INDIA’S NO TO US MEDIATION: PAKISTAN SEES A WEAK INDIA!

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is modified to reflect the dateline continuity.

Pakistan reacted on expected lines on India’s snub to the US on its offer to mediate between India and Pakistan. According to a recent Dunya News report, Pakistan Foreign Office reacted saying that the Indian stand once again proves India’s ‘weak’ position on the Kashmir issue.

According to the report, Nafees Zakaria, spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Office said that ‘the behaviour of the neighbourly state was disappointing, adding that the weak position of India compelled it to quit Kashmir talks’. “Whenever the United States or any other global power asked to mediate the talks, India backed away,” the report quoted him saying. He added to his statement the favourite Pakistani rant of India sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan to it.

Nikki Haley, the Indian origin United States Ambassador the United Nations, had created a storm by saying that the Donald Trump administration was concerned about tension between India and Pakistan and would not wait for something to happen to intervene. She said that the US might offer to mediate between India and Pakistan to ‘de-escalate’ tension and that even President Donald Trump might come forward to play an active role.

India readily dismissed Nikki Haley’s offer saying it was India’s official position that the Kashmir issue could only be resolved through bilateral efforts and the ball was in Pakistan’s court to resume the dialogue process. It has been India’s demand, especially after the Pathankot airbase attack by Pakistan based JeM terrorists in January 2016, that terror and talks cannot go together and to resume the dialogue, Pakistan should stop sponsoring terror in India.

India’s official response was brief and specific, “Government’s position for bilateral redressal of all India-Pakistan issues in an environment free of terror and violence hasn’t changed. We of course expect international community and organisations to enforce international mechanisms and mandates concerning terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond.”

Also, experts dismissed Nikki Haley’s offer saying it might not represent the official US position on the issue. Subsequent US administrations have kept the Indian sensitivity in mind and have desisted from offering direct mediation between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.

In fact, during his campaign days, Trump had indicated that he would seek Indian help to keep ‘unstable Pakistan’s nukes’ in check. He had also said that Pakistan had double dealt the US in spite of receiving huge aid from the US. He reiterated his stand on Pakistan even after he won the US polls when he tweeted to slam Pakistan in December, “Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend.”

Pakistan’s ruling establishment, in fact, survives on anti-India propaganda. Pakistan has no serious standing in the world. For many in the world community, it is just another country. For major global powers of the free world, it is a country with ‘unstable nukes’ as US President Donald Trump says or it is country with countless terror havens, as the world community generally believes.

So, there is immense international pressure, in spite of Pakistan’s big brother China’s backing, an autocratic economic and military giant. To counter this pressure, the Pakistani power elite does what it has been doing – drawing its sanctity back home from anti-India propaganda. The Pakistani power elite has created a fallacy in the country that India is Pakistan’s sworn enemy and they want its populace to remain trapped in that fallacy and this statement by Pakistan’s FS is just among those propaganda moments.

©SantoshChaubey

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WHY JIT JUNKING PATHANKOT TERROR ATTACK WILL BE A BAD IDEA FOR PAKISTAN!

What is routine in India-Pakistan ties has reportedly happened with the reports saying the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has refuted India’s charges and the Pathankot airbase attack, in fact, was stage managed by India to malign Pakistan in the world community.

That is on the line how Pakistan behaves and therefore has no surprise or shock value.

What was unusual, and in fact, remarkable – was Narendra Modi’s decision to engage Pakistan again after the bitterness on Pakistan High Commission’s insistence on inviting J&K separatists that rendered India-Pakistan ties hostile for months – with verbal rhetoric, escalated tension in capitals, Delhi and Islamabad, and cross-border firings.

With today’s development, that says the Pakistan’s Pathankot JIT has rubbished all Indian claims of any Pakistani hand in the Pathankot airbase attack, there are now valid questions being raised on the diplomatic coup that Narendra Modi seemed to have achieved with his unscheduled stopover at Lahore while coming back from Afghanistan on December 25 last year.

The dramatic event changed the bilateral course and the news agenda about India-Pakistan ties. Though there were developments like the National Security Advisors of both countries meeting in a third country and some meetings of officials of both countries, the way perspectives to look at things in Indo-Pak context changed, was visibly different after this visit.

Border skirmishes, if not stopped, came down significantly. Verbal rhetoric was toned down. The escalated tension between both neighbours looked giving way to a thaw towards a normalizing relation with Sushma Swaraj visiting Pakistan for a SAARC meet and talks of Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor, coming to India to take forward the Indo-Pak dialogue.

