Pakistan and India: After Yekaterinburg and Sharm-el-Sheikh; now we have Thimphu

April 25, 2010

bhutanAnother international summit. Another chance for the leaders of India and Pakistan to find a way of getting their countries to talk to each other.

After last year’s aborted attempt at peace-making, first in Yekaterinburg and then in Sharm-el-Sheikh, expectations are running low that the prime ministers of India and Pakistan will make much headway when they meet at a SAARC summit in Thimphu, Bhutan this week.

But given that cynicism is the preserve of the intellectually lazy, I’m going to resist the temptation to jump into that safe and comfortable foxhole and instead see where these talks might lead us.

India broke off the formal peace process with Pakistan after the 2008 attack on Mumbai blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and both countries have yet to find a forum in which the two neighbours might — if not resolve their differences — at least find a way to talk to each other.

I was wrong, by the way – last year I thought the issues that divided India and Pakistan were not so much about form but about substance.  It turns out that it is a lot about form – at least for now in finding the right form for dialogue. The problems of substance – and they are legion – will come only later.

The main issue is that Pakistan is insisting on a resumption of the formal peace process, the so-called Composite Dialogue. India wants a more cautious return to talks which would stop short of the Composite Dialogue until Pakistan takes more action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Forget Kashmir and terrorism or even Afghanistan and water, the current stalemate between India and Pakistan is all down to one word,” writes Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu. “Both countries publicly say that Dialogue is the only way forward. Yet each is paralysed by the name ‘Composite’. New Delhi is so allergic to it that it will not accept its use, while Islamabad has become so attached to the C word that it insists there can be nothing else.”

Since The Hindu is close to the thinking of the prime minister’s office in Delhi, it’s worth paying attention to what he says:

“In the run up to this week’s Saarc summit in Bhutan, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines, Indian officials are resigned to keeping the bilateral relationship in a ‘holding pattern.’ Their logic is that if relations cannot improve, then they should not be allowed to deteriorate either. As a short-term strategy, the holding pattern strategy works fine. There are always small things that can be done at that level too. But an aeroplane cannot circle the runway endlessly. The longer it is up in the air, the greater is the likelihood of a disastrous descent. That is why planning for an orderly landing is a much better strategy.

“In Thimphu, Dr. Singh must try and find a way of doing that. One possibility is for the two prime ministers to task their foreign secretaries with reviewing what has been accomplished on the terrorism front as well as in the last few rounds of the composite dialogue, with a view to expediting the resolution of existing problems and disputes. Such a mandate would foreground the necessity of a dialogue addressing all outstanding issues while sidestepping, for the moment, any nomenclatural disagreement. It would accomplish the stated Indian objective while allowing Mr. Gilani to return without having surrendered Islamabad’s stand on the ‘resumption’ of the composite dialogue.”

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira made a not dissimilar point when I quizzed him a week or so ago about the resumption of peace talks with India.  On the question of whether the two prime ministers would be able to agree in Bhutan to resume the Composite Dialogue, he said that, “I am confident talks will start again very soon.” When I asked whether this meant the Composite Dialogue, his answer was that it would be “The process towards that.”

Somewhere in “the process towards that” is where we have to look for progress in Bhutan.

That of course does not mean any decision to take talks forward will lead to an easing of tension between India and Pakistan. Both countries are at loggerheads over Afghanistan, embroiled in an increasingly acrimonious row over water and bitterly divided over the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But it also suggests we should not be completely blinded by cynicism.

Also remember the mood was very bleak in 2003, shortly before the two countries agreed a ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir which perhaps, of all the agreements and talks held over the past 10 years or so, has been the most enduring signal of detente.

