Much ado about nothing
By Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri
Indo-Pakistan relations are so deeply mired in history that moving them away from thestated positions and expressing willingness to tread a middle path requires a deeppolitical conviction, which is most often lacking whenever diplomatic parleys have takenplace between New Delhi and Islamabad. Coming on the heels of meetings betweenboth countries¶ commerce and interior/home ministers and to top it all Mohali encounter between the Prime Ministers of both countries, the recently concluded talks betweenforeign secretaries, Mr. Salaman Bashir and Ms Nirupama Rao, in Islamabad on July23-24 broke no new ground except churning out worn-out diplomatic clichés. While theJoint Communiqué issued at the end of three sessions during two days of interaction didindicate the meetings of working groups on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs and crossLoC CBMs, both countries largely repeated what has already been known to the world.The agenda of the post-Mumbai revived composite dialogue included a wide array of points such as Peace and Security including CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir and promotionof friendly exchanges. No concrete movement was discernible on any of the issuesexcept the usual lip service to taking the dialogue process forward in µa constructive andforward looking manner.¶The interaction between the foreign secretaries again highlighted the vast disconnectthat characterises the approaches of both countries. While Pakistan favours conflict-management and conflict-resolution mechanism, India is more in favour of confidencebuilding measures, which in its view, would lead to building of mutual trust and sufficientspace to address the complex issues bedeviling the relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours. While Pakistan believes that the composite dialogue framework is ameans to an end i.e. resolution of all issues, India attaches more importance tonormalisation of relations and that too achieved through CBMs incrementally and usesprocess i.e. composite dialogue framework as an end in itself.In her joint press conference with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, IndianForeign Secretary Ms Nirupama Rao, when asked about progress on the Kashmir issue, made no bones about her country¶s stated position. She said ³we must do awaywith the shadow of the gun and extremist violence because it is only in an atmospherefree of violence that we can discuss the resolution of such a complex issue (Kashmir).´What she actually meant by this remark was that the Indian establishment looked atprotracted Jammu and Kashmir issue as the one marked by terrorism and violence.This remark is consistent with the Indian attempt to portray the indigenous freedomstruggle as terrorism in total disregard of the UN resolutions and civilized norms. Whatthe Indian foreign secretary failed to explain is the fact as to why the Kashmiris havebeen brutally beaten and killed at the hands of the Indian security forces and why thelast two summers were characterised by complete shutdown of the valley.