And then – the Pathankot airbase attack happened – on the intervening night of January 1-2.

The terror attack that killed seven Indian security personnel and four terrorists lasted for three days. It was proved beyond doubt, with the evidence available, that the terrorists had come from Pakistan and Pakistan even showed sincerity in acting on evidence India provided – with Nawaz Sharif forming a team to probe the incident and the reported crackdown on the terror group responsible for the attack, JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammad) and its members, including JeM chief Masood Azhar though it was never officially confirmed.

That was the first clearly visible sign of Pakistan backtracking. Many flip-flops on Pathankot incident probe in Pakistan then ensued. The almost certain dates of India-Pakistan NSA level talks were postponed with India making the talks conditional with the progress made by Pakistan in the Pathankot probe. Pakistan also continued with its audacity on hosting the J&K separatists to the Pakistan High Commission.

Then came Pakistan’s proposal to send its JIT to India to see the evidence-set to further the probe. India accepted it and the Pakistan JIT team was in India for five days (March 27 to April 1) to carry out its investigation, ascertain facts, and collect evidence that was needed in the Pakistan courts.

Now that the JIT is back in Pakistan, everyone in India is desperately waiting for what comes next.

Obviously, the logical extension would be, from India’s perspective – the JIT should come with a status report that would speed-up the probe there in Pakistan.

But what about designs of all stakeholders involved?

Pakistan’s Army and ISI (a JIT member was from ISI) would never accept Pakistan’s hand and would do all to shield JeM and Masood Azhar. Civilian government of Pakistan would want to toe a more disciplined approach given the international interest and pressure. The political opposition in Pakistan would obviously take the side of the Pakistan’s Army.

In India, the first preference of everyone would be that all goes well and the Pakistan JIT carries the work ahead by expediting the probe there based on evidence India has provided. But given the Pakistan’s history of backstabbing and backtracking, the groups in India opposed to NDA, BJP and Narendra Modi would see a ‘windfall opportunity’ in catching up on any hostile development and thus the opportunity to corner the Narendra Modi government over failure of a much discussed foreign policy move, something that happened today with the alleged report that the Pakistan JIT had dubbed the Indian version a blatant lie.

For the moment, India and its agencies have done the right thing by not jumping to any conclusion. Even with Pakistan’s dubious history and credentials, we need to wait for any official version from Pakistan and must not go by whatever crap the hysterical media outlets in Pakistan report.

But, if indeed the reports coming out in the Pakistani media about the JIT report are true, then also we should not jump to any such conclusion as seeing it as some ‘impulsive foreign policy move’ by the Narendra Modi government.

Because, after Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover and India’s permission for Pakistan JIT to visit India to see and collect evidence, Pakistan is simply not in a position to junk the Pathankot airbase attack as some stage-managed propaganda attack to malign Pakistan.

The world saw and appreciated Narendra Modi’s Lahore move. The world went to believe the use of Pakistan’s soil in orchestrating attack on Pathankot airbase. The world knows that Pakistan is home to some of the world’s most dreaded groups. The world knows how Pakistan made mockery of 26/11 probe where its non-state actors were involved. The world knows Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan. The world knows how he survived there for years – with the state’s patronage. The world knows JeM is a UN recognized terrorist group and Masood Azhar was freed (swapped) in the 1999 Kandahar hijacking incident. The world knows ISI is more involved in promoting terror groups in India than caring for incessant intelligence failures in Pakistan.

This all has made Pakistan like a failed state in the international community – a state which cannot be trusted. After all, the US did not inform Pakistan before the operation to kill Osama bin Laden fearing leaks.

The world knows how serious India has been with Pakistan, in taking the dialogue process forward, especially after Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover and after India allowed the Pakistan JIT visit in spite of strong opposition in India.

Now any further bravado/sham will further dent Pakistan’s credibility in the International arena as the country has already lost much of its currency after Pakistan it’s exposed patronage of the terror groups including Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network and countless others. And it should also be seen in the context of Narendra Modi’s emphasis on improving ties with the Muslim countries including Pakistan’s supporter nations like Saudi Arabia.

If Pakistan now denies use of its soil and junks the Pathankot terror attack, it will do so at its own peril. Yes, it is an altogether different issue to see if it happens so, then how India plays it out at international platforms.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MASOOD AZHAR DETENTION: WHERE WAS SUSPENSE?

The news that Masood Azhar had been detained in Pakistan in Pathankot terror attack case broke like a sweeping development – taking over all in its awe.

