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جمعہ، 29 جولائی، 2011

The New Delhi talks

The visit of the Pakistan delegation headed by the youthful but formidable Foreign Minister, was an indication that in the country, a new generation has emerged that seeks to get liberated from the shackles of the past, and which seeks a modus vivendi whith a country that can be a natural partner. In Hina Rabbani Khar, the people of India saw a new Pakistan, one very different from the country portrayed in the international media. The question is, will the Dead Hand of the Past choke off these bamboo shoots of rapprochement, or will this finally give way to the needs of the new generation in both countries, which is peace?
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Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar

It is not that no high hopes were held about the New Delhi talks that their inconsequential outcome has set off no despondency or dismay. The people here have got used to this familiar pattern of bilateral talks between India and Pakistan over these past decades. From their experience, they know that the interlocutors would emerge from the conference room either with smiling faces or with frowns on their brows, but the outcome would be the same. Over the period, they have witnessed talks even at the highest levels finally ending up the same way: a damp squib. Only a commentariat that latches on even to the most insignificant to burnish its talking skills gets enthused. Keep talking is their mantra, even if it means continue talking to infinity with no concrete result whatsoever coming by on any substantive issue outstanding between the two countries. Talking keeps the two countries at least at bay from tensions or a conflict is the commentariat’s mantra, even despite being proved wrong on this count again and again. Their dialogue is indeed the first casualty of any flare-up between the two. The hard facts are a living testimony of this truth. And if their tensions over the period have not gone wild, it is because of the dreadful weapon that both possess. Not even a loony would permit the tension flaring up to the point where a nuclear Armageddon is unleashed on the region.In any case, the keep-talking-battalion has something to crow about. The two top diplomats of the two countries have in their New Delhi decided to keep talking. And it should come as great consolation to the battalion that the have agreed to meet again, mark you, by the middle of next year, not the next century. But homilies, platitudes and pious vows that the people have heard now they have heard earlier too. The brew is the same; only the bottle is new. It was a “composite peace dialogue” then. Now it is a “full spectrum dialogue”. Over four rounds of the composite dialogue went by stillborn on substantive issues. The first round of full spectrum has culminated likewise. And take it from us, this will go on like this if a hard bitter truth is not contended with.Although our self-righteous mob of political pundits, commentators and analysts, which has transformed self-flagellation into a fine art, would have it believed that the obstruction to normality between the two countries is our security establishment, the boot fits squarely the leg of its Indian counterpart.

  The Indian establishment is not so meek or subservient as this mob has self-servingly taken it to be. It is a very formidable force, and a very decisive voice when it comes to India’s Pakistan policy. It almost has a veto power on India’s policies and stances regarding Pakistan. Nothing could be as illustrative of this as the stalled Pakistan visit of Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister. To impart a measure of significance to his visit, he wanted to come with a final agreement on Siachen demilitarisation and sign it up in Islamabad. But both the Indian army and air force put their feet down, refusing to vacate some of their positions and facilities on the glacier. Consequently, his intended Pakistan visit went on hold. And predictably the visit invitation extended to him by the foreign minister would in all probability go immaterialised again, particularly when his position has got a severe battering from some high-profile corruption scams that have come to blight his government in these recent times. Arguably, the Indian establishment has got a big shot in the arm from the massive armament spree that the Singh government has embarked upon. With a booming economy, India has unfolded a whopping multi-billion-dollar shopping list to equip the Indian militarily lethally massively. Inevitably, that huge refurbishment would lead up to the further beefing up of the Indian military’s clout on the country’s foreign policies. Furthermore, the foreign powers eyeing avariciously India’s enormous economic opportunities and big weapons contracts would be much less prone to nudge it to go wholeheartedly for settlement of its outstanding disputes with Pakistan. Already, the Americans have catapulted India from a preeminent power of the region to its leader, exhorting it to be assertive in its leading role in and around the region. Hence instead of living in illusions and fantasies, the Islamabad hierarchs must see the realities as they are and chalk out a pragmatic policy to secure Pakistan’s interests to the best possible. India is already snatching away from Pakistan its river waters systematically.
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