Pak Indo- Love and Peace

The sud­den erup­tion of vi­o­lence on the Line of Con­trol in Kash­mir could ad­versely af­fect bi­lat­eral talks be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By S.G. Ji­la­nee

De­spite mount­ing ten­sion on the LoC,

back-chan­nel diplo­macy continues.

Was it an un­for­tu­nate co­in­ci­dence or a well thought-out con­spir­acy to douse Nawaz Sharif’s over­flow­ing en­thu­si­asm about mend­ing fences with In­dia that five In­dian sol­diers were killed in an am­bush in the wee hours of Au­gust 6 at the LoC?

As soon as Mr. Sharif was sworn in, he vowed to pick up the threads from the point they had been snapped due to Gen. Mushar­raf’s re­ported mis­ad­ven­ture in Kargil. And there is no doubt about el­e­ments in both coun­tries which want to see to it that the pot is kept boil­ing. It en­sures for them a good life. It guar­an­tees their very rel­e­vance. Peace be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan would make them re­dun­dant.

With the in­ci­dent, tem­per­a­tures rose. In­dian ar­tillery fire killed sev­eral peo­ple on the Pak­istani side. In New Delhi, an­gry crowds raided the Pak­istan High Com­mis­sion. The Lok Sabha was in uproar. Hawks be­came hys­ter­i­cal and the right­ist me­dia went into con­nip­tion. The In­dian Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing Ma­jor Gen­eral V.P. Singh threat­ened a “be­fit­ting re­sponse” to BAT at­tacks from the Pak­istani side. The In­di­ans use BAT for “Bor­der Action Team” which, ac­cord­ing to them, is a mix of “Pak­istani spe­cial forces per­son­nel and ter­ror­ists” who carry out at­tacks on In­dian tar­gets.

In Pak­istan, the For­eign Of­fice sum­moned the In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to lodge protests against the at­tacks. At one point, there were re­ports even about Pak­istan con­sid­er­ing re­duc­tion in its diplo­matic staff de­ployed in its mis­sion in New Delhi. Pak­istan’s par­lia­ment also adopted a res­o­lu­tion de­nounc­ing In­dian fir­ing which the In­dian Lok Sabha promptly dis­missed. It ap­peared that the Au­gust 6 in­ci­dent had all but de­railed the progress in a new phase of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions that Pak­istan had ini­ti­ated with much hope.

How­ever, the dark clouds were not en­tirely shorn of sil­ver lin­ings. First, the DGMOs of both sides made con­tact on the hot­line in an ef­fort at dam­age con­trol. Sec­ond, Pak­istan of­fered joint in­ves­ti­ga­tions to find out the truth about the killing of In­dian sol­diers. It also sug­gested that the U.N. Mil­i­tary Ob­server Group in In­dia and Pak­istan (UNMOGIP) should be called in. But, as usual, In­dia did not ac­cept the sug­ges­tion. It is op­posed to any third-party in­volve­ment in the Kash­mir dis­pute which, it in­sists, is a purely bi­lat­eral is­sue be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan.

In a care­fully worded state­ment, In­dian De­fense Min­is­ter A.K. Antony also told the In­dian par­lia­ment that the killers of In­dian sol­diers were “ter­ror­ists along with peo­ple dressed in the Pak­istan Army uni­form.” Ob­vi­ously, nei­ther he nor Gen. V.P. Singh be­lieved that the Pak­istan Army was di­rectly in­volved.

But elec­tions are loom­ing. For po­lit­i­cal ex­trem­ists, par­tic­u­larly the

BJP, no is­sue is too small to be­la­bor the Congress with. Pronto, there­fore, they seized the op­por­tu­nity to pro­claim that the gov­ern­ment was be­ing soft on Pak­istan. For the same rea­son, the Congress can't af­ford to look soft. So, as if to counter the op­po­si­tion’s charge, Antony played a lit­tle pol­i­tics, chang­ing his tune to blam­ing Pak­istan of­fi­cially for the killings. He had to be­cause Congress must move war­ily in or­der to at­tract vot­ers. And ev­i­dently, di­a­logue with Pak­istan is not a vote- catcher at the mo­ment.

Nawaz Sharif faces no such chal­lenges. He has just won a third term. His party com­mands a clear ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment. And the op­po­si­tion is in to­tal dis­ar­ray. He re­mains fo­cused on di­a­logue to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions. Ac­tu­ally, as a busi­ness­man, he has a re­al­is­tic ap­proach to is­sues which he sees in the con­text of cost and ben­e­fit. As he said in a re­cent in­ter­view to the me­dia, it is the com­mon peo­ple who have suf­fered due to the en­dur­ing hos­til­ity be­tween the two coun­tries. It was in the same con­text that Mr. Sharif sug­gested that the two coun­tries should “talk and fight poverty in­stead of each other.”

The prime min­ster is known for his pref­er­ence for direct, face-to-face talks over long-winded Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tions and fil­tered pol­icy briefs couched in diplo­matic jar­gon. He calls it the “via Bhatinda ap­proach.” The term re­ceived wide pub­lic­ity

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.