The past few days there has been a chorus of another diplomatic triumph, a ‘milestone’ and a ‘breakthrough’ of ‘historic’ proportions in the Indo-Pak relations. The reason behind this ecstasy is the outcome of a meeting the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, had with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, in the Russian resort town of Ufa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO) meeting.
Yes, ‘breakthrough’ it was, but only if seen in the light of the fact that till days before the Ufa meeting, a host of NDA ministers and BJP leaders had ruled out talks with the petulant western neighbour unless it gave up its policy of exporting terror to India. Can anyone seriously believe that Pakistan has decided to renounce its pernicious anti-India policy that it has been pursuing right from the time the nation was carved out in August 1947?
More to the point is the fact that whatever the civilian government in Islamabad says or does about India, the final arbiter in the matter is the Pakistani army, headed by an implacable anti-India ‘hero’ perched at the GHQ in Rawalpindi. The Pakistani Khakis have not changed their policy for over 60 years and will not do so in the future, given their paranoiac mindset.
Almost a year ago, the Modi government had cancelled foreign secretary -level talks with Pakistan after its High Commissioner in Delhi had called pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leaders from Kashmir for talks. It was the Pakistani way of telling India that it considers the separatists in Kashmir as the lone voice of the people of Jammu and Kashmir—a stand rejected by successive governments in New Delhi. The Indian stand has not changed.
The cancellation of talks between India and Pakistan was criticized by many but the government of India stood its ground, maintaining that ‘terror and talks’ cannot go together. The Pakistani response was not only stepping up venomous anti-India propaganda but frequent infiltration bids across the Line of Control (LoC) and violation of the ceasefire line along the international border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. A large number of Indian soldiers and civilians have been killed by Pakistani shelling on the border.
Pakistan army never stopped pushing terrorists trained by its ISI through Kashmir by providing them cover of fire by its para-military forces. Two Indian Border Security Force (BSF) jawans had died in two days just before the Ufa talks. What makes the Indian government believe that after Ufa, Pakistan will stop pushing terrorists across to India when it believes in ‘bleeding India through thousand cuts’? There is no lowering of animus towards India because Pakistan calls itself as the anti-thesis of India.
The whole of India is incensed by the manner in which the Pakistani government has been stalling action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, particularly its mastermind, Zakir Rehman Lakhvi, who roams freely in the land of the pure, as does another high priest of terrorism, Hafiz Saeed. Much has been said about the fact that Nawaz Sharif has agreed to push the trial of the Mumbai attack perpetrators and the trial of Lakhvi will be speeded up. This has become an old, repetitive strain.
The more important reason for disbelieving Pakistan is that no court in Pakistan will dare pronounce an adverse judgment against men like Lakhvi who are considered ‘assets’ and have a huge following among fundamentalists and ‘patriotic’ Pakistanis. Both counsels and judges who were supposed to proceed with the prosecution of the Mumbai perpetrators have been quitting because they fear for their lives.
The optimism in India that things will be different now is hard to accept. The Modi government has agreed to provide ‘additional’ inputs to the Pakistanis to help them proceed with the prosecution of Lakhvi. Is the Indian government so naïve that it believes that its new set of evidence and information will really force Pakistan to prosecute the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack? If Pakistan was sincere it would not have rejected the tons of evidence that India had supplied in the past.
A ‘breakthrough’ in India-Pakistan relations will remain an illusion in the present atmosphere in which Pakistan has embarked upon a hysterical anti-India propaganda. The Pakistanis believe that they are going to outstrip India economically and militarily as a result of the recent Chinese commitment of injecting $46 billion into their economy, via connectivity projects across Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and the heartland of their Punjab. The Chinese largesse has ‘frustrated’ India, according to them. The Chinese have bolstered their spirits by blocking efforts to impose sanctions on the terrorists named by the UN body but enjoying all freedom in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Not that it is a new practice, but of late Pakistan has redoubled efforts to show India as ‘sponsor of terror’ and all the ills it faces. Thus, all terror attacks inside Pakistan are sponsored by India’s RAW, as is the insurgency in Balochistan.
Not just, terror and militancy, India is also blamed for all the natural disasters that occur in Pakistan. The recent spell of heat wave in Karachi was blamed on Indian thermal plants! The wave of floods that have hit Pakistan is again India’s doing!! These ridiculous charges are not made by the loony fringe alone but by officials, ministers and bureaucrats also. One Pakistani ‘scholar’ has just released a book to ‘prove’ that India is behind the natural disasters in his country. The book release was attended by senior officials and fellow ‘scholars’.
Laughable as these Pakistani claims may be, it will be equally laughable if India dismisses them as inconsequential and irrelevant to the task of improving bilateral ties. The purpose of the high voltage and sustained anti-India campaign in Pakistan is to engrain in the minds of the ordinary Pakistani a feeling of utter hatred and animosity towards “Hindu” India. The decades of efforts in that direction will not change the mindset of the Pakistanis as a result of a Modi-Nawaz conversation at a ‘neutral venue. In such a situation, it is difficult to believe that in ‘breakthrough’ of ‘historic’ proportions was achieved in Ufa.