Trans­form­ing Re­gional Diplo­macy in South Asia: Omens of Frus­tra­tions and Hopes for In­dia and Pak­istan

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Shah Rukh Hashmi

June in South Asia is the hottest month and it seems re­cent wave of heat in In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions got some con­tin­gent ef­fect form June as the nascent peace be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan ap­pears to be high jacked once again by the hawks from the both sides. How­ever as ev­ery sum­mer is met by the mon­soon in South Asia, we should not leave hopes for the rain of peace be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. In­ter­est­ingly, this time mech­a­nism to check the omen of peace was by the ac­tors must be cher­ish­ing on this as their agenda of hate speech and vi­o­lence is taken by demo­crat­i­cally elected ones. Though di­a­logue process once again was in em­bry­onic phase but the sit­u­a­tion was not that worst prior to the highly prop­a­gated and dis­cusses In­dian army’s at­tack on rebel camps within Myan­mar’s ter­ri­tory, claim­ing de­struc­tion of two camps and killing up to 15 bel­liger­ents. In­dian Media and de­fense an­a­lysts started dis­cussing po­ten­tial of In­dian army to con­duct sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion in other neigh­bor­ing states in gen­eral and Pak­istan in par­tic­u­lar. Ear­lier, Mr. Modi the prime min­ster of In­dia men­tioned his vol­un­teer ef­forts and con­tri­bu­tion in the war of suc­ces­sion of Bangladesh, while ad­dress­ing to stu­dents of Dhaka Univer­sity and a cross-sec­tion of Bangladeshi So­ci­ety, he re­minded and ac­knowl­edged the role of In­dian army in 1971 war. These two events fuel up the de­bate across Pak­istan and gave huge blow to peace that is al­ready in bud­ding phase. Con­trary to this, soft cor­ner for In­dia and de­sire for peace was paid more at­ten­tion in Pak­istan. Nawaz Sharif, then newly elected can­di­date as Prime Min­ster faced harsh crit­i­cism be­fore he min­is­ter of Pak­istan as he in­vited his coun­ter­part from In­dia for oath tak­ing cer­e­mony. This gen­er­ous in­vi­ta­tion went deaf ears and hawks in Pak­istan cel­e­brated this re­fusal. In con­trast, Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif made no de­lay to be the part of oath tak­ing cer­e­mony of Mr. Modi when the lat­ter in­vited heads of all SAARC mem­ber coun­tries. It was ad­mired and ap­pre­ci­ated move on the end of Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and hopes for bet­ter re­la­tions be­tween two new gov­ern­ments were ex­pected. One sided bon­homie of Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to­wards In­dia did not ended here and In­dian For­eign Sec­re­tary Subra­manyam Jais­hankar was given war welcome and re­cep­tion by the Prime Min­ster house. This aroused a thought in across the bor­der that Pak­istan’s na­tional nar­ra­tive has come to a point where In­dia’s third tier lead­er­ship of the coun­try. Hold­ing these views mean nei­ther I am against peace nor do I cul­ti­vate any hate, but in­deed it is an is­sue of na­tional honor and dig­nity. The di­a­logue is nec­es­sary be­tween the two neigh­bors, but one must re­mem­ber both In­dia and Pak­istan are equally sov­er­eign states, and the prime min­is­ter is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the na­tion. His de­sire to be a peace-bro­ker and win a No­bel Prize should not be at the ex­pense of na­tional pres­tige. Also it is ev­i­dent form the past that such gen­er­ous and out of way moves pro­duce noth­ing. Ar­guably, has­tened set of state­ments and ir­ra­tional, nar­row sighted pol­icy choices are the out­come of frus­tra­tion that In­dia is fac­ing with game changer ‘China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor’ pro­ject. This mega pro­ject with 45bil­lion$ worth would not only of­fer sta­bil­ity, peace and pros­per­ity to Pak­istan but also it will fa­cil­i­tate trade to cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan along with prime ob­jec­tive to con­nect China

with Ara­bian sea, thus of­fer­ing China two Oceans power sta­tus. Though both Pak­istan and China as­sured this de­vel­op­ment is not aimed at In­dia, how­ever In­dian crit­i­cism and loud hue and cry it­self ex­plain­ing the de­feat of their re­gional diplo­macy. Another set­back to In­dian diplo­macy in the re­gion is newly es­tab­lished bet­ter work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Afghanistan and Pak­istan. With the gov­ern­ment change in Afghanistan, the new gov­ern­ment im­proved bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Pak­istan. Mu­tual agree­ment to nip the bud of ter­ror­ism col­lec­tively en­hanced trust be­tween the two states. Both Pak­istan and Afghanistan mu­tu­ally as­sured that their ter­rain will not be used against each other. This has nur­tured dis­ap­point­ment to In­dia. In­dian of­fer to train Afghan Mil­i­tary is re­fused and it seems Kabul looks to­wards Is­lam­abad with con­sis­tent re­li­a­bil­ity. Lastly but not least In­dia’s day dream­ing for per­ma­nent sta­tus in United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and Obama’s state­ment over the is­sue on Re­pub­lic Day cel­e­bra­tion of In­dia was met by anger and ir­ri­ta­tion in Pak­istan. How­ever, it was noth­ing more than a happy end­ing diplo­matic bar­gain by the United States for In­dia with no se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions. Since its in­cep­tion UNSC have been re­tained by the Per­ma­nent Five mem­bers of the coun­cil who are granted spe­cial pow­ers and at­tribute by the char­ter of the UN, as the ar­ti­cle per­ma­nent mem­bers for the UNCS to de­cide any is­sue other than pro­ce­dural ones, whereas the ar­ti­cle 108 en­dorses their pow­ers by mak­ing it, out of ques­tion to re­form the char­ter with­out their con­sent. Which means one big likely by China) would re­strain any such pro­poses amend­ment in the char­ter. The call for re­forms in the UNSC is not a new phe­nom­e­non, there have been strong voices in post-cold war times for the re­forms. The present dis­tri­bu­tion per­ma­nent sta­tus ne­glects sev­eral times, these in­cludes Brazil and South Africa as emerg­ing economies from the south­ern hemi­sphere, In­done­sia Ger­many as the lead­ing econ­omy and tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vance state of the cen­tral Europe. Al­beit, In­dia ow­ing to its pop­u­la­tion, econ­omy and sev­eral in such de­mand but a state that does not com­ply with the UNSC res­o­lu­tions over Kash­mir sim­ply re­mains in utopian dream that needs com­pli­ance with the UNSC res­o­lu­tions to ma­te­ri­al­ize this dream. De­sire for peace is wor­thy, noble and sa­cred, there must be no ef­fort left un­done to cul­ti­vate peace be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. Pak­istan should not over re­act on hawk­ish state­ments by the is to di­vert the na­tional po­ten­tial from en­er­gies in use­less ver­bal game with In­dia. How­ever, as a fa­mous proverb says ‘peace pre­vails among equals’, this noble de­sire for peace must not be at the cost of moral sur­ren­der, sub­ju­ga­tion, com­pro­mise on na­tional honor and the death of dig­nity. Thus any breach of peace or threat of ag­gres­sion should be met with full pow­ers and po­ten­tials. Let us hope to dream once again for the peace, pros­per­ity and friend­ship be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan to se­cure a bet­ter fu­ture for the up­com­ing gen­er­a­tion with sta­ble and en­durable peace.

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