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That Persisting Trust Deficit!
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Will Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) never learn from experience? A little ahead of resuming Indo-Pak peace talks in Islamabad Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao participating in a Delhi seminar repeated all the worn out prescriptions – put an end to terrorism, make borders irrelevant, remove trust-deficit through dialogue, etcetera, etcetera. She also said: “Asymmetries in size and development should not prevent us (India and Pakistan) from working together.”
Was this observation intended to reduce trust-deficit?
Translating it in street talk meant: “Look, we’re big and strong, you’re small and weak! That don’t mean we can’t be partners – right, dude?”
Ms Rao recalled how the Indo-Pak peace process was derailed by 26/11. She should have jogged her memory a little more. Each time India and Pakistan approached agreement there was derailment caused by an event. The Lahore summit was derailed by Kargil, the Agra summit was wrecked by a last minute semantic dispute, the Musharraf initiative was aborted by his ouster and the Manmohan Singh-Zardari effort was knocked out by 26/11. Each time warmth creeps into the Indo-Pak dialogue a major event inflames public opinion to ruin the atmosphere. Does it need Sherlock Holmes to deduce that there is a link?
There are powerful interests with a long reach dead set against Indo-Pak peace. These interests will never allow any step-by-step progress towards peace.
That is why this scribe rightly predicted failure of the Musharraf-Manmohan Singh peace effort to make borders irrelevant by creating trust through confidence building measures. As pointed out, it required very little for the wreckers of peace to derail the peace effort. Confidence building measures from the ground up will never succeed. Indeed, far greater trust among the common peoples of India and Pakistan already exists than it does between their official establishments.
To remove mistrust there must be an irreversible commitment at the top. No peace to make borders irrelevant can ever succeed unless there is trust between the armies of India and Pakistan. It may take a long time to entirely eliminate terrorism. But if in the interregnum the armies of both nations genuinely cooperate to fight terrorism peace will be achieved. That is why the PM and MEA, if they seriously seek breakthrough in the peace dialogue, must think out of the box. They must involve the army chiefs of both nations in the nitty-gritty of composite dialogue. Only if they start talking from this end would they succeed. Commitment at the top would frustrate opponents of peace. If commitment is not forthcoming MEA should stop wasting time. In all fairness the Foreign Secretary cannot publicly reveal the government’s cards in a seminar. But let’s hope MEA officials in Islamabad will lay their cards on the table.
If they do so they would clear the fog from their minds. Pakistan’s reaction is predictable. General Kayani will have returned from his five-day visit to China for strengthening ties with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China’s softer civilian government merely facilitates success for the relentless foreign policy goals of the PLA. How long will India continue to deceive itself and refuse to confront the real challenge for which formulation of an adequate response is desperately needed? By pursuing a fruitless peace process the government may please America and deceive itself. It will not thwart the disaster looming ahead.
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