Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pakistan's normal etiquette towards India

NEW DELHI: Shah Mehmood Qureshi really couldn't complain about S M Krishna's phone etiquette. During the day-long negotiations, at several times, the entire Indian delegation was left alone in Qureshi's room in the Pakistan foreign office, while the Pakistan delegation stepped out to consult their bosses. In any diplomatic negotiation, it's perfectly normal for officials to stay in touch with their headquarters. Therefore, there is complete mystification in the Indian camp about Qureshi's bellicosity, said sources familiar with the Islamabad.

In the run-up to the talks, the two sides had worked on the confidence-building measures that would be announced during the visit. These included a set of meetings between commerce secretaries (to kickstart trade), water resources secretaries (to look for cooperation in this area) even parliamentarians to meet each other. With this, India was going to indicate that it was ready for launching the full spectrum of dialogue. A meeting of surveyors general would also have been scheduled to resolve the Sir Creek issue.

But this would take time, because after Mumbai, India wants Pakistan to take some credible action on terrorism, which would prompt further opening up by India.

But Pakistan, said sources, would have none of it. The Indian delegation went in the talks believing that the agreements were a done deal, when Qureshi sprang a "roadmap" on them, insisting that talks on Kashmir, peace and security and Siachen should happen simultaneously. They wanted a calendar of events culminating in the foreign ministers' next meeting in Delhi at the end of the year.

As Pakistan PM Yousuf Gilani's remarks on Saturday made clear, the Pakistani side took Manmohan Singh's assurance that "all issues would be discussed" more literally than the Indian side. Gilani said, "Pakistan wants the continuation of dialogue with India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured me that all issues will be discussed." Qureshi said, "We are very serious about normalising our relations with India."

India was not ready to take the big jump into the core issues just yet, without Pakistan taking any action on terrorism. Certainly, on issues like Siachen, the Indian government was not yet ready to take the plunge.

Given the Pakistani objections, the Indian side even worked on some drafting language that took into account positions on both sides. By scheduling a foreign secretaries' meeting they hoped to take care of two of the three issues -- J&K and peace and security.

But this was not acceptable to the Pakistani minister, who took the my-way-or-the-highway road. In retrospect, what Pakistan understood from resumption of dialogue and what India understood were very different, what foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao called a "difference in perception".

For the Indian side, the signal was that Pakistan did not want to negotiate. The reason remains a bit of a mystery. It could be that the Headley revelations about ISI involvement in Mumbai was the straw that broke the camel's back in the Pakistan army establishment and they found the home secretary's revelations to be an excuse. Or it could be that Pakistan thought that pushing India to talk on Kashmir when there was ongoing turmoil in the state was the right thing to do.

Whatever, it has brought back memories of the 2001 Agra summit, which also ran aground when Pervez Musharraf wanted to put Kashmir as the "core" issue in a joint statement and refused to budge.

Then, as now, India's intelligence on the inner workings of the Pak army mind remains sketchy. And that is always a problem.

The way forward is less clear, though evidently India will have to fix the breach, even if Pakistan doesn't. Krishna and Qureshi are scheduled to meet next week in Kabul during the peace conference. Whether they decide to move on will be watched carefully. The Indian proposals on resumption of dialogue are still valid, say sources. So if Pakistan wants to pick up on them they can.
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Twitter less, work more, all will be forgivenReaders' opinions (83)Post a CommentSort by:Newest|Oldest|Recommended (41)|Most Discussed|Agree|DisagreePK (US)
18/07/2010 at 07:04 pm
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Offensiveppsahluwalia (USA)
18/07/2010 at 07:01 pm
Talks,talks,rhetorics,dreams for normalization of relations,core-issues,JK or others-well we have all that for a long time of decades,nothing would happen ever-I am not a pessimist,but look at the history of over 63 years,Pak wars,and constant bleeding India through Paki-sponsored terrorism;sorry no solution;you bet. One solution is possible.Freez all those burning-issues,like JK for about 30-40 years in a cold storage.Let the old-foxies-die hard disappear from this Earth-there may be some hope across the tunnel
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Why should terrorism emnating from Pakistan towards India be not one of the core issues, specifically when Pak military establishment is involved in it? If Pakistan wants to talk about Kashmir, they should first vacate their occupied Kashmir, pull all non-Kashmiri militants out of PoK and let Kashmiris decide on their future.
18/07/2010 at 05:51 pm
If we saw their reply, as if they only to committed to
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Offensiveramakrsihna tumuluri (US)
18/07/2010 at 05:46 pm
So after so much of waiting what did the spineless India Govt achieve ? US works for its interests and leaves you to fend for yourself. If a Nation of 120 b lacks courage to teach a lesson to an aberration called Islmaic Pakistan created from its own loins
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