Love thy Neighbour

It is argued by foreign policy makers that even after meeting Nawaz Sharief in Delhi and Ufa, Pakistan has pursued belligerence and on one pretext or the other blunted the dialogue process.
Love thy Neighbour
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`No talks with Pakistan' is the new policy of Modi government.  It is argued by foreign policy makers that even after meeting Nawaz Sharief in Delhi and Ufa, Pakistan has pursued belligerence and on one pretext or the other blunted the dialogue process.

The failure of NSA level talks in August became the turning point.  Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj while briefing media maintained that Shimla Agreement is the basis for the dialogue process and resolution of all the outstanding issues between the two countries, including 'K' imbroglio.  Still the talks failed by Pakistan.

The doctrine of respect for cease-fire line, non-violence and dialogue has been the basis of all the bilateral agreements between the two countries.  Be that Tashkent Declaration of 1996, Shimla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999.

Modi's neighbor-hood policy, other than Pakistan, is for promoting three Cs : Contact, Connectivity and Cooperation.  This policy is not new but Modi gave it a fresh priority and impetus by visiting Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.  He also concluded the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh which he himself described as akin to "Breaking the Berlin Wall".

Modi and his team has worked out a policy to isolate Pakistan on 'terror' by befriending and seeking support of the countries doing business with India.  Modi's successful visit to UAE and signing a joint treaty on 'Combat Terrorism" was the first step towards accomplishment of the new policy.  It has really stunned Pakistan.  The visit to seven Central Asian countries with a record of more than 55 meetings was phenomenally successful to garner support against terrorism and to tap their rich energy resources which India would benefit from.   Modi's passionate appeal to the world community, and UN, for adopting a comprehensive convention of global terrorism is a continuance of the policy.

Pakistan's over-playing the so-called 'K' card in UNSC and not acting against the terror groups operating from its soil, against India, and in parts of Jammu and Kashmir State, are argued to be the main cause for working out the new policy, qua Pakistan.  Modi's not even shaking hands with Nawaz Sharief at the UN in New York also is a signal to the Pakistan policy makers. 

Prime Minister Modi's visit to United States was phenomenally successful and ended on a high note.  Nawaz used UN forum for all-out attack on India including raking up Kashmir issue.  This was intended mainly to remind the world not to forget the bilateral dispute.  This time, the anti-India ranting and 'K' issue in UN was fraught with viciousness because Prime Minister Modi was pitching for India's permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. The other reason for verbal attack on India was based on a method in madness to deviate and digress from its internal strife in the Sindh region, Baluchistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir which is engulfed in sectarian violence and rise of religious extremism in the country. 

Pakistan must realize that there are no takers for any of its arguments for the reason that its army and ISI has been in cloud ever since Americans discovered that Osama Bin Laden was hiding there and US special forces eventually eliminated him in the lap of Pakistani army itself.  Pakistan in the past has been taking risk of conflict with India ignoring its 'cost'.  Pakistan resorted to incursions in Kargil despite the fact known to them that both countries were nuclear.  Pakistan faced defeat and humiliation which has not brought much of sagacity or reason in the political and military establishments.

Pakistan must appreciate that both India and Pakistan attained their respective independence around the same time i.e. August 1947.  India, over the years, has consolidated its constitutional democracy, transparent structures of governance and other institutions by which its global rating is one of the largest functional democracies of the world and also as one of the most vibrant economic investment destination.  Its military, scientific and technological might is well recognized and its nuclear capabilities are strong.  India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country and its diverse population co-exists peacefully, to make it a strong and powerful nation.  Its fundamental foundation of a strong nation state is in place and engraved deep.  The civilizational belief and faith of the nation is rooted in the policy of "live and let live", within and also with its neighbours and the international community at large.  The neighbours do not hate each other is the ethos of India.

Indian society is conscious that it cannot choose its neighbours but the history of India and Pakistan after partition has thrown up, from time to time, some bilateral issues to be resolved.  The best way to resolve the outstanding bilateral issues is always through engagement and dialogue.

Wars between the two countries, and the continuing proxy war by Pakistan against India, have brought untold and huge miseries and civilian casualties.  The frequent border hostilities and terror attacks by Pakistan, which have been clearly proven, as aided and abeted by terrorists and non-state actors from the soil of Pakistan.

Pakistan has been pleading that the 'K' issue as the root cause of bilateral hostility which has resulted in deep distress and trust deficit between the two countries.  It is more than clear by now that the international community has always advised Pakistan leadership to settle the issues, including the so-called 'K' issue, by peaceful means bilaterally.  It is because of the Pakistan's flawed foreign policy which is driven by the hawks in their military establishment, and the other agencies, that has failed in judgment and progress of dialogue with India.

The task of resolving the bilateral issues is complex and compounded by many factors ranging from ideological perspective to humanitarian and security concerns.  Therefore, the blame game must end and the trust deficit existing as on date needs to be narrowed by uninterruptible dialogue. In the present context, to start with afresh, by the back channel efforts.  The experts and the seasoned persons are required to be involved with full back up of institutions of governance of both the countries.  The dialogue needs to be free from media glare.   It may not be possible for  both countries to redraw the map and erase the lines but the two civilized nations and its people can work to emulate to negate human consequence of hostility and division of population.  Both countries have to agree that terrorism and religious radicalization is a taboo and pronounced extreme positions of the past have to be abandoned and the bilateral dialogue has to centre around the welfare of the people of both countries and must be acceptable to the larger political elements. 

All opportunities must be seized to fulfil the economic aspirations of the people of region.  It is necessary to have honest and genuine intent to promote the peaceful relations between the neighbours.  Sooner that's done, better it is. 

(Ashok Bhan is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court & Chairman-Kashmir Strategy & Policy Group)

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