DC Debate: Suspension of NSA talks is a failure of NDA’s Pakistan policy

Modi’s flamboyant T20-approach to every issue, only saw him getting clean bowled

No baat-cheet

Shehzad Poonawalla Vs K G Suresh

Shehzad Poonawalla - A mockery of foreign policy

Diplomacy and statecraft are like five-day Test matches. Mr Modi’s flamboyant IPL T20-approach to every issue, including foreign policy, only saw him getting clean bowled by Pakistan’s doosra.

No sane person with a basic understanding of diplomacy would suggest that two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, that have unresolved differences and have gone to war several times, should not be talking. Talks are necessary but the context, conditions and climate under which these talks are held are equally important and must be spelt out. The Modi government failed to take India into confidence on this. Diplomacy and statecraft are like five-day Test matches and require maturity and stability. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flamboyant Indian Premier League T20-approach to every issue, including foreign policy, only saw him getting clean bowled by Pakistan’s doosra.

Mr Modi had declared that talks with Pakistan could not be held amidst the din of guns and bombs. Over the last one year, the situation has worsened along the LoC and the border. Record number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan, 583 in all, took place in 2014, a substantial part under Mr Modi’s watch as Prime Minister. August 2015 alone had over 45 ceasefire violations in addition to the terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur. What explains then, the Prime Minister’s weak-kneed flip-flops?

Mr Modi went out of his way to seek talks with Pakistan in Ufa, Russia, even though it has been guilty of delivering precious little on 26/11 Mumbai attacks and showed little respect for the Modi government’s previously drawn “red line” in August 2014, that it would refrain from speaking to Hurriyat before bilateral engagements. So pathetic was the handling of the entire situation that the BJP’s own ally released Hurriyat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, who then had to be detained on the orders of the Central government. The only beneficiary of the two neighbours fighting like an old married couple, while the world watched, were separatist leaders, one relegated to the sidelines, now given the oxygen of publicity.

Mr Modi, in many ways, is treading on the same path as former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. If Mr Vajpayee’s foreign policy was characterised by the naïve romanticism of a simpleton poet, Mr Modi’s dealing with Pakistan seems predicated on a far worse, delusional “selfie-complex”, where foreign policy is seen as a tool for self-congratulatory pats on the back and domestic brownie points. Mr Vajpayee’s miscalculated initiative, the Delhi-Lahore Bus Yatra, was followed by Kargil War. Agra Summit in July 2001 was followed by Parliament attack and a massive military stand-off costing us more than 1,800 lives and over $3 billion!

Forget critics, even well wishers of the Modi government, like former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, had opposed National Democratice Alliance’s Pakistan policy and dubbed the NSA talks as a “dialogue of the deaf”. If that doesn’t spell failure with a capital F, then what does?

Shehzad Poonawalla is a lawyer activist and founder-member of Policy Samvad

K.G. Suresh - Pak doublespeak has been exposed

India has proved that it was desirous of peace with Pakistan and was ready to initiate a dialogue but not at the cost of its self-respect. It would not brook any interference in its internal affairs...

Islamabad has once again run away from a dialogue with India on terrorism, which has, over the decades, become an integral part of Pakistan’s statecraft to, a) extract money from its allies, including the US; b) sabotage its neighbours such as Afghanistan; c) create mayhem within the borders of its arch rival India; and, d) exterminate religious and sectarian minorities back home.

Breaking stereotypes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif among others for his swearing-in ceremony, but continuing with its one-upmanship and insisting on talks with the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Islamabad vitiating the atmosphere of goodwill and trust sought to be built by the new government in Delhi.

However, the Pakistanis were in for a surprise. Here was a nationalist government which would not allow them to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. The Pakistanis would have to choose between Hurriyat and India and the foreign secretary-level talks became a victim of Pakistani intransigence. On the borders too, our recalcitrant neighbours got a tit for tat response to their unprovoked firings and repeated ceasefire violations. India continued to make proactive moves to engage with Pakistan, which continued with its historical policy of doublespeak.

Then came Ufa. India was categorical that terrorism and terrorism alone would be on the agenda of the national security adviser-level talks. It was Pakistan which had illusions that it could bulldoze its agenda on India as it had done in the past and started adding more items to the talk menu. The topping was of course the “consultations” with its puppets in Kashmir.

The Pakistanis knew very well that their manufactured dossier on India’s alleged involvement in their backyard would fall flat for lack of evidence. In India’s NSA, Ajit Doval, they feared a formidable negotiator who would make a mincemeat of their specious arguments and prove Islamabad guilty of sponsoring terrorism in India. India has proved time and again that it was desirous of peace with Pakistan and was ready to initiate a dialogue but not at the cost of its self-respect. It would not brook any interference in its internal affairs nor its stated policy ruling out any third-party role in Kashmir.

The Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz’s subsequent statement that his was a nuclear armed country which knew how to defend itself reflected the nervousness in the establishment in the wake of India’s tough stance. Without conceding even a centimetre, India has once again exposed Pakistani double standards before the international community.

If Hurriyat leaders are not being put behind the bars, it is to deny them the halo of heroes and martyrs yet it has been effectively conveyed not once but twice in over a year that they are irrelevant players and have no locus standi whatsoever on Kashmir.

— K.G. Suresh is senior fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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