But scratch a little and there is something familiar that worries us as – something that has worried us all in every case where perpetrators are ‘hiding’ at large in Pakistan with a respectable public life.

Unlike Dawood Ibrahim, whose presence Pakistan denies vehemently, such has not been the case with Hafiz Saeed, the LeT and JuD chief, with a US bounty of US$ 10 Million on his head. He is a highly respectable figure in Pakistan. He spews venom against India. He warns Pakistani establishment on speaking even a single word that is pro India. He regularly visits border areas in Pakistan to deliver anti-India ‘sermons’.

And such has not been the case even with Masood Azhar, even if he was an imprisoned terrorist in India who was swapped in the IC814 hijacking episode in 1999. A natural, responsible step by Pakistan would be to hand over Masood Azhar to India – because he would always remain wanted in India – with his past – with his arrest in Sringar in 1995 or his role in 2001 Parliament attack and his conviction in absentia, his role in 2008 Mumbai attacks, or in different terror attacks in India.

But India must not forget that Pakistan did not hand over Masood to America even after intense pressure in journalist Daniel Pearl murder case.

So, Pakistan is not going to detain him or arrest him for India – that is like daydreaming.

Also, it was said (or alleged) that Masood was taken in ‘protective custody’. Now what is this ‘protective custody’? You don’t need to go far and deep to know what this term legally means in Pakistan than a simple Google search.

A Google search with ‘protective custody’ returns with loads of pages saying ‘Osama bin Laden was in protective custody in Pakistan’. That is more than enough to tell us what it means. Osama enjoyed a safe life in Pakistan for years, in its military backyard – till one fine day – when America disrupted and destroyed the related ‘collective designs’.

Today’s rumour that spread like wildfire may well be intended at creating atmospherics for India-Pakistan FS level talks – that both countries are in a trap to look committed to – after Narendra Modi’s surprise Lahore visit on Nawaz Sharif’s birthday on December 25 last year.

Anyway, we can expect that something good will come out from this dilemma – that it will not work as some ‘entrapment’- because both countries are looking closest to their shared and distinctive realities now.

If Pakistan needs a ‘Pakistan’ that goes ahead on the path of development, away from a very certain scenario of nation’s disintegration, it must maintain peace with India – because most of its resources, in the situations now, are being absorbed in destabilizing India – something that is nothing but a daydreaming. A peaceful relation with the world’s third largest economy, that is also its neighbour, will give Pakistan the much needed leverage to initiate on the process of nation building.

For India, a peaceful Pakistan and peace at India Pakistan borders would help in developing areas in these conflict zones at par with other parts in the country. And obviously would smoothen the flow of energy resources from ‘energy-rich’ central Asian countries.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA AND PAKISTAN ARE TALKING AGAIN

So, on a non-rhetorical note, India and Pakistan have decided to resume their bilateral dialogue again – that has had a fractured history so far – with many more lows and few, standalone highs.

And away from all pointers of debate and who said what in the past and who did what – it is the best possible option available for both countries – because it suits their populations back homes – two populations that were one before 1947.

It is the best thing that can happen to India and Pakistan – increased people to people to contact – revisiting the shared cultural interests that still define life in every city of India – and a ‘peaceful’ Pakistan can immensely benefit from it.

The present geopolitical balance where economy is the most important parameter to weigh one’s share in the ‘group of most effective voices’ on world affairs, Pakistan is nowhere near to India. India is a major world economy now and is poised to become a global power.

But that only makes for the case that it engages in peace process with Pakistan – to synergise its efforts in building an economy that is already the most preferred destination of every global outfit – and thus building a society that becomes an example. That one is a massive task with long term goals and require decades of continued nation building.

And doing so, engaging with India in the peace process and looking for solutions to the issues that create problems, will ultimately help India – its fledgling economy – increasing radicalization of its society – and its crumbling national integrity.

Even if Pakistan employs all its resources and wages a war till its last remnant , it will not be able to take Kashmir, or for that matter, any other part from India. This realization is already there. The need is to act on it. The need in Pakistan is to utilize the resources for nation building that it is wasting in creating troubles for India – a huge pool of resources that can prove very vital for Pakistani society.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY SHOULD WE BAN THEM?

We want to see India play Pakistan as far as cricket goes. Indians, barring few fanatics, want so, and there is no harm, even ideologically, if we are supposed to play with them in a third country.

Why value Pakistan so much that we are forced, that we are compelled to snap events on our shared cultural heritage, on our shared cultural traits – music, cinema or sports?

