If not too high, the fact is that there was a certain degree of expectation from the Islamabad meeting between the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers, S M Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, held on Thursday. The expectations were mainly driven by an assumption that the two countries appreciate the perils of playing to their respective Right-wing galleries and skirting addressing their core contentious issues. At the joint press conference that the two Foreign Ministers addressed after their marathon meeting, it was evident that two countries had actually not been able to break any real ice. The level of distrust and disagreement between the two countries was evident – there was no sign the two countries had made any substantive movement forward in the resolution of their issues of dispute and disagreement.
What made the environment look not-so-promising was when on Friday the political leaders in the two countries made statements which run contrary to the perception that the two countries are serious in mending fences and make a new beginning. The Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called India’s approach “selective” and said “that if the two countries focused more only on those issues which India gives importance to and ignores those considered important by Pakistan, then he doesn't think the talks can move forward.” However, he, at the same time, made a more understanding statement, saying that his country understands India's concerns and wants to address them. He also emphasized that “Pakistan also has its concerns and core issues which should be understood by India.” And he was categorical that his country continues to believe that “Jammu & Kashmir was the core issue between the two countries and that the ongoing unrest here cannot be ignored.” The statements made by some BJP and Congress leaders in New Delhi on Friday also suggest that there continues to be a serious political gulf between the two countries.
History is testimony to the fact that the two countries have never been able to make any substantive progress in the improvement of their relations as long as the festering question of Jammu & Kashmir remained unresolved. It is true that India has serious and genuine concerns about the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and that Pakistan shares that such kind of terrorism is a common enemy to the two countries. But diplomacy alone does not help in erasing the deep and the entrenched distrust between countries. There has to be willingness and sincerity to address the root causes of the same.
India’s stand that Pakistan must completely contain ‘terrorist activities’ emanating from its soil does have a diplomatic merit, but, at the same time, it also needs to appreciate the fact that Pakistan itself is battling a number of such forces that have waged a war against it, not to speak of being in Islamabad’s control. It is understandable that Pakistan has concerns about India’s increasing presence in Afghanistan. India has concerns too that Afghanistan may be used as a base for anti-India activities. At the end of the day, we come back to the root cause – Jammu & Kashmir. The disagreements over the Siachen and Sir Creek would cease to exist automatically. If the J&K issue is resolved, the question of anti-India activities from Afghanistan will not arise. Similarly, Pakistan will have a greater political leverage in containing the groups which have waged a war against that state. Today India has serious problems in dealing with the discontent in the state – something which Qureshi has said his country cannot afford to ignore. It is real time that the two countries embrace a sincere path for the demilitarization of Jammu & Kashmir and take political steps which address the Kashmir’s political sensitivities and needs. For that there are ample mechanisms available to ensure that the genuine geo-political interests of the two countries are not affected. And they come out of the juggernaut of perpetual animosity.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Jul 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Jul 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Jul 2010 00:00:00 IST
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