India sending out negative vibes
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.