Another round of inconclusive, hypocritical Indo-Pak talks

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Pakistan

By Asif Haroon Raja

A meeting was held between Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on 15-16 July as a follow up of Indo-Pak talks at Foreign Secretary level on 24 June and Interior Ministers meeting on 25 June. While it was crystal clear that India was in no mood to resume talks with Pakistan , it had to reluctantly give in under US pressure. Krishna came here to perform a ritual at the behest of Washington and not to make any headway towards resolution of disputes and to pave the way for peace in the region. Krishna-Qureshi meeting was akin to Vajpayee-Gen Musharraf meeting in Agra or Manmohan-Gilani meeting in Sharm el Sheikh. Each time, war mongering Hindu hawks in BJP, RSS and Congress scuttled peace prospects.

Krishna was on same page with Qureshi to start with but he changed his stance and became inflexible once he received instructions from New Delhi . He maintained that talks would remain confined to terrorism only and other issues that were part of composite dialogue will not be touched. It gives a clear picture about the mindset of Hindu extremists vying for Hindutva and craving to destroy Pakistan and their iron grip over policy makers in India .

From December 2008 onwards, India had suspended composite dialogue and in concert with USA and Israel had stepped up its subversive activities against Pakistan under an orchestrated plan. 2009 was the worst year for Pakistan during which maximum suicide attacks, bomb blasts and group attacks took place. India rejected all offers of talks by Pakistan and rigidly stood on one-point agenda that unless Pakistan complied with its instructions to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba run terrorist camps and handed over culprits involved in Mumbai attacks, talks will not be resumed. Had India been sincerely interested in tracing the real culprits it would have agreed to Pakistan ’s proposal of joint investigations? But the intentions were not to determine the truth but to keep Pakistan under pressure and to keep up with its covert activities.

India was very hopeful that by the close of 2009, it would be in a good position to dictate terms to Pakistan . However, successful military operations in Swat, South Waziristan and Bajaur upset its timeframe. India then began to heat up North Waziristan , South Punjab , Balochistan and Karachi . However, it came under another dark cloud when the situation in Afghanistan became so wobbly that USA was forced to look towards Pakistan for assistance. In order to make Pakistan focus its full attention towards its western border, USA exerted extreme pressure on India to resume talks with Pakistan and to postpone or go slow in its plans to destabilize Pakistan for the time being till the situation in Afghanistan got stabilized. It was under such unenviable circumstances that India agreed to hold talks.                

Issues central to Pakistan ’s interests such as Kashmir , human rights abuses in Kashmir by Indian security troops, Siachen, Sir Creek and water dispute were rudely brushed aside by docile looking Krishna on the plea that he had no mandate to discuss them. If he had no mandate on these critical issues had he come on a sight seeing tour at the expense of Pakistan ? The visitor remained glued to terrorism only and kept demanding progress made on the culprits involved in Mumbai attacks. He asked as to why Hafiz Saeed had so far not been handed over to India or punished. While expressing great concern about terrorism and falsely claiming that India is victim of terrorism, when Qureshi politely asked him that India should refrain from terrorism in Pakistan , instead of agreeing to close down hundreds of terrorist camps in Afghanistan run by RAW, he innocently asked for proofs. Does India with blackest track record need any proof for its state terrorism against Kashmiris, Sikhs, Maoists, Christians, Dalits, Indian Muslims and other minorities in India or subversive activities against all its neighbors?

In contrast to unbendable Krishna , Shah Mahmud Qureshi was open, large hearted, flexible and in no mood to contest points agitated by his guest. He was acquiescent and in no mood to indulge in arguments. He was unenthusiastic on core issues having direct bearing on Pakistan in order to keep the atmosphere harmonious. Instead of confronting the visitors with concrete evidence on RAW’s activities in Balochistan and FATA he touched upon it lightly thereby giving an excuse to Krishna to throw the ball in Pakistan ’s court in 16 July Press briefing that India could take no action in the absence of evidence. Qureshi presented Kashmir struggle in human rights context only, leaving aside territorial ingress and violation of UN Resolutions by India . Surprisingly, he legitimized puppet regime of Omar Abdullah in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) by calling it a legitimate elected government when people of Kashmir view it as Indian installed and illegitimate.

It is now an established fact that all elections held in IHK were held under the barrel of the gun and so was the last state election. In each election, people were literally dragged out of their homes and taken to polling stations by bayonet totting soldiers. Qureshi didn’t pickup courage to talk about ongoing barbaric actions of Indian security forces against unarmed Kashmiri protestors wanting freedom from India . He didn’t raise the issue of water theft and building of dams over three rivers flowing into Pakistan in violation of Indus Basin Treaty by India since he had stated in Bhutan that India was not stealing water.       

He remained mum on Hindu extremist terrorist network in India and didn’t ask the progress made by Indian courts on the trial of Col Prohit and other co-accused in several acts of terror in India which were wickedly pasted on Pakistan . Prohit confessed his involvement in those bomb blasts incidents including Samjhota Express blasts in which dozens of Pakistanis were killed. Mumbai attacks took place immediately in the wake of busting of this network by Hemant Karkare. This upright man was killed when Mumbai was burning on the night of 26 November 2008 . Surprisingly, Qureshi didn’t ask for speedy trial of Prohit gang or handing over the main accused since he had killed innocent Pakistanis traveling from India to Pakistan . 

