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3/3/2015

APakyatraasSAARCyatra?TheHindu

Today'sPaperOPINION
APakyatraasSAARCyatra?
SuhasiniHaidar
ThecoreissuesduringForeignSecretaryS.JaishankarsvisittoPakistanremainIndiasconcernsonterrorismandPakistansconcerns
onKashmir

INTIMATEENEMY:AturningpointinthepastfewmonthsinPakistanisthePeshawarmassacre,giventheintenseangerithasgenerated,
andthepushfromthePakistangovernmenttofighttheterrorwithin.PictureshowsagrievingmotherinPeshawarwholosthersoninthe
massacrebyTalibangunmen.PHOTO:AP

SixmonthsaftertalkswithPakistanwerecalledoffForeignSecretarySubrahmanyamJaishankarlandsinIslamabad
todaytokickoffanewattempttoengagetheirgovernment.WhileIndianofficialshavetakencaretodownplaythe
visitssignificance,callingitaSAARCyatranotaPakyatra,itseemsclearthatthetriphasbeenmadewithaspecial
emphasisonPakistan.ThedecisiontoreengagewithPakistan,throughwhichevermeans,signifiestwothings:one
thatthedecisiontocanceltalksinJuly2014wasonlyatemporaryoneforPrimeMinisterNarendraModi,withthe
assumptionthattalkscouldberestartedatalaterpoint,andtwo,thatengagingPakistanisthenorm,ratherthanan
aberration.
However,thelastsixmonthshavealsoseenseveralsignificantshiftsinsidePakistanobservedduringarecentvisitby
thiswritertheforeignsecretarymay,therefore,findpickingupthethreadsofthetalksmorecomplexthanitwas
perhapslastJuly.
Shiftinpowerbalance
ThereisanobviousshiftinthepowerbalanceatthecoreofPakistan:thecivilmilitaryequation.Inrecentweeks,itis
clearthatarmychiefGeneralRaheelSharifhasanewstatureinsidePakistan,withprimacyonallissues,notjustthe
ZarbeAzboperationandeffortsagainstterrorgroupsaspartoftheNationalActionPlanannouncedafterthe
Peshawarschoolmassacre.TheshifthasbeenacknowledgedinWashington,wherehewasreceivedbytheU.S.
SecretaryofStateJohnKerryandinLondon,wherehemetPrimeMinisterDavidCameron.OnJanuary6,the
governmentalsoannouncedthatmilitarycourtswouldtakeovermanyoftheterrorismtrials,ascivilcourtsaretoo
slow,andjudgesaretooeasilythreatenedorinfluencedintolettingmilitantsoff.However,itwouldseemthe
governmentofMr.NawazSharifhascometotermswiththeshift,andasaresult,hisgovernmentisenjoyingarare
spellofstabilitycomparedtothetensionswithboththeoppositionandthemilitaryofthepast.AtatrackIIconference
organisedbytheJinnahInstituteandCentreforDialogueandReconciliationinIslamabadlastweek,diplomatswere
heardsayingtheArmysInterServicesPublicRelations(ISPR)wasnowtakingovermanyoftheForeignOffices
functions,andtheshiftinpowerequationsisimportantforIndia.AlthoughtheArmyGHQinRawalpindihasalways
hadavetoonIndiaPakistanrelations,thereisamarkedincreaseinstatementsfromtheISPRwinginrecentweeks
thatshowagreaterinvolvementintheprocessaswell.GeneralSharifsvisittotheLoCandtheInternationalBorder
justbeforeMr.JaishankarsvisittoaccuseIndiaofopeningindiscriminatefiringandwarnofabefittingresponse
cannotbeignored.
RelatedtothisshiftisthedramaticchangeinAfghanistanPakistanrelationsinthepastfewmonths.Sincehis
swearingin,PresidentAshrafGhanihasdeviatedfromhispredecessorPresidentHamidKarzaisstancethatPakistan
supportingtheTalibanwasthesourceofallofAfghanistansproblems.Instead,Mr.GhanivisitedIslamabaddirectly
afterhisfirsttripabroadtoBeijing,andalsovisitedtheArmyGeneralHeadquartersinRawalpindi.Thebonhomiehas
beenreciprocatedinfullmeasurebyPakistansmilitary,withvisitsbyGeneralSharif,hisISIchiefLieutenantGeneral
RizwanAkhtar,andCorpscommandersofPeshawarandtheSoutherncommandtoAfghanistaninthepastmonth
alone.PakistansmilitaryisalsoassumingaprimacyinthesoontobelaunchedtalksbetweentheAfghangovernment
andtheTaliban,whichalsoexplainsthewelcomeGeneralSharifhasreceivedintheU.S.,theU.K.andChina.This
dependencecouldshiftthebalanceontalkswithIndia,asAfghanistanhassofarbeenanimportantallyforIndiaon
curbingtheLashkareTaiba.
Fightingtheterrorwithin
TheotherobviousturningpointinthepastfewmonthsinPakistanisthePeshawarmassacre,giventheintenseangerit
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3/3/2015

