a case for resumption of talks with pakistan

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ppgj, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    Hard line diplomacy is not homeland security
    Siddharth Varadarajan December 15, 2009

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the Leader of the Opposition, L K Advani paying homage to those killed in the Dec. 13, 2001 Parliament attack, in New Delhi. File photo: V. Sudershan

    With terrorist incidents tearing Pakistan apart city by city, India needs to realise that the continuing suspension of bilateral engagement is not making itself or the region any safer.

    As a victim of terrorism, much of which has emanated from across the border in Pakistan, it is hardly surprising that India should confuse diplomatic strategy with counter-terrorism strategy and believe that “toughness” on the external front hardens the country internally and insulates us from terrorist attacks.

    For the better part of a decade, India’s politicians and pundits have bought into the fallacy that diplomacy and security policy are one and the same thing, effectively handing the terrorists who would harm us a double bonus. Our complacency-induced vulnerability allows them to strike fairly easily; and our predictable tendency to suspend diplomatic engagement with Pakistan and rattle our sabres every time there is a major incident gives them an added incentive to target us.

    When the Parliament complex in New Delhi was attacked by terrorists in December 2001, the erstwhile government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee responded by mobilising the army and downgrading diplomatic, commercial and people-to-people relations with Pakistan. This coercive diplomacy initially yielded results, as Pervez Musharraf banned the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba and placed their leaders under house arrest. But the longer India persisted with its hard line diplomatic tack, the more meagre were the returns. And eventually they became negative. The prospect of triggering an Indo-Pakistan war encouraged the terrorists to up the ante with an attack on the army cantonment at Kaluchak. Western chanceries began to issue travel advisories urging their citizens to steer clear of India because of the danger of conflict with Pakistan. Eventually, the international pressure that ought to have been applied on Islamabad ended up being redirected towards Delhi. The situation only began to change when Mr. Vajpayee recognised the limits of coercion and turned towards engagement. The Siachen and Line of Control ceasefires of 2003 were concrete achievements of this period that have stood the test of time. And then came the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting of January 2004, which led to the resumption of the composite dialogue.

    While there is no denying the political significance of General Musharraf’s commitment of not allowing terrorists to use the Pakistani territory to stage attacks against India, the Indian strategic community erred in believing that what was an obvious diplomatic achievement was also a gain on the counter-terrorism front. As far as homeland security was concerned, in fact, such an assurance was meaningless because the measures India needed to take to protect itself ought to have been based on the worst case scenario of Pakistan not delivering on its promises. In the event, no special measures were taken.

    If the government’s hard line diplomacy allowed a sense of complacency to creep in on the counter-terrorism front from 2001 to 2004, our belief in Gen. Musharraf’s good intentions from 2004 to 2006 further strengthened that tendency. Most importantly, our policymakers did not foresee the consequences that the metastasis of terrorism in Pakistan from 2006 onwards would have as groups once nurtured by the Inter-Services Intelligence started targeting Pakistani cities and institutions, including the army. The fact that the territorial United States has not been attacked by terrorists since 9/11 has led some analysts to conclude that this is because America struck back militarily, taking the war to the terrorists, as it were, rather than allowing them to retain the initiative. Israel’s tendency to lash out at the Gaza strip or Lebanon also finds favour with some armchair Indian strategists who dream of “surgical strikes” against terrorists based in Pakistan. While U.S. military action has certainly disrupted the al-Qaeda’s ability to mount the kind of operation it did in 2001, American territory has remained protected because of geography and a professional, well-functioning police force and intelligence gathering system. India, unfortunately, has none of these advantages.

    If the country continued to remain vulnerable to Pakistan-based terrorists even after the December 2001 attack on Parliament, it was because none of the systemic improvements needed to ensure better intelligence gathering, border and coastal security, investigative and forensic skills was even considered, let alone implemented. Armed with the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the traditional permissiveness towards third-degree methods, effective counter-terrorism came to mean rounding up the usual suspects, getting them to confess to crimes they may or may not have committed, planting stories in the media about how major incidents were averted in the nick of time by our clever intelligence “sleuths,” and organising the odd fake encounter for that added touch of authenticity. Needless to say, none of this actually strengthened our national capacity to deal with the threat of terrorism, native or foreign.

    India’s vulnerability to terrorism was proved once again last November in Mumbai, when 10 terrorists arrived in rubber dinghies and staged a devastating series of attacks at a railway station, hospital, café, Jewish cultural centre and two five-star hotels. We now know this particular operation was at least two years in the making and involved numerous reconnaissance trips to the city and its harbour by Lashkar operatives. One of these alleged operatives, David Headley, is now in the custody of the American police and has been formally charged with being a part of the terrorist conspiracy.

