral talks by pre­dict­ing

that Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif will have the as­sets of Hafiz Saeed and Ma­sood Azhar ready for cross­ing LoC when Hi­malayan snows melt in July 2016!

Pakistan bash­ing by an In­dian zealot is not com­plete un­less China and Amer­ica are also roped in. Writer is of the view that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is not likely to do any­thing sub­stan­tial to put the squeeze on Pakistan to bring the per­pe­tra­tors of the Pathankot at­tack to book. And then re­mark sar­cas­ti­cally: “Can New Delhi change these dy­nam­ics of Amer­i­can and Chi­nese poli­cies any­time soon? ”He sug­gests that New Delhi would do well to counter ef­forts by Pakistan and China to con­tain them, by more proac­tive mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bours on the land and mar­itime bor­ders of both these coun­tries.

Any in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst worth his salt will be quite scep­ti­cal on G Parthasarathy’s nar­ra­tive. Like­li­hood of at­tack on In­dian Air Force Sta­tion Pathankot turn­ing out as a false flag op­er­a­tion or­ches­trated by In­dian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies un­der the able tute­lage of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Ajit Do­val and the Kulb­hushan Jad­hav saga will con­tinue to haunt the In­dian in­tel­li­gence es­tab­lish­ment for a long time.

The world is now bet­ter aware about em­ploy­ment of ter­ror­ism as state pol­icy by In­dia, es­pe­cially when it comes to its re­la­tion­ship with Pakistan. Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif has al­ready over ex­pended po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal in at­tempt­ing to im­prove Pakistan-In­dia re­la­tions, all his ini­tia­tives have been scut­tled by Naren­dra Modi, who wears the mask of a charm­ing guy while ef­fec­tively en­sur­ing that di­a­logue does not even be­gin. Pakistan’s High Com­mis­sioner to In­dia has rightly com­mented that as In­dia is not yet ready the peace process stands “sus­pended”. Work­able op­tion for Pakistan is to wait for the time when peo­ple of In­dia throw up a sen­si­ble Prime Min­is­ter. — The writer is con­sul­tant to IPRI on Pol­icy and Strate­gic Re­sponse.

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