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OPINION

Jihad and Dialog - Can't Run Parallel
J. N. RAINA

To talk or not to talk; that is the problem, facing India. In the first instance, what led New Delhi to soften its stand and show extra anxiety to begin a dialogue with Pakistan, which is unwilling and persistently resisting the demand to destroy its terrorist infrastructure directed against India? That India has even shown willingness to ‘reshape’ its policy vis-à-vis Pakistan is very much clear. Also clear is the fact that India has thus far failed to judge the ‘conduct’ of its neighbour.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari that he has been mandated to tell him that Pakistan territory should not be used for terrorism against India. How is Pakistan concerned with the Indian mandate, which was already there? A Prime Minister cannot move without people’s mandate.

What has been the response of Zardari to the Prime Minister’s ‘dramatic’ message? Zardari was not prepared to listen to such ‘curt’ message. He was surprised. Pakistan will never move unless directed by the Big Brother. And why should the U S do so, which has a vested interest in prolonging unrest in South Asia? Zardari’s voice has no perceptible weight. His government’s assurances to India to take action against the perpetrators of 26\11 have not yielded any result.

The Mumbai carnage has created a chill in India’s relationship with Pakistan, because never before so far such a terrible mayhem had happened. The dialogue between the two nations was continuing somewhat smoothly till then. Now what has changed to restart negotiations, and under what circumstances and new guarantees? What compelled Manmohan Singh to rely upon Pakistan afresh?

That Manmohan Singh has put Pakistan on the ‘terrorist test’---a new term coined by the UPA government—will however, augur well. The Prime Minister has agreed to give more time to Islamabad to take action against anti-India militants based in Pakistan. When our Prime Minister delivered his ‘sermon’ to Zardari, the latter’s just comment was ‘bear with me’ and give Pakistan more time to deal with the ‘menace’ of terrorism.

Even duffs can understand what Zardari conveyed to India. He simply wanted to pass on the message that he has ‘difficulties’ in controlling terrorism, directed against India. Indirectly, however, he accepted the guilt.

Pakistan is facing a catch-22 situation. If Zardari’s government can fight a ‘grim’ battle against Pakistani Taliban, why shirk from applying the same methodology to other terrorist groups waging ‘jihad’ in Kashmir? Pakistan looks askance at such a joint military operation simultaneously against Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba. Perhaps Pakistan wants to keep the LeT in ‘reserve’ ---something for the road--- to keep the Kashmir cauldron boiling.

A stern message should have been delivered to Zardari that no dialogue is possible unless terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and elsewhere are completely destroyed. In fact, this is what Foreign Minister S M Krishna had earlier conveyed when he ruled out any resumption of talks with Pakistan unless it took ‘concrete’ measures to curb terror, emanating from its territory. Terrorism and talks cannot go together. The topmost priority should be given to elimination of terrorism from the soil of Pakistan.

Manmohan Singh was happy that Zardari did not mention Kashmir. But he should have been told to buzz off from PoK, which is an integral part of India. Pakistan is adamant that there cannot be any preconditions for engagement between the two countries. Manmohan Singh, it appears, has bowed down to the wishes of the US Administration, which tries to nudge India not only to continue negotiations with Pakistan, but also to demilitarize the Line of Control. Demilitarization of Kashmir is no solution. There cannot be ‘soft borders’, given the belligerent attitude of Pakistan.

Pakistan has virtually become a ‘colony’ of Americans. It has asked the U S to ‘write off’ Pakistan’s debt to the U S, which stands at $ 1.55 billion. It is now seeking enhanced armaments, to be used against India. There is no end to trouble from Pakistan. LeT has vowed to continue ‘Kashmir jihad’. Pakistan has been infiltrating hundreds of mujahideen into Jammu and Kashmir. Is it expected that Pakistan will crush them in the manner they deal with Taliban and Al Qaeda.

When the LeT chief Hafiz Saeed was released from ‘house arrest’ Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani issued an irritating statement, decrying Indian ‘occupying forces’ in Kashmir. Zardari will never act against jihadi groups meant for Kashmir.

For Gilani, the Kashmir issue is the be-all and end-all for Pakistan. Gilani and his ilk should be told in no uncertain terms that India is not a banana republic. Much water has flowed down the Jhelum since 1947. According to noted journalist M J Akbar “Kashmir problem was solved on January 1, 1948, the day India and Pakistan froze their troops along a Cease Fire Line recognized by the United Nations.” The CFL was converted into the Line of Control (LoC) by dint of the Shimla Agreement. It was unofficially endorsed by then Pakistan Premier Z A Bhutto, who was later hanged

Intriguingly enough, the U S Administration has the temerity of blowing hot and cold vis-à-vis India, to suit its purpose. While officially the U S wants to distance itself from the Kashmir issue, it pushes the two countries for a bilateral discussion. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns has said that ‘any resolution of Kashmir has to take into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.’ India should have rebuffed him for such a diatribe.

If the US has its own problems in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, because of its own misdeeds, they should refrain from giving pinpricks to India. Their aim is to placate Pakistan and a section of the Kashmiri separatists. If the separatists want a stable Pakistan and save it from savagery, they should shun the path of violence for the sake of Pakistan and join the mainstream of national life. They should understand that the Americans have their own axe to grind. They should tell Pakistan to forget Kashmir and mind their own business and save Pakistan from further ruin.

In the US, several officials and analysts have openly questioned Pakistan’s territorial claim on Kashmir, when “‘it (Pakistan) is barely able to maintain sovereignty within its existing boundaries”. But Barack Obama wants to keep the embers alive in Kashmir. That is why there is a paradigm shift in his foreign policy with regard to India.



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