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India, Pak walk the tired road to peace
New Delhi, JUL 21 (Agencies):
Published on 21 Jul. 2010 11:53 PM IST
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The India-Pakistan meltdown took place only days ago. But it seemed one was reading an old novel with a jaded storyline. Except that the leading protagonists were new.
It would be naïve to put the diplomatic disaster in Islamabad last week to the undiplomatic conduct of the host foreign minister or the errors on the part of the Indians.
That would amount to confining a hugely complex and complicated India-Pakistan relationship to the actions of a few individuals.
Individuals did play a part. But more than anything else, the way talks between Shah Mahmood Qureshi and S.M. Krishna went down the hill underline the deep distrust between the two countries that are so unlike any other.
This divide, based partly on history, is unlikely to be bridged anytime soon.
The basic fault line in India-Pakistan ties lie in Islamabad’s deep conviction that it needs to avenge its own breakup of 1971, that it can do so by bleeding its larger and more powerful neighbour by backing terror groups across India.
It is a policy that has been firmly put in place for a quarter century or so by the Pakistani military-intelligence, the country’s real rulers.
For geopolitical and strategic reasons, the Pakistani military has always enjoyed the protective umbrella of the US military establishment - and successive US administrations.
Minus the US largesse, Pakistan’s military-intelligence could not have had the resources to come this far. But give the devil its due. The military-intelligence alliance has proved it can be cocky and daring even vis-à-vis the US.
Today, the US realises that its so-called ally is playing a deadly double game: it protects the top Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership while taking on parts of the anti-American insurgent network in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said so in as many words Tuesday.
Islamabad is not shy of its Taliban links.
Almost a decade after the Taliban was ousted from power in Kabul post 9/11, Pakistan is today closest to having an Islamabad-friendly regime in Afghanistan that would include the Taliban. If Pakistan is ready to upset Washington, will it go out of the way to please India?
Can Pakistan cut off its links with separatists in Jammu and Kashmir for the sake of friendship with India? Will it give up the carefully laid out terror network in India? Will it wrap up its ambition of cutting India to size in Afghanistan?
If the answer to all three questions is a no, can India and Pakistan be friends?
The ugly fact is that a vast majority of Indians and Pakistanis consider each other’s country as enemy.
It hardly needed a David Coleman Headley to reveal that the Pakistani intelligence was neck deep in the Mumbai savagery, from the beginning to the end.
Commonsense says that no non-state actor could have carried out the meticulous Mumbai operation minus the support of the Pakistani establishment.
Yet, Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai erred in talking about the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) hand in Mumbai just when Krishna was set to fly to Islamabad.
If he was simply parroting a Headley confession, why rake it up ahead of the talks, knowing well it is ISI that effectively runs Pakistan?
Many Pakistanis are also convinced India has a hand in the unrest in Balochistan, Pakistan’s biggest but most backward province.
India denies this. But Krishna said at his July 15 presser that New Delhi would revoke the Indian passport issued to a Baloch nationalist!
The lessons from Islamabad are two:
One, India and Pakistan can and should talk peace only when they are ready for it, not because the Americans want them to.
Two, Pakistan’s military-intelligence is in no mood to give up its ideologically-driven anti-India agenda that binds it with terrorists, even if some of them have now turned against Islamabad.
No wonder, the superficial bonhomie of July 14, when Krishna landed in Pakistan, led just two days later to anti-India cloth banners near where the Indians were staying.
One of them said in bold letters: “Go Home, Indians, Go”!
The banner was born after the failed talks, and erected at a road junction in a highly secure zone crawling with uniformed and other security personnel. It could not have been put up without official patronage.
The message was not lost on the Indian delegation.

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