Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Indo-Pak talks - A Chronology of Compromises

"We will work to defeat the evil designs of terrorists and will not allow them to succeed.". This statement was given by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh after the serial blastsin Mumbai's local trains on July 11, 2006. Wait a minute - the only Mumbai attacks we know are 26/11 right? Well, that's because our English media has all but ensured that all terror attacks before 26/11 are erased from public memory. Anyways, let's back to the issue.

So our Prime Minister has ensured us that he will work towards defeating the "evil designs of terrorists". Who are these terrorists? He himself enlightens us some months later - "There is credible evidence of Pakistani involvement in these blasts." Remember, this statement is coming from the highest authority in India. The dialogue process was suspended after these attacks, only to be revived very soon. Without any "credible" action by Pakistan, the foreign secretaries of both the countries tell us - " We have both agreed that the peace process between the two countries is important and all possible efforts should be made to see that this process is not adversely affected."

Just a quick question - who exactly is making effort to see these efforts fail? Pakistan right? Whom are these people fooling?

Cut to November 26, 2008. Again the same banal statements were issued. The dialogue was suspended. This time we thought this was serious. Because, these attacks were audacious enough to ensure that we stick to our stand. Here's where our Prime Minister decides to stump us. Within months on announcing that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless action is taken against the terror perpetrators, the Prime Minister decides to start talking to Pakistan.

Following is the chronology:

The meeting with Zardari - June 16,2009 (about seven months after the 26/11 attack)

It was decided at this meeting that the foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet to discuss our primary concern - Terrorism. Actually this meeting was the only meeting where the PM showed some spine. In the full glare of the media, he said this to Zardari - "But I must tell you quite frankly that I have come with the limited mandate of discussing how Pakistan can deliver on its assurances that its territory would not be used for terrorist attacks on India." We kind of rejoiced that the PM is indeed serious about ensuring that we don't talk to Pakistan until they take action on terror. Maybe because of the international flak he received or some strange external influence or some bizzare inner calling - things started changing drastically from here on.

The summit at Egypt - July 15, 2009 (about a month after the above mentioned meeting)

India and Pakistan Prime Ministers issued a joint statement. Two things stood out in this joint statement. One is that for the first time, Balochistan was included in the Joint statement. Only Pak PM's reference to Balochistan was included. Our PM's response was not. Second was more damning. And the clarification after that statement was even more confusing! Let's take a quick look.

Statement 1:

Excerpt from the Joint Statement issued by India and Pakistan in Egypt: "Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these [sic] should not be bracketed."

Statement 2: Excerpt from the Prime Minister's answer to a query later in the day: "..dialogue cannot begin unless and until the terrorist acts of Mumbai are fully accounted for and the perpetrators are brought to book"

So, now, can someone tell me how both these statements are the same?! Which statement should we give credence to? The first one issued by the two governments, or the second one by our Prime Minister? Or is there going to be a third statement in Parliament after he returns?

According to The Hindu report, Indian side interprets the first statement like this: "Pakistan should not wait for the resumption of the composite dialogue to take action against terrorism" And the Pakistani side interprets like this: "..this meant the future of the dialogue process should not be held hostage to the perception in New Delhi that Pakistan had not done enough to stop the activities of terrorists operating from its territory". And therefore both sides see this statement as a breakthrough!! Wow, diplomacy and interpretation just took a new turn towards naiviety.

Geo TV head, Mir responded like this after the meeting - "According to our information the meeting of India and Pakistan foreign secretaries in the last 48 hours in Egypt has been crucial.Pakistan's Bashir took a tough stand against Menon. Bashir told Menon if you bracket the Mumbai attack with the comprehensive talks between the two countries then there is no possibility of a joint statement.""

Pakistan took a strong stand against us?!?! If true, how do we even begin to react? And if false, isn't our climbdown on the "delinking" giving them enough leeway to make these statements? Why is it that, it is us who always end up making compromises. What are we losing if there is no joint statement?! What are we losing if we don't to talk to a country that has least respect to our concerns?

This Joint Statement was issued just four days, yeah, just four days after the External Affairs Minister told Parliament that enough was not done by Pakistan. And within four days, we decided to delink action on terrorism from the composite dialogue.

The Foreign Secretary, S.S.Menon said this was a case of bad drafting. The Prime Minister never clarified on this. The then Minister of State, Shashi Tharoor said this was a not a legal document, so why worry? The Prime Minister never clarified on this. The Prime Minister never replied why his reply to Pak PM on Baluchistan was not included in the statement. And ofcourse, he berated the opposition, called it names and left it at that!

"Literature" and all that...

On friday, February 25, 2010 - the two foreign secretaries met in New Delhi (for something like, to give peace a chance, blah blah). After the meeting, the Indian foreign secretary met the press, and took some questions. All answers were on expected lines. We discussed terror, they did bring up Kashmir and we stated our positions etc etc. So far so good.

At around 5:40pm, the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Mr Salman Bashir (hereinafter referred to as the Dude!), started addressing his press conference. And all pieces slowly started falling apart. The Dude tells us not to lecture Pakistan. When asked about the dosseirs, the Dude tells us they want concrete proof and not "literature". And then the Dude goes on to lecture us on how the talks should be held, and how we are being unreasonable in talking about only terror, and how Kashmir is the core issue blah blah...yaawwwnnnn. The Dude then tells us that their country has seen 1000's of Mumbai and how their country is also a victim of terror. Never mind that the Dude forgot that terror was of their own making, and that they are trapped in the grave that they have dug!

