India-Pak foreign secretary level talks: an exercise in futility
Article148.png”” alt=””Article148.png”” />The long-awaited meeting of Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan was held on the sidelines of Heart of Asia Summit on April 26 in New Delhi but it was hardly of any consequence and appeared to have been held only to refute the perception that peaceful negotiations between the two neighbours are over. Indian Foreign Secretary Dr. S.. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry insisted on their viewpoints without giving any credence to other”s views. This was the reason that no joint communiquÃ© was released. The Ministry of External Affairs although mentioned that the meeting was frank and constructive but stated that the Foreign Secretary demanded that the culprits of Pathankot and Mumbai terrorist attacks should be punished. The case of Masood Azhar, Chief of Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) was also discussed. and India emphatically told that Pakistan must control various terrorist outfits based in Pakistan and carrying out terrorist activities in India would impact relations between the two countries.
Pakistan gave no clear answer about the progress of Joint Investigation team which visited Pathankot and about the proposed reciprocal visit of National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to Pakistan. The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an unprecedented move, posted a small release on twitter even as the meeting had just begun in which it said that all issues, including Kashmir, was discussed and Pakistani Foreign Secretary insisted that Kashmir issue is the core issue and it should be resolved.
Pakistan also asked about investigation of Samjhauta Express blast, arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav and alleged Indian role in secessionist activities in Balochistan and terrorist activities in Karachi. Pakistan also insisted that the Indian Foreign Secretary should visit Pakistan so that Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) can commence. The media, in both the countries, also projected that the meeting failed to achieve anything substantial. Pakistani media constantly alleged that Indian intelligence agency was involved in secessionist activities in Baluchistan and terrorist activities in Karachi. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan kidnapped Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer and dubbed him as R&AW agent involved in secessionist activities in Baluchistan, a point which was raised by India during the talks.
In a nutshell, the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries generated more animosity rather than creating goodwill. There was no commonality in their press releases which made it abundantly clear that talks were held as an exercise to score points. Both sides issued official statements as well as tweets to gain more points. Date and time of the next meeting was also not fixed. It was clear from the beginning that the Pakistani side was determined to sabotage the talks. Pakistani Army which thrives on projection of imaginary threat from India would not allow the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif to have friendly relations with India.
Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has already weakened Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in August 2014 when Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf Party and Islamic cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul- Qadri launched Azadi March (freedom) to protest the rigging of general elections held in 2013 on behest of military controlled Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). However, Nawaz Sharif is an astute businessman turned politician knows that there can be a rapid economic progress of Pakistan if relations with India are improved. Therefore, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi more than once and welcomed him when he paid a surprise visit to Pakistan. The civilian government wants resumption of talks but all powerful Pakistani army creates hostile situation and disrupts the talks, a pattern which emerges everytime when India-Pak dialogue process is set in motion and promises to inch forward.
Right now, Nawaz Sharif is also facing trouble because of leak of Panama papers which mentions that sons and daughter of Nawaz have offshore companies in British Virgin Islands and own several properties in London and other places. General Raheel Sharif sacked 6 army officers including a Lt-General, Major General and 3 brigadiers on charges of corruption. It put tremendous pressure on Nawaz Sharif. The opposition parties in Pakistan including Imran Khan Chief of PTI started putting pressure on Nawaz and it will make position of Nawaz weaker in comparison to Pakistani Army.
The analysts mention that arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav was a ploy to propagate to the world and to common Pakistanis that India is involved in abetting secessionist activities in Baluchistan and carrying out terrorist acts in Pakistan including Karachi hence there should be no peace negotiations with India. It made the position of Nawaz still weaker as his government was advocating cordial relations with India. Now ISI would create more trouble in Kashmir and carry out fresh terrorist activities in whole of India as it will get additional suicide bombers to revenge sham allegation that India is creating trouble in Pakistan including Baluchistan and Kashmir.
Large number of Madarassas have mushroomed which are financed by Middle Eastern countries, rogue ISI, terrorist outfits and fanatic Muslims, these Madarassas work as factories to produce extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers. Unfortunately a strong lobby is developed in Pakistan which is thriving on anti-India rhetoric. The lobby includes Pakistani army, terrorist outfits, Muslim fanatics, dishonest businessmen and others. They have convinced large number of Pakistanis that India wants to annex Pakistan hence there should not be any peace with India. There are sensible Pakistanis, who do not believe in this malicious propaganda but they are in minority and are in no position to play an important role in the improvement of India-Pakistan relations. The chances of improvement of India Pakistan relations in near future are remote. Pakistan possesses nuclear warheads and cultivated close relations with China hence India must prepare itself against Pakistan and also remain prepared if China also extends a helping hand to Pakistan.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a security analyst based in Delhi. Views are personal)“