    There is nothing surprising or extraordinary about the fact that the Mumbai police and the Intelligence Bureau were unaware of Headley’s movements and agenda. What is shocking is the fact that no one bothered to examine the registers of not just the Taj Mahal and the Trident hotels going back a few years but also other hotels that might have been potential targets in order to try and discover whether the LeT had sent operatives on a recce mission. Prima facie, any guest who provided a false name or address ought to have been treated as an accomplice. But this kind of basic police work wasn’t done. Here, again our investigative efforts fell into a depressingly familiar pattern. With Ajmal ‘Kasab’ being apprehended and the Pakistani origins of the attackers and conspirators firmly established, the powers that be presumably saw little sense in using the police and the IB to see whether the Mumbai plot involved a wider set of conspirators. Our counter-terrorism strategy boiled down to a single-point agenda: demanding that Pakistan act against the LeT and its odious chief, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

    That demand is a valid one and there is no harm in India pressing it. Similarly, no one can fault the Indian government for demanding that Pakistan swiftly prosecute and convict those LeT men whom it has already indicted for their involvement in the Mumbai attacks. Even if the big fish have not been caught there, the prosecution of small fry can also affect the ability of LeT and its backers to mount operations. Where the Indian strategy has gone wrong, tragically wrong, is in treating diplomacy as a sign of weakness and assuming that any form of engagement would be tantamount to making concessions to the Pakistani military establishment. Despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh repeatedly emphasising the need for remaining engaged, there has been no visible progress on the bilateral front. Earlier, Indian officials let it be known that they were waiting for the trial in Pakistan to begin; now some are saying, on background, that India will wait for the LeT men to be convicted before considering the resumption of any form of dialogue. Next, we may insist that any appeals the convicted men are dismissed, or that they all be hanged before we are ready to talk.

    At the time of the Sharm el-Shaikh summit in July, there was hardly any international sympathy for India’s position that dialogue had to await meaningful action by Pakistan on the terrorism front. Today, when some of the suspects are on trial and jihadi terrorists are massacring innocent people in Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and other cities and towns almost daily, the world and Pakistani civil society are asking themselves what kind of a callous place India is for not trying to help its neighbour deal with a common enemy. This diplomatic vacuum also provides excellent fodder for the deranged conspiracy theorists in Pakistan, who say India is behind the series of bomb blasts there.

    As India examines its options, it must take as a given that the Pakistani military continues to harbour hostile intentions. And of course the ISI continues to have links with the LeT, the Afghan Taliban and other groups. The correct Indian response should be a better counter-terrorist strategy. Not talking to Pakistan’s civilian government is hardly effective counter-terrorism. Nor is it effective diplomacy.

    With terrorist incidents tearing Pakistan apart city by city, India needs to realise that the continuing suspension of bilateral engagement is not making itself or the region any safer.

    The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Hard line diplomacy is not homeland security
  3. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

    May 4, 2009
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    New Delhi
    The writer does bring out a valid point. We have so far focussed only on the diplomatic front while the systematic improvements required in the security side have been ignored too long. The reason is plainly obvious, downgrading of diplomatic links with Pakistan requires just one annoucement in the Press Conference while improving the security environment requires hard work. The lacuna has to be pinpointed and then steps needed to be taken to address it. This will not yield immediate result hence has never been the favoured response by the political and administrative leadership of the country.

    We have to remain engaged with Pakistan at all levels and simultaneously we need to strengthen ourselves. Today the world opinion is on our side but it will not take long for the opinion to form that India is not willing to discuss issues with Pakistan. We also need to see that in our interest that Pakistan remains strong and united, we do not want to deal with 5 Pakistan's on our periphery.
  4. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    though the article has its points, all these have been tried out. while talks are fine india needs a tough posture atleast for a decent time (which again has been thrown away). evidences when given only have led to erasing them and moving people to safer hideouts!! unless sincerity exists what is there to talk?
    atleast being half tough post 26/11 has yielded some gains vis -a - vis world opinion and internal security has received belated attention.

    internal security has been no focus area in india for ages. however it is receiving adequate attention from the present MHA mr. PC.

    that is why they have never down graded the diplomatic links. both high commissions are still working.

    agree. very neglected area. but things have changed for the better in the last year post 26/11.

    india was and still is engaged but things have never improved. infact when atal behari vajpayee was in lahore, behind his back kargill was happening. so how do you trust them? a valid question.

    if india has not seen any big terror act, i think for these reasons.

    1. india is better prepared in terms of intel and response thereof.
    2. pakistan is imploding and hence the active PA/ISI backing to terror groups has been temporarily affected.
    3. US at last has come around to india and a'stan's pov and hence putting pressure on pakistan, though in its own interest.
    4. UN has banned several pak groups due to the diplomacy.
    5. many euro coutries have spoken because their own people lost lives in 26/11.
    6. pakistan has been cornered. their own intellectuals have started speaking as can be seen in articles.

    why should india care? when india was yelling from the rooftops for 2 decades, nobody listened. they realised only when 9/11 happened.

    may be in our interest. but what can india do if the insurgencies in pakistan lead to its break up?
    also you are assuming all 5 will behave similarly.
  5. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    Peace with Pakistan: Give Tomorrow A Chance

    Jaideep Bose1 January 2010, 04:10pm IST

    History is what we inherit. The future is what we make it.