APakyatraasSAARCyatra?TheHindu

hasgenerated,andthepushfromMr.SharifsgovernmenttofighttheterrorwithinPakistan.Accordingtothe
Pakistangovernment19,272suspectshavebeenarrestedin19,789countrywideoperationssincethelaunchofthe
NationalActionPlanagainstterrorisminDecember2014.Mr.Sharifisdoingthisintheteethofoppositionfrommany
withinhisowngovernmentwhoareclosetoradicalisedextremistgroupsandfromclericsacrossthecountrywhoata
conferencethisweekoftheIttehadulTanzeemateMadaris,condemnedthegovernmentforitsunconstitutional
steps.
Butdespitealltheactiontakensofar,novisiblestepshavebeenmadeagainstthegroupsthatIndiahasdemanded:
HafizSaeedremainsfreetoaddressrallies,andgivesspeechesatleadinguniversitiesinthecountry,whilehis
commandersontrialfortheMumbaiattacksliveluxuriouslyinsidetheAdialajailinRawalpindi,leadingtheU.S.
NationalIntelligenceChiefJamesClappertoconcludeduringatestimonylastweek,thatPakistansprovisionofsafe
havenstotheLashkareTaibawillremainamajorirritantfortieswithIndia.ItwillbeMr.Jaishankarstaskto
continuetopushforashiftinthispartofPakistanspolicy.
Significantly,thereisanincreasingacknowledgementinPakistanscivilsocietythattheuseofterrorasatoolof
foreignpolicyhashurtPakistanscausebothinternally,aswellasinharmingthecauseofKashmiriseparatiststhey
back.
Pakistancommittedthehistoricblunderofsendingintrainedandfullyarmednonstateactors,writesformerEditor
M.ZiauddininaneditorialinTheExpressTribuneinaviewthatseemswidelyheld,wehadseeminglysucceededin
reducingasixdecadelongfreedomstruggleintoaterroristadventureintheeyesoftheworld.Thearticlealsoseems
toindicatethatevenaslocalsupportfortrainingterrorgroupstoattackIndiadriesup,thegovernmentwillchooseto
stepupitsattemptstointernationalisethepoliticalprobleminJammuandKashmir,untilIndiaandPakistanare
abletorestarttalksontheissue.
Finally,Mr.Jaishankarwillbeexpectedtoarticulatethewayforwardonthenatureofthedialogueitself.Thetwocore
issuesremainIndiasconcernsonterrorismandPakistansconcernsonKashmir,andtheneedofthehouristomove
aheadontheminasustainedmanner,withoutthebreaksindialoguethathavedelayedthemintheprocess.
SeveralConfidenceBuildingMeasuresneedtobebolsterednow.WhiletheLoCceasefireisindangerofcollapseand
demandsnewmechanismstokeepitinplace,otherslikeanewvisaregime,andmeasurestofacilitatetradeandtravel
needtoberatified.
AsmallstartonCBMscouldbemadeeveniftheforeignsecretariesofIndiaandPakistanjustagreetorevisethe
extremelybellicoseclosingceremonyatWagaheveryevening.ThiswasrequestedbytheBSFsoldiersthemselvesin
2010,citingheavybackandkneeinjuries,butdespitetalksontheissue,neitherIndianorPakistanhavebeenableto
givethemanyreliefsofar.Perhapsalessonintheirplightissomethingbothforeignsecretariescoulddrawonfor
otherpartsoftheIndiaPakistandialogueaswell:itisimportanttoputonesfootdownfirmly,butwithoutdamaging
oneselfintheprocess.
(SuhasiniHaidarparticipatedintheIslamabadDialoguetrackIIconferenceorganisedbytheJinnahInstituteand
CentreforDialogueandReconciliationonFebruary2627,2015.)
suhasini.h@thehindu.co.in
ThereisanincreasingacknowledgementinPakistanscivilsocietythattheuseofterrorasatoolof
foreignpolicyhashurtPakistanscausebothinternally,aswellasinharmingthecauseof
Kashmiriseparatiststheyback

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