In­dia send­ing out neg­a­tive vibes

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - Mo­ham­mad Jamil Email: mjamil1938@hot­

IN an in­ter­view with In­dian TV chan­nel, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi con­tin­ued with his dev­il­ish­ness. To con­vey an im­pres­sion that he wished to hold talks with Pak­istan but found difficulty in do­ing so with, what he called, mul­ti­ple power cen­ters in Pak­istan – elected gov­ern­ment and other ac­tors. He raised a new ques­tion, as to whom he should talk to. Of course, he should hold talks with Pak­istan’s elected Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, for whom he had made a visit to Lahore to con­grat­u­late him on his birth­day and also to at­tend his daugh­ter’s wed­ding in De­cem­ber 2015. Af­ter his re­turn, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi tweeted say­ing “he was touched by the PM Nawaz Sharif ’s hos­pi­tal­ity, as he wel­comed him at the air­port upon his ar­rival, and also went to see him off when he was de­part­ing for In­dia.” He should there­fore talk to elected Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif.

Any­how, In­dian prime min­is­ters in the past had held talks with elected as well as mil­i­tary gov­ern­ments. Sar­taj Aziz, PM ad­vi­sor on for­eign af­fairs, is right when he says that Naren­dra Modi does not wish to re­solve the is­sues like Kash­mir, Si­achen and Sir Creek etc. On Fri­day, Viqas Swarap, spokesman of In­dia’s Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­istry re­port­edly said that Delhi had never ever shied away from en­gag­ing with Islamabad. In the same breadth he ruled out for­mal talks with Pak­istan till Islamabad fin­ishes the probe into the Pathankot air­base at­tack. Since the In­dian premier’s in­vi­ta­tion to PM Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration in May 2014, later a brief meet­ing be­tween PM Nawaz and Naren­dra Modi on the side­lines of the UN cli­mate change sum­mit in Paris on Novem­ber 30, fol­lowed by talks be­tween the two coun­tries’ na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers in Bangkok, had given hope.

Nev­er­the­less, Naren­dra Modi con­tin­ues to ac­cuse Pak­istan of sup­port­ing the Tal­iban and Haqqni net­work. In a veiled ref­er­ence to Pak­istan dur­ing his trip to Afghanistan in De­cem­ber 2015 he had stated: “Afghanistan will suc­ceed only when ter­ror­ism no longer flows across the bor­der; when nurs­eries and sanc­tu­ar­ies of ter­ror­ism are shut; and their pa­trons are no longer in busi­ness.” As a mat­ter of fact, New Delhi had can­celled the for­eign sec­re­tary-level talks in Au­gust 2014 af­ter the Pak­istan high com­mis­sioner in New Delhi had held con­sul­ta­tions with Hur­riyat mem­bers. In fact, it was more of a norm that Pak­istan held meet­ings with Hur­riyat lead­ers be­fore talks with In­dia. Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif had raised this is­sue at the UNGA at the 69th ses­sion, and blamed In­dia for an­other missed op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress out­stand­ing is­sues by can­celling the for­eign sec­re­taries’ talks in Au­gust 2014.

Can­cel­la­tion of sec­re­tary level talks was re­flec­tive of lack of un­der­stand­ing of the is­sue and short­sight­ed­ness of Naren­dra Modi’s gov­ern­ment. In­dia had called off en­gage­ment with Pak­istan many times in the past on flimsy grounds, only to re­al­ize later that there was no other al­ter­na­tive to the di­a­logue. Sar­taj Aziz and Ajit Do­val had vowed to work on the agenda for talks; how­ever In­dia in­sisted on hav­ing talks on only mat­ters re­lated to ter­ror­ism sans Kash­mir, Sir Creek and Si­achen. Of course, Pak­istan has al­ways been keen to re­solve all out­stand­ing dis­putes with In­dia through di­a­logue, but In­dia ei­ther baulked at di­a­logue or stalled di­a­logue on one pre­text or an­other. Since 2004, In­dia and Pak­istan had many rounds of talks un­der com­pos­ite di­a­logue, but af­ter Mum­bai at­tacks it was In­dia that had ended the talks. Pak­istan now is not in­ter­ested in mean­ing­less talks.

Even be­fore Mum­bai at­tacks both coun­tries had many rounds of talks, but to no avail due to In­dia’s in­tran­si­gence. It was al­ways In­dia which blamed Pak­istan for ev­ery ter­ror act in In­dia even be­fore any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There are in­deed ter­ror­ist out­fits in In­dia and Pak­istan, but to ac­cuse Pak­istan of ev­ery ter­ror act in In­dia is a mat­ter of rou­tine with In­dian gov­ern­ment. In­dian me­dia had tried to mis­lead the public by cre­at­ing an im­pres­sion that PM Nawaz Sharif high­lighted Kash­mir dis­pute at the be­hest of mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment, not real­iz­ing that Nawaz Sharif him­self was wary of In­dian in­tran­si­gence vis-à-vis vi­o­la­tions of LoC and ear­lier can­cel­la­tion of sec­re­tary-level talks. Nawaz Sharif has been ar­dent sup­porter of im­prov­ing re­la­tions with In­dia. He had at­tended the oath-tak­ing cer­e­mony of Naren­dra Modi de­spite op­po­si­tion from al­most all strata of so­ci­ety; yet In­dia was not will­ing to re­cip­ro­cate the good­will ges­tures.

Hav­ing that said, Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif al­ways ex­pressed the de­sire to have friendly re­la­tions with In­dia, and be­lieved that both coun­tries could re­solve their dis­putes through di­a­logue. But his de­sire was mis­per­ceived as if he was will­ing to for­get about Kash­mir or place it on the back burner. By rais­ing Kash­mir dis­pute in the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in 2014 was em­blem­atic of re­al­iza­tion in Islamabad that re­la­tions with In­dia could only im­prove if New Delhi also showed will­ing­ness to do so. For­eign Sec­re­tary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry talk­ing to Pak­istani me­dia at a brief­ing out­side the United Na­tions had said: “If Indians are in­ter­ested in a meet­ing, they should ap­proach us now”. But the prob­lem is that In­dia is try­ing to com­pli­cate the is­sue by es­tab­lish­ing sol­diers’ colonies in Sri­na­gar. It ap­pears that In­dia is em­u­lat­ing Is­rael, which has es­tab­lished Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

In April 2015, the Ra­jya Sainik Board (RSB), headed by Gov­er­nor N.N. Vohra, ap­proved es­tab­lish­ment of a Sainik colony in Sri­na­gar close to the old air­port. In April 2015, the Ra­jya Sainik Board (RSB), headed by Gov­er­nor N.N. In a note to the Home depart­ment, the RSB said 173 kanals (21.6 acres) of land had been iden­ti­fied for a Sainik colony and ap­proval had been sought from then Chief Min­is­ter, Mufti Mo­ham­mad Say­eed. The RSB has been check­ing on the sta­tus of land for the project. On Au­gust 31, 2015, the RSB sent a sec­ond note to the Home depart­ment, seek­ing more land since “the num­ber of as­pi­rants in­creased”. “Af­ter ob­tain­ing writ­ten com­mit­ment from the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, the num­ber of as­pi­rants in­creased to 26 of­fi­cers, 125 JCOs and 900 oth­ers, re­quir­ing a to­tal of 350 kanals (44 acres) of land,” the RSB wrote. —The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist based in Lahore.

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