Can we make Indo-Pak talks a success story?

By Afshain Afzal

In the backdrop of recent SAARC meet in Thimphu, where the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan agreed to continue the dialogue process, Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna along with his entourage is scheduled to visit Islamabad on July 15 2010 for talks with Pakistani authorities. There are reports from New Delhi that India is planning to adopt a soft tone to facilitate dialogue process but pressure groups are not allowing the government to take their plan forward. No one can deny the fact that despite all the storms to disrupt and fail the Indo-Pakistan forthcoming talks, there is a hope that next round is going to bear some results. May be this time the “Trust deficit” thing, which exists between the governments of India and Pakistan since decades and attained climax after November 2008 Mumbai attacks, would not be able to completely wash away but still there are high hopes.. As the date for talks is nearing, both sides are trying to stick to past traditions, by issuing certain pinching statements. Fears and apprehensions are emitting from the telecasts by New Delhi and reciprocal tit for tat replies are being showered by Pakistan. One thing that both the countries would admit is that they want peaceful and friendly relations with one another but certain centrifugal forces are not allowing this to happen due to their own vested interests. In this regard, the pressure groups in New Delhi and Islamabad have already started violating their jurisdiction to ensure that talks are held in an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust, obviously leading to “Trust deficit.”

The enemies of India and Pakistan would never allow these countries to come closer. If there is possibility of hope, it cannot be expected from anyone else but from the very leadership of both the countries. What is required at this juncture is mature approach to come out of the spell of Intelligence agencies’ factitious reports based on foreign intelligence inputs. If we recall, during September 11, 2001 attacks (9/11) on US Pentagon and World Trade Centre, Pakistan supreme Intelligence chief was on visit to US. No doubt, it can’t be a coincidence but for a while we can overlook role of CIA and Mossad in the conspiracy against Pakistan and Islamic world by attacking US’ military Headquarters and Intelligence hub. We all know that at the end of the day Washington blamed Pakistan for the attacks and is continuously blackmailing her by threatening international isolation. Isn’t it strange that same tactics were adopted by the intelligence agents in November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks (26/11). India’s then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were in New Delhi on the day of Mumbai attacks to hold talks at Foreign Ministers level. Resultantly, talks failed and Shah Mehmood Qureshi had to short his three-day visit to India. Interestingly, there were a lot of breakthroughs in the same year including understandings on the issues of Run of Cutch and Jammu and Kashmir. One wonders that can’t anyone smell similarities in modus operandai of conspiracies in 9/11 and 26/11. It is quite depressing that India, still, instead of identifying its actual enemy, is suspecting Pakistan behind the well planned Mumbai attacks.

As regard to schedule next round of talks, enemies of India and Pakistan have already become active. The CIA has opened the lids of self-fabricated Intelligence inputs against Pakistan as if by August/September Pakistan is planning attacks on India. With an aim to fail the Indo-Pak talks, unprovoked firing on Line of Control (LoC) has already started which is going to intensify in the weeks to come. Few days back, a Pakistani soldier deployed at Battal sector on LoC was martyred in unprovoked firing by Indian troops. It is pertinent to mention here that in January this year too, two Pakistani soldiers were martyred as a result of unprovoked firing by Indian forces from Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu across the Pak-India border in Sialkot. This clearly highlights that some elements in Indian security forces and Intelligence agencies are among the main stakeholders who are leaving no stone unturned to neutralize any move that might bring India and Pakistan closer. If we recall, there was quite an interesting breakthrough during Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting in July 2009, which led to joint declaration de-linking the composite dialogue process from Pakistan’s actions against terror. Indian Prime Minister had agreed to discuss all the outstanding issues including Indian interference in Balochistan, which also became part of India-Pakistan joint statement. All these things were done by the leaders of both countries in good faith but how the Indian media and later Pakistani media reacted to the joint-statement was deplorable. This led New Delhi to face embarrassment and unwarranted condemnation. Had these events not taken place, there would have been the sixth round of composite dialogue in August 2009. Lesson learnt from Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting is that both the countries should avoid unnecessary premature disclosures to media. In an ideal situation, there should be secret sort of meeting, in which irrespective of results, joint statement should in any case end with a generalized positive note. In a nutshell, there would be opposing winds to fails the forthcoming talks but leaders and authorities of two countries should act maturely and should not leave loopholes in their statements to media that may be exploited leading to another deadlock like Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Presently, leaders of India and Pakistan are thinking afresh on how to take forward their peace process. Foreign ministers and the secretaries of both the countries have been tasked to work out modalities to restore trust that could pave the way for substantive dialogue between the two countries. One of the main things that the two sides are to access is the reasons underlying the current status of relationship between the two countries. There is no doubt that trusts deficit still exists between the two countries and that there is a dire need to bring the relationship to normalcy. India is not at fault when it raises its concerns with Pakistan over cross-border terror and infiltration from across the border as it is India which is experiencing security threats. But the thing is that New Delhi usually forgets that the terror machine does not operate from Pakistan but it is India’s home grown terrorist elements, which are responsible for the destabilization in both the countries. As far as the question of threats to India from Kashmiri Mujahideen living in Pakistan is concerned there is no doubt that Maujahideen leaders like Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e-Tayyiaba often declare war on India to challenge Indian illegal occupation of disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir but can someone suggest any other option available to resolve the issue which is pending for over 62 years. Only if we act maturely, we can identify handful fifth columnists and agents who by virtue of the association with foreign intelligence agencies will leave no stone unturned to fail and sabotage India-Pakistan dialogue process and resolution of outstanding issues.

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