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Making Indo-Pak Dialogue Meaningful:
Discuss Basics, Be Blunt!
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
In Thimpu, India and Pakistan decided to resume talks. Will the government continue with its policy drift by pursuing this meaningless dialogue with Pakistan? We do need to talk with Pakistan. But the talks should be concrete, blunt and private. Such talks can only be held between the Prime Ministers of both governments one to one. Only after such talks might the government decide whether there are real and early prospects of stabilizing relations with Islamabad. What should the government discuss if such talks are ever held? The following should be the agenda.
First, the government must assert that history, ethnicity and geography dictate that India and Pakistan must have a special relationship that transcends relationships with any third power by either country. If not, the relationship will be meaningless.
Secondly, such a relationship might only be achieved if the Pakistan army alters its strategic thinking. It should not perceive India as the major security threat. Even several Pakistani newspaper columnists have pointed out that every Indo-Pak war was initiated by Pakistan. If in the light of this the Pakistan army were to change its perception there could evolve a joint defence strategy that might include sharing of nuclear power. Any Indo-Pakistan dialogue that does not include the Pakistan army would be meaningless.
Thirdly, stability of the region compels normal and friendly relations between South Asia and China. The current Chinese actions preclude such normalcy. India cannot tolerate its neighbouring countries being exploited by China to create tension with India. It should be bluntly pointed out that Pakistan itself is the prime proxy of China to needle India. That is unacceptable. In other words for an appropriate relationship with India, Pakistan would have to drastically alter its relations with Beijing. Pakistan should be advised that in the not too distant future events could persuade Beijing to target Pakistan in the manner that it does India. China’s access to energy and need for natural resources may persuade it to endanger Pakistan’s hold over Baluchistan. On the other hand, if India and Pakistan evolve a special relationship the whole of South Asia could develop excellent trade and political relations with China on a common basis. If Pakistan and its army find this unacceptable continuing the dialogue would be meaningless.
Fourthly, if Pakistan accepts these conditions, India should be willing to revise its approach to the Kashmir problem. India should consent to a solution in Kashmir that reflects the popular will of all segments of undivided Kashmir provided the entire region is incorporated in the envisaged Indo-Pakistan special relationship.
If Pakistan is willing to seriously consider the above conditions India should pursue the dialogue with Pakistan. Otherwise it is futile to continue with the present talks. India in that event would have to formulate a foreign policy for the region based upon its singular role.
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