This Column has repeatedly stressed that the Indian Prime Minister’s fixated obsession to talk peace with Pakistan at any cost harms India’s national security interests and diminishes India’s international image. The visit this week of the Indian Foreign Minister to Islamabad for talks with the Pakistan Foreign Minister and the sordid and undiplomatic note on which it ended, once again reinforces the assertion of this Columnist. The Indian Prime Minister refuses to recognize the harsh strategic reality that his yearnings for peace are reciprocated by greater intransigence from the Pakistan establishment. They seem to read the Indian Prime Minister’s unceasing initiatives for peace talks with Pakistan as arising from United States pressures and India’s political timidity.
The depths to which the Pakistani Foreign Minister could diplomatically descend and indulge in calumnies can be gauged from his equating Pakistani establishment’s most favored Islamic Jihadi leader Hafiz Saeed’s inflammatory speeches against India to the Indian Home Secretary’s public statement highlighting Pakistan ISI links with Coleman Hadley and Pakistan Armed Forces involvement in the Mumbai 26/11 Mumbai bombings. The Indian Home Secretary’s assertions were made on the basis of US interrogations of Hadley and not on any Indian fabricated investigation. Where is the equation? One is a terrorist and the other is a responsible senior Indian official repeating US interrogation reports.
What significantly emerges from this latest India-Pakistan peace parley was that Pakistan is not genuinely interested in peace with India. The civilian government in Pakistan does not rule Pakistan or formulate its foreign policies and especially policies towards India and Afghanistan. That control lies in the hands of the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Army Chief. Since the Pakistan Army has not reconciled to its convincing defeat at the hands of the Indian Army in the 1971 War leading to the emergence of Bangladesh, peace with India is not on the agenda of the Pakistan Army.
But then why blame Pakistan only? Soon after the return of the Indian delegation from Islamabad after a messy India-Pakistan peace parley, it should have been made clear that with such a background no further dialogues are possible and especially when Indian public opinion is overwhelmingly against any talks with Pakistan unless it atones and makes amends for the Pakistani Establishment’s involvement in Mumbai 26/11. At best the Indian policy establishment could have remained silent and let Pakistan read India’s silence and what did it imply. But, on the contrary, on Indian TV the Indian Foreign Secretary very uncomfortably had to assert that the talks were productive and that India would continue with the process of India-Pakistan peace dialogues.
Obviously, the Foreign Secretary cannot be expected to go against the Indian Prime Minister’s fixated obsession for peace with Pakistan at any cost. It beats logical reasoning and deductive analysis as to what strategic gains accrue to India by persistent foredoomed India-Pakistan peace dialogues. Surely, as repeated many times earlier that no Nobel Peace Prize awaits the Indian Prime Minister on this count. Also repeatedly asserted earlier has been the fact that the Indian Prime Minister’s “evangelist sermons on peace with Pakistan” generates ambiguities and contradictions for the Indian Armed Forces heavily engaged in combating Pakistan generated external and internal security threats to India.
Curiously enough, this lack of success with peace dialogues with Pakistan has induced leading Indian political and strategic analysts to publicly articulate that maybe it is time for India to introduce peace dialogues with the Pakistan Army hierarchy as they call the shots in Pakistan. Nothing could be more preposterous and cynical than such assertions.
India also abounds heavily with a large tribe of “Pakistan Apologists” who never tire from blaming the Indian side and pleading that India should understand the compulsions of Pakistan’s political dynamics and make allowances for it. Inherent in their arguments is the ridiculous ingredient that it is India which needs peace more than Pakistan and not the other way around.
Rather sadly, while India overwhelmingly is smarting from the humiliation heaped on the Indian Foreign Minister, the Indian Prime Minister, contrarily, is making the Indian foreign policy establishment to plan for the next round of peace dialogue, oblivious to the futility of it all.