    The Partition, for millions of Indians, remains the most traumatic chapter in living memory — a raw, deep wound in the body and soul of this nation that the passage of six decades has not helped heal.

    India and Pakistan have fought four wars (including Kargil), been on the perilous brink of a fifth, have exchanged heavy border fire countless times, and continue to view each other with suspicion and hostility.

    The 26/11 Mumbai assault confirmed what New Delhi has believed for a while — that Pak-based groups have been involved in recruiting, training and financing terrorists who’ve struck Indian cities with chilling regularity, killing hundreds of innocent people. There’s a sense on this side of the border that these terrorists have, at least in the past, been used, unofficially or semi-officially, as proxies in an undeclared, low-intensity war against India.

    Against such a backdrop, it is but natural for the Indian government to move with caution on reopening negotiations with Islamabad. Nor can it be blamed for wanting to first ascertain if the Pakistan government is serious about cracking down on cross-border terrorism. Anything else would be seen as a weak-kneed response to a terrible threat to the Indian state — one that could compromise the safety of its citizens and betray the memory of the many lives so wantonly snuffed out.

    And yet, the need for aman has never been greater. Shouldn’t someone, somewhere try to take a bold, even if tiny, step towards breaking this unending cycle of enmity and violence? Chances are that such an effort will be heaped with ridicule by the naysayers and dismissed as naive by the skeptics.

    Does that mean we say ‘no’ to giving peace a fighting chance? That we play into the hands of warmongers, who want nothing more than to keep the two nations at each other’s throat? And condemn our children, grandchildren and the generations thereafter to a life of strife?

    As it is, we live in what is widely described as the ‘most dangerous neighbourhood’ in the world — two nuclear powers who share a border and a history of hate. With Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan in turmoil, there’s a danger that the region could descend into bloody chaos, even pass fully into the hands of the Taliban.

    The price of doing nothing is too high to contemplate, for both India and Pakistan.

    Which is why the leading media groups on either side of the border — Jang and The Times of India — have chosen to join hands in a peace initiative called Aman ki Asha. (The Jang Group includes Pakistan’s pre-eminent Urdu newspaper and its second-largest English paper; it’s also No. 1 in television, thanks to Geo TV, radio and music.) We believe the media can serve as facilitators in fostering greater understanding between people. Unfortunately — and TOI cannot entirely escape blame — we tend to focus far too much on the negative. In the process, the good that people do is drowned out by the sensational, and by the constant flow of death-and-destruction headlines.

    Ignorance breeds distrust. What we do not know, we tend not to trust. Decades of Indo-Pak hostility have reduced normal interaction to less than a bare minimum. Apart from those with relatives on the other side, or those who need to travel on business, there is little traffic between the two countries. The big benefit of the two largest media houses coming together is that it will help open new windows into each other’s world.
    Are we being foolishly romantic, are we tilting at windmills? Perhaps. Will our efforts bear fruit? We can only hope they will. All that we can do is plant as many saplings as possible and pray that they grow deep roots in the ground and strong shoots in the air.

    Ours is by no means the first peace effort — braver men and women have walked the path before us. There have been several efforts at Track II people-to-people diplomacy. But it’s been more stop than go, frequently disrupted by outbreaks of violence and terror.

    So why do we persist? It is our fervent belief — and a poll conducted for Aman ki Asha bears us out — that an overwhelming majority of Indians and Pakistanis want peace and stability. Also, it is an article of faith with us that the sum of all good must triumph over the sum of all evil — because there is so much more good than evil in this world. Evil exists in pockets of darkness, but has a nasty habit of casting a disproportionately long shadow.

    Those of us who have been fortunate enough to visit Pakistan have come back, almost without exception, brimming with stories of warmth, hospitality and an amazing generosity of spirit. Pakistan is one of the few countries where we are made to feel genuinely welcome, not for our growing economic clout or the buying power of our tourists, but for ourselves. What could be a more powerful bond to build on, than this?

    What we need is wider and deeper engagement to tear down the walls that separate us, and clear the misconceptions we harbour about each other. There’s an unfortunate notion among some of us in India that Pakistanis rub their hands in glee every time we’re struck by terror. Far from it — 26/11, in particular, left them shocked and saddened. Just as most Indians are moved to tears by the sight of a father in Lahore or Karachi or Multan cradling the body of a daughter killed by a bomb. If India has been at the receiving end of one deadly terror attack after another, so has Pakistan, indeed with far greater frequency.

    And if our hearts go out to each other in times of tragedy, they also beat together in moments of good fortune. There was such joy on this side of the border when Pakistan won the T20 World Cup six months ago — it was the next best thing to an Indian victory. The fact that they triumphed in the face of enormous odds — a country under siege, a team that had little time to prepare — made their victory all the more poignant.

    There are so many ties that bind us together — social, cultural, civilisational, familial, and above all, emotional — and so many common interests: Pakistan’s love for Bollywood and Hindi TV soaps has to be seen to be believed; equally, there’s deep admiration and respect in India for the great poets, writers and musicians Pakistan has produced.