If I remember correctly, Pakistan had provided hard evidence including video movies to Hamid Karzai and President George Bush way back in beginning of 2006 about involvement of RAW in Balochistan. Gen Musharraf had said that he was 100% sure of RAW’s activities in Balochistan. Interior Minister, spoke of RAW’s activities on the floor of the House; IGFC and IG Balochistan stated that they had ample proofs of RAW’s linkage with BLA and other rebel groups. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor stated categorically that RAW hand was clearly visible in series of suicide and bomb blasts in Peshawar and other cities. Other high officials have also been off and on giving similar statements. Heaps of Indian origin arms, ammunition, explosives and written material were captured from South Waziristan during Rah-e-Nijat. Several Hindu RAW agents posing as Taliban were captured/ killed during operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat and Malakand.

It is therefore mind boggling as to why dossiers were not handed over to India , particularly when India has been loading Pakistan with dossiers containing fabricated evidences related to Mumbai based on confessional statement of lone witness Ajmal Kasab who had been in custody of Mumbai police well before Mumbai carnage. US citizen David Headley has also been belatedly shoved into the scene to make their concocted story look more convincing.          

Although blessed with handsome features, impressive demeanor and gift of gab, Qureshi is proving to be the weakest foreign minister ever seen by Pakistan . His diplomatic finesse starts and ends in niceties and appeasement. Ever since he took over this prestigious post in 2008, he has remained in an apologetic and defensive mode while dealing with his US, Indian and British counterparts. His disproportionate geniality at the cost of firmness has kept him on the defensive and his counterparts aggressive. He remains extra conscious while choosing his words so as not to annoy overweening officials from other countries. He bends over backwards to keep them in good humor.

Had his policy of one-sided conciliation earned something good for Pakistan , his conduct could have become constructive. However, his passiveness in the face of abrasiveness has bartered away Pakistan ’s liberty of action and allowed India and USA to become more demanding and domineering. He has continuously ceded ground putting Pakistan on the back foot. Resumption of talks became his obsession at whatever cost. He naively thinks that this breakthrough would become a huge diplomatic triumph for him and his party. It is because of such juvenile perceptions that today Pakistan has no card to play with, while India has Sindh, Balochistan and FATA cards and even Kashmir card since any clash between Indian security forces and Kashmiri freedom fighters is attributed by India to Pakistan and the world acknowledges the allegation. So much so that Pakistan has been put on notice that it will face dire consequences if any terrorist act takes place in US and India

Unsolved political issues have bedeviled Indo-Pakistan relations and resulted into three major and two minor wars, and have increased rather than decreased antagonism. Instead of solving core issues India wants to reverse priorities. It desires promotion of cooperation in economic, trade, culture and media to pave the way for resolution of core political issues. People like Iqbal Haider fully subscribe to this skewed line of thought and goes to the extent of selling India ’s theme of converting LoC into permanent border. Iqbal hates Islamists but has a soft corner for Baloch rebels, which is strictly in line with western and Indian policy.

He and India funded Aman ki Asha campaigners are bent upon harming the cause of Kashmir and are least bothered about the pains suffered by Kashmiris for the last 63 years. They are not concerned about slaughter of over 100,000 Kashmiris and ongoing massive human rights violations of Indian security forces against unarmed protestors demanding their democratic right of self determination. They are not concerned about Siachen Glacier illegally occupied by Indian forces in June 1984 where thousands have died in combat actions and due to adverse weather and terrain conditions. What India and its lovers in Pakistan are concerned about is controversial Mumbai attacks in which 166 people got killed. 

In their view terrorism and not Kashmir is core issue. Flag bearers of Aman ki Asha do not bother about somersaults, lies and deceits of Indian leaders. They are not concerned about evil designs of India busy destabilizing Pakistan and building dams over three rivers flowing into Pakistan to turn Pakistan into a wasteland.  The liberal brigade is solely interested in cultural programs, people to people contacts, fashion shows, musical shows and promotion of theatre.   

Liberals are the ones who help India in propagating that freedom fighters in IHK are terrorists duly abetted by Pakistan . They say that jihad launched by imprudent extremist and militant religious groups was undesirable but ignore the fact that Kashmiris seeking peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute as provided for in UN resolutions and as pledged by Nehru, agonizingly waited from 1947 till 1989. When the UN and the world failed to take any notice of their sufferings, they had to ultimately pick up arms and launch armed freedom struggle. Once Gen Musharraf withdrew support to the cause of Kashmir and defused Kashmir movement to please India and USA , Kashmiris left high and dry have now decided to resort to nonviolent protests and strikes. New form of defiance has unnerved India.                          

While US efforts in facilitating thaw in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations is bearing fruit, its similar efforts to bridge trust deficit between India and Pakistan will not prove productive because of India’s insincerity and intransigence on core issue of Kashmir. Ongoing peace dialogue entirely under pressure from Washington is another drama which will end up inconclusively.                    

The writer is a freelance defence analyst who writes for several national and internal newspapers and websites and his articles are widely commented upon.  Email: asifharoon7751@yahoo.com

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