Indo-Pakistan Dialogue: A Meaningless Blob
by Saradindu Mukherji on 12 Jul 2010 9 Comments

The much-hyped Indo-Pakistani dialogue which ended on 27 June took place almost seventy years after a major event on 28 June 1914, in Europe. This looking-back-to-history might help us see why and how nations have different responses to challenges thrown to them by their adversaries.


Over the years, the Indo-Pakistan dialogue process has tended to become more farcical than  substantive. While the process of dialogue is an integral part of any on-going relationship between the High Contracting Parties, every step in this direction, when taken by the Offended to humour the Offender may have dangerous implications. The propensity of the Government of India (GoI), unsure of its objectives, yet continuously egged on by various forces including a clueless if not mischievous media and dubious proponents of parallel diplomacy, to engage with Pakistan amidst all-too-familiar provocations, only to have its emissaries return empty-handed, is sickening. The humiliating self-goal at Sharm-el-Sheikh remains the highest diplomatic achievement of this government!


The June drama was no different. Surely the delegation which went to Islamabad was not unaware of this. Yet the very fact of GoI repeatedly talking to Pakistan, a terrorist state which aims at nothing less than the destruction of India and decimation of its kafirs as its primary strategic-religious objective merely emboldens the latter to pursue its undiminished hostility towards India. Whoever dictates government policy in India these days is devoid of logic and common sense. Every such initiative of the GoI, without any concrete evidence of tolerable behaviour from Pakistan, betrays its callous disdain for national honour. But then, why expect that from our kind of rulers?


Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, aboard the Air India flight, said the policy of the Government was “Trust, but Verify”. Many however felt that as a policy statement it was as nebulous as the air around his aircraft. It is strange that when the verifiable facts which are known to all are not acted upon, our foreign-policy “experts” and other proponents of “bhai-bhai” with Pakistan at-any-cost should persist with inanities. What is left unexplained is how we go on trusting someone who has no idea of what trust and truth means. Civilisationally, our core-beliefs of human conduct and piety contrast sharply.


Indian media plays a mischievous, if not sinister, role in pampering our inveterate enemies.  In studying the causation of the First World War, we have been told that the press played a dangerous role in Europe by unleashing a campaign of national rivalry and imperial greed. In contemporary India, the majority of the media are in fact molly-coddling Pakistan by repeatedly projecting it as a normal state whose ruling class is open to sensible suggestions and sensitive to our traumas and worries. They superficially argue that we all belong to the same culture (which the Muslims rejected in the quest for Pakistan) and many (Hindu) Indians are fond of kebabs and qawali! For them, no lesson from the hard facts of history and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism can shatter this self-induced mirage.


One media report sought to blow up a non-issue – an invitation to our Air Force Attaché to the ISI Officers’ Mess in Islamabad – in May as a great signal of bonhomie. If the Pakistani establishment which includes the ISI is rightly held guilty of continuing with an unabated policy of hostility towards India, then the only course available to our Mission was to prohibit officials from accepting their invitation. When the whole world is pointing fingers towards Islamabad as the major source of Islamic terror, there was no need on the part of the Indian Government to permit hobnobbing with any such outfit. In the process, Pakistan brushed off some of the taint of a “criminal enterprise” which it had justly acquired, and all due to the casual attitude of an effete government, always in thrall of the Islamic ummah.


Last September, the Indian mission showed its folly by inviting the ISI chief to its most important religio-social outreach programme – the Iftar party! It would be interesting to know from our MEA babus how our mission officials were treated at the Dusshera (Bijoya Dashmi) and Diwali festival by Islamabad and its mission in Chanakya Puri.


By now the almost daily violation of the cease-fire agreement by Pakistan or killing of our soldiers and men by their regular or irregular armed bandits has ceased to cause noticeable concern to authorities in New Delhi. After all, how does the tragic fate of the likes of late Col. Neeraj Sood impact the conscience of our ruling class and its “expert advisers”.


We still remain unaware of the follow-up being pursued by the Government regarding an Indian soldier killed and two injured in Liberia by a Pakistani army officer on 8 June 2010. By now the reports of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) into that incident might have reached the MEA. Is the Government of India getting ready to extradite the guilty Pakistani officer and secure adequate compensation for the foul deed? According to our own media, the Pakistan officer’s criminal act was caused by an alleged verbal provocation by the Indian soldier. Which means there will be no such move by an effete South Block, which accords top priority to catering to the needs of the likes of Ottavio Quattrocchi and Warren Anderson.


For Pakistan, mere verbal provocation justifies murder. For India, millions of provocations since the Arab invasion of Sindh are trifles which call for quiet acquiescence.


Any other response, absolutely normal for any other victim-state, is far off the agenda of our rulers. It is crystal clear that Pakistan tests the water by such unprovoked and heinous acts, and more particularly immediately before and after such “earth-shaking” dialogues take place amidst much contrived hopefulness. Timid response by New Delhi merely emboldens Pakistan to pursue the policy of hate and destruction.


Post-dialogue, Pakistan did it again by engineering the on-going anti-India campaign in the Kashmir Valley, violating the cease-fire and killing our men and ruling out any restrictions on the highly inflammatory speeches by Hafeez Saeed, a mastermind of the Mumbai massacre. Its Foreign Minister went on to say, rather jocularly, that Pakistan being a democracy has freedom of expression as in India! “There are people with extremist views in both India and Pakistan. And there is nothing you can do about it.” He added, “the positive thing is that the views of extremist elements do not reflect that of the majority opinion, either in India or in Pakistan”. So the Pakistani Foreign Minister puts India and Pakistan in the same category as far their record of tolerance of the other goes.


Not many in our ruling class would ever remind their counterparts in Pakistan that the minorities in this ‘Holy Land” have been reduced to 2% from 23%, whereas the population of Muslims in India has increased from 10% to 13% since 1947. Moreover, India has been at the receiving end of a millennium-old Islamic terrorism of which Pakistan is a concrete manifestation.


Islamabad further rubbished India’s claim that enough was not being done regarding the culprits of Mumbai 2008 attack as “presumptuous”. Pakistani non response and India’s passivity makes the Mumbai massacre look more like a tenancy dispute where the victim  has to go on suffering endlessly for an ever-elusive justice.


Our opinion-makers, which include many victims of religious cleansing from Pakistan, must remember that Pakistan is not guilty of Mumbai alone, but many more massacres, at least since 1947, even if do not go further back in time. It is not the use of Pakistani soil alone, but the very ideology of Pakistan, and substantial resources readily provided, which is responsible for these outrages. It is absurd to believe that in a highly regimented and Jihadi polity like Pakistan, the State is innocent altogether. Democracy or no democracy, Pakistan is not amenable to reason and humanism. It must be made to pay for the crime it has committed against humanity.


Coming back to Europe after the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, we can see how the concerned governments moved once the culprits and their sponsors were identified. In between, the language used in the Serbian press also became a major irritant, and then, as in Pakistan now, its Prime Minister Pasitch took the line that it was unable to prevent the anti-Austrian writings in Serbia as their constitution guaranteed “complete freedom of the press”. Austria, the victim, declared war on Serbia on 28 July – after just thirty days.


The big question is – do our rulers learn from History?


The author teaches History at the University of Delhi, Delhi

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