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Indo-Pakistan talks collapse again

The Indo-Pakistan talks failed not because of anything Pakistan said or did. They collapsed because of Delhi’s intransigence, Bharat’s hubris, and Hindustan’s arrogance.

Just like dozens of talks before this one, the Bharatis tried for force their agenda and dictate terms to Pakistan. That did not stand.

The talks were about all outstanding issues between Pakistan and Bharat–Kashmir, Sir Creek, Sicahin, Junagarh, Manvadar and Hyderabad. Bharat tried to pick and choose and talk only about Mumbai. The Bharati diplomats did not want to talk about Bharati infiltration into Balochistan, proven yet again by the arrest of the Rigi brothers who were caught red handed meeting with the Bharati Ambassador in Kabul. Both the Rigi terrorists were arrested by Pakistan and handed over to the Iranian authorities and were recently found hanging from one end of a rope–a befitting end to Bharati terrorizes who support murder in Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan.

The talks failed again. This was not a surprise. Why talk to Bharat when it does not have the ability or the foresight to resolve boundary disputes with any of her neighbors. Bharat has boundary disputes with Nepal, Lanka, Bangaldesh, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Pakistan. While all the neighbors have been able to settle their disputes, Bharat has been unable to do so.

Why talk to Bharat?

ISLAMABAD: The foreign ministers’ meetings between India and
Pakistan all but collapsed in a welter of accusations on Thursday.
Pakistan steadfastly refused to engage in any substantial manner with the critical areas of Mumbai attacks, cross-border terrorism and infiltration, choosing to argue that Islamabad could not speed “judicial” processes.

The joint press conference, which started around 9pm, instead of the scheduled 2.15 pm, saw foreign minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi take on each other in what turned out to be a bruising spat beamed live.

The divergence came out starkly on Balochistan and infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir as the interaction with the media almost degenerated into a joust.

Asked about India’s “role” in Balochistan, Krishna responded, “Forget about credible evidence, we have not received a shred of evidence”.

On the issue of anti-India jihad speeches of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Qureshi actually offered home secretary G K Pillai’s comments on Lashkar man David Headley’s implication of ISI as a “counter-point”. The equation of the mild-mannered Pillai as an equivalent to the Lashkar amir left the Indian delegation gaping.

Qureshi further said Pillai’s statement had come up in discussions and “both of us felt it was unwarranted”.

Krishna did not respond to this sally. But Qureshi’s reference to Pillai as a Hafiz Saeed “clone” more or less symbolized the near futility of the engagement that was to take forward home minister P Chidambaram’s discussions just last month

ISLAMABAD: Hope and despair both reigned supreme on Thursday as Pakistan and India failed to agree on anything but that they would continue to talk.

The Pakistan-India trust-building dialogue ended in a deadlock as the two sides failed to come up with a clear roadmap for sustainable engagement or a consensus on confidence-building measures.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, both of whom had been mandated by their prime ministers to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries, held protracted discussions, but failed to agree on anything tangible.

At the end of the day the two appeared before the media for a much-delayed press conference with only vague assurances — to remain engaged; in addition the Indian minister extended an invitation to Mr Qureshi to visit New Delhi.

A source at the meeting described the discussions as very intense and attributed the deadlock to the inflexibility of the Krishna-led Indian delegation that refused to discuss issues of concern to Pakistan. Their excuse was that they did not have the mandate to do so.

The Indians, sources said, were more interested in discussing the trial of Mumbai attacks’ suspects in Pakistan; following the leads that emerged from US terror suspect David Headley; crackdown on alleged India-specific terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan; ‘increased’ infiltration across the Line of Control; and putting an end to the hate propaganda being churned out by Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.

However, they were disinterested in discussing the issues close to the Pakistani delegation — the Kashmir dispute and human rights situation in the occupied Valley; Siachen and issues pertaining to peace and security, particularly the strategic restraint regime.

The Indian side, it appeared, wanted a roadmap for the trust-building process on their own terms.

However, the Pakistanis, who were equally focussed on their own wish list, told the Indians that they could not pick and choose issues and would have to look at the entire spectrum of irritants.

So great was the gap between the two sides that Dawn has learnt that the Indians were not ready to agree to a timeline for the trust-building process, keeping it open ended and putting off Pakistan’s concerns indefinitely.

The stalemate because of the intransigence could not end even after two rounds of discussions spread over more than six hours.

In fact, the talks which were supposed to end in the afternoon allowing the two ministers to address a press conference at two in the afternoon extended till late evening; they finally spoke to the media after eight at night.

In between, they also dropped in on the prime minister and president as scheduled.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s conversation with Mr Krishna articulated his desire for peace.

The Pakistani leader had, along with his Indian counterpart, laid the foundation for renewing contacts after the break precipitated by the Mumbai attacks.

“The existing environment of goodwill in Pakistan for fostering friendly relations with India needs to be built upon through concrete measures to address all the outstanding issues between the two countries, lest it gets eroded with the passage of time,” Mr Gilani said, adding that the ball was now in India’s court.

It was in this context that while Mr Qureshi, in his talk to the media, acknowledged Indian concerns about terrorism and offered cooperation in this respect, he emphasised the importance of the “rest of outstanding issues” and the larger picture.

Mr Qureshi, nevertheless, put up a brave face. He denied that the talks had hit a dead end. Instead he referred to the complexities and difficulties of the bilateral relations and expressed hope that democracy and the Indo-Pakistan political leadership would be able to salvage the process of re-engagement.

“Politicians don’t come to dead ends. They extract hope from hopelessness. The spirit is to move on,” were some of his conciliatory words, offering a glimmer of hope for millions in both countries.

Mr Krishna’s main message at the media interaction focused on what his country needed to move forward — the best trust-building measure would be effective action against terrorists targeting India and the expeditious trial of Mumbai suspects.

The Indian external affairs minister said he was going back with the promise that Pakistan would do all possible to deal with terrorism.

“I’m going back with the assurance from the highest level that information shared during Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s visit here and the leads that have emerged from Headley’s interrogation by the FBI and Indian investigators would be investigated. If these could help unravel the conspiracy and go after the culprits it could be the biggest confidence-building measure,” he said.

On India’s involvement in sabotage activities in Balochistan, Mr Krishna said that ever since this issue was first raised by Pakistan at Sharm El Sheikh last year no evidence had been shared with Delhi. He said the Indian government would look into the proofs, if provided.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, at the joint press conference, said he had raised the issue of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, imposition of curfew in the Valley, and the use of brute force to quell the recent unrest.

However, he was snubbed by Mr Krishna sitting by his side, who plainly said there were enough mechanisms within India to look into human rights violations and it was not for Pakistan to raise them.

He instead alleged that infiltration across the LoC designed to promote unrest in the Valley had risen considerably.

Responding to Mr Krishna’s allegation, Mr Qureshi said encouraging infiltration was not the official policy of the government or any of its intelligence agencies.

However, he said, India should firmly deal with individuals, if any, found violating the LoC and that Pakistan would extend full cooperation.

The foreign minister suggested that issues like infiltration and ceasefire violations could be best addressed through better coordination between field commanders and regular exchanges between the directors-general of military operations of the two countries.

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