The "stroll" at Thimpu - April 29, 2010

At the above mentioned foreign secretaries meetings, as has been the trend, India gave 3 dossiers to Pakistan and then said that the next round of talks will happen after Pakistan responds to them. And Pakistan hasn't yet responded to them. True to our stand, the secretaries did not meet. But hey, we never said the Prime Ministers will not meet right? Hence, the Prime Ministers of both the countries met. Infact, they even went for a stroll, at the "insistence" of the summit leaders. (by the way,If you are wondering what Summit - the SAARC summit. Wouldn't blame you for forgetting that, given the fact that SAARC has been reduced to this bilateral farce long ago! ) Anyways, post the "stroll" and then a one-on-one meeting, it was decided that the dialogue process will be put back on track.

Nothing changed after the Feb. 26th meeting; nothing changed from the time Chidambarampublicly rebuked the High Commisioner of Pakistan; nothing changed from the last time A.K.Anthony told us that there are 42 training camps across the LoC. And yet our Prime Minister decides to put the dialogue "back on track".

The "useful" and "constructive" talks between SM Krishna and S.M.Qureshi. July 15, 2010

India's External Affairs Minister, S.M.Krishna (SMK) met his Pakistan counterpart, S.M.Qureshi (SMQ). They addressed a joint press conference. When Pakistan's Foreign Minister was asked this "We are talking about taking the dialogue process (between India and Pakistan) ahead. In this scenario, Hafiz Saeed's anti-India tirade is affecting the environment, was this issue discussed"

To which he replied (it's a long answer, but you will have to read it in its entirety. "We discussed it. Incidentally, the minister (referring to India's S M Krishna) raised the question that he was concerned about hate speeches that incite people, and that we should avoid them. I do agree that both sides need to create an enabling environment, and not let the climate of engagement be vitiated by these speeches, should refrain from negative propaganda against each other"

Perhaps even he was bored with the same crap being dished out always and therefore continued thus - (here comes the actual stuff). "When you point out to Saeed's speech, or speeches, let me draw your attention to the Indian Home Secretary's (G K Pillai) statement. The dialogue which was reported in all Pakistani papers.. Tell me, to what extent it has helped? We were of the opinion that it was uncalled for"

So first he gives a long winded answer, and then goes about equating our Home Secretary with noted terrorist Hafiz Saeed. Hafiz Saaed is on record for his vitroil against the Indian state. It has been our long standing demand that he be tried for crimes against India. And Pakistan now has the gall to equate that guy with the Home Secretary of the country (who said that ISI is behind the 26/11 attacks). So now blaming ISI and threatening India are on the same page. Yet, we chose to remain silent on this.

Our great External Affairs Minister didn't refute the "we agree" statement. The silence is defeaning. No no, we just don't remain silent - we are desperate to talk to them. We are desperate to see to it that the talks do not fail at any cost. Happen what may, the end statement has to be that the talks will continue. Our Prime Minister is just so desperate to have the talks at any cost - it doesn't matter what people feel in India about it.

And ohh by the way, for the record, Pakistan found the talks "useful" and India found the talks "constructive"

S.M.Qureshi vented further frustration the day after it too. And all that while our minister Mr. S.M.Krishna was still in Islamabad. He said that our "selective approach" is taking us nowhere, and he doesn't want to just meet for photo oppurtunities! As always, we have refuted his comments, and then said we will continue to talk. SMQ then later says, that he believes in talks. Also, he againchanges track and says if he is going to visit New Delhi for further negotiations, he will do so only if we are prepared for a "result oriented dialogue" and will not come for "leisure trips"!

The $5 million flood aid.

India offered $5 million aid to Pakistan, as a humanitarian gesture towards its relief efforts relating to the devastating floods. Guess what - Pakistan took eternity to decide on whether or not to accep this offer! That's right - Pakistan took about a week to decide on whether this money can be accepted! Reason: Because it is coming from India! While Pakistan was still debating whether to accept the aid or not, our Prime Minister calls up their Prime Minister and offers more aid! Again, that's right! We offered them more aid even before they "accepted" our aid. Anyways, finally saner sense prevailed and Pakistan "accepted" our aid offer (which by the way, The Hindu felt was too low!), and as a mark of gratitude, Pakistan Prime Minister sent mangoes to our Prime Minister!

And now - the cricket diplomacy. March 30, 2011

The Prime Ministers decided to take forward the recently started dialogue process to achieve “more permanent normalisation of relations in an uninterrupted manner.” Uninterrupted manner. Which means, if god forbid, another dastardly attack happens on innocent citizens in India, such an attack will have no bearing on the dialogue process. In other words - happen what may, we will always be ready to talk - even if you kill our people.

"Mohali diplomacy successful" screamed some headlines. They followed that headline with "Pak PM invites Sonia" and "Pak PM invites Team India to come and play in Pak". Now, is this what successful diplomacy has been reduced to? We invite them, they come here and invite us - and all is well? Pakistan is yet to take any serious action on our terror related complaints, and here we are - ever ready to showcase that we are willing to forget all those lives lost. This blatant display of over enthusiastic intent to pursue talks that will lead nowhere is baffling.

Yet, we shall continue to talk.


Post a Comment