(Photo: The Gankar Punsun glacier in Bhutan/Adnan Abidi)

Comments

There is a dire need to restore talks as both countries need peace, which is important for their prosperity and regional integrity. Wars never provide the answer to problems; only negotiations and dialogues do that.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive
 

Both countries need to realize that somebody’s been profiting from their enmity and, whoever it is, it isn’t them.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive
 

“There is a dire need to restore talks as both countries need peace”

This doesn’t impress Indians anymore. World Bank has just released its reporting Indian economy strogly rebounding, prospects for pakistan bleakest in the region next only to Afghanistan!

“Composite dialogue” was going on for several years, while pakistani terrorist mayhem on the Indian civilans was simultaneously going on. The bargaining position of pakistan is weaker than ever since its economy is weak, and its internal dynamics are bleaker than ever.

Mr.Varadharajan neither reflects the Indian public mood, nor is he a spokesman for the Indian govt.

The only goals for India is to protect its people from Pakistani terrorism, how to discourage pakistan from pursing terrorism. Rest is for international consumption.
Tamasha.

India tried “composite dialogue” with pakistan which didn’t acheive these goals. Indian people have made plans to continue to grow its economy, assuming pakistani hostility is implacable and it is a given.

Temporary pakistani illusion of gaining ground through Afghanistan is just that ..an illusion.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive
 

India might be willing to work the democratic government of Pakistan. But Pakistan has more than one power center. India does not like the Pakistani military which tends to function like a nation on its own. Any civilian effort taken has been derailed by the Pak military time and again because it wants to dictate terms on how things should go. Pakistani military does not want to shut down the militant groups and the Taliban because it is using them as the weapons to drag India down. The civilian government is always under the gun of the Pakistani military and they have no choice but to parrot what the military wants them to say. Anyone having a liberal view or independent think would face whate Benazir Bhutto faced. There will always be a “non-state actor” who would be unleashed to finish off those who do not align with the military. And India is not interested in dealing with a department in Pakistan. Military is a department. India wants to deal with a free nation where the civilian leaders have the right and freedom to rule without being pressured by a “department” in their country.

When Vajpayee visited Lahore, Musharraf launched the Kargil offensive.

When diplomatic relations improved between the two countries, Mumbai attacks happened.

Pakistan’s civil leaders have been kept away from seeking any peaceful solutions by its military.

So long as the above is the situation, peace will not come easily to the region. Pakistan’t democratic system needs to be strengthened first. Only then can any meaningful dialogue happen and bear fruit.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

India, unlike the NATO, should not be concerned about LeT and their sister terrorist groups who are ever-ready to attack her. The Western powers will decide the actions of the countries in the region and dictate what should be their self-interests.

Posted by NPegasus | Report as abusive
 

All these “composite dalogues” are useless unless there’s a fundamental shift in the Pakistani military’s anti-India ideology & it’s never-ending propaganda of projecting India as the enemy in order to dupe the Pakistani people. Pakistan’s civilian govt is hostage to the greed of it’s military establishment & the recent amendments to Pakistan’s constitution are only valid until another Zia or Musharraf decides to take over the country, amend the constitution again & declare himself, the head of state.

Posted by Black_Sabbath | Report as abusive
 

When a plane flown by any crew alongwith WMDs(nukes) onboard is kept in a holding pattern, for an indefinite period of time. Poor communication, resulting in misunderstandings and contributing to jetlag and fatigue or fuel starvation, it greatly increases the chances of a catastrophic event. India must realize or maybe brought to a point where it realizes it cannot serve it to have a faulty relationship with Pakistan, a neighbour it shares its longest 2200 km border with. With series of complex manouvers going on, both planes can simply make error in navigating the tricky airspace and collide with each other eventually killing many onboard.

Indians think they are better off, that India is an emerging power with rapid infrastructure development, booming trade etc. Considering South Asia is a nuclear zone, Pakistan’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program and both countries possessing long range missile. All India’s economic progress can be in jeopardy in a serious crisis or war like situation. When big corporations make investment decisions, they take into account the geo-strategic dynamics of the region.