    In a recent interview to an international magazine, Bill Clinton said, “You have to believe that what we have in common is more important than our differences...” The context in which he spoke may have been different, but it could just as easily have applied to India and Pakistan.

    Peace needs to be underwritten by politicians; at the same time, it’s too important to be left solely to them. Nor is it always a linear process: it needs people who are willing to swim against the tide of conventional wisdom, and it requires the occasional leap of faith.

    Our efforts can never supplant official government-to-government talks. What we hope to start is a movement that will gradually make its way from the periphery to the centre, a wave of goodwill that will touch the hearts and minds of people on both sides. History shows that even grand, Nobel-winning gestures don’t always lead to long-term peace, not unless they’re backed by popular support and sentiment.

    People need to believe that just as the cost of continued conflict is enormous — in terms of its human and economic toll — the ‘peace dividend’ can be huge too. No wonder the two words, peace and prosperity, are so inextricably linked. There is a multiplier effect of peace: in the immediate term, the defence budget can be pared and the money spent on development instead; more importantly, trust leads to trade, and business blossoms in an environment of security and stability. In the long term, the spread of prosperity will hopefully lighten the burden of poverty that drives many young men to violence, for it is often among the ranks of the poor and the disillusioned that extremist groups find ready recruits (if the stories about Kasab are to be believed, it wasn’t ideology that first drove him into the arms of the LeT; in India too, deprivation has fuelled insurgency).

    A stable, prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest as much as it is in Pakistan’s. It’s also perhaps time we tried to “look at things from the other side”. It’s not easy to do, in any relationship — be it personal, professional, or between nations. But a genuine attempt at it can lead to greater empathy, understanding and perhaps even a congruence of views. Among the educated middle to upper class in Pakistan, there is admiration for India’s economic achievements. But there is also a certain insecurity — of a large and powerful neighbour that has never quite come to terms with what it calls ‘Partition’ and what Pakistan calls ‘Independence’. For many Indians, Jinnah remains a villain; on the other side of the border, he’s Quaid-i-Azam (The Great Leader) and father of the nation.

    Yes, there are differences, but should we let them get in the way of a shared destiny? Must our future remain hostage to our past? We think not. Should the good intentions of hundreds of millions of Indians and Pakistanis be subverted by a few hardliners and radicals? Certainly not.

    Over the past few months, many of us at The Times of India have had the privilege of meeting some very fine people at the Jang Group, and have made some wonderful friends there. We look forward to deepening this relationship in the months and years to come — and spreading the goodwill beyond the confines of our newspapers and TV channels.

    Remember the words of John Lennon’s peace anthem, Imagine? “You may say I’m a dreamer/But I’m not the only one/I hope someday you’ll join us...” We’d like to believe there are many more ‘dreamers’ like us out there — and that our dream of India and Pakistan living in harmony will come true.

    From all of us here, we wish our friends in Pakistan a peaceful and prosperous new decade.

    Peace with Pakistan: Give Tomorrow A Chance - Specials - Home - The Times of India
  6. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    cross posting.

    a decent and realistic article.

    Resume talks with India

    By I.A. Rehman
    Thursday, 05 Nov, 2009

    That Pakistan needs peace along its border with India in order to be free to deal with the conflict in its tribal areas is only part of the argument for establishing peace in the subcontinent.AP/File Photo

    REGARDLESS of the views of the establishment’s hawks and howsoever strong they may be, Islamabad must give a positive response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer of peace.

    Normal relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two closest South Asian neighbours has always been desirable for many reasons but their urgency has been increased many times over by the extremists’ challenge to the Pakistan state.

    No sane person on either side of the border can deny that the threat to the stability of Pakistan is also a threat to India’s vital interests, and their joint efforts are needed to ensure victory over the terrorists.

    That Pakistan needs peace along its border with India in order to be free to deal with the conflict in its tribal areas is only part of the argument for establishing peace in the subcontinent. Much more urgent is the need for India-Pakistan cooperation for winning the battle for democracy, tolerance and social justice. Losses in this battle will plunge the people of both India and Pakistan into unimaginable ordeals.

    Hitherto a common view in Pakistan has been that India is ignoring the threat to itself posed by the terrorists’ campaign against Pakistan. There was reason to believe that the pro-confrontation lobby in India saw in Pakistan’s predicament an opportunity to squeeze it for concessions it might not be willing to make in normal times. Such elements should not be expected to stop undermining the Indian prime minister’s initiative. It is in Pakistan’s interest to ensure that he is not forced by anyone to withdraw his offer.

    The Pakistan government too will be under pressure from hardliners in its ranks and outside. Any compromise with such elements will cause Pakistan irreparable harm. Islamabad should therefore press for the earliest possible resumption of the composite dialogue with India.

