But a failed talk is still better than no talk at all
ANALYSIS BY ABDUL MAJID ZARGAR
Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan have concluded their much awaited daylong talks in Islamabad without announcing any tangible steps to build the trust shattered by the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Both of them on Thursday might have sought to project before a global audience and their respective media that their much awaited talks here were positive, constructive and meaningful - it was anything but that.
Going by the body language of both S.M. Krishna and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and the pointed, at times, aggressive questions asked by the media, it was plain and simple-disastrous and awful. One fails to understand as to why a joint press conference was organized in the first instance, when the two Ministers had not agreed on some basic issues. Probably the persons behind the scenes will have to do a lot of explaining in this regard.
In more ways than one, the conclusion of the bilateral meeting had been scripted even before it started. Shortly after his arrival on Wednesday in Islamabad, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said he would press Pakistan on progress of its probe into the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial hub. Was there any need to reiterate this stand particularly when the Home Minister of India had discussed this issue threadbare with his Pakistani Counterpart barely a few days ago? Diplomacy requires removal of irritants through a careful articulation of your stand and not public announcements.
Another intriguing aspect of the fiasco is the role of Uncle SAM. On July 15th, when the talks had not even started, did its National Security Advisor, James L. Jones, in an interview to CNN –IBN Editor-in-Chief, Raj deep Sardesai, warn Pakistan to Stop Terrorist activities against India? This interview was posted on inter-net around 1-30 PM on 15th July, which means that this background support was known to Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna before the start of talks. It may be pointed out here that while the press conference was to begin at about 12.30 p.m. Pakistan time, but actually commenced nearly eight hours later at 8.30 PM. for unknown reasons. Was Krishna waiting for the American Views? This mystery will be solved only after careful analysis of the details in this regards, if at all those are made public at a later stage. America has its own axe to grind in the matter. Peeved at Pakistan’s less-than-expected assistance to it’s Exist- Afghanistan policy by July 2011 and a growing relationship with China especially in the matter of Civilian nuclear deal and Pakistan’s reluctance to go the whole hog with fresh sanctions on Iran, America wants to embarrass Pakistan to maintain its supremacy in the region. India needs to account for this interest while forming its negotiation policy with Pakistan.
There is a ray of hope still left and that is the two sides have agreed to meet at a later date. Before such a meeting, the two sides need to identify the causes of failure and the mistakes committed in the process. In my opinion, such mistakes were committed by both sides. In the first instance it was not proper for Foreign Minister, Qureshi to equate the statement of Home Secretary, Pillai with that of Hafiz Sayed, Chief of Jamia-tul-dawa.
Notwithstanding the irresponsible statement he has made on the eve of the bilateral meeting, Qureshi should know that Pillai is a responsible officer of the Government of India and any complaint against him could be made through official channels. In contrast Hafiz Syed is a non-state actor, whose speeches and actions have the potential of an adverse effect on the relations of two countries. If at all a comparison was necessary, it could have been made with the statements of Parveen Togadia or Bal Thakery. And if Krishna had agreed in his one-on-one meeting with Qureshi that such a statement was un-called for, it was highly unnecessary and undiplomatic of him to refer to such agreement in the press Conference.
Similarly, Foreign Minister Krishna did wrong by labeling the human rights violations in Kashmir as an internal issue. He should have known that Human rights violation in any part of the world is not an internal issue but a universally declared and accepted matter.
However, people on both sides of the border and committed to the peace and good neighborly relations between the two Countries need not get disheartened from the failure. Even failure is better that getting stuck in a no-talk mode.The two countries have no option but to sustain bilateral engagement and be cooperative as good neighbors and solve all the outstanding issues including Kashmir for a durable and lasting peace in the region.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant and can be contacted for feed back at email@example.com)
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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