The Inconclusive Round of Indo-Pak Dialogue
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
A daylong much awaited Indo-Pak secretary level talks were held in New Delhi on February 25, 2001. There has been no worthwhile outcome from the dialogue. Initially there remained misperceptions, whether it is the renewal of the composite dialogue process, initially started in 1997, and later renewed in January 2004. Considering that perception, Pakistan in particular and other South Asian countries in general were pinning many hopes from these dialogue. However, on February 17, 2010, once both countries were finalizing their agendas for the forthcoming Indo-Pak dialogue, Mr. Krishna, Indian Foreign Minister, said in a TV interview that “Let us be very, very clear that the composite dialogue is suspended. Composite dialogue is not being renewed...The brief to the Foreign Secretary is that terror would be focal point.” In a way, S.M. Krishna, set a new tone for the dialogue, by disrupting the composite dialogue process. Indian Home Minister however tried to bridge the gulf by promising that other issues between India and Pakistan would also come under discussion during the talks in New Delhi.
Throughout the epigrammatic talks, the pessimistic gestures remained dominant on the agenda of the negotiations. Both parties had different mindsets to proceed with the dialogue process. Considering Kashmir and water as the core issues, Pakistan emphasized on their resolutions through the comprehensive peace process. India, however, remained stick to its old rhetoric that Pakistan should end the terrorism by dismantling the so-called terrorist camps. It demanded Pakistan to take action against those responsible of the Mumbai terror attack and gave away two dossiers of the self-proclaimed terrorists as proof, in retribution to what Pakistan has handed over to India in Sharm el-Sheikh. In a way, India negatively responded the positive Pakistani gesture of good will. The only positive part of the talks was that both parties agreed to continue the talks in future too.
It appears, as there is something wrong with wisdom of the crowd on India side. Either, the Indian leadership is dilly-dallying the resolution of the core issues, as those have no bearing on Indian security and economy. Or else, Indian leadership is indecisive to proceed ahead, owing to the domestic factors like the pressure of Hindu nationalist/ fundamentalist parties; the BJP and RSS. The fear of losing the public support or a strong public pressure for not resuming the composite dialogue process is yet another factor, might have made the Indian leadership rickety to take a positive stance for the normalization of the Indo-Pak relationship.
The biggest qualm remains, is Indian public so unrealistic that they do not like to give peace a chance or else Indian leadership and powerful media has forced them to think like that. Nevertheless, according to a public survey, an overwhelming population of the India desire peaceful settlement of all issues between India and Pakistan and also restoration of the composite dialogue process. So is the desire of the people and Government of Pakistan. The inference is that Indian leadership is thinking differently, perhaps, they have the hegemonic designs and wants to dictate the terms and conditions of the talks on to its nuclear neighbour. This is evident from the statement of Salman Bashir, the Pakistani Foreign Secretary once he said after the dialogue that, "we don't like being sermoned on terrorism".
Besides Mr. Salman also pointed out that, “Pakistan does not believe that India should lecture us and Pakistan does this or that. That is not, how inter-state relations are conducted.” Otherwise, Pakistan should not be dying for the type of the dialogue we had on February 25, 2010. Just, agreeing, “To remain in touch,” as said by Indian Foreign Secretary, Ms. Nirupama Rao, may not have been enough. If at all, it desires peace in the region, India need to resolve all the outstanding issues with Pakistan on merit and that too on equal grounds.
Indo-Pak dialogues cannot be kept hostage to the one Mumbai attack. Pakistan, indeed has suffered many Mumbais at the hands of the Indian spying network. The proofs of all these have been given to India during the Sharm el-Sheikh meet in July 2009 by Pakistani Premier, Yousaf Raza Gillani. Should not we question India for the hundreds of the terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil carried out by its spying network RAW? If Ajmal Kasab, the only survivor of the Mumbai attack has Pakistani origin, then what about those, who had Indian origin and were part of the Mumbai terror attack? Even Kasab remained under the Indian custody for months before the attack. What actions India has taken against all those Indian nationals involved in the terrorist attacks on the innocent people of Pakistan? What about Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit of Indian Military Intelligence (MI) and his other colleagues from the Indian Army who planned and executed a number of anti-Muslim attacks including the Samjhauta Express incident in 2007, killing sixty eight innocent people. India, therefore, has no rationalization to take Mumbai as the basis to suspend the dialogue process.
While out rightly overlooking the desired outcome from the dialogue, the Indian Foreign Secretary said that, “my invitation to the Pakistani Foreign Secretary was in keeping with the Government of India’s firm conviction that we must not shut the door on dialogue with Pakistan, and such dialogue, if it gathers momentum, holds tremendous potentials for the progress and well being of the people of our region.” However, her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir said that, “there is no need of secretary level talks if India remains stuck to its stand on outstanding issues.” Surely, any dialogue should be result oriented, rather a merry-go-round through the so-called open Indian doors.
Unquestionably, dialogue is the only option with the India and Pakistan to resolve their all-outstanding issues. Despite the fact that the dialogue process re-started under the US pressure, it too endowed India with a face saving. Was not India rapidly losing its credibility at the global level, through a lengthy phase of staying away from the dialogue process and making use of the coercive diplomacy? Why talks were held prior to the visit of Indian Premier to Saudi Arabia. Before Indian As per Shekhar Gupta, the Editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, “India is happy with itself and at peace.” Indeed, India could not get any worthwhile achievement by remaining off the dialogue process. It perhaps was in the search of some plea to re-start the dialogue, and through the recent talks, it got a chance to show to the world that India has not closed its door for dialogue and peace.
The leadership of the South Asia indeed, need to comprehend that neither violence nor the use of threat and force would resolve the regional issues. Only a purposeful and result-oriented talk could resolve the issues between India and Pakistan. As per Clausewitz, “the ultimate objective of any war is peace” and “Nuclear deterrence averts war and seeks peace,” as highlighted by Mohammed ElBaradei, the former Director General AEA. If India fails to comprehend this lesson, a time would come once it “could run out of stamina like USSR disintegrating under the weight of its own empire.”
Therefore, the need of the hour is that Indian leadership should positively responds to the Pakistani offer of the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues between them. If India considers terrorism as the main issue, between the two, then, it must stop its state-sponsored terrorist acts in Balochistan, FATA and other parts of Pakistan. Pakistan has already disbanded all those organizations suspected to be involved in the terrorism. Otherwise, these organizations have never been state sponsored. Furthermore, there is no political party in Pakistan like BJP, which plan and execute terrorism through its military wings like RSS and VHP. Moreover, it has no terrorist wing in the Pak Army, the way Colonel Purohit of Indian Military Intelligence has been carrying out terrorist acts against Muslims and Christians, using the explosive material and weapons / ammunition of the Indian Army, over the years.
Indeed, the world needs to know the reality of the secular, democratic, and shining India. Its ambitions of becoming a global power and prejudiced relationship with its smaller neighbours of the South Asia are to be questioned by the international community.
The writer is a South Asian analyst.