Originally Published 2011-04-18 00:00:00 Published on Apr 18, 2011
Though Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani described his Mohali discussions with Dr. Manmohan Singh as a win-win situation, the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson, Tehmina Janjua, described the situation as one of guarded optimism. So what are the ground realities in this exchange? asks Mr. T.V. Rajeswar.
What's in a game?
The World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at Mohali presented an opportunity for an extended meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan. And now, the two countries have expressed their willingness to resume a bilateral cricket series. This comes as a bit of surprise since it was only a few days back that Pakistani expatriate Tanwar Hussain Rana stated in a US court that his participation in the Mumbai attack of November 16, 2008, was at the instance of the Pakistan government and the ISI.

The Indian government has since clarified that there is no dilution of its stand on 26/11. Moreover, India may become party to the lawsuit filed in New York against ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha and LeT leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and also tender evidence in this case.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's strong belief that Pakistan should be kept engaged by India, notwithstanding 26/11, has many critics. Pakistan has not so far given up terrorism as an instrument of state policy in its relations with India, formulated by General Zia in the '70s, with special attention to Kashmir.

The home secretaries' meeting in New Delhi saw Pakistan agree to an Indian investigative team visiting and examining some of the major 26/11 suspects. India on its part agreed to provide all its investigative material on the Samjhauta Express blasts.

At the Mohali meeting, Singh said that "we are neighbours and destiny requires that we should find cooperative solution to all the problems we face". Gilani said that notwithstanding the difficulties and differences faced by the two countries, Pakistan wanted to move towards a comprehensive broad-ranging engagement with India.

Though Gilani described the Mohali discussions as a win-win situation, the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson, Tehmina Janjua, described the situation as one of guarded optimism.

So what are the ground realities in this exchange? Pakistan is increasingly submerged in political and religious violence. Peter Lavoy, the US national intelligence officer for South Asia, reportedly briefed the NATO's permanent representatives that despite the impending economic catastrophe, Pakistan was producing nuclear weapons faster than any other country. Dr. Lavoy described both Al Qaeda and the Taliban as existential threats, which still continue to enjoy governmental and ISI support. The assassination of Pakistan's Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti went unmourned by the government. General Kayani reportedly felt that any condemnation might trigger problems since there were many in the army who were sympathetic to the objective of the assassins. Kayani is perceived as a major obstacle to an India-Pakistan deal according to one of the WikiLeaks cables recently released. The deal between Gen. Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was nearing the final stage, was sabotaged by Kayani.

Everybody is agreed that Pakistan is in a dangerous state. General Musharraf conceded in an interview to Time magazine recently that extremism and terrorism were bigger threats to Pakistan than India. However, he went on to add that Pakistan could not ignore India that posed as an existential threat to Pakistan. Pakistan's promotion of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir is not considered terrorism per se, was the view expressed by no less a person than Musharaf during his official visit to Turkey. Meanwhike, jihadi attacks and violence continue to wrack the country, as Taliban bombers attack Sufi shrines.

There is however, no alternative except to persist with the dialogue with Pakistan at all levels, governmental as well as people-to-people. India rightly believes that given a strong economy and good political governance, Pakistan would promote good relations with India. Sooner or later, things are going to change, as they have even in frozen states like Libya, Egypt, Yemen, etc. Till then, India must wait, and meanwhile look after its own security.

At the government level, after the meeting of foreign secretaries at the SAARC conference in Thimphu, followed by the meeting of home secretaries in Delhi in March, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are slated to meet in July. The possibility of a composite dialogue between India and Pakistan would naturally depend upon the outcome of that meeting. Till then, India has to wait and watch, and hope for the best.

(The writer is a former IB chief and governor of Sikkim, West Bengal and UP. Now he is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation)

Courtesy: The Indian Express
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