India Pakistan Dialog, Like a Snake and Ladder Game

The biggest foreign policy challenge to government of India has been Pakistan. A neighbour with which India has fought three wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971. In 1971 war, Pakistani state got dismembered and Bangladesh was created as an independent country. Close to 100000 Pakistani army soldiers had to surrender. Losing part of their territory had been a big blow to Pakistani army and elite. Since, then Pakistan has acquired nuclear weapon, issued threat of first use in case attacked by India, and opened up a policy of bleeding India to death by thousand cuts. By this policy, Pakistani inter services intelligence agency has encouraged rebellion, promoted terrorist attacks and causing explosions in public places. Most notable being attack on Mumbai by a group of armed terrorists on 26th Novermber, 2008. Despite, giving proof to Pakistan, the case remains unresolved.

Many attempts to talk between two countries have not made much progress. Pakistan wants India to give up Kashmir undconitionally. India wants Pakistan to eliminate terrorists and bring them to justice before talks can begin. So hopes were raised, after fidayeen attack on Pathankot airbase, when India allowed an investigative team from Pakistan to visit Indian airbase to collect evidence.

Many thought the move was a bold gamble by Prime Minister of India, in the face of criticism by opposition parties that India’s honour had gone down the drain. Ever since Prime Minister Modi had assumed office, he took unprecedented steps to enhance friendship with Pakistan. He had visited visited Pakistan unplanned on his way from Afghanistan and attended marriage of grand daughter of Prime Minister of Pakistan.  Indian Prime Minister also persuaded Indian establishment to allow a team of investigators from Pakistan to visit Pathankot for investigation.

Pakistani team kept quiet in India. They went back and gave selective leak to Pakistani press about Indian noncooperation with Pakistani team and how Pathankot incident was stage managed by Indian security forces. Pakistan’s ambassador to India in a press conference rejected any chance of co-operation and/or dialog between India and Pakistan on the issue of terror.

Yes Prime Minister of India had lost face, however, major credibility issue will stick with Pakistan for future dealings. Indian leader has taken a gamble which all powerful leaders must take. Pakistani establishment, not necessarily Prime Minister of Pakistan, had tried to score cheap point by going back on the agreed path. Many believe, on issues related to India, Pakistani ambassador has to follow policy framework dictated by army establishment. So ambassador was following military establishments line.

Pakistani Prime Minister on the other hand tried to give out message through his foreign minister that dialog process still remains open. Foreign ministry sources also said Indian investigators from National Investigative Agency, are welcome to visit Pakistan. Is this a double speak or is this fight for space between armed forces and elected government? Pakistani prime minister may be on a weak footing because of Ramon Fonseca revelation. Pakistani army is not ready to cede ground to India. It may be naive to expect Pakistani army will hand over access to Masood Azhar without a whimper. Army behaved in the way they were expected to do, like a street corner thug.

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