Originally Published 2013-11-18 09:12:30 Published on Nov 18, 2013
As Salman Khurshid pointed out to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan has to demonstrate its bona fides by putting an end to the large number of incidents on the LoC.
A cold handshake
" Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz, arrived in Delhi on November 10 to participate in the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting of Foreign Ministers. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met the Pakistani envoy on November 12 and expressed Delhi's disappointment with the manner in which Pakistan had conducting itself on various crucial issues. For starters, Khurshid made it very clear to Sartaj Aziz that peace and tranquility on the Line of Control was one of the most important confidence-building measures which had been regrettably ignored by the Pakistan Government and its armed forces.

Starting in mid-January 2013 the border incidents had been described as the worst bout of fighting in the region in nearly 10 years. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that a total of 136 ceasefire violations had been reported in 2013 alone, the highest in the past eight years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had two brief meetings with his Pakistani counterpart on October 5 and 11 in New York when these border violations were specifically mentioned by Dr. Manmohan Singh and requested Nawaz Sharif to rein in the Pakistani forces and ensure peace on the Line of Control. Regrettably, there has been no progress in the matter.

The attitude of Nawaz Sharf towards the border violations has come in for serious doubt. While returning from his visit to Russia and China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons on his special aircraft that he was disappointed with the Pakistan Prime Minister since it was specifically agreed at the New York meetings that peace and tranquility should be maintained on the border.

Sartaj Aziz briefly met Dr. Manmohan Singh on November 13 as a matter of courtesy. Manmohan Singh did not say anything else to Sartaj Aziz since Salman Khurshid had already made it clear that for meaningful talks with India, Pakistan should demonstrate its good faith and behaviour on the Line of Control.

Sartaj Aziz had another agenda since he met as many as four delegations of Kashmiri secessionist leaders at the Pakistan High Commission on November 10. The two factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani took part in the discussions held at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.

Pakistan's attitude towards India on basic issues has not undergone any change. In respect of India as well as America Pakistan's attitude has been inscrutable. The case of the death of the Pakistan Taliban chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, in a drone attack carried out by America is a clear example. Mehsud was an agent of al-Qaida and was responsible not only for the attacks on the NATO troops but also the audacious bombing at New York's Time Square. Pakistan summoned the American Ambassador and gave him a dressing down over the drone attack and killing of Hakumullah Mehsud.

A Western diplomat commented that any normal country would be celebrating the drone attack but Pakistan remained confused. Pakistan depends on America for financial support, while resenting the American strategy in the region, notably over Afghanistan and over America's warm tie-up with India. Intriguingly, the Pakistani Army issued a condemnation of the drone attack on Hakumullah Mehsud. It was revealed that when Nawaz Sharif visited Washington soon after he became the Prime Minister last year, he quietly agreed to the continuance of drone strikes in the lawless Waziristan area. The Pakistan Army Chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is nearing the end of his term and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has the onerous task of finding his successor. In the interim period, he does not feel confident enough to go in for any initiatives towards peace with India.

Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary, recently disclosed that Nawaz Sharif had sent a messenger to Rao conveying that India would see a qualitative change in the situation on the ground. This was with a particular reference to cross-border terrorism then afflicting Kashmir and the continuing violence along the Line of Control.

Fast track to July 2013 and Shahryar Khan came to Delhi, again as the Pakistan Prime Minister's special envoy. And now Sartaj Aziz has come, bearing more or less the same message. The sequence of events is different but the constant factor of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif being the same all speaks of one thing that nothing has changed in Pakistan and there is no indication of anything happening in the foreseeable future.

In this context, the recent revelations of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's special envoy to the US, are an eye-opener. According to Haqqani, President Barack Obama secretly told Pakistan in 2009 that he would nudge India towards negotiations on Kashmir in lieu of it ending support to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Taliban but Islamabad rejected the offer.

The secret letter was written by Obama to the then President, Asif Ali Zardari, and the letter was hand delivered by his then National Security Adviser, Gen (retd) James Jones. Obama wrote in the letter that America was willing to consider Pakistan as its long-term strategic partner. Obama told Zardari that fighting India through proxy groups like Lshkar-e-Toiba was not sustainable any more. Haqqani had written much more about the futile efforts of America in his book "Magnificent Delusions". If Zardari as well as Nawaz Sharif could not set their course of action on the peaceful path, there is little hope in doing business with Pakistan.

As Salman Khurshid pointed out to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan has to demonstrate its bona fides by putting an end to the large number of incidents on the LoC. It is known that these incidents are meant to provide cover for the infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan and occupied Kashmir into Jammu and Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif in coordination with Parvez Kayani has to stop this on the Line of Control. Till then, India has to be on guard as usual on the Line of Control and elsewhere.

(The writer is a former Governor and now an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

Courtesy : The Tribune, November 18, 2013

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