Foreign Secretary level talks: Pakistan held ground, Indian stance disappointing
by Hari Om on 26 Feb 2010 5 Comments

It was expected that New Delhi would again disappoint the Indian nation by not asking Islamabad to vacate the aggression so that the Indian territories which have been under its illegal occupation since 1947-1948, are reintegrated into India and the unanimous Parliamentary Resolution of 1994 implemented in letter and spirit; and it actually happened.


What Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told media persons after her 90-minute-long meeting with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir at Hyderabad House, has once again established that the Indian leadership has neither clarity on the issues facing New Delhi in J&K, nor the necessary courage and competence to take on Pakistan which has no locus standi in J&K. Her press briefing also suggested that New Delhi has completely forgotten the 1994 Parliamentary Resolution. What an irony!


The message of what the Indian Foreign Secretary said was: The talks were held in a congenial atmosphere; we are open to discuss all issues; we want to remain in touch with Islamabad; the outcome of the talks was positive; we want to befriend Islamabad notwithstanding the huge trust deficit [read chasm] between the two countries; we will move forward step by step and keep our doors open; the talks were open, transparent and meaningful; we don’t overrule the possibility of our Prime Minister meeting his Pakistani counterpart at Thimpu in the next few days; and so on and on...


Of course, she disclosed that she handed over to her counterpart three dossiers containing details on persons involved in various terror-related attacks in India, and India’s concerns; asked Bashir to take concrete action against those involved in the Mumbai attack, check anti-India activities being indulged in by such terrorist organizations as Jamaat-ul-Dawa’h and stop cross border terrorism.


Pakistan did not give India any evidence of India’s [alleged by Islamabad] involvement in Baluchistan. We drew the kind attention of the Pakistani guests to the 13 February Pune terrorist attack that left at least 16 persons dead [so far] and a score injured; as also to the brutal beheading of two Sikhs in the turbulent Peshawar area; and so on.


Rao might have disclosed several other things, but she couldn’t because the time at her disposal for interacting with the highly anxious media persons was rather limited, as she had another important engagement lined up. Surely the Indian Foreign Office which organized the press conference to explain away what transpired between her and her Pakistani counterpart, should have been able to manage her schedule better. But may be it was a gracious God that ensured she didn’t make further revelations.   


Contrast what our Foreign Secretary told media persons with what Salman Bashir told media persons an hour or later, thus getting the benefit of the last word. His was a forceful and meaningful statement.


Bashir said: Kashmir is the main issue; Siachin is very important for Islamabad; India must implement the 1960 Indus Water Treaty so that Pakistan gets water to the extent it wants; Sir Creek is very important for Pakistan and its geo-political interests; India and Pakistan are nuclear states and hence it is incumbent on both countries to ensure a lasting peace in South Asia and it is for India to take cognizance of this fact; India will have to address Pakistani concerns as far as the Baluchistan problem is concerned; we want good relations with India; we will help peace process between the two countries move forward; we are very clear on all issues; and so on.


Before meeting his Indian counterpart, Bashir had already taken into confidence at least two Kashmiri separatists and fanatics, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. New Delhi knew this as they [Geelani and Mirwaiz] walked into the premises housing Salman Bashir and his team rather confidently under the nose of Indian intelligence and other agencies. Not something unexpected. Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani agents in Kashmir and Delhi do meet their Pakistani masters and mentors whenever they visit Delhi and whenever New Delhi invites them to the capital for what it calls bilateral talks. And why should New Delhi not permit the Kashmiri separatists to meet the Pakistani rulers, civil servants and dreaded military officials on Indian soil? After all, those ruling the country are democrats!!!      


Was there any ambiguity in what the confident, assertive and articulate Pakistani Foreign Secretary told media persons? No. There was none. Bashir referred to the nuclear aspect in so many words in order to browbeat India and seek territorial and other concessions. In other words, he told New Delhi that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint and hence New Delhi needs to yield in order to avert the impending danger of nuclear war between the two countries.


Bashir was emphatic in his own style that peace would return to India only if New Delhi endorses the Pakistani formulations on J&K, river waters, Siachin, Sir Creek and, even Indian involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan’s tribal belt, particularly the restive Baluchistan area. He left no one in doubt that the political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiri separatists would continue as long as the issues he had raked up during his meeting with Nirupama Rao remain unresolved.


There can be no doubt that Bashir said all that he did at the behest of the Pakistani Army, which dictates the conduct of the political establishment. To Indian concerns, he mocked gently: “We cannot proceed against Hafiz Saeed or LeT because we do not have any proof of his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack.”


The same Salman Bashir, however, announced to Indian astonishment that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a great man, a visionary!


With one poet-PM having already dragged the nation through Agra’s famous madhouse, one can only shudder at the thought of what a visionary [sic] will do to us…


Anyway, this was the sum and substance of the message by Pakistan’s rulers from New Delhi to the Pakistani nation. There should be no doubt on this score. The Indian Foreign Office may explain away what the Pakistani Foreign Secretary told media persons and try to hoodwink Indian public opinion, but the fact remains that Islamabad has scored another diplomatic triumph over India. What a sorry state of affairs! What is the opposition BJP doing?




Given that the talks eventually proved to be much ado about nothing, the question remains – why were they held at all? New Delhi had all along maintained that until there was progress on handing over terrorists involved in Mumbai 2008, and significant steps to curb terrorist traffic to India, no dialogue was possible. As Pakistan did sweet nothing, what caused South Block’s shameful volte face?


A little bird said that the only significant development in the last two months was the fact that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel spent his Christmas vacation in India, with his wife and three children. He was here between December 21, 2009, and January 1, 2010.


A month later, Home Minister P. Chidambaram made his infamous U-turn, and the flop talks were held yesterday.  


And what did the all-powerful Emanuel do here? Well, he seems to have evaded the idolatrous temples of the Hindus and taken the kosher route of wildlife safari, Rajasthan forts, and Taj Mahal, pinnacle of the prestige of a Muslim Emperor. He also got the PM’s media advisor, Harish Khare, to escort him to the Red Fort and the spice streets of the walled city, a fitting denouement of the Marxist pretensions of that former journalist.


The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu

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