    Unfortunately, several new factors have fuelled tension between India and Pakistan. One of them is the way the Ajmal Kasab affair has been dealt with by both sides. The unnecessarily prolonged haggle over Kasab’s confessional statement merely exposed the size of the trust deficit. Was it impossible for India to supply Pakistan with an English translation of the court and police record in Marathi and was it impossible for Pakistan to get this work done?

    Questions regarding the admissibility of a text not officially admitted by India could have been sorted out in due course. The two sides have to act in a spirit of cooperation to put the Mumbai outrage behind them. Pakistani authorities have been accusing India of interference in Balochistan and the tribal areas. One hopes they have much more credible evidence to support their charges than the use of Indian-made weapons by the Taliban in Waziristan or the receipt of some funds by the Baloch nationalists from Afghanistan.

    The extremists’ access to arms manufactured in a particular country is no decisive proof of that country’s support for their cause and experts in money-laundering have considerable experience in using channels through any country. In any case, these complaints should be addressed on an urgent basis at India-Pakistan joint meetings.

    This matter will assume greater seriousness as India’s relations with Afghanistan are likely to grow with faster speed than at present. If Pakistan succumbs to the temptation of opposing India’s overtures to Afghanistan it will only reduce the chances of normalisation of relations with both Afghanistan and India.

    A better way of protecting Pakistan’s interests in a democratic Afghanistan would be to grant the latter its due place in South Asian councils and develop a regional response to the twin curse of foreign intervention and civil war that are perpetuating the Afghan people’s three decades-long tribulations. No single power can guarantee Afghanistan’s recovery and peaceful progress; the task can only be accomplished by countries in Afghanistan’s vicinity (all of them including Pakistan and India) acting in concert.

    The significance of the fact that Mr Manmohan Singh chose to extend his hand of peace while on a visit to Srinagar is unlikely to be missed by Pakistani hawks. They will again advance settlement of the Kashmir issue as a precondition for normal relations with India.

    Nobody can deny the importance of the Kashmir issue, especially to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have been wronged by both India and Pakistan. But the disastrous consequences of sustaining a costly confrontation until the Kashmir issue is resolved are too apparent to permit persistence in this policy.

    While talks to move towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable not only to India and Pakistan but also, and more essentially, to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, should continue, progress or setbacks in this area must not obstruct other initiatives for cementing India-Pakistan friendship and cooperation. More and more people are realising that a Kashmir settlement will follow India-Pakistan friendship and not precede it.

    Above all, peace-loving people in both India and Pakistan are getting weary of meetings and talks that do not result in increasing India’s stakes in a stable and prosperous Pakistan and Pakistan’s stakes in a stable and prosperous India. Apart from giving a boost to India-Pakistan trade it is necessary to think of joint industrial ventures and meaningful cooperation in the fields of agriculture, education, health and culture.

    It is possible that the current political crisis in Pakistan will be advanced by one side or another to put India-Pakistan bilateral talks on hold. The time for using such arguments has passed. In today’s situation the only sensible course is to press on with establishing peace in the subcontinent regardless of the political crises in either country or a change of regime here or there.

    DAWN.COM | Columnists | Resume talks with India
  7. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    India and Pakistan: deadlines for dialogue

    Suhasini Haidar, January 12, 2010

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Pakistani counterpart Gilani during a meeting. File Photo: PTI

    Every impending deadline, coupled with the window of opportunity for talks in Kashmir, underscores the need for a new line of engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad.

    As a slew of new track-2 and track-3 initiatives try to build a ‘roadmap’ for a new India-Pakistan dialogue, it may be time to look at some of the circumstances in which dialogue has been derailed in the past — and hunt clues for the future. In the parlance of India-Pakistan ties, specifically in the past decade, it is the top leadership that has proposed new initiatives for peace, and it is terrorists and those who direct them who have been most easily able to dispose of them.

    On the night of the Mumbai terror attacks of November 26, 2008, just an hour before the attackers fired the first shot, the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers were holding a press conference in New Delhi. The tension between the two countries at the time was over the Indian cricket team’s hesitation to go play a series in Pakistan after the Marriott hotel bombing in Islamabad. Coincidentally, India’s Home Secretary was in Islamabad, where the two countries had issued a comprehensive Joint Statement on fighting Terror and Drug Trafficking. India and Pakistan had agreed to ‘fast-track’ the 5th round of the Composite Dialogue. Hours later all dialogue was suspended, and history was written once again by the terrorist’s gun.

    While the Mumbai attacks led to what’s become the most prolonged suspension of talks since the year 2000, it is part of a distinct pattern. In May 2006, negotiators were close to a breakthrough on demilitarising the Siachen glacier, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had hoped to make a “mountain of peace.” According to those who knew, talks with Pakistani officials had entered an advanced stage, due to be taken forward that summer. But first deadly attacks at the Congress party rally in Srinagar on the eve of the Prime Minister’s roundtable conference, and another brutal attack on tourists pushed Siachen talks to July, when the Foreign Secretaries were due to meet. In July 2006, just nine days before that meeting, the Mumbai train bombings left more than 200 dead and with them buried all talk of talks for months.

