According to the news aired on Pakistani televised news channels, India High Commissioner in Pakistan visited Pakistan’s Foreign Office last night and informed that India had cancelled bilateral talks scheduled to be held between security advisors of both countries on 23 August 2015. The reason of cancellation of talks given by India was its objection to the invitation offered by the High Commissioner of Pakistan in India to some prominent Kashmiri leaders for consultations before starting the bilateral talks. In August 2014 also, India had cancelled secretary level bilateral talks on the same pretext. This article deals with the reasons why India is doing so and how Pakistan may conduct its foreign policy with India in future.
Showing a firm resolve to consult the Kashmiri leaders before holding talks with India is a very right and principled position being pursued by Pakistan, because according to the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to resolve the core dispute of Kashmir, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir are the major stakeholders. In this context the UNSC resolutions have asked for holding a plebiscite in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to determine the will of the Kashmiri people whether they wanted to join Pakistan or India.
Although Pakistan has always been forthcoming to resolve all issues with India, including the core issue of Kashmir through bilateral talks under the provisions of the Shimla Agreement, it wants to discuss the Kashmir issue during talks under the spirit of UNSC resolutions since the Shimla Agreement does not undermine those resolutions as it only says that all the disputes will be resolved through peaceful bilateral talks. That is why Pakistan is right in consulting the Kashmiri leaders before holding the talks.
In this context Pakistan should follow this bold policy in the future as well, even if India cancels bilateral talks under this pretext many times. In fact, by doing so Modi wants to pressurize Pakistan to accept the state of Jammu and Kashmir as India’s integral part, which Pakistan cannot do whatever its cost could be. Moreover, if India continues to cancel talks on this pretext, Pakistan is not bound under the Shimla Agreement to resolve the disputes through bilateral talks only because the Agreement also provides for adopting any other peaceful means, such as third country’s mediation and UN forum to resolve disputes if bilateralism fails to address the issues.
After taking over as India’s Prime Minister in May 2014, Mr. Modi’s politics with Pakistan has been very hard. Although, apparently his government continues to make an impression on the world stage that India wants to resolve outstanding issues with Pakistan by holding bilateral talks, in fact Modi’s principle agenda about Pakistan is that first it should accept India’s hegemony in South Asia and then India will talk to Pakistan to resolve issues in India’s terms. In other words, it means that India still does not recognize Pakistan as an equal nuclear power and it is still under the misperception that it can regulate Pakistan’s foreign policy to make it subservient to its agenda of compelling Pakistan to accept India’s primacy in South Asia at the cost of its national interests.
That is why Modi’s government is continuing with India’s hegemonic policies of weakening Pakistan internally of supporting terrorism inside Pakistan using Afghan soil and its own territory. In this context, Modi government is also trying to use its international clout to isolate Pakistan at regional and world levels. To prove India’s this game plan, many examples of India’s zero sum game politics with Pakistan can be given. Since coming to power, Modi government has been keeping the Line of Control (LoC) hot by firing and causing many civilian casualties on the Pakistani side despite restraint being displayed by Pakistan. It continues to destabilize Balochistan, Karachi and many other parts of Pakistan by supporting terrorism. It is continuing to arm itself by purchasing modern weapons from major western powers and Russia. It is also signing nuclear cooperation agreements with these powers to disturb the strategic balance in South Asia under the cover of producing nuclear energy.
While India is cancelling scheduled bilateral talks time and again, it also does not want Pakistan to take up the issue of Kashmir and Indian support to terrorism in Pakistan at UN forum. It is playing a spoiler role in Afghanistan by creating misunderstanding between leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fail Pakistan supported peace talks in Afghanistan. To keep Pakistan economically weak, India is working on a conspiracy to obstruct the construction of Chin-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
To counter India’s anti Pakistan policies, Pakistan needs to review its India policy. While it may continue with its efforts to improve bilateral relations with India by holding bilateral talks it should have no doubt that the Modi government would ever resolve the Kashmir and other disputes in a just way. While Pakistan may continue to make efforts to increase its trade with India, it should never depend on this conspiracy theory being aired in some quarters that Pakistan’s economic progress depends on strong economic relations with India.
Maintaining is strong policy on strategic issues with India, whereas Pakistan should consistently make its best efforts to keep peace with India to focus on its economic development and ending terrorism, it should also continue endeavouring to make it strong in the conventional defence and to maintain strategic parity with India and it should strengthen its relations with China and other major western powers. For achieving quick economic development, Pakistan should look for other regions for cooperation, should struggle to transform its economy as knowledge based and ensure completion of CPEC at any cost as already stated by the COAS.. Pakistan also needs to recognize that it is in India’s interest also to maintain good relations with Pakistan because if it keeps itself embroiled in continuing tensions with a nuclear Pakistan, its dream of becoming an undisputed regional power and world power will remain unfulfilled.
Published by Pakistan Observer on August 23, 2015
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.