What hope for progress between India & Pakistan?

July 5, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment

In Dawn, journalist Kuldip Nayar doesn’t see much coming out of the forthcoming talks between India & Pakistan. He concludes:

The solution lies in both the civilian and military wings in Pakistan agreeing to a détente with India. But the army has given no evidence that it wants to bury the hatchet. Its proximity to America and the military aid it is getting from it has made Islamabad stiffer than before.

The Manmohan Singh-Gilani meeting in Egypt or the meeting of foreign secretaries can be successful only to the extent that Gen Kayani is willing to go. Can he look at Pakistan’s relations with India without bringing in the past? Normalcy between the two countries depends on that. Washington can play an important role.

I don’t suppose it needs restating how much influence Pakistan’s military has over public life, nor how yawningly frequent the Indian ‘enemy’ is invoked to whip-up nationalistic sentiments among ordinary Pakistanis. To borrow from Homer Simpson, the animosity felt towards India is the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems.

In fact, one of the reasons the military’s been so club-footed in responding to the insurgents operating within their own borders is that they’re still configured for fighting just one war: against India.

Of course, the other reason they’ve been poor at tackling militants is that they happen to support some of ’em. Take Lashkar-e-Taiba, for example. This is a militant group which was initially nurtured by Pakistani security forces for fighting India and security experts suspect that the military could prevent them from committing Mumbai-like atrocities if they wanted to. Where does this group thrive the most? In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; that decades-old impediment to both countries’ peace and security.

I’ve no doubt that India would like to achieve peace with Pakistan, but in the aftermath of the attacks in Mumbai, you can understand why its preoccupation is improving its own security. If Pakistan can find the means and the nerve to dismantle those groups who would rather die than see an end to the conflict, then you might well see some progress. If not, then the conflict between these two estranged (and nuclear-powered) neighbours will continue to make the region one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

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