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Responding to Pakistan’s Overtures!
by Dr. Rajinder Puri Bookmark and Share

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mr. Rehman Malik warned New Delhi of a likely Taliban attack because terrorists from Pakistan’s tribal areas are shifting to Kashmir. Mr. Malik offered to share security information with India in the future. Indeed, even March last year Mr. Malik had said: “Let's not forget that terrorists have got no boundary or religion. There are several indications that the Taliban have started their activities in India. I am saying this on record and I have also informed India. We must work together to stop the work of terrorists." The Indian government has not yet responded to these overtures. One hopes that South Block is not influenced by the stupid reactions expressed by media and so-called security analysts on TV.  Indeed, one national newspaper that obtained an interview with Mr. Malik in which he expressed his views went on to write an editorial sneering and mocking the Pakistan Minister’s olive branch. These are the same Indian analysts who went ga-ga over moves to liberalize Indo-Pakistan trade. Pakistan’s Army Chief General Kayani told media that economic cooperation with India was desirable and both neighbouring nations needed to focus more on development than on defence. He urged an early agreement on the Siachen dispute. Fortunately, New Delhi responded positively to General Kayani’s remarks. This should be followed by practical proposals for implementation.

Indian analysts rubbishing Mr. Malik’s overtures betray pathetic confusion. If New Delhi must totally distrust Pakistan’s cooperation on security matters how can that country be trusted to enhance border trade which does not jeopardize national security? The main grouse of critics dismissing Mr. Maik’s overtures was that terrorist camps continued to exist within Pakistan and cross border movement by terrorists had not stopped. That is very true. But these critics and the Ministry of External Affairs need to reflect. 

By pursuing policies that differ from professed intentions does Pakistan reveal that it is double-faced or divided? Undoubtedly there is a powerful component in Pakistan committed to terror as a tool against India. Undoubtedly this component has infiltrated various departments of the Pakistani establishment. But is there or is there not a sizable element that genuinely seeks normalization with India but lacks the requisite power to enforce its will? In other words, is Pakistan double-faced or divided? 

Given the number of casualties suffered at the hands of terrorists by Pakistan both among its civilian population and its army there should be no doubt that Pakistan is divided. And with the passage of time an increasing number of Pakistanis are beginning to realize that a misplaced sense of chauvinistic patriotism that made them overlook the immoral and eventually self-destructive consequences of terror as a diplomatic weapon is beginning to extract unbearable price. Any dispassionate reading of Pakistan’s media and the latest statement by General Kayani attest to the fact that such realization is beginning to dawn. 

In the event, should New Delhi encourage all elements in Pakistan that seek peace or spurn them? There are too many Indians who occupy the high moral ground and adopt an unforgiving posture in the light of past Pakistani conduct. These Indians need a reality check. They should recall India’s immoral means adopted to redress the genuine grievances in both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Was it not fiction that Bangladesh was liberated initially by its indigenous population instead of by the Indian Army which trained and presented to the world the Mukti Vahini as its shield? To deny this would be the height of hypocrisy. Was not the LTTE trained and aided at the outset by the Indian government for a similar exercise inside Sri Lanka which operation went horribly astray? To deny this is the height of hypocrisy. 

Indians therefore should get off the moral high ground and focus on the present and on our genuine national interest. It is great to be patriotic. But should Indians be patriotic Bharatis or patriotic Hindustanis? As Bharatis we have been competing with our neighbours as equals for the last six decades. As Hindustanis we would have to recognize that the responsibility for the entire subcontinent devolves on us as the largest nation and therefore all the peoples of the region, as distinct from their governments, are our people. Therefore without lowering its guard even by an inch our government should do everything possible to help Pakistan become a functioning democracy that seeks total trust, normalization and peace with India. Strong neighbours at peace with each other in the subcontinent will create a strong subcontinent. A strong and stable subcontinent will mean a strong India able to play its global role. That alone will undo the great betrayal perpetrated by the so-called leaders of our freedom struggle who accepted the Partition.   

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Comment Sir, it is not a question of high or low moral ground; it is a question of reality check. Trust but verify.If Pakistan has two voices, which one will prevail ? How to verify which one will prevail ? Have the Pakistani army given up on terrorism as a strategy to deal with India ? Then they should act against Hafiz Sayeed and other conspirators of 26/11 and other terror attacks and not hide behind the judicial process. Will they accept LOC as border in Kashmir ? There are too many questions that need to be answered before we can move even one step ahead. I know you are a sentimental romantic when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. But sentiments should take a back seat in diplomacy.

04/20/2012 03:37 AM

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