India preconditions talks with Pakistan
Alongside effective implementation of National Action Plan on counter terrorism, Operations Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber II have produced visible and measureable results. Pakistan’s effort towards counter terrorism is being recognized by all countries of the World. However, some writers and analysts continue to live in yester years and keep repeating beaten lines about Pakistan’s counter terrorism effort. Two such articles have recently appeared in the media; these have hurled some silly accusations on the methodology of combating terrorism and on civil military relations.
The Daily Signal carried an article “Pakistan’s Selective Fight against Terrorism Threatens US Security Goals in South Asia” on March 27. Lisa Curtis and Hma Sattar have erratically commented: “Pakistan’s selective approach to fighting terrorism continues to undermine US national security objectives in the region. If Pakistan is indeed serious about combatting terrorism, it must come down hard on all terrorist groups and break all links with terrorists operating in Afghanistan and India. US policy must insist on this outcome”. HuffPost Politics also carried a similar theme on April 01 under the caption: “Securing Afghanistan Means Relying on Difficult US Partner — Pakistan’s Army”. In this piece, Akbar Shahid Ahmed and Ali Watkins commented that “Pakistan watchers say Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who gained power in May 2013 in the country’s first-ever democratic transition, has seen his authority steadily eroded by a charismatic leader who shares his name but is no relation: army chief General Raheel Sharif… The media, opposition political parties, Parliament, and the intelligentsia are trying to resist the gradual military takeover but they are weak and ineffectual.” These article appear to be a part of campaign to tarnish the image of Pakistan for facilitating strategic objectives of some other countries. No wonders on the heels of such article came the first resolution of the national Executive of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Preconditioning dialogue with Pakistan to terrorism free environment.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, analyst were watching as to who would call the shots in Indian foreign policy—parliament or the BJP hardliners. Now with BJP’s adoption of resolution on foreign policy the situation has become clear; it is the hardliners in the BJP who would remote control India’s policy, and more so it’s China and Pakistan policy. Now the party wants Modi to walk its elections days’ talk.
BJP’s National Executive endorsed five pillars of foreign policy or “Panchamrit” of dignity, dialogue, security, shared prosperity and culture—most of these are subjective and vague, unquantifiable and hence unmeasurable. BJP’s foreign policy framework calls for peaceful and cooperative relations with Pakistan in fighting terrorism. The BJP is “committed to building peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan, predicated on an end to terrorism.” Meeting of National Executive also (mischievously) praised the government of Narendra Modi for “firmly and appropriately responding to the provocations on the border (read LoC and Working Boundary) allegedly by Pakistani troops”.
Pakistan and India have remained engaged in the past under the framework of Composite Dialogue—a structured dialogue covering all issues. Pakistan is committed to a result-oriented, sustainable and meaningful dialogue with India to address all issues of mutual concern including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. India’s new trend of focusing on the issue of terrorism only is a dangerous strategy; it implies that India no longer wants to have a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan. Stressing that “terrorism and talks cannot go together”, the BJP resolution said India’s engagement with Pakistan would be based on strategic interests.
On Pakistan, the resolution further said, “We have laid out a clear policy for building peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan, predicated on an end to terrorism… There can’t be any duplicity towards a problem that has become a regional crisis and is fast becoming an international nightmare…All outstanding issues with Pakistan can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.”
Upcoming Indian trajectory is clear: no matter what Pakistan does to stem terrorism, Pakistan’s effort to end terrorism would have to meet Indian evaluation; and naturally it won’t. Hence no dialogue. And to talk to India, Pakistan must forget about Hurryiat Conference leadership, Kashmir and water issues; also stop talking about bringing to book the perpetrators of bombing of Pakistani train Samjhauta express. In the early hours of February 19, 2007, sixty-eight people, mostly Pakistani civilians were killed and scores more injured in a terrorist attack on this train. India’s National Investigation Agency had concluded that Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind behind the blasts. Aseemanand’s confessional statement points towards involvement of government agencies and serving military officers in this incident.
Interestingly, one of the Indian home ministry official, had submitted an affidavit in Indian court stating that Mumbai attack and an earlier attack on Indian parliament were false flag operations planned and conducted by Indian intelligence agencies to garner support for enacting tougher anti-terror laws. Later, under duress, he withdrew the affidavit.
This is Indian government’s track record on prevention of terrorism. Notwithstanding this, in a follow up to the BJP’s resolution, Modi in his interview to Hindustan Times said: “We remain open to bilateral dialogue with Pakistan on all outstanding issues in an environment free from terrorism and violence…The Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration have to be the basis for going forward…Peace can only thrive when the climate is right”. Modi also spoke on his pro-active engagement with India’s South Asian neighbours, sparking fears that an attitude of apathy would send these nations into China’s arms. “We want SAARC to flourish….The dividends are visible in the quantum leap in relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. But peace cannot co-exist with terrorism, can it?” he concluded. India had actively taken sides during recent elections in Sri Lanka for installing a pliant government.
Now it will be interesting to take a look at the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration and see what way forward these documents suggest; and also observe how India has been flouting these two agreements. Simla Agreement states that: “…Government of India and the Government of Pakistan have agreed as follows: (i) That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries. (ii) That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means…Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation…” India violated the agreement and invaded Siachen in 1984.
Likewise, Lahore declaration states that: “The Prime Ministers of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan … Committed to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and the universally accepted principles of peaceful coexistence;…that the resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir is essential for this purpose…” Now, once again India wants to unilaterally change the status quo in Kashmir by raising Israeli style settlements for Kashmiri pundits.
During his recent visit to Pakistan Indian foreign secretary delivered a letter from Narendra Modi to Nawaz Sharif. It was a stern warning that either Pakistan should fall in line, and grant transit rights and trade concessions to India, or India would gang up with remaining members of SAARC and proceed ahead by sidelining Pakistan. This is how India views SAARC, a tool to intimidate Pakistan.
Preconditioning the dialogue with favourable environment is a non-starter. Dialogues are initiated to make the environment favourable. Apparently India has taken a decision to freeze dialogue with Pakistan for a decade or so—barring occasional photo-ops to divert international pressures. Keeping in view the prevailing Indian mindset, Pakistan should not go overboard in commencing dialogue with India, unless India rationalizes its overall approach toward.