Sunday, Jul 07, 2002
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
By K.K. Katyal
Whatever course the India-Pakistan relations may take in the near future, any meaningful contact between the two countries before October is out of question. The earlier indications to this effect are amply confirmed by the latest developments, what with the rhetoric getting shriller and the positions becoming harder.
Why October? India has ruled out any withdrawal of the troops, on the border since December last year, till the completion of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, to be held in the first half of October. Behind it is the fear of a concerted bid by Islamabad to scuttle the poll process in the State and New Delhi's resolve not to leave anything to chance. On its part, Pakistan insists on an early de-escalation on the border, treating it as a pre-requisite for steps to restore mutual contacts. Pakistan was not impressed by "cosmetic'' measures such as removing the ban on overflights by its planes through the Indian territory.
Besides, elections in Pakistan, also expected to take place in October, impose restraints on the President, Pervez Musharraf. He will not be able to take, or respond to, any initiatives partly because of his pre-occupation with domestic affairs and partly because India-related issues are too sensitive to be taken up on the eve of a crucial election.
That does not necessarily mean that substantive moves should be expected soon after October. Some crucial imponderable will have to be reckoned with then. New Delhi will be in a positive frame of mind if the poll process in Jammu and Kashmir goes through smoothly that is, if, in New Delhi's perception, Islamabad does not create hurdles either through an increase in infiltration or a step-up of violence by the jehadis, already smuggled into the State. On the other hand, success in the conduct of the poll, with a reasonable measure of credibility, will not fit into the calculations of Islamabad. In that eventuality, Pakistan may be in a disturbed mood and may well take a borderline even at the stage of "talks for talks.''
All concerned seem reconciled to the current reality, difficult as it is. India, as is known, does not regard the present stage conducive for exploring the means for reviving contacts. Pakistan, which appeared keen on it till recently, too, realises that the time is not ripe yet. The major powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which had been exhorting the two sides to take concrete steps for de-escalation, appear less insistent on immediate steps for resumption of a dialogue, though they do remain concerned over the possibility of a slideback and, hence, propose to keep up the diplomatic pressure so as to pin the two sides to the positive steps, as part of a mutually reinforcing process. The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, is due here in the third week of July, while the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, will be in the subcontinent next month.
The negative line taken by Pakistan on the elections in Jammu and Kashmir is ominous, though not unexpected. Islamabad is sore even with the major powers, which pin faith in the electoral exercise, while urging India to ensure its fairness and transparency. Pakistan, through its official statements, has questioned the credibility of elections "under gunpoint.'' The tone of the Pakistani media, Urdu newspapers in particular, is sharper still against India, expectedly, against the U.S. unexpectedly. Says the daily, Jang, in a representative comment: "Using its ultimate weapon, India has been able to deceive the U.S. to the effect that Pakistan's interference comes in the way of peaceful settling for elections and that voters and other political elements do not take part in the elections because of the fear of terrorists sent by it. It seems that the U.S. has been influenced by the Indian propaganda. According to a senior official of the U.S. Embassy in India, an American delegation is persuading the Kashmir leaders to take part in the elections India, in collaboration with the U.S., is seeking to win the acceptability of this stand by the outside world.''
Another daily, Nawa-i-Waqt, speaks of the U.S. pressure on the All-Party Hurriyat Conference in relation to the "election stunt." India, according to the Nation, "would like to blame on Pakistan all opposition to the polls.... As the elections approach, there is likelihood of another mass move in the Valley. In the case of the Government stamping it down through brute force, the desperate population would be driven to resort to acts of militancy. India would then like to mislead the world by portraying acts as having been committed by infiltrators rather than by local Kashmiris.'' A lot depends on New Delhi's efforts to ensure transparency of the poll process. If it succeeds, a major step would be taken towards the resolution of the Kashmir problem, the stridency of Pakistani commentators notwithstanding.
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of