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South Asia's Peace Dialogue:
A Meaningless Charade
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
South Asia has been treated to a meaningless charade of a peace dialogue between India and Pakistan being indulged in by two improbable partners, namely, General Musharraf, the military dictator of Pakistan and Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India who assumed this august office on the dictates of the Congress Party President, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
Though the Composite Dialogue between the two countries commenced or was resumed in the time of Prime Minister Vajpayee after the Islamabad Declaration in January 2004, the present Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh seems to have gone overboard in terms of his approaches to General Musharraf. And here I make a distinction between the people of Pakistan and their military ruler General Musharraf who usurped power by overthrowing a constitutionally elected civilian government in Pakistan. No military dictator of Pakistan has been lavished with so much praise and treated with so much effusive warmth as has been bestowed on General Musharraf by Dr Manmohan Singh. He has gone to the extent of publicly declaring that he trusts General Musharraf and can do business with him.
Once again, it needs to be reiterated that the peoples of both India and Pakistan yearn for a durable peace between the two countries, but it is certainly not the end objective of the Pakistan Army.
The current peace dialogue between the two improbable partners at the helm is at the prodding of the United States and both General Musharraf and Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh take their cues from Washington , notwithstanding the assertions of both to the contrary. Hence, the use of the word charade in the heading of this topic. A charade in essence implies play acting by actors solely relying on cues and prompting from off-stage as their heart and soul is not in the play.
This essentially is what is taking place in South Asia today in the peace dialogue between India and Pakistan and between General Musharraf and Dr Manmohan Singh. Continuance in power in Pakistan of General Musharraf was a strategic imperative of the United States. Continuance in power of General Musharraf in power was not in India's national security interests. Then why has India under the Congress Government so assiduously pursued this charade of a peace dialogue with Pakistan under military rule of General Musharraf when it is not a national security imperative of India. On the contrary as I have written elsewhere, it is a strategic imperative of India to assist the Pakistani people in their struggle for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. It is with a duly elected civilian government in Pakistan with which India should negotiate a durable peace between the two countries.
It is high time that India ends this charade of a peace dialogue with Pakistan's military ruler, especially now that Washington seems to be sending out different cues to General Musharraf which in effect signals that in United States policy establishment, mistrust of General Musharraf is intensifying. And, it is not that General Musharraf is not aware of the consequences. If he goes, then India's current policies towards Pakistan and all the out of the box solutions so eagerly lapped up by India would all get thrown out of the window. And, so would the ill-advised ' back channel diplomacy', a subterfuge for India's appeasement policies.
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