By Sajjad Shaukat
Recently, India and Pakistan have decided to resume the dialogue process through their home secretaries who will hold talks on March 28 and 29 on a host of issues including the progress in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and culprits of the Samjhota Express blast. In this regard, Islamabad has conveyed to New Delhi its consent to the meeting after home secretary G K Pillai extended the invitation to Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Chaudhry Qamar Zaman. India had proposed two sets of dates—March 21-22 and March 28-29.
The talks in March will be the first structured bilateral home secretary-level meeting on counter-terrorism after the recent Indo-Pak decision to resume comprehensive talks. Under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, India had suspended the composite dialogue with Pakistan.
In the recent past, although Foreign ministers of Pakistan and India ended their dialogue with a positive note as both the countries termed their talks ‘useful’ and vowed that the talks would pave the way for serious, comprehensive and sustainable dialogue between the two countries, yet the same failed without producing tangible results. In this context, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had remarked that India was not mentally ready for talks, as it wanted to discuss only selective issues.
During their joint press briefing, no breakthrough announcement was made, but both Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart SM Krishna claimed that they had discussed all outstanding issues.
To a question regarding Indian involvement in Balochistan, Krishna indicated that the issue had been mentioned in the Sharmel Sheikh declaration.
Qureshi stated that during the meeting, he had also mentioned reports that Baloch separatist leader, Brahamdagh Bugti had obtained an Indian passport.
Krishna stated that there had been an increase in infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) particularly in 2008 and 2009. Qureshi had reacted by saying that “infiltration is not the policy of Pakistan or any intelligence agency in Pakistan”.
Although Krishna pointed out, “I agreed we have cordial and frank exchange of views on all issues between the two countries. Effective action against terrorism is required,” and “India is committed to being a sincere partner in our effort to establish peaceful and progressive relationship between India and Pakistan,” yet he had used these words in language of diplomacy. But it is due to Indian intransigence that no progress was made in those talks.
However, question arises as to why Pak-India dialogue fails? In this regard, the fact of the matter is that India has been using delaying tactics and is only fulfilling formalities in one or the other way as part of its shrewd diplomacy.
In 2004, India and Pakistan started process to normalize their relations after half a decade of confrontation over the occupied Kashmir. The renewed normalization process was described officially as ‘composite dialogue,’ which included Kashmir as the key issue to be resolved incrementally by top officials of both the countries. But in 2008, New Delhi suspended the process of ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks which were in fact, arranged by the Indian secret agency RAW. Meanwhile, Indian rulers blackmailed Islamabad that they would not resume the talks unless Islamabad takes actions against the culprits of Mumbai catastrophe.
A similar process in 1997-1998 had resulted in the February 1999—signing of Lahore Declaration which had mentioned Kashmir settlement as a key to South Asian peace. Nevertheless, the ensuing conflict over Kargil brought India and Pakistan back to the confrontational path. The Kargil crisis provided New Delhi with another pretext to delay the solution of various Pak-Indian disputes through negotiations. In 2002, India again postponed the process of dialogue owing to the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament.
Indian leaders forgot that there is no chance for the success of Pak-India talks in wake of a threatening policy, coercive diplomacy and arm-twisting tactics. This is a lesson particularly for New Delhi to learn from its experience of dealing with Islamabad during the last six decades. For example in 2001-02 and 2008, India failed to secure Pakistani compliance to its illegitimate demands even though half a million battle-ready Indian troops marched up to the international boundary with Pakistan.
It is of particular attention that despite various crises which were availed by New Delhi in order to suspend the process of negotiations, previous Pak-India dialogue could not produce any result due to Indian delaying tactics. In this respect, Indian diplomats have always tried to make thelongstanding issues difficult, intricate and complex, challenging Pakistani stand so that no settlement could be made regarding any issue, especially the Indian-held Kashmir. 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 context, slow peace process in the Sub-continent is because of Indian obduracy.
It is notable that Indian delaying tactics and adamant stand in connection with Pak-India parleys are not without some sinister designs. In this connection, India is determined to keep its hold on Kashmir which is considered by it as integrated part of the Indian union. India wants to continue state terrorism on the innocent Kashmiris who are waging a ‘war of liberation’ for their legitimate rights. 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. However, by controlling the Kashmiri territories, New Delhi intends to get leverage over Islamabad by resolving the dispute in accordance with its own will.
One of the major reasons of Indian delaying tactics is that India desires to destabilse Pakistan. Notably, for the last seven years, Pakistan’s various regions have been facing suicide attacks by the militants who entered the country from Afghanistan where tentacles of terrorism exist. For this purpose, India has set up secret training centres in Afghanistan where its military personnel in collaboration with RAW have been imparting training to the youngsters. Regarding various terror-events, ISPR Spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other TV commentators have repeatedly indicated Indian involvement behind the attacks—saying that terrorists “are the enemies of the state” and “are mercenaries who receive arms from Afghanistan to destabilize the country.”
With the tactical support of some foreign powers, New Delhi has been trying to weaken Pakistan which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. For this aim, particularly, India is supporting insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and separatism in Balochistan.
In these terms, Indian delaying tactics regarding Pak-India dialogue are part of a conspiracy against Pakistan. In such a situation, it is false hope as some political experts think that unlike 1997-98, the present attempt to settle Kashmir within the framework of the new dialogue including other issues may have a greater chance of success.
The fact is that India resumed the present peace process under international pressure, especially of the United States. In this context, Indian political party, BJP has already pointed out that the Congress-led government re-initiated the ongoing Pak-India dialogue under American duress. Besides, by fulfilling the formality, Indian rulers also want to show to the western countries that India is willing to settle all the outstanding disputes with Pakistan.
Optimistically speaking, meetings between Pakistan and India would not produce any breakthrough or positive result unless New Delhi abandons its deliberate delaying tactics, and determines to reduce the trust deficit between both the countries and put the derailed peace process back on track with a view to settling all the issues.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.