Bottom line, India must come forward and engage with both Pakistan military and civilian leaders. Pakistan military takes many strategic decisions and facts should be accepted. If US adminstration can sit down on table talk with Pakistan military, there can be no exceptions for India. Pakistan military is respected here, it is professional, efficient, and has forged very close ties with the public. Its rank and file are close to the public unlike the ruling corrupt elite which thinks themselves above all laws. India will never succeed in the propaganda of potraying itself as a friend of Pakistani people (Sindhis, Baluchis, Punjabis, Pathan). The image of Army as being dominated by Punjabis is wrong again, in Sindh its the rangers and ultimately the Army which ensures stability. Punjab’s heartland’s backbone is the Army, in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa its the Army doing the fighting, laying down lives, then rehabilitating and rebuilding roads, schools etc. In Baluchistan Army is recruiting, assisting in empowerment of the people. Pakistan’s public is more mindful of the Army’s stabilizing role than civilian leaders. Pakistan Army’s true character as a potent, nationalistic and patriotic force is the very basis which irks India, it has problem with anyone who is a true Pakistani, all others are good to go. And as with the whole debate of improving Indo-Pak ties, well Indians prove the two-nation theory as ABSOLUTELY CORRECT everytime. If there is peace between India and Pakistan, India becomes a true friend of Pakistan, that will render the idea of Pakistan irrelevant. The very basis for Pakistan was a homeland for Muslims in South Asia, if hindus and muslims could ever co-exist with peace, on equal terms with equal rights, partition would never had taken place.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

“The supply is endless, the wealth from all its treasures!” (Bible, Nahum 2:9)

“4 The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning.” (Bible, Nahum 2:4)

There was a General in the U.S. Military who became Governor of New Mexico from 1878-1881. He wrote the book Ben Hur. It was the best selling novel until 1936. It was made into a movie in 1959.

In the Movie Ben Hur. Ben Hur grew up with Messala. Messala grew up and became a Roman Centurion. Ben Hur grew up to be a Prince of Juda. Then they Clashed. They put each other in various prisons and finally had a chariot race. Both Got Hurt. Then when they watched the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and Heard him say Father Forgive them for they know not what they do. They both became Christian and dropped there swards, and stopped fighting.

There was a man named Saul of Tarsus who who did much worse than what Messalla did to Ben Hur and much worse than what Ben Hur did to Messala to the Christians. But Jesus made him a Christian. And Jesus made him The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament Gospel.

“28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Bible, New Testament, Galatians 3:28-29)

“The Dispensationalist teaching of prophecy takes Jesus from the center of all prophecy and replaces our blessed Lord with the state of Israel. In Luke 24:44, Jesus says, “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Dispensationalists, in effect, have recast this section of God’s Word to say, “All things written about the state of Israel in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Furthermore as Luther points out, Israel, even in the old Testament, has always referred to those who believed and followed God, not to a particular race of people or to a certain geographical area. The Psalms regularly refer to Israel. When the Psalmist is referring to Israel, he is pointing to those whom God has promised to bless. In there false understanding of scripture, the dispensationalists have misled millions to believe that the Psalms are referring to God blessing the state of Israel, when in fact, the Psalms refer to a blessing God wants to give to all who are worshiping him. In other words, the dispensationalist theology twists and redirects God’s promises of blessings from children who are his through Baptism to those they believe are his through geography. Among themselves Dispensationalists would agree that the leading schools teaching their interpretation of the Scriptures would be Moody Bible institute in Chicago Illinois, and Dallas theological Seminary in Texas. One of the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary was also a major promoter of Dispensationalism.” (Good News Magazine Prophecy Issue 35, Concordia Mission Society, P.O. box 8555 St Louis MO 63126)

“24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” (Bible, New Testament, Galatians 4:24-26)
“I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Bible, New Testament, Revelation 2:9)

“9I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” (Bible, New Testament, Revelation 3:9)

Jesus lived in all sorts of holes. The grave is one of them.
Foxes have holes. (New Testament, Matthew 8:20)
King Herod is a Fox. (New Testament, Luke 13:32)
Jesus brought us out of all of them.

