Friday, May 10, 2013



 There is a need to restrain euphoric expectations from the positive statements on relations with India coming out of some mainstream Pakistani political leaders such as Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML—N).

2.Nawaz Sharif, in particular, has gone out of his way in befriending some of the Indian journalists covering the just-ended Pakistani election campaign and expressing his intention to improve relations with India and hold an enquiry into the Kargil military conflict of 1999, which, according o him, was initiated by Gen.Pervez Musharraf, the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), without his (Nawaz’s) knowledge.

3. Such statements have created unwarranted expectations of better India-Pakistan relations in sections of the Indian media.

4.The assessment in media circles in Pakistan is that the PML (N) may emerge as the largest single party in the elections being held on May 11 followed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) and the united front of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and  the Awami National Party (ANP), which have been viewed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as liberal parties and have been the targets of violent attacks by the TTP to disrupt their poll prospects.

5.Whoever comes out on top in the elections, the period after the elections will see competitive attempts to form a new coalition to rule the country. During the period of the coalition formation, foreign policy, except  the policy towards the Afghan Taliban and on opposition to the US war on global terrorism, particularly the use of the Drone strikes by the US against targets in Pakistani territory, is expected to occupy a low priority.

6.Better relations with India will be a minefield. The sensitivities of the Army and the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations may have to be taken into consideration by the mainstream parties doing well in the elections before they take any major initiative for a policy change in a positive direction. They have to go very slow and keep down their enthusiasm. Better relations with India are, therefore, unlikely to be for tomorrow unless the PML (N)  comes out with an absolute majority of its own.

7.India’s immediate policy interest ought to be not in the prospects for a quick improvement in the bilateral relations , but in the prospects for  better internal stability and better internal security in Pakistan with a genuine control over the activities of the TTP, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and other jihadi organisations.

8. India has had a contentious relationship with Pakistan ever since the two countries became independent in 1947.If this contentious relationship continues for some more years, we can live with it provided the new ruling dispensation in Pakistan shows the courage and foresight to take on the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations and defeat them in the interest of the people of Pakistan and at the same time persuade the Army to co-operate with the civilian leadership in this direction.

9. If and when the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations are removed from the scene, the obstacles in the way of better ties with India will get gradually diluted.  (11-5-13)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter : @SORBONNE75  )


peter g. said...

Your observation in para 8 & para ( are just "pipe dreams" nothing more or nothing less. Expecting the new ruling dispensation in Pakistan to show the courage and foresight to take on the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations and defeat them in the interest of the people of Pakistan and at the same time persuade the Army to co-operate with the civilian leadership in this direction, is to say the least, a very , very tall order.Nothing even remotely resembling this can happen in the country where new Jihadi organisations are sprouting up every day . The writing is on the wall for all to see and it is not difficult to see which way the country is heading.
The obstacles in the way of better ties with India will only grow into insurmountable proportions in a few years from now.It does not matter who or which party comes to power - the ground realities in Pakistans relationship with India will NOT change in any way.The army will continue to call the shots and "rule" the country with the cover of a fig leaf of "civilian rule". The ISI will be accommodating more and more jehadi groups including the TTP in an effort to gain some sort of control over them but in the bargain it will end up with the ISI /army taking on a more "jehadi" colored outlook where India is concerned.
After every "election " in Pakistan, our people in India become euphoric and "see" the dawn of a new era in India-Pak relationships.What we need is a trimming down of our unwanted "relations" including trade, with Pak to the minimum and more introducing more stringent visa regulations. However, there is a powerful group of people (and politicians)in India (more specifically in the corridors of power in Delhi , who were either born in pre-independence Pakistan - or whose parents were born there) who keep wishing for the day when relations with both countries will allow them to simply drive over and visit the places of their (and their forefathers) birth or to meet their relatives and get back. These are the people who are actually preventing this country from calling a spade a spade and bringing down our so called "relations" with Pak to the barest minimum.They are the obstacles. We get kicked in the teeth every time but these are the people who hope for a close relationship with Pak. This will remain a dream and we are bound to see more turbulent times especially in Kashmir after the departure of the Americans from Afghanistan.It will not matter which party or individual comes to power.Things will only get worse, not better, so lets face it.

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