    In 2007, revived talks made strides on the Wullar dispute. On Sir Creek they had all but agreed on a settlement, when the Samjhauta blasts took place. Again and again, the dialogue was buffeted in a series of blasts, in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Delhi, where more than a hundred were killed.

    In 2008, it was the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and then the Mumbai attacks that finally halted all talks. Through these brutalities, the composite dialogue has lurched from event to event, sustaining itself on the oxygen of meetings on the sidelines of international summits — Havana, Colombo, New York, L’Aguilla, Yekaterinburg and Sharm El Sheikh — and always going into dialogue-ICU after the next big attack. Closer home, the attack on Fazl Haq Qureshi in Srinagar and the fidayeen hotel siege at Lal Chowk have followed reports of dialogue being initiated between the Central government and separatists.

    The Mumbai attacks, however, cannot be clubbed with the rest because of the deep scar they left on our nation. Even Islamabad seemed to get the message from India’s pain and the international community’s outrage -- that there would be no going back after 26/11. In the months that followed, Pakistan took unparalleled action, beginning with the reluctant admission that the attackers were Pakistani, to the investigation it undertook on the basis of Indian dossiers. And then in October, the pressure on Pakistan seemed to double. The revelations from the Headley investigation and subsequent indictment by U.S. officials for the Mumbai attacks brought his handler, a former Pakistani army Major, into focus and with it fresh impetus for Islamabad to act. Within a month, Islamabad charged seven men with 26/11. While Indian statements have kept up a steady focus on Hafiz Saeed, they have failed to acknowledge that the men now awaiting trial at a Lahore court are far from ‘small fry.’ LeT operational commander Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, for one, known as the ‘Imam of jihadis,’ Abu Al Qama (wanted for the Red Fort and Akshardham attacks), and computer expert Zarar Shah. If shutting down the LeT and the JuD and arresting Hafiz Saeed are impossible tasks for those in Islamabad who created them, these indictments could at least be considered a start.

    But the gains from keeping the pressure on Pakistan have now hit the law of diminishing returns — and diminishing sympathy from the pro-peace constituency in Pakistan, which believes India should show more concern about the terror attacks that paralyse ordinary Pakistanis every day.

    At least the first decade of the 21st century gave our leaders many opportunities to kickstart and restart the dialogue process. The next decade, however, is unlikely to afford that leeway for at least three distinct reasons. In fact, the next 18 months may be all the time for flexibility they have.

    For one thing, the next 18 months are the only space the United Progressive Alliance government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have for any bold foreign policy initiatives. Uttar Pradesh and other key States will head for Legislative Assembly elections in 2012. If he so chooses, Dr. Singh will also be able to counter the sizeable strategic community opposed to talks with the lowered threat perception that has arisen amongst the larger national community after the past 13 months of relative freedom from major terror attacks. Already, several people-to-people, and media-to-media initiatives are starting without the public outcry they would have faced a year ago.

    Another deadline is the one announced to the American people by President Barack Obama, to begin the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by mid-2011. If this is met, it will certainly change the power structure in that embattled South Asian nation. As American troops thin out on the ground, India, with its consistent refusal to be part of peacekeeping forces, may find Pakistan, the U.S.’s ally in the ‘war on terror,’ gaining leverage and perhaps less willing to yield in talks.

    Finally, the unspoken deadline that looms before Pakistan and is an equal threat to India is the time changes will occur within the Pakistan army structure. India has always seen the Pakistani army as its biggest enemy, one that has raised and pushed militants over the LoC. Paradoxically as a cohesive, centrally commanded force, it is also best placed to protect India from the jihadi terror that savages Pakistan’s cities today.

    But many inside the Pakistani establishment point to a timeline 18 months hence: when some of the army recruits enlisted during General Zia-ul-Haq’s ‘Islamicisation’ drive in the mid-1980s (1984-1988) would reach Brigadier rank and above. In his widely acclaimed book, Crossed Swords, Shuja Nawaz, whose brother Gen. Asif Nawaz was Army Chief from 1991-1993, describes the former military dictator’s efforts: “Zia tried hard to change the ethos of the army, making Islamic ritual and teachings part of the army’s day to day activities, changing its motto to ‘ Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabeelilah’ (Faith, obedience, struggle in the path of Allah). The Jamaat-e-Islaami took advantage of the changing demographics and nature of the army by sending out directives to its members to sign up for the army by taking the Inter services selection board examinations.”

    It is those army recruits who could soon reach the highest levels. The fear, of course, is that some will answer not to the military high command -- but to a ‘higher’ one. During the recent 18-hour siege of the GHQ in Rawalpindi, the generals were reportedly worried during the first few hours that the fidayeen attack had been engineered by ‘Talibanised’ elements of the army itself. The fears turned out to be unfounded. But the GHQ attack established a different pattern of worry for the country -- that of the South Punjabi Lashkar, trained in PoK, carrying out an attack for the Taliban in Waziristan, Pakistan’s triangle of terror, quite literally closing in on its central command structure, and putting both Pakistan, and India on notice. All those in India who today wonder, “Yes, talk — but who to talk to?’ may find the current lack of options nothing compared to what may follow.