“He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Bible, New Testament, Colossians 2:13-14)
“13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” (Bible, New Testament, Hebrews 8:13)
Law with its religion is Satan if You don’t have Christ and the Gospel. In fact we are no longer under the law but under Grace. “14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) “13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”" (Bible, New Testament, Galatians 3:13) Law is like a hole. Law is like a Cave. Law is like a Mountain. “12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Bible, New Testament, Ephesians 6:12)

Saul of Tarsus was a member of the Synagogue of Satan. He calls himself the “chief of sinners” But God made him The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the Gospel in the New Testament.

“15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Bible, New Testament,Romans 11:15)

“4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Bible, New Testament, Romans 4:4-5)

So we gain the Spirit of God not by observing the law. (New Testament, Galatians, 3)

“16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Bible, New Testament, John 3:16)

Men readily believe what they want to believe. (Caesar)

Saint Augustine said that if you want to believe you believe.

You have right standing before God.
You don’t have to jump through any hoops.
Jesus did.
He died for you and rose again.
Heaven is your Home.

Posted by annodomini77 | Report as abusive
 

With the past behavior of pakistan, there are no chances of any progress in Indo Pak peace process.

Posted by ShaliniA | Report as abusive
 

Umair:

I think it indirectly India is preventing Pakistan from letting civilian leaders control Pakistan. PA is so paranoid that it would not give controls to politicians. Pakistan public, including you, is such a sucker for PA’s policies that in its hate for India, public does not consider for a moment that PA should protect Pakistan by taking a back seat.

@Indians think they are better off, that India is an emerging power with rapid infrastructure development, booming trade etc. Considering South Asia is a nuclear zone, Pakistan’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program and both countries possessing long range missile. All India’s economic progress can be in jeopardy in a serious crisis or war like situation. When big corporations make investment decisions, they take into account the geo-strategic dynamics of the region.”
–Read this and see such a suicidal attitude you have. Does this attitude gives an advantage to anyone? I do not think so. India’s emerging power cannot be neutralized by Pakistan carrying bomb in pocket. It got to have a matching firepower——-which in this case is get matching or better economy, have Pakistanis more worried about national development than merely saving the nation from India (this is a PA virus disease). But then it is hard to drill logic into head.

@The image of Army as being dominated by Punjabis is wrong again, in Sindh its the rangers and ultimately the Army which ensures stability.”
—Could u tell Reuter readers how much is the percentage of Punjabis in PA? My information says the 70% of PA is Punjabi. Do u want 99% to declare it is Punjab dominated.

But I am with u that there are non-Punjabis serving in certain areas. Is it hard to understand given the language issue. Also, in 1965 it was Baloch regiment that saved Pakistan ass (Lahore specifically) when India Army advanced in Punjab.

Lastly, Pakistan has to do something positive to deserve to be equal to India. Smaller size of Pakistan is not a limitation, thinking small is. One cannot beg to be equal.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Umair: “When a plane flown by any crew alongwith WMDs(nukes) onboard is kept in a holding pattern, for an indefinite period of time. Poor communication, resulting in misunderstandings and contributing to jetlag and fatigue or fuel starvation, it greatly increases the chances of a catastrophic event. India must realize or maybe brought to a point where it realizes it cannot serve it to have a faulty relationship with Pakistan, a neighbour it shares its longest 2200 km border with. With series of complex manouvers going on, both planes can simply make error in navigating the tricky airspace and collide with each other eventually killing many onboard.”

