India’s olive branch to Pakistan

October 29, 2009

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has held out an olive branch to Pakistan by renewing an offer to talk, while also calling on it to take action against militants operating from its territory.  India’s Press and Information Bureau has the excerpts of a speech delivered in Kashmir. in which Singh held out “a hand of friendship” to Pakistan. It’s worth reading in detail because it was clearly carefully prepared, endorsed politically by Congress president Sonia Gandhi who accompanied the prime minister, and according to The Hindu newspaper. an attempt to advance the peace process with Pakistan. 

India and Pakistan, he said, had made progress in peace talks started in 2004, and had been able to open up trade and travel across the Line of Control (LoC), the ceasefire line dividing Kashmir. “These are not small achievements given the history of our troubled relationship with Pakistan.”

“However, all the progress that we achieved has been repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism. The terrorists want permanent enmity to prevail between the two countries. The terrorists have misused the name of a peaceful and benevolent religion. Their philosophy of hate has no place here. It is totally contrary to our centuries old tradition of tolerance and harmony among faiths.

“I strongly believe that the majority of people in Pakistan seek good neighbourly and cooperative relations between India and Pakistan. They seek a permanent peace. This is our view as well.

“The cross-LoC initiatives have been well received on both sides of the border. But I am also aware that they are not as people friendly as they could be. Trade facilities at the border are inadequate. There are no banking channels. Customs facilities need to be strengthened. There are no trade fairs. The lists of tradable commodities need to be increased. Clearances for travel take time. Prisoners of India and Pakistan are languishing in each other’s jails even after completing their sentences.

“The fact is that these are humanitarian issues whose resolution requires the cooperation of Pakistan. We are ready to discuss these and other issues with the Government of Pakistan. I hope that as a result things will be made easier for our traders, divided families, prisoners and travelers. For a productive dialogue it is essential that terrorism must be brought under control.

“We will press the Government of Pakistan to curb the activities of those elements that are engaging in terrorism in India. If they are non-state actors, it is the solemn duty of the government of Pakistan to bring them to book, to destroy their camps and to eliminate their infrastructure. The perpetrators of the acts of terror must pay the heaviest penalty for their barbaric crimes against humanity.”

India broke off peace talks after last year’s attack on Mumbai and has been reluctant to resume a formal peace process until Pakistan takes more action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group accused of involvement in the assault. But with Pakistan pursuing a military offensive against Pakistani Taliban militants in South Waziristan, and facing a wave of reprisal attacks across the country, action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba has been seen as dropping down the priority list, all the more so given that it is one of the few militant groups in the country not yet believed to have targeted the Pakistani state.

That has left both countries deadlocked at a time when the region is desperately in need of stability to stem an increase in violence and help ease tensions over rivalry between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan.

The Hindu said in an editorial that the speech in Kashmir might offer a way forward. ”What the Prime Minister has essentially done is to separate out the strands of the dialogue process as it existed prior to its suspension following the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008 and raised the possibility of forward movement on the ‘humanitarian’ strands even as substantive political engagement, or ‘productive dialogue’, must await the action that India has asked Pakistan to take against the camps and infrastructure of terrorist groups and other hostile non-state actors on its territory.”

If Pakistan acted against these groups, it said, then both countries could resume a peace process on Kashmir. ”And in the interim, as a demonstration of the two countries’ stated commitment to the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, discussions on making existing cross-LoC initiatives more ‘people friendly’ can begin more or less immediately.”

Can the prime minister’s gesture make a difference?

Pakistan welcomed the offer of talks, but a foreign ministry spokesman reiterated Pakistan’s position that the correct forum was the formal peace process or composite dialogue. India has so far refused to resume the composite dialogue.

And political separatists in Kashmir in the Hurriyat Conference are unlikely to want to open bilateral talks with the Indian government if there is no progress in improving relations between India and Pakistan.

While there is little sympathy for either India or Pakistan in the Kashmir Valley after two decades of separatist revolt, few believe that a solution to the long-running Kashmir dispute can be found with one country without the support of the other. And while that would not necessarily mean India and Pakistan sitting at the same table with representatives from Kashmir, there would still need to be some form of three-way dialogue to make progress.

The Pakistan government also has its hands full already without trying to work out how to respond to any Indian overture that might eventually require politically unpopular concessions at home.

That said, both countries have been trying to improve the mood ahead of an expected meeting between the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers on the sidelines of a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad in November.

Singh’s hand of friendship could help pave the way for a more productive meeting.


