It should be amply clear by now that Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi is a spoiler deliberately wrecking the Indo-Pak peace process. His provocative remarks after talks with SM Krishna concluded indicate this. One TV anchor ascribed his misconduct to pressure exerted by Pakistan’s media. Another TV anchor asked what alternative is there to continuing with dialogue when two nuclear powers confront each other. Both views reflect popular perception. Both views are extremely naïve.
Qureshi’s wrecking spree was not impelled by Pakistan’s media. Let’s get a few things straight. India is continuing with a fruitless dialogue in order not to displease America. Pakistan is wrecking talks to please China. Both governments behave like pawns on the Sino-US chessboard. In February this year Qureshi visited Beijing where he taunted India by saying that he was ready even if India wasn’t to give China a blank cheque for helping achieve Indo-Pak peace. This was on the eve of the Indo-Pak foreign secretaries meeting. Before the latest talks of the foreign ministers President Zardari had visited Beijing to get his briefing. By wrecking the peace dialogue Pakistan is thumbing its nose at America. It can do that because it is backed by China which holds trillions of US treasury securities to render President Obama into a prize wimp.
India can follow a soft line or a hard line. India follows neither. A soft line involves a radical peace formula for Kashmir leading to a South Asian Union as I have repeatedly advocated. If that is considered futile in the light of Pakistan’s intransigence there is also a hard line India can adopt. India can do what I had suggested in December 22, 2008. I wrote in these columns: “India can tighten security internally on a war footing. It can seal all Indo-Pakistan borders and raise its guard militarily. It can break diplomatic relations with Pakistan and close down its embassy in Islamabad. It can sever all trade, cultural and people to people contacts with Pakistan. It can lobby in the UN to declare Pakistan a rogue state that has become the hub of global terrorism. It can urge all nations to impose trade sanctions against Pakistan and cut off all aid. It can give recognition and offer moral support to those separatists in Baluchistan who seek independence. It can do the same with Pashtuns in the NWFP who want to join up with their tribal brothers in Afghanistan. It can do all these things simultaneously. And then it has only to guard against precipitate action from across the borders, and wait. What the Indian government must resolutely avoid is to launch a military adventure under foreign advice. Sooner rather than later Pakistan will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. It would be seen then how far and how effectively can China continue to prop up Pakistan.”
These steps with Pakistan would need to be augmented by India cutting off trade with China and blocking all its exports to India unless Beijing stops encouraging Islamabad. At present China is vulnerable. It desperately needs exports to maintain domestic stability. But India’s economy can survive loss of trade with China. The time to play this card is now. Critics will describe this as extreme recklessness. We can heed the critics and play it safe. We can continue to talk with Pakistan to please America. We can continue to bleed as Pakistan inflicts terror strikes against us. We can continue to talk of playing a global role while acting like a puppet nation.