In fact, we Indians should happily ignore the fanatic calls or impulsive reactions to ban them – and should enjoy a good musical piece – should relish a good artful cinema work – or should worrying/thrillingly watch every moment of a riveting India-Pakistan cricket rivalry in the field.

That, in fact, should be a major priority factor in India’s ‘shedding Pakistan obsession’ policy.

We need to see Pakistan at best as a small country in our neighbourhood that shares common cultural elements with us. If any reality, in any comparison of India vis-à-vis Pakistan exists, it ends here, at this cultural context.

India had 17.22 crore Muslims according to figures from Census 2011 and Pakistan’s overall population that year was 17.62 crore. And Muslims are just 14.2% of our population – our equal brothers and sisters – assimilated in and contributing to our joint cultural values.

India and Pakistan began their sovereign, independent journeys together. But the similarity ended there. Pakistan is no match for India today. India is a global player while Pakistan is not even a regional power.

And even a Nawaz Sharif meeting Barack Obama this week in Washington or many Pakistan leaders shouting anti-India rants over the top on every possible global platform should be dismissed accordingly.

When they need to cease existing as the focal points of our South Asia policy, why should we care at all about Pakistani artists and sportsmen playing or performing in India?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA SHEDDING ITS ‘PAKISTAN OBSESSION’: PAKISTAN DESPERATELY TRYING TO PROVOKE INDIA

“Narendra Modi contested elections on anti-Pakistan platform and now wants to dictate terms for the dialogue with Pakistan but we will never accept this and we have already conveyed it to New Delhi.” He said Kashmir will be part and parcel of any agenda of talks with India and that the international community has accepted Pakistan’s point of view in this regard. Aziz said that no one could dare to launch any attack inside Pakistan and if anyone did so, he would get a befitting response. He said that Pakistan would not be pressured by Indian threats of an attack at any time, adding that if India even thought of attacking, Pakistan would provide a befitting response.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor, Dawn, September 8, 2014

“If the enemy (read India) ever resorts to any misadventure, regardless of its size and scale – short or long – it will have to pay an unbearable cost.”

“Enduring peace is not possible without a just resolution of Kashmir. The issue can no longer be put on the backburner.”

Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s Army Chief, September 6, 2015

“Undoubtedly Pakistan is a responsible and peaceful nuclear power. Though, we are fully aware of the conspiracies and tactics of the enemies (read India), we desire to have good and peaceful relations with all our neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality. I wish to make it clear that we will protect the sovereignty and security of Pakistan at all cost.”

“Today we are celebrating the golden jubilee of those memorable events, when our brave armed forces not only successfully defended its frontiers but also thwarted the nefarious designs of the enemy (read India).”

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, while speaking on 50th anniversary of 1965 war between India and Pakistan – September 6, 2015

“September 6 is the day of aggression for India and the Day of Defence for Pakistan and with the Grace of Allah, it became the day of victory for Pakistan and the day of defeat for India.”

Pervaiz Rashid, Pakistan’s Information Minister, September 6

These loud claims cap the prevailing sentiments in Pakistan’s ruling establishment, that is, it’s all powerful military, and a political regime that depends on this military for its survival.

As India is finally shedding its ‘Pakistan obsession’, Pakistan’s ruling elite are getting ever more desperate to look for fodders that words of Indian establishment used to provide to lubricate (incite) the ordinary Pakistani mindsets – an anti-India atmosphere that the Pakistan’s ruling class has exploited since the days of partition.

Irrespective of what Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor meant, India, for decades, practiced the policy of getting engaged in ‘below the belt’ verbal wars with Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan outdid India many times on international platforms while spreading falsities and propaganda about Kashmir – not because Pakistan could do it efficiently – but because India’s sluggishness allowed it do so.

India and Pakistan began their sovereign, independent journeys together. But the similarity ended there. Pakistan is no match for India today. India is a global player while Pakistan is not even a regional power. And it has not happened in a year.

But the realization on Indian part, in the ruling establishment of India, came late.

India should (and should have) dismiss (dismissed) Pakistan as a disturbed nation that is (was) trying to divert attention from its internal problems by targeting India – through words – through wars – and proxy war activities like militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and support to terrorism in other parts of India.

Well, Pakistan has been at it for decades. And has failed to make any significant dent – even after waging many wars – that it all lost – including this one in 1965.

India knows it. The world knows it. Pakistan knows it but doesn’t accept it back home.

