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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2708

Is it really a new dawn for Indo-Pak relations?

By Sarla Handoo - Syndicate Features

There is a saying that a blind man was once asked to describe how an elephant looks like. He went on depicting its contours and the structure, depending on the area his hand could reach as he began to feel the animal. Indo- Pak relations seem to be falling in the same category with a lot many blind people perceiving it the same way.

There is therefore no dearth of people welcoming the outcome of the meeting between the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Pakistan President Gen. Musharraf in Havana on the margins of the Non- Aligned summit. There is also no shortage of those who have been equally critical of the outcome, particularly the planned the joint initiative with Pakistan against terrorism.

Look at the contrasts in the statements of General Musharraf and Dr. Manmohan Singh just before they left their respective capitals for Havana. General Musharraf said Pakistan has an unwavering commitment towards Kashmir and that his government would continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmiris for resolution of the issue. Shortly after the meet, which optimists have been calling "successful" he spoke in the same spirit before the cameras in Havana saying that Kashmir is central to Indo-Pak relations. Does the Joint statement mean any difference to Pakistan?

Before his departure from Delhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, unless Pakistan addresses the issue of terrorism in a "substantive way" it would be difficult to carry forward the dialogue process. At his Mumbai press meet soon after the 7/11 blasts, he had said that a terrorist act of this magnitude cannot be carried out with out support from across the border. Compare it with his Havana statement in which his line was Pakistan too has been a victim of terrorism. What about his belief that Pakistan was a sponsor of terrorism! The Foreign Secretary designate Mr. Shiv Shanker Menon also tried to underplay Pakistan’s involvement in 7/11 blasts by saying that it was still being investigated.

And here comes a report that the Anti -Terrorism Squad in Mumbai claims to have "conclusive evidence" of Pakistan’s involvement in the latest Mumbai blasts. New Delhi perhaps believes that through the proposed joint mechanism, of which no one knows as yet how it works, it can raise the issues of extradition of wanted terrorists now roaming freely in Pakistan. It also thinks that it can get vital intelligence inputs from Pakistan about the terrorist activities in the region. But, even for a layman it sounds nothing more than being naive.

Pakistan has a track record of moving out of commitments to serve its interests. There is already a Joint Working Group on Terror and Drug Trafficking with Pakistan and it has simply not worked.

One does not know what transpired between the two leaders during the one- on- one meet. But judging by what they told the media the new initiative seems to be blatantly impracticable. It is like a thief and the victim looking jointly into a theft case.

It is being claimed that the attempt is to narrow down the trust deficit between the two countries. True, that is the need of the hour. Unless the two countries begin to trust each other and raise the level of confidence, no move to bring them closer can succeed.

The crucial question, however, is whether Pakistan is sincere. If it is, why is it linking the vexed Kashmir issue with the resolution of all other issues like Sir Creek, Siachen, Tulbul and a host of others on which the two countries have differences? Why does not it allow resolving issues one by one so that a conducive atmosphere is created to deal with the Kashmir issue, which, unfortunately has been getting complicated over the years.

In the post Havana meeting, there is an air of optimism. The dialogue process has been resumed; the Foreign Secretaries will meet soon and Dr. Manmohan Singh is to visit Islamabad in due course of time. But has the crux of the problem been recognized--- that terrorism is a shared threat to both India and Pakistan. If so, they have to work together to eliminate it. So far there is no such indication from Pakistan. Let alone Osama, what about Dawood, the training camps for terrorists, continued infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir and terror attacks in rest of India.

Yes, Gen Musharraf did say at the NAM Meet that "finger pointing at each other will not serve anyone" Whether it is mere rhetoric or a change of heart it is too early to say. Can we expect Pakistan to change overnight? Even the best of optimists will remain sceptical until Pakistan demonstrates its sincerity by delivering on its promises.

- Syndicate Features -

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