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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2527

“Trust deficit” to “vision deficit”

By Sarla Handoo - Syndicate Features

After “trust deficit”, a term coined by the Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz, it now is “vision deficit”, a rejoinder by the Indian Foreign Secretary Mr. Shiv Shanker Menon. At a function in Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi, he put the blame for slow movement in Indo-Pak peace talks to what he called vision deficit. At the center of his theory was the lack of realization by Pakistan that unless it puts an end to cross-border terrorism, peace talks can move forwards only in fits and start which is not going to serve the mega purpose for which the process has been started.

On his part, Mr. Menon made it clear that India has been doing every thing “out of the box” which General Musharraf has been talking about. It includes more people-to-people contacts through better communication facilities, more rail and road links, transit points and increased trade relations. This will lead to creating an atmosphere congenial for moving step by step to resolve outstanding issues, including the one, which Pakistan considers as the “core” issue.

But the simple logic does not seem to cut much ice with Pakistan. The number of infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir has again increased in 2006 after a little fall in 2005. Violence is unabated in the State, though not at the level it used to be earlier.

Look at the statement Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz made in New during the recent SAARC summit, linking improved trade relations between the two countries with the resolution of Kashmir issue. This poured cold water on otherwise hopeful and promising bilaterals the leaders of the two countries had on the sidelines of the Summit.

And what happened at the meeting of the Defence Secretaries in Islamabad held later to work out the details of redeployment of forces in the Siachen glacier and resolve the Sir Creek issue. Pakistani representative walked out of the meeting protesting against India’s insistence that Pak authorities authenticate the positions held in the Saltoro Ridge, before a pull back can take place. Pakistan agreed to only “record” Indian positions and not authenticate them. Islamabad has an apprehension that it’s authentication will give a legal claim to India over the territory which it thinks has been annexed by India illegally. Delhi, on the other hand, is not prepared to withdraw from the Saltoro heights, which it had occupied by defeating Pakistani forces in 1984. It also is not prepared to forgo its legal claim on Siachen.

Both the countries are clear that the present disengagement of troops is only a temporary measure to prevent the sufferings of the armed forces of the two countries, pending a final demarcation of the border. This can be done by extending the Actual Ground Line Position, on the basis of 1949 and 1972 agreements.

The two countries have been losing a number of jawans on the highest battlefield of the world, more due to severe weather conditions than actual warfare.

And all this happened after Pakistani leaders gave ample indication during the SAARC Summit in New Delhi that a way out would be found to the authentication issue. The Pakistani newspapers reported that Pakistan was willing to authenticate the positions before the forces are withdrawn. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too was hopeful of a positive outcome. Unfortunately, Pakistan has a track record of stabbing in the back whenever and wherever it can. The first such instance was the attack it launched in Kashmir, soon after the partition of the country in 1947 with the help of raiders. It, however, miserably failed to achieve the goal as the people of Kashmir rose against the invaders under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah with sticks and bare hands.

The fact is that India still remains sceptical about Pakistan’s intentions. What happens if Pakistani troops reoccupy the positions on the Saltoro Ridge after the Indian troops vacate them? New Delhi has enough reason to nurse such apprehensions after Pakistan launched a clandestain attack in the Kargil region even as (then) Prime Minister Vajpayee was on a ‘bus yatra’ to Lahore to carry forward the peace process.

And what happened after the devastating earthquake that had hit most parts of POK in 2005. The relief funds that came from across the world were diverted to strengthen the militant organizations active in the area.

The cooperation extended by Pakistan in locating and retrieving the two Indian pilots of the helicopter which crashed in the Siachen area last week, was therefore a pleasant whiff of fresh air in the otherwise contaminated atmosphere. The areas of such cooperation need to be enhanced.

Clearly, Pakistan has to do a lot to improve the “vision deficit” Mr. Shiv Shanker Menon is talking about. Unless the two countries start trusting each other and demonstrate a clear vision for the future, peace efforts may go down the drain, yet again. And if that happens, nothing can be more unfortunate for the two countries.

- Syndicate Features -

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