India was giving undue attention to Pakistan so far. The time is now to realize and move ahead. The time is now to remain silent and act whenever there is any provocation, as is the policy now – inflicting heavy damage whenever Pakistan violates ceasefire (that it does in routine). Destabilizing India and taking J&K from it are beyond Pakistan’s reach. And a growing global stature of India has made things even more difficult for Pakistan.

As India is shedding its ‘Pakistan obsession’, not rushing to react on war-mongering rhetoric by Pakistan’s leaders while replying Pakistan’s armed provocations with twice the force, Pakistan is finding hard to explain back home the failures that are piling up by the day.

Everyone in Pakistan’s ruling establishment is trying hard to provoke India – but India, it seems, is not going to buy the verbal bravado now – or is not going to be trapped there – in a ‘below the belt’ war of words. For Pakistan’s support to armed militancy in J&K and other parts of India – our internal apparatus is strong enough to mitigate hostile developments.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GOOD THAT INDIA IS FINALLY SHEDDING ITS PAKISTAN OBSESSION

When Nawaz Sharif yesterday said that any talks with India ‘sans Kashmir’ were futile, he was only summing up the line of ongoing verbal volleys – by his other ministers.

After (naturally) expecting it – as we are hearing Pakistani leaders of different hues, including Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz – Sharif’s version was only a symbolic summation of how the political establishment of Pakistan once again surrendered before its all powerful army (and therefore its real ruler, the army chief there).

And it is good that we, in India, didn’t reach much into it and decided to stick to our position this time – that the whole Jammu and Kashmir (including Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is our integral part and its society and politics will be governed according to the Indian Constitution – and not what some sidelined separatist leaders like the Hurriyat ones say.

It is good, that, we, as a nation, are finally shedding its Pakistan obsession.

Yes, it is political pragmatism that every nation wants a peaceful neighbourhood, especially with democracies. And, irrespective of intelligence claims and counterclaims, we have valid and worldly reasons to believe that India is not orchestrating unrest in Pakistan. Terrorism and other internal rifts in Pakistan are its own making and Pakistan is paying a heavy price for that – now.

We need to see Pakistan at best as a small country in our neighbourhood that shares common cultural elements with us. If any reality, in any comparison of India vis-à-vis Pakistan exists, it ends here, at this cultural context.

India had 17.22 crore Muslims according to figures from Census 2011 and Pakistan’s overall population that year was 17.62 crore. And Muslims are just 14.2% of our population.

Sovereign India and Pakistan started their journeys the same day – two countries that shared a joint geographical patch and culture until then.

India remained a democracy, and with time, in fact, strengthened its institutions and processes. Its security establishment proudly built on its own. Its economy grew. Its middle class swelled. And today, it has become as imperative a market for the global economy as China is. And as China is slowing down, the world is looking to India – the world’s fastest economy – the world’s third largest economy – and the world’s youngest country demographically – with projections to have the world’s largest middle class by 2030.

Yes, India’s democracy has had its internal flaws but in spite of that, we have a healthy electoral system that makes our democratic set-up robustly functional.

But, Pakistan started faltering very early on its sovereign journey. During 68 years of existence, the country has been ruled by its army most of the time. Pakistan’s political establishment could never stand on its own. Military effectively entrenched itself into every aspect of Pakistan’s socio-political milieu – killing democracy in the process.

Pakistan has historically been anti-India, fighting and losing wars since 1948. Pakistan’s Army, in order to remain the most powerful institution in the country, has always resorted to anti-India propaganda to suppress and sideline political voices. The violence in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition gave Army a powerful tool to instil fear in Pakistani masses by name-calling India.

Yes, in India, every aspect of society has corruption as malaise, but here, we can raises voices and push for remedies. Pakistan’s military establishment doesn’t allow that – acting on cases based on its self-interest.

Pakistan of the day is failing to handle its internal mess, something that is its own creation, including terrorism, anarchy in tribal areas and separatist movements but the ego (or the compulsion) of its ruling/military dispensations is forcing them to still engage in anti-India activities and propaganda – primarily in Jammu and Kashmir – and in India wherever possible – trying to provoke Muslims in the name of religion – even if India has more Muslims than Pakistan – even if the Muslims of India have registered maximum decadal population growth rate (as the Census 2011 data on growth rate of different religious communities released today says). They are our equal brothers and complete the arch of India’s diverse cultural landscape.

India and Pakistan started their journeys as independent countries in similar circumstances. India is a global player now – on its way to become a global power in a multi-polar world – and Pakistan is not even a regional player.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/