    All these impending deadlines, coupled with the window of opportunity for talks in Kashmir hasten the need for a new line of engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad, an engagement that understands that agencies that have unleashed terror attacks to derail the process in the past will shadow the next round too.

    Finally, the question most often asked, ‘Why talk at all?’ may well find its answer in George Mallory’s response to the question, ‘Why climb Everest?’ ‘Because it’s there,’ the mountaineer replied. Why talk to Pakistan? Because it will always be there. And we still can.

    (Suhasini Haidar is Deputy Foreign Editor, CNN-IBN.)

    The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : India and Pakistan: deadlines for dialogue
  8. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    Paper no. 3604 14-Jan-2010


    By B.Raman

    The pending issues standing in the way of a thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations could be divided into the following groups:

    GROUP 1---INTERNAL SECURITY RELATED: Pakistan's continued use of terrorism against India, inaction against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory and lack of mutual legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases. High priority for India and low priority for Pakistan.

    GROUP 2---TERRITORY RELATED: The Kashmir issue, the Siachen Glacier and the Sir Creek. High priority for Pakistan and low priority for India.

    GROUP 3--- ECONOMIC TIES RELATED: Normalisation of bilateral trade and transit rights for Indian trade with Afghanistan. Medium priority for India and low priority for Pakistan.

    GROUP 4---- OFFICIAL EXCHANGES RELATED: Exchanges of visits of political leaders, senior bureaucrats and military officers to remove the trust deficit and increase the mutual comfort level. Low priority for both countries

    GROUP 5--- OTHER ISSUES: Facilities to the media for better coverage, easier travel, exchanges of visits between relatives, easier access to visa, greater exchange of pilgrim groups, facilities for tourism. Low priority for both.

    2. The inflexible line taken by the two countries as indicated below in the past made any progress difficult:

    INDIA: No progress on other issues possible until and unless its internal security related concerns are addressed by Pakistan.

    PAKISTAN: No progress on other issues possible unless and until its territory-related interests are addressed.

    3.To get around this log-jam, the idea of a composite dialogue was devised. That is, discussing all the issues simultaneously through different groups of officials. The composite dialogue was unable to break this log-jam because instead of taking up first issues amenable to an easy solution and proceeding gradually from the easier-to-solve to the more difficult, it made a messy mix of both. As a result, even easier issues, which could have been solved a long time ago such as those relating to econimic ties remained unresolved.

    4.There are certain defining characteristics of Indo-Pakistan relations since 1947, namely,

    No.1: A greater trust deficit between the two States than between the two civil societies.

    No.2: The two political leaderships and civil and military bureaucracies living and working in isolation from each other without an exercise involving periodic exchanges of visits and views.

    No.3: Past memories. 1971 in the case of Pakistan and terrorism in the case of India.

    No.4: A tendency of the opponents of the ruling dispensation in the two countries to politically exploit any seeming concession to the other side in order to embarrass and discredit the ruling dispensation.

    No.5: The role of the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as a deciding factor in determining the future direction of the bilateral ties. No Pakistani political leader, however strong and popular, can overrule the Army and the ISI in matters relating to India.

    5. Aware of the sensitivities and difficulties, the leaders of the two countries have tried over the years two formats to ease, if not break, the log jam:

    THE FORMAL DIALOGUE: The composite dialogue, which is in a state of suspension since the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, is an example.

    BACK CHANNEL CONTACTS: These were between trusted representatives---governmental or non-governmental--- of the leaders of the two countries. Such back channel contacts at the governmental and non-governmental levels existed under Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrasekhar. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. There were no back channel contacts under V.P.Singh, Narasimha Rao, Deve Gowda and Inder Gujral. Back channel contacts differ from the so-called track II diplomacy. Track II diplomacy is diplomacy through non-governmental initiatives through non-governmental intermediaries. Back channel diplomacy is diplomacy through governmental initiatives through governmental or non-governmental intermediaries. Back channel diplomacy also differs from the formal dialogue in many respects. A formal dialogue has a rigid structure---- a formal pre-agreed agenda, jointly agreed minutes and the relative irreversibility of positions agreed upon if there is a backlash back home. It is held in the full glare of publicity. Back channel diplomacy has no formal structure--- no formal agenda, no joinly-agreed minutes and the easier reversibility of agreed positions in case of a controversy back home. Back channel diplomacy provides a greater wriggle room unlike a formal dialogue.

    6.Back channel diplomacy poses a major problem to which no satisfactory solution has been found. That arises from the question: How and when to formalise the progress achieved through informal contacts. Often, political leaderships and bureaucracies have failed in giving a formal shape to the progress made through informal back channel diplomacy. The demilitarisation of Siachen is a good example. Governments keep the opposition informed about a formal dialogue, but in the dark about back channel diplomacy. This adds to the difficulties in formalising the progress made through back channels.

