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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beyond binaries

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to resume contact with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of a multilateral gathering in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and ask the foreign secretary to start talking to senior officials in Islamabad was widely expected. Discerning observers would ignore New Delhi’s attempts at differentiating between “meeting” Pakistani leaders and “talking” to them. Those familiar with the tragedy of Indo-Pak relations would not read too much into the genteel Dr Singh acting tough in public with the crafty Zardari. While the PM’s political compulsions to posture at home are real, the case for a new Pakistan policy had been staring at him for some time. India’s suspension of bilateral talks did have some diplomatic impact after the unpardonable terror attack against Mumbai last November. Seven months later, not talking to Pakistan is not in any way raising the heat on Islamabad to act urgently against the plotters of anti-India terror.
Will the renewal of the dialogue, formal or informal, produce a positive change in Pakistan’s approach to violent extremism against India? Not necessarily. And certainly not in the short term. Zardari might be the president of Pakistan; he was neither responsible for the Mumbai attacks nor does he have the power to offer redress to India. Pakistan’s real power centre, the army, has turned hostile towards the peace process with India. By launching a new campaign against the Taliban in Swat and preparing for another in Waziristan, the Pakistan army is winning powerful friends in Washington and gaining empathy around the world. Put simply, the Pakistan army, the main supporter of anti-India terror groups, has emerged a winner at home and abroad since Mumbai.
Where does that leave India? For one, India must look beyond the simplistic binary approach to Pakistan — talks or no talks. Instead, New Delhi must develop a long-term strategy that aims to alter Pakistan’s internal dynamics in India’s favour. Extending strong support to Pakistan’s weak civilian leaders is one important part of that strategy. New Delhi must also script a strong play in Washington to prevent the Pakistan army from leveraging its current campaign against the Taliban to protect its extremist assets against India. To mount and sustain real pressure on the Pakistan army, India must look and sound reasonable, articulate a positive vision for the subcontinent, and underline the imperative for a collective regional and international struggle against terrorism. That exactly is what Dr Singh has done in Yekaterinburg. Translating this ambitious strategy into effective action is the real challenge confronting India; it is not whether or when we should talk to Pakistan.
No wisdom in talking By: Ranjan 18-Jun-2009 Reply Forward I dont agree with the views expressed in the editorial.It once again proves that we are spineless people and would chicken out when the time comes for confrontation.We have a whole list of babus who will invent words to mislead an angry public than justify it.INdian diplomats and polticians failed miserably to encash the restraint that india showed by not carrying out military strikes against Pakistan.India should have never given up the demand to handover LeT leaders to india under exixting SAARC provisions.No extardition treaty is needed for that.Policy of no dilaogue at any level unless culprits handed over would have been best option.India had been guitly of enhancing the credibilty of Pakistan by holding talks and, therefore, multipying its ability to cheat the world.There is no wosdom it is sheer US pressure.India once again has been made laughing stock of this world.186 innocent lives lost am waiting for next attack.I see pakistanis laughing.
Put pressure on the army suppliersBy: Anish Tripathi 18-Jun-2009
Reply Forward India is a tiger that has convinced iteslf that it is a mouse (not even a cat), and gues what, the world knows it. We need a simple law to be brought out, that any company in the world that does business with the Pakistani army, it and all its affiliates will can never ever do business in India, with the government or otherwise. See how that will set the cat amongst the pigeons. Reach out to the beleaguered Pakistani civilian leadership (who are powerless minions) and the people who are suffering (by sending them aid, or at least announce it and keeps the truck ready at Wagah). Hurt the army for hurting us. Start by banning Thuraya, the middle east based company that provides all the sat phones used by the army and the terrorists. We have to use our economic muscle, and reach out to the people of Pakistan and hurt the army. Watch how US will also squirm, as American companies will suffer the most.Does UPA-II have the guts????
Consider Indian interests first, American and Pakistani interests laterBy: R.Kannan 18-Jun-2009
Reply Forward We need to consider Indian interests as paramount. Americans are still funding Pakistan's war on India by giving it money which is used to fund terror activities in India. So long as India refused to talk, US put a little pressure on Pak as a result of which there have been no terror attacks on India. Post 26/11, Pakistan has shifted its army to the Indian border and has repeatedly made provocative statements threatening to attack India. Just because the Pak army is making some drama about fighting some militans, it does not mean anything as far as India is concerned.India should, in fact, be considering a complete halt of all relations with Pakistan including trade and diplomatic. If US puts pressure, we can tell them that US needs to decide if it wants to be friends with India or Pak. Lack of courage in doing so is dooming us to more terror attacks.
ConcernBy: George P. Joseph 18-Jun-2009
Reply Forward It is pertinent to remember that on the very day the New UPA Govt. got into power, across the boarder Pakistan also showed its concern by attacking Indian Jawans and made killings at the level of top brass of the Indian Defense. They are ever ready for such binaries if India wishes to carry further. They don't bother the time to time Missile testing of Indian Defense but they want to experiment theirown at Indian Borders. Whoever of the Pakistani spokesman, they are implying it always.
How will Talking to Pakistan Help?By: Somak Goswami 18-Jun-2009
Reply Forward How many, many times have we "resumed" talks only for it to end in tears, and more innocent civilian deaths, later on?What is the point of "talking" with someone like Zardari who has no real power? But then, everbody knew this how it will end up - after the Mumbai attacks, India will posture a lot but do nothing, US will make sympathetic noises but will continue to work only against the Taliban, and sooner or later India will come around to talk and party with Pakistan again. Hafiz Saeed is roaming free, there is no news of the likes of Zarar Shah and Pakistan has once again got away scot free after claiming 181 innocent Indian lives.And what of the US that always encourages for talks and more talks? How long did it talk to the Taliban for after 9/11?If military action is not the solution, then pointless talks isn't either. Let us not insult the the innocent victims and martyrs like Hemant Karkare.

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