By Sajjad Shaukat
In the world, when controversy arises between the two rival countries on unsettled issues, bilateral dialogue is being held to resolve them. Pragmatism demands that words of negotiators must match their deeds.
In these terms, two days after meeting his Pakistan’s counterpart Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Maldives on November 10 this year, Manmohan Singh stressed that he made it clear to Gilani that if another barbarous Mumbai attack were to happen, it will be a setback, explaining “I left Gilani in no doubt that if public opinion in India is not satisfied that justice is being done to those responsible to the barbarous attack of Mumbai, it would not be possible to move forward with the peace process…those who perpetrated the attack must be brought to justice.” He further revealed, “I told him (Gilani) that terror as an instrument of state policy has no takers in the world.”
Quite contrarily, in Maldives, Manmohan Singh called, Gilani ‘a man of peace’ pointing out, “The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of our countries” and to improve the ties. Unlike, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani, his counterpart Singh issued more optimistic statements in a joint press conference, remarking that talks took place in very cordial and friendly atmosphere. In this regard, they agreed to further expand their interaction at all levels to improve their bilateral relations especially in trade, people to people contacts, more cooperation to fight terrorism for promoting peace, security and development in the region. Both the rulers stated that all the issues like Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, Wullar Barrage, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) water etc. were discussed. But they declined to give a date for their next meeting.
The meeting between both the rulers in Maldives reminds that of the 16th Summit of the SAARC which took place in Thimpu, Bhutan on April 28-29, 2010. After the Gilani-Singh talks, positive statements were issued from both the sides, but no practical steps were taken regarding the real disputes which remains unresolved.
However, it is due to Indian hidden diplomacy that like the past, except assurances and promises, no major breakthrough occurred between the two countries in Maldives in relation to the real issues-especially thorny dispute of Kashmir which needs solution.
Like the previous parleys, India conveyed to Pakistan the imperative need to punish perpetrators of the Mumbai 26/11 carnage. In this respect, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said about Pakistan’s position that Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the 26/11 terror-incident is a “non-state actor…should be hanged, so should perpetrators of the Samjhauta Express blast.” He also indicated that Pakistan Government was awaiting a visit of the Judicial Commission to India and to get some evidence that will help in prosecuting the accused of the 26/11 in his country, if we have “credible evidence.”
It is notable that on July 27 this year, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Indian counterpart SM Krishna met in New Delhi. At that time also, both the ministers had hailed a new chapter in their relations. They had also discussed all the related-issues—the dispute of Kashmir and progress in the Mumbai attacks trial. Indian External Affairs Minister Krishna, while expressing satisfaction at the outcome of talks had indicated that New Delhi and Islamabad would continue discussions with a view to finding a peaceful solution to various disputes.
Nevertheless, India and Pakistan had resumed the new phase of talks through their home secretaries who had met on March 28 and 29, 2009. These were the first structured bilateral talks which led to Pak-Indian comprehensive dialogue at higher level.
It is of particular attention that every time, prime ministers and foreign ministers of Pakistan and India have ended their meetings with a positive note, terming their talks ‘useful’ and vowed that the same would pave the way for serious and sustainable dialogue, yet the same failed without producing real results owing to Indian covert aims. In this context, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had rightly said that India “was not mentally ready for talks, as it wanted to discuss only selective issues.”
In fact, India has been using delaying tactics as part of its shrewd diplomacy by playing a double game with Islamabad. In this connection, on the one hand, India has been emphasising that it wants to promote friendship with Pakistan by continuing the new phase of peace process, while on the other; it leaves no stone unturned in intensifying anti-Pakistan activities and a deliberate propaganda campaign against Islamabad.
For example, while acting upon the misperceptions of some US high officials, on May 25, 2011, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony had stated that India is concerned about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal after a group of terrorists laid siege to a heavily guarded naval air base. Besides, in the aftermath of Osama’s death in a US military raid in Pakistan, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said that the killing of Bin Laden “deep inside Pakistan” shows that world’s terrorists “belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in that country.”
Another reason of Indian delaying tactics is that the fundamentalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) including other similar extremist groups has always put pressure on the Congress-led Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by opposing the revival of Pak-Indian dialogue. In August, 2010, BJP had questioned Singh’s statement on autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, remarking: “autonomy for the state would not be tolerated.” The pressure of BJP could also be noted from Manmohan Singh’s statement, who had said on June 28, 2011 that Pakistan should “leave Kashmir alone.” His statement came after Pak-Indian secretary level talks concluded on June 24. Besides, BJP has repeatedly stated that the Congress government re-initiated the present Pak-India dialogue under the US duress. Now, Singh has again come under the pressure of BJP as his negative statement (as mentioned above) after meeting Gilani in Maldives shows.
No doubt, Indian obduracy regarding Pak-Indian parleys is not without some sinister designs. In this context, US which signed a nuclear deal with New Delhi in 2008, intends to make India a great power of Asia to counterbalance China. For this purpose, India has been purchasing latest arms and aircraft from America. India which considers Islamabad an obstacle in its way of becoming a regional superpower is destabilsing Pakistan. Notably, Pakistan’s various regions have continuously been facing subversive events by the militants who enter the country from Afghanistan where Indian secret agency RAW, American CIA and Israeli Mossad have been imparting training to the youngsters so as to weaken Pakistan because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world.
Especially, India is determined to keep its illegitimate control on Kashmir which is considered by it as integrated part of the Indian union. New Delhi also wants to blackmail Pakistan by stopping the flow of rivers’ water towards Pakistan as major rivers of our country take origin from the occupied Kashmir. In this regard, India has constructed various dams so as to starve Pakistan owing to severe consequences of shortage of water.
Meanwhile, New Delhi availed various crises so as to suspend the process of negotiations. For instance, in 2008, India suspended the process of ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks which were in fact, arranged by RAW in connivance with Indian home-grown terrorists. Again, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, India postponed the process of dialogue.
As a matter of fact, history of Pak-India dialogue clearly shows that India is not serious and sincere in resolving any issue including the key dispute of Kashmir. Hence, New Delhi has always used one or the other justification so as to delay the peace process. In this respect, slow progress of the SAARC is also because of Indian obduracy.
On the other hand, Pakistan has taken a number of positive steps to reslove the disputes between the two countires. As a good gesture, recently, Pakistan granted the Most Favoured Nation status to India—a move which would boost trade across the border and would mostly benefit India. Recently, Pakistan also quickly released an Indian helicopter which had strayed into Pakistani territory.
Nonetheless, India is only fulfilling the formality through the new phase of talks as Indian rulers also want to show to the US-led western countries that they are willing to settle all the outstanding disputes with Pakistan.
In view of their delaying tactics, especially about the solution of Kashmir including their anti-Pakistan designs, Indian diplomats have always tried to make the longstanding disputes difficult, intricate and complex, challenging Pakistani stand, therefore, Pak-Indian real issues have remained still unsettled.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations