Readers might recall that recently responding to critical remarks against Indian media by Pakistan Envoy Mr. Salman Bashir this writer posed him a question: Would Pakistan consent to joint operations between India and Pakistan to eliminate terror and non-state actors perpetrating it in both our countries? I assured him that if he gave an answer Indian media would compel the Indian government to respond appropriately.
By coincidence or otherwise Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani the other day criticizing India’s Army Chief General Bikram Singh for blaming Islamabad and ISI for the recent border violations gave a response.
General Kayani described the allegation that Islamabad was supporting terrorism as being baseless and unfounded. General Kayani should appreciate that border incursions are undeniable. He should also appreciate that the Army Chief in India unlike in Pakistan is constrained to strictly echo the government’s line. The Indian government has not officially accepted that non-state actors could be operating from Pakistan without the support of the Pakistan government. Only President Pranab Mukherjee implied that regardless of such being the case the Pakistan government could not evade responsibility. Pakistan Envoy Mr. Salman Bashir in his remarks implied that non-state actors in their thousands operating inside Pakistan were funded and guided from abroad. It was in this context that this writer questioned Mr. Bashir.
In his latest statement General Kayani said:
“Rather than hurling baseless accusations (against the Islamabad government), India would be well advised to respond positively to Pakistan’s suggestion for holding joint or impartial probe into the LOC incidents.”
This demand appears to be eminently reasonable. If a joint probe helps discover the truth about the source of the terror it will be welcome. If the joint probe reveals the Pakistan army’s insincerity in probing the truth, it will be welcome. New Delhi in that event will be better placed to formulate appropriate policy. Why, then, does the Indian government not respond?
The people of India deserve a transparent explanation for the government’s failure to respond to the offer of a joint probe. The governments of India and Pakistan keep alive engagement by holding meaningless talks between prime ministers and officials which produce vacuous and inane statements drafted by the twits serving both governments. Such a farce does not amount to a dialogue. It is mere window dressing for public and international consumption.
A joint probe on the LOC will open the window to meaningful cooperation between both the governments. If the exercise fails the window can be shut forever. A peace dialogue should not end in words but lead to action. That should be the prime rule of engagement for conducting a genuine Indo-Pak peace dialogue.