Islamabad's deceit

First Edit

India’s Pakistan diplomacy to reduce the prevailing trust deficit and to set the right atmospherics to address contentious bilateral issues could be better served by skipping substantive dialogue for sometime. The suggestion may appear bizarre and astounding. But the time is simply not propitious — Islamabad is simply not prepared to engage New Delhi the way the latter envisages. The Indian leadership has all along believed that the only way to improve bilateral relations is to first shed that attitude of compulsive hostility, create a friendly atmosphere that helps build mutual trust to deal with issues like Kashmir where there is no meeting ground at present.

Certainly, Pakistan is not even prepared for these preliminaries in diplomacy. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has made it clear once again that for Islamabad diplomacy is war by other means as far as India is concerned. And, to win this war is very important for Pakistan’s political and military leaders. Nine years ago, the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf came to India for the Agra summit, bragging that a solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found in five minutes if Indian leaders were as serious and purposive as he was. He returned home, blaming ‘hardline Indian leaders’ as nothing instant or concrete emerged from that summit. It was not that the Agra summit was expected to provide a breakthrough on the contentious issues that had defied solution for over five decades. Yet, it was important for Musharraf to show to his audience back home that he was a bold and confident leader who had won a round of diplomatic battle.
Qureshi’s barbs at External Affairs Minister S M Krishna after their talks in Islamabad would shock any official schooled in the art of diplomacy. To suggest that his counterpart was ill-briefed by his bosses in Delhi and to say that India did not have an agenda for the foreign minister-level talks is preposterous. Certainly, this was another instance in Pakistan’s history of treating its diplomatic engagement with India as war by other means. It is, therefore, not surprising that Qureshi’s political bosses have said nothing about their foreign minister’s conduct. Peaceniks have been advocating increased people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Qureshi does not seem to agree. He says he will not travel to India for leisure; he would come only for serious dialogue. Delhi need not hurry to welcome him. Let Qureshi decide his timing.

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