Saturday, August 24, 2013

Avoid Peace Trap set by Pakistan

Hindustan Times, 22 Aug 2013

In India, the debate over our Pakistan Policy swings between two extremes of jingoism and over-enthusiasm affording us little opportunity to examine on merits the peace proposals which are conceptualized through track two diplomatic channels.

While during track two dialogue Indian side has repeatedly rejected Pakistan’s proposals of “redrawing of borders” and “joint administration of Kashmir valley”, the idea of making the LoC “irrelevant” has fascinated many in India.

It has often been argued that India-Pak peace process shall be de-linked from terrorism as various terrorist groups operating from Pak soil have vested interests in sabotaging it. Though there may be some truth in this but without going into debate surrounding this argument we shall take it up on practical terms. Making borders irrelevant for achieving peace in Kashmir involves withdrawal of both the armies from LoC and relaxation of restrictions on free movement of people across the LoC. Such a scenario will be disadvantageous to India as long as terrorist infrastructure remains intact on Pakistan’s side of LoC. Pakistan will be able to pursue its strategic aims in Kashmir valley by unleashing the jehadi machine it controls as well as by stoking trouble through separatists in Kashmir valley who are increasingly working in synchronization with ISI’s policies and openly sharing stage with jehadists like Hafiz Saeed.

Out of the four wars Pakistan fought with India, three broke out due to Pakistan’s attempts to militarily redraw its borders with India, either directly or through its proxies. While in 1947 Pakistan pushed tribals into Kashmir valley, in 1965 Pak Army itself came dressed as ‘Rajakars’. Kargil war also was a Pak Army- Mujahideen joint operation to shift the LoC. Even in Siachen we had a close shave in 1984 when an intelligence tip-off alerted us just in time about Pakistani plans to occupy the glacier in a Kargil kind of perfidy.

As all these attempts failed badly, Gen Musharraf started to lure India into this “irrelevant border” trap. Indian leadership encouraged by deescalating militancy in Kashmir and fall in cross-border infiltration attempts after 2003 ceasefire has been responsive to this proposal.

has always tried to break free of Shimla Agreement which Zulfikar Bhutto had described to be as humiliating to Pakistan as Treaty of Versailles was for Germany. After Kargil debacle and in post 9/11 conditions Pakistan’s Kashmir policy rests on stoking internal unrest in Kashmir and somehow securing some concessions from India on diplomatic table which in effect neutralizes the Shimla Agreement and allow it to create a 1948 kind of situation. Therefore while Pak leadership makes all the right noises on Indo-Pak talks, it continues to maintain the terrorist infrastructure aimed against India on its soil.

The reliability of diplomatic accords which we sign with Pakistan has always been poor. Pakistan has always flouted Shimla agreement, buried the Lahore Joint Statement in Kargil and continues to flout Jan 2004 joint statement. Pakistan will miss no opportunity to exploit an irrelevant LoC by pushing in jehadis, stoking secessionism and again calling for international intervention.

Dismantling of terrorist infrastructure on Pak soil must remain necessary pre-condition of any meaningful and sustainable dialogue. Lasting peace like an embryo must pass through sequential stages. Any attempt to change the sequence is sure to result in disaster.

(The writer is a national security analyst.)

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