India’s planes are parked safely. Pakistan’s planes are up in the air and they need to land and stay on the ground. You cannot issue warning that the planes are running out of fuel and that they are ready to crash into the neighbor’s yard. India is well prepared for such threats. India does not rely on Pakistan for its survival. So if Pakistan’s planes tail spin and crash, it has nothing to do with India. May be you guys should try hard convincing your “pilots” to return to hanger. It will do you a lot of good.

“All India’s economic progress can be in jeopardy in a serious crisis or war like situation. When big corporations make investment decisions, they take into account the geo-strategic dynamics of the region. ”

This is how the criminal mind works. It is called blackmail. This mindset has ruined your country and has brought it to the brink. Instead of working towards national progress, you people are spending time trying to sabotage progress in other nations. Terrorist mindset has crept into the public minds. There is not even any realization that this kind of mindset is poisonous. You and your fellow countrymen are openly threatening India with nuclear weapons. Yours is the only country in the world that is doing it. This is the reason why most countries did their best to deny the “Islamic Bomb” from being developed. There is no sense of responsibility and
it has made your country resemble a street thug who earns a livelihood by mugging others. Nuclear bombs are not meant for threatening others, they are meant to serve as a deterrent. You guys need to come out of the war mindset. It has destroyed your nation completely.

I sincerely hope that your civilian government survives and establishes its dominance soon. If the radicals get access to the seats of power, your country will be targeted by world powers to remove the nukes by force. So do not sit pretty. You can be harming yourselves by issuing threats.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

Umair,

Your threats aren’t really scaring anybody. They only display a reaffirmation that Pakistan is an irresponsible & reckless state which resorts to nuclear blackmail at the drop of a hat. Although, I agree that India & Pakistan should work towrads resolving all issues for the betterment of the region, your insinnuation that India has to compromise & deal with all the bull directed at it by the PA is ludicorous.
FYI India has moved on a long time ago & nothing is stopping it’s progress, not even your terrorism via your non-state actors & nor your threats or nuclear blackmail. Indian economy is still one of the fastest growing economies of the world & actually India overtook China as the #1 preffered destination for foreign investment in the second half of 2009 (Re: WSJ & Barrons).
So the bottomline is that it is Pakistan which needs to get it’s act together & give up it’s belligerant thug mentality and work towards economic & social progress. But frankly, I don’t see that happening until your army is in charge. You may have avoided a complete implosion for the time being but if you don’t get your house in order, it’s just a matter of time.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistanis are like snakes, they should be killed at first sight . No peace dialogue will make Pakistan change its habits . In fact, all kind of sanctions should be imposed on Pakistan for sponsoring terror and terrorism world over . Presence of nuclear arsenals pose grave danger to international community .

Posted by manishindia | Report as abusive
 

Umair wrote: Indians think they are better off, that India is an emerging power with rapid infrastructure development, booming trade etc. Considering South Asia is a nuclear zone, Pakistan’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program and both countries possessing long range missile. All India’s economic progress can be in jeopardy in a serious crisis or war like situation. When big corporations make investment decisions, they take into account the geo-strategic dynamics of the region.
———

Considering that Israel has dealt with neighbours that have a combined population about 18 times their own and given that they have lived with terrorism that is far more geographically proximate and potent than Pakistan’s non-state actors, and they have still emerged as a developed nation, I’d say India’s chances are pretty good.

Pakistan is nowhere as potent a threat to India, as the neighbours and the terror groups Israel faces. And India has both geographic depth and a larger population compared to its neighbours. As dark as it sounds, if there’s one country that can absorb terrorism in the region it is India.

If Intel can put up a multi-billion dollar investment in Israel and have Haifa as one of its most successful business units, just imagine what companies will think when they think of India, 160 times the size of Israel with 150 times the people.

As for the nuclear threat. That only works if Pakistan is willing to give up its covert campaign and take up arms overtly against India in what would amount to a suicidal campaign. Fat chance, that’s going to happen. These days nukes are there so that Pakistan can blackmail the West (not just the US) into handing over aid money and provide cover for anti-India terrorism.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive
 

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