Pakistan may be thumbing its nose at India by releasing wanted terrorists like Hafeez Saeed, but New Delhi is veering around to the view that talks with Islamabad that were suspended after the 26/11 Mumbai attack should be resumed as engagement, however frustrating, would be better than benign neglect of the source of its terror problem.
Some version of a dialogue with Pakistan is expected to start soon, possibly before the visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to India which is likely in the first week of July. India knows that powers like the US would try to nudge India to the negotiating table, and it would be better not to be seen as having been pressured into the talks.
New Delhi recognises that the post-Mumbai diplomatic trail is fast turning cold, and it would like to retain the initiative by starting talks. The new external affairs minister, S M Krishna, is said to have quoted JFK to his officers: “Never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate.”
Taking the cue from the boss, the foreign office is trying to find a way to break the ice. There are two main reasons why India would like to begin talks. First, it might get the Pakistanis to at least attempt to stop the next big- ticket terrorist attack against India. Sources said Pakistan is likely to sponsor another big attack in J&K to push India to come to the table. This is nothing short of blackmail, but India doesn’t want to be in a position where it might seem to be succumbing to such blackmail.
Second, Indian officials are clear that the US, waiting for the elections to be over, will soon raise the talks issue with India. This could come as soon as Hillary Clinton’s visit to India in July. The government here is keen to pre-empt such pressure tactics.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh might have an occasion to break the ice if he decides to go for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow later this month. If Singh attends the SCO, he would have a chance to meet his Pakistan counterpart and could seize the opportunity.
At the same time, it becomes glaringly clear that India’s high-voltage diplomatic push post-26/11 has not really succeeded in getting Pakistan to act on anything – either on the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks or on dismantling the terror infrastructure in Pakistan.
Source: Times of India
Date: Thursday,4 June