Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
THE VERY NECESSARY bilateral interaction between India and Pakistan has once again fallen hostage to the penchant of both parties to draw in third party interlocutors on their side and to remain locked in their own rigid positions. While Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, expressed stridently and provocative anti-India sentiments in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Indian officialdom too seemed unable to resist reacting in similar language, depicting Pakistan as an irresponsible party that should be meted out harsh treatment by the rest of the global community. An unwanted result, from India's point of view, was that the importance of the bilateral discussions between the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the U.S. President, George W. Bush discussions that should have furthered the prospects for a strategic partnership was overshadowed. This symptom appears to emanate from the guiding principle of current policy that the U. S. must be brought unequivocally on India's side before any initiative can be launched with respect to Pakistan. Efforts in this regard fly in the face of the frequent pronouncements that Indo-U.S. bilateral ties will be insulated from the Indo-Pakistani rivalry and the repetition of points already taken note of by Washington could prove to be an unnecessary irritant. The reaction to the verbal assault by the Pakistan President is also contrary to the spirit of a statement by Mr. Vajpayee at the outset of his visit that a violence-free election in Jammu and Kashmir would be the "litmus test" of an end to cross-border terrorism. Since India has made the initiation of a dialogue contingent on the ending of cross-border terrorism the necessary corollary is that a dialogue will ensue if the Assembly elections are relatively free of violence. These are the objectives and game plan that New Delhi must stick to.
Gen. Musharraf has, in a subsequent interaction with the media, described his anti-India statements as a resort to the use of the language of desperation which he felt was justified by India's failure to reciprocate and respond to several initiatives taken by him. That there is an element of desperation in Pakistan's policy-making circles appears evident from the persistent and foolhardy efforts to draw a distinction between "freedom fighters" who resort to terror and violence and terrorists of another breed. That these efforts are untenable in the new context should now be obvious with U.S. President's dismissal of the distinction. Neither can Pakistan's efforts to devalue the importance of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir hold much weight in a context where the U.S. and the rest of the international community do regard this democratic exercise as an important milestone on the way to the restoration of normality and repeatedly emphasise (in a message obviously directed at Pakistan) the necessity of ensuring that they are held in a violence-free atmosphere. Gen. Musharraf's plea that crisis management should not become a substitute for conflict resolution is premature in a context where the third parties that are trying to manage the crisis have shown no inclination to take on board Pakistan's counter-argument that resolution of the conflict over Kashmir will ensure that there are no crises in the future.
In contrast to the main protagonists, the U.S. appears to have given thought to the broad and long-term objectives it seeks to attain in regard to the subcontinent. Its is a multi-faceted agenda and it is far from certain that a super-power that must deal with developments all over the world will be able to sustain the focus and energies required to fulfil it or that the implementation of this game plan will synchronise with the dynamics that will unfold on the ground. That makes it all the more imperative that India and Pakistan stick to the bilateral route for a resolution of the conflict between them.
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