During the election campaign Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was asked by a TV interviewer whether he would hold talks with Pakistan amidst continuing terror attacks. Mr. Modi said that one cannot talk under the sound of gunfire.
Recently on a visit to Kashmir the PM told a gathering that Pakistan was conducting a proxy war through cross border terrorism. Despite this the government initiated moves for talks between foreign secretaries slated for August 25. Prior to the talks the Pakistan High Commissioner invited Kashmir separatist leaders for consultations. The government protested through cancellation of the foreign secretaries meeting. Was the High Commissioner’s invitation to Kashmir separatist leaders a greater provocation than continuing cross border terror attacks ever since Mr. Modi assumed office?
The ways of this government are mysterious.
Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif reiterated his desire for peace. He also said that Kashmir remains the core issue for a final settlement. But cross border terror attacks did not stop. Either Mr. Sharif is double faced or he is not in control.
Neither fact should affect India’s approach to the problem.
Pakistan is hostage to powerful foreign backed elements that have infiltrated the government. They are supported by a madrassa trained underclass converted to anti-India hatred. Although the foreign secretaries’ talks are cancelled it does not prevent the government from conveying an ultimatum to Pakistan demanding an end to the proxy war.
What should that ultimatum be?
First, India must insist that Pakistan accept in principle joint defence against terrorism. That will commit the Pakistan government to a declaration of war against all pro-terrorist elements and their foreign backers. In addition India should offer immediate full cooperation by its army and security agencies to jointly wipe out terrorism from the region. Together both armies can achieve this. There are more terror casualties in Pakistan than in India. Simultaneously India should offer substantive peace talks on Kashmir. These commitments will affect both Pakistan and India in their relations with China.
In Kashmir Mr. Modi referred to Pakistan’s proxy war but was conspicuously silent about Chinese incursions across the border. Why? This government continues with the stupid, sycophantic and self-destructive China policy of previous governments. To encourage Chinese investment while Beijing continues to arm Pakistan against India is sheer insanity.
If Pakistan does not accept this ultimatum it can face an existential threat. India can break all cultural and political contacts and reduce its embassy in Islamabad to an empty building. It can extend full moral support to Baluchistan independence. It can endorse the Durand Line Treaty by which Pakistan’s Pashtun territory reverts to Afghanistan. These measures could implode Pakistan. India’s diplomatic war can defeat Pakistan’s proxy war. How to deal with China requires separate treatment.
Will Mr. Modi walk the talk?