Sameer: “Towards this end, Pakistan Army and Terrorist are doing their best to provoke India. And, India is keeping quiet, inspite of number of provocations.”P Chidambaram has just declared that India will retaliate if another Pak sponsored militant attack happens inside India. This must sound sweet to all Pakistanis – their military, militants and people. Their hate for India overwhelms their mutual tussles. They have been itching for an occasion of this kind and Mr. P Chidambaram fulfills their wish. This is the time to keep quiet and avoid being drawn into a conflict with Pakistan which is working hard to self destruct. But politicians are what they are. Mr. Chidambaram should focus on the Maoist problem more than anything else.


As sincere as Manmohan Singh is, the offer is useless when he has nobody to negotiate with. Worse still, is that even if Zardari proved to be sincere, Pakistan is in no shape to implement any treaty. The Pak Army can’t crack down on what they term ‘miscreants’ in Waziristan. Does anyone really think that they could actually disarm better trained and more effective Kashmiri insurgents and anti-India jihadists? Would they really run military operations in Punjab to close down such camps?If they are willing to risk the wrath of the US and the international community by not putting forward a sincere effort against jihadists operating across the western border, there is no way they’ll move a finger over anything concerning the eastern border.Things have to get a lot worse before they get better. Pakistanis will only truly see terrorism as unacceptable when their country is on the verge of coming apart (close but not quite there yet). Till then, they will continue to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists and extremists. Even with the bombings they have now, they have not reached that point. See the comments posted here by various Pakistanis. And these are the literate English speakers. One can only imagine how much sympathy the illiterate Urdu speakers have for terrorists.The Indians are right to make offers of peace, if for nothing else than that every sincere offer (we can tell the difference between optics and sincere efforts) makes them look good and Pakistan look bad. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for an equally magnanimous response from Pakistan.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Ok, so we are going no where. Manmohan Singh’s olive branch is just that; an olive branch. The core issue doesnt get resolved so staus quo is maintained. Welcome to South Asia where nothing just changes. – Umair.A journey of thousand steps begins with the first one. You should appreciate the offer for what it is: the first step on a long journey.You complain that the Indians are insincere, but where is the Pakistani equivalent of an olive branch? Even in peace, they are ahead of you.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

@Keith,Pakistan will never offer an olive branch or peace, you know why? The civilian gov’t is a thinly veiled mask for the Pakistani Army, which holds the iron grip on power in Pakistan. The Pak Army literally owns Pakistan.By definition, an Army’s job is not to wage peace, but war. On that basis, to politically elevate their business model, they have needed to brainwash the entire population of Pakistan to get their support, for all of their activities against India. We have Indians have been repeatedly trying to offer peace to those who know nothing but war, that being the Officers who run Pakistan.On that basis, since the owners of Pakistan are warmakers and warmongers, Pakistan will always be hostage to its own warmakers and be incapable of ever offering any olive branches to anybody, or accepting them from India, it is too incoherent to even understand the word peace, as they understand only chaos, hatred, blame, insurgency, terrorism and war. They live for this.An Army should not be running a country. The Army’s business is war, or in Pakistan’s case, the next best thing, proxy wars on India, via Kashmiri Militants.India cannot change Pakistan, but the masters of Pakistani Army, that being the UK and USA, can definitely “fire” the Army elites who own Pakistan and bring back British Administered rule, until Pakistan civilizes and this may take a hundred years.The U.S. and imperial powers are quite capable of “regime changes” and coups, as they have done throughout this century and the same can be done in Pakistan by the next president, after Obama, if his administration fails to deliver AF_PAK on a platter.In the future, U.S. Public opinion will change as the billions of Aid money to Pakistan, will be seen as uselessly squandered, if AF-Pak is a failure.When Pakistan implodes, and one day it will, the poor refugees from Pakistan will be flooding to India for food, while the rich will be looking for the next flight out to the U.S, UK, or whatever country will take them.Interal security in Pakistan is so weak that it will not be able to contain and control the lawlessness, restlessness and militantism, unless the Punjabi Army, shifts resources to its heartland into punjab, where the Urban centres are.There are those Pakistani bloggers here who would like to dismiss the Taliban attacks as nothing, please let them say those things to those poor victims who lost family members in the suicide attacks, to them, who lost loved ones, Pakistan is hell on earth.For political reasons, India is to offer an olive branch, but he problem is, there is nobody coherent, honest, with integrity, good faith or with one voice, standing in front to accept it. The civilian govt smiles and shakes hands, while the Pak Army planes its next misadventure on India.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

Going by the comments from Pakistanis & by the Pakistani media, it seems that Pakistanis have also made a conspiracy theory out of Manmohan Singh’s ‘olive branch’. Since Dr. Singh’s speech in Kashmir coincided with Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan, the theory goes that Dr. Singh’s comments were nothing more than lip service to please the Americans. Pakistan truly deserves to be officially named ‘The Conspiracy theory Capital of the World’.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