    7. One could see once again attempts to break the ice between India and Pakistan. The New Year telephonic conversations between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries about which the media has reported on January 14,2010, is indicative of the beginning of a groping forward once again. The fact that many of the details as given in the media seem to have come from the Government would indicate an attempt by the Government to test the waters of public opinion before making any concrete move towards the resumption of a dialogue.

    8. Rigidity is always bad diplomacy. Good diplomacy is a mix of firm adherence to national interests and flexibility in having an open mind to alternative approaches. Has the time come for an alternative approach? If so, what could be that one? The present atmosphere is not conducive to a resumption of the composite dialgue in its past format. Pakistan has not acted against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure. It shows no signs of giving up the use of terrorism against India. It has been dragging its feet in prosecuting its nationals involved in the 26/11 terrorist strikes.

    9. While adhering to our reasonable stand that there can be no composite dialogue till Pakistan at least shows an inclination to address our internal security related concerns, the time has come to explore the possibility of initiating a sub-composite dialogue by focussing on other issues. Start with the less difficult first and move to the more difficult later.

    ( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Inbstitute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: [email protected] )

    India-Pakistan:  Needfor a SubComposite Dialogue
  9. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    a contrary point of view..

    Pakistan-India Peace Strategically Impossible
  10. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    Talk to Pakistan, says 26/11 inquiry committee member

    Siddharth Varadarajan, New Delhi, January 27, 2010

    A former intelligence official and member of the two-man R.D. Pradhan committee which probed the police response to the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai has said the resumption of dialogue with Pakistan will help marginalise the terrorists responsible for the incident and is the only way to contribute to peace in the region.

    In a statement to a Track-II India-Pakistan meeting convened in Delhi last week by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, V. Balachandran, formerly a special secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing, said, India must be mature rather than “prickly” in its diplomacy. Reiterating an assessment he made in 2004 that the “security-oriented containment strategy” of Pakistan had failed to deter terrorist incidents, Mr. Balachandran said that 26/11 had not changed the situation.

    The answer, he said, lay in New Delhi pushing for the creation of a “peace constituency” by encouraging trade and people-to-people contact, especially of journalists, sportspersons, artists, writers, lawyers, human rights activists, film stars and traders. India should also avoid over-reacting to insignificant pronouncements from across the border and “rein in rabid politicians and ‘security specialist’ hawks” whose statements tend to challenge the integrity of Pakistan.

    “Any Indian unilateral measure against Pakistan will only hurt a segment of peace-loving Pakistani population, which is not desirable for long-lasting peace. It will also hurt India… Only a sustained India-Pakistan dialogue will contribute to South Asian peace. It will also help in marginalising jihadi and fundamentalist elements who are supporting each other in both countries and elsewhere.”

    Mr. Balachandran said it was quite clear the Mumbai attacks were planned by the Lashkar-e-Taiba leadership in Pakistan. “The Indian public is, however, quite convinced that the ordinary citizens and intelligentsia in Pakistan are not involved in this. It is only a small misguided group, perhaps with official or semi-official patronage that is waging this terrorist war against India.”

    While Islamabad must do more to put down terrorist activities against India, Delhi’s policy must be based on the fact that Pakistan’s “power brokers”, like the army, do not stand to gain by peace, he said. “It is the majority middle class, intelligentsia and divided families who suffer the maximum by strained relations… We need to cultivate this segment by unilateral concessions if necessary by way of visas, facilities for medical and technical education, cultural, sports and film delegations etc.” He added that the “paranoia of our security services that this would facilitate infiltration of subversives needs to be ridiculed as they are already cross over in droves”.

  11. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    What kind of retards are heading these committees??. If Pakistan itself sending terrorists with official patronage, how will talking to Pakistan will marginalize the terrorists?. No wonder, with people like these in the country there is no need for enemies like Pakistan.
  12. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    ^^ A former intelligence official who was tasked to probe the 26/11 response would definitely have more knowledge of what Pakistani actors have been involved in anti-India agenda since the beginning. They why would he suggest to "talk" to Pakistan. I doubt he would make this remark of the cuff.

    India should come off the knee-jerk reaction that it has. Talking to Pakistan does not mean surrendering to them. The 26/11 attacks were done with a calculated move by a section of the security establishment to achieve, IMO among other things two objectives,
    (1) Stop the Kashmir settlement which was a non-territorial one where the LoC would be converted to IB - they succeeded in stopping this with the suspension of composite dialogue
    (2) Provoke a war with India where surgical strikes would be launched and PA would get the excuse to stop their ops in FATA - GoI's restraint in not attacking Pakistan resulted in the failure of this objective.

    Now once the talks start, GoI should get the 2007 formula restarted and insist on resolving it on the basis already agreed, but at the same time there should be no let up on GoP on reigning in all anti-India groups and prosecuting people like JuD chief e.t.c.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  13. dineshchaturvedi

    dineshchaturvedi Regular Member

    Jul 11, 2009
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    I agree that we should think well before going for any strike, Pakistan has nothing to lose but instability might halt our progress.

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