“We come home very hungry …..then the children were put to bed and the adults reverted to their grown-up pursuits,” --- wrote Bertrand Russell many decades back. Russell, the famous philosopher and author of master pieces like ‘Why I am not Christian’, is certainly out of fashion these days. But his quote seemed to have some relevance for the modern Pakistani diplomacy – that remains under the grip of military men wherein a Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a mere pawn.
|Photo credit: Amerjeet Kumar Singh|
In this blog pages last month, I did raise the issue on how Nawaz Sharif can really deliver on his Ufa talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There was no discovery of rocket science in saying so. But it was also underlined:
“It's a pipe dream to presume that Sharif can dismantle the power structures in his country vis-a-vis army even as in 1997-98, Sharif acted quickly with firm hands and had cut the Presidency and the 'interfering' Supreme Court. He had also sacked Gen Jehangir Karamat as army chief in 1998 and was reportedly had similar plans for Musharaf too.”
Perhaps, his counterpart Modi also rested a lot on Nawaz’s political acumen, the ability to take risks and probably like Modi, Nawaz Sharif also has a will to deliver and keep the name for history to recall fondly. All these definitely are tall order.
Thus as soon as Nawaz landed back in Pakistan from Russia sojourn where he promised to pursue talks with India during Ufa summit meeting with Modi, the traditional ‘elders’ in Pakistan power structure were back with their ‘grown up pursuits’. Gurdaspur was one of them.
|Namo with his NSA Doval|
In the meanwhile, New Delhi remained unprovoked as it wanted the talks to happen. India made it clear it will not call off NSA-level talks with Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz despite the invitation to separatists from Pakistan. Importantly, diplomatic channels said, India "has a surprise for Pakistan in the talks."
While Pakistan started developing cold feed as the arrested fidayeen Naved was spilling the beans before his Indian hosts. Opposition parties in India predictably mocked at Prime Minister Modi’s 56-inch chest barbs in 2014 election campaign. India also had called off peace talks with Pakistan last year after its neighbor consulted the separatists Huriyat before a meeting between their foreign secretaries. At the time, Modi regime accused Pakistan of interfering in its domestic affairs.
Modi himself had indicated that his government while favoured talks he would not tolerate meetings between Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. As a major hint, Huriyat leaders were kept on two-hour house arrest in Kashmir on August 20. Yet, New Delhi was all for Ajit Doval-Sartaz Aziz talks.
But now the talks have hit the deadlock and only a miracle and firmness by Pakistan Prime Minister can revive it. Ufa talks and a joint statement which did not have K-word is almost history.
The global body UN is equally concerned. As the proposed talks between the National Security Advisers appeared deadlocked, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on the two sides "to return to dialogue" in the interest of their people and exercise maximum restraint.
But the damage would be unparallel. Whether it will make a dent in PM Modi’s aggressive diplomatic gameball remains to be seen even as his political detractors have got a good handle to mock at him.
“Foreign policy was initially Modi Govt's USP, but now with Pakistan NSA talks it looks like teenage tantrums,” tweeted Gaurav Gogoi, Congress MP from Assam.
So will these lead Modi to come out with a more concrete Pakistan policy?
For decades now, Pakistan seems to understand it pretty well that to knock its doors for talks is India’s diplomatic and even political compulsions. They expect New Delhi to always walk the extra mile. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee traveled to Lahore and had invited Gen Pervez Musharraf for a summit meet at Agra. Even as Agra failed after L K Advani-Sushma Swaraj duo played up hardliners and Musharraf staged a media-coup, in 2003 just before Vajpayee walked out of office, India-Pakistan talks resulted in reducing military tensions along the LoC.
The worst fear now among security apparatus is by failing to talk to Pakistan yet again – second time in two years – perhaps New Delhi would be driving Pakistanis more towards its good old chessboard of ‘proxy-war’ and terror strike in Kashmir and other parts of India. Gurdaspur was perhaps only an indicator of the fragile security system India has.
“The insistence on meeting Hurriyat as a precondition is also a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. India has always held the position that there are only two stake holders in our relationship, not three. The people of both countries can legitimately ask today what is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation,” a strong statement from MEA, Govt of India, only has one part of the story. It pins down on Pakistani army’s role. What’s next?
Pakistani newspaper Dawn seems to have read Modi’s mind:
“INDIAN Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UAE, and the joint communiqué issued afterwards, should be nothing less than a wake-up call for Pakistan,” it said in its powerful editorial.
The UAE-India joint communiqué also goes to some lengths to “condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries” “The language is being widely interpreted to be pointed towards Pakistan,” it said. Modi in his Dubai speech also asserted, whether you join the fight against terrorism or be where you are.
|Dost bankey miley......|
Isolating Pakistan is easier said than a done option. But given the diplomatic moves under way in the region, the Pakistani paper understood it pretty well that “foreign policy is changing in profound ways" vis-a-vis India under Modi. Will Pakistan army understand this?