“Going by the comments from Pakistanis & by the Pakistani media, it seems that Pakistanis have also made a conspiracy theory out of Manmohan Singh’s ‘olive branch’. Since Dr. Singh’s speech in Kashmir coincided with Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan, the theory goes that Dr. Singh’s comments were nothing more than lip service to please the Americans. Pakistan truly deserves to be officially named ‘The Conspiracy theory Capital of the World’.- Posted by Mortal “–>The fact that Pakistan exists is a conspiracy theory itself.I don’t think Pakistan respects peace, but only a very firm hand with the threat of massive destruction. The Pak establishment only respects fear and muscle.A hand shake is not respected. When we act friendly, then the Paks call us weak or afraid. What do they want? Tell us how to act, so that you will act honestly and friendly with good intentions towards Kaffirs and non-muslims, without propaganda, lies and conspiracy stories, is there something we have not said to you? Perhaps Pakistan is unreachable, in its current state.If an olive branch is no good, how about a thorn bush?What do you bloggers think?

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

@The core issue doesnt get resolved so staus quo is maintained. Welcome to South Asia where nothing just changes.- Umair.Umair: Can you tell what this so-called “core issue” is?GW, Mortal: Guys, I think there still is hope because if the so-called “core issue” gets resolved then there might be a change. Let us wait for Umair to tell us what that issue is.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Resume talks with IndiaBy I.A. Rehman–Dawn onnect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-new spaper/columnists/i-a-rehman-resume-talk s-with-india”That Pakistan needs peace along its border with India in order to be free to deal with the conflict in its tribal areas is only part of the argument for establishing peace in the subcontinent.”"REGARDLESS of the views of the establishment’s hawks and howsoever strong they may be, Islamabad must give a positive response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer of peace.”Normal relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two closest South Asian neighbours has always been desirable for many reasons but their urgency has been increased many times over by the extremists’ challenge to the Pakistan state.No sane person on either side of the border can deny that the threat to the stability of Pakistan is also a threat to India’s vital interests, and their joint efforts are needed to ensure victory over the terrorists.That Pakistan needs peace along its border with India in order to be free to deal with the conflict in its tribal areas is only part of the argument for establishing peace in the subcontinent. Much more urgent is the need for India-Pakistan cooperation for winning the battle for democracy, tolerance and social justice. Losses in this battle will plunge the people of both India and Pakistan into unimaginable ordeals.”It is in Pakistan’s interest to ensure that he is not forced by anyone to withdraw his offer.”The Pakistan government too will be under pressure from hardliners in its ranks and outside. Any compromise with such elements will cause Pakistan irreparable harm. Islamabad should therefore press for the earliest possible resumption of the composite dialogue with India.Unfortunately, several new factors have fuelled tension between India and Pakistan. One of them is the way the Ajmal Kasab affair has been dealt with by both sides. The unnecessarily prolonged haggle over Kasab’s confessional statement merely exposed the size of the trust deficit. Was it impossible for India to supply Pakistan with an English translation of the court and police record in Marathi and was it impossible for Pakistan to get this work done?”Pakistani authorities have been accusing India of interference in Balochistan and the tribal areas. One hopes they have much more credible evidence to support their charges than the use of Indian-made weapons by the Taliban in Waziristan or the receipt of some funds by the Baloch nationalists from Afghanistan.”"This matter will assume greater seriousness as India’s relations with Afghanistan are likely to grow with faster speed than at present. If Pakistan succumbs to the temptation of opposing India’s overtures to Afghanistan it will only reduce the chances of normalisation of relations with both Afghanistan and India.”"The significance of the fact that Mr Manmohan Singh chose to extend his hand of peace while on a visit to Srinagar is unlikely to be missed by Pakistani hawks. They will again advance settlement of the Kashmir issue as a precondition for normal relations with India.”"Nobody can deny the importance of the Kashmir issue, especially to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have been wronged by both India and Pakistan. But the disastrous consequences of sustaining a costly confrontation until the Kashmir issue is resolved are too apparent to permit persistence in this policy.”"While talks to move towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable not only to India and Pakistan but also, and more essentially, to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, should continue, progress or setbacks in this area must not obstruct other initiatives for cementing India-Pakistan friendship and cooperation.”"Above all, peace-loving people in both India and Pakistan are getting weary of meetings and talks that do not result in increasing India’s stakes in a stable and prosperous Pakistan and Pakistan’s stakes in a stable and prosperous India. Apart from giving a boost to India-Pakistan trade it is necessary to think of joint industrial ventures and meaningful cooperation in the fields of agriculture, education, health and culture.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Great Blog and thanks for posting.In this blog lot of information and news updates.


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