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Nothing wrong in Manmohan Singh seeking talks with Gen Kayani

Discussion in 'International Relations' started by CONNAN, Apr 27, 2011.

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  1. CONNAN

    CONNAN Major ELITE MEMBER

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    The prime minister’s office has denied a report in The Times, London, that prime minister Manmohan Singh had appointed an “unofficial envoy†for “secret talks†with Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. But there’s more to this than meets the eye.

    As pointed out by the media, there is glaring contradiction in the The Times’ news item - Cricket-inspired thaw pushes rivals into secret talks. It was not possible for Manmohan Singh to have conceived the idea of inviting the Pakistani prime minister for talks during World Cup semifinal almost a year in advance. Yet, some sort of an effort being made by the Indian PM to reach out to General Kayani for the revival of peace process is highly likely. There are many power centres in Pakistan but on its relationship with India, the Pakistan army is the final arbitrator.

    In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with the high hopes of brokering peace between the warring neighbours, rode a bus to Lahore. Vajpayee and Nawaz Shrarif had even reached to an agreement, namely the ‘Lahore Declaration’. Barely a month later, the peace bus was found stranded on the Kargil heights; the two neighbours got engaged in a limited war.

    President Zardari can never attain a statesman-like status but his natural instinct is to have peace with India. Within days of his taking over as president of Pakistan, he announced possibility of “good news within a month†on Kashmir. He even tried to change the basic premise of Pakistan’s national security doctrine by declaring that Pakistan had adopted a “no first strike†nuclear war policy. His statement created a furore in Pakistan and the Pakistani defence establishment soon came out with a strong rebuttal that their own president is “not fully informed or completely aware of†the national security doctrine. Zardari had also categorised militants active in Kashmir as “terroristsâ€.

    It’s widely believed that after the exit of General Musharraf, New Delhi was able to revive the peace process with the newly elected government in Pakistan headed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) but that General Kayani proved to be a real hurdle. A diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks confirms the real impediment. Former British foreign secretary David Miliband, after his visit to Pakistan on November 25, 2008, had assessed: “There was a ‘deal on paper’ and both prime minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari were ‘ready’ to sign it.†Miliband had thought the remaining obstacle was Pakistani military chief staff general Kayani: “He remained ‘reluctant’ and needed to be persuaded.†Miliband has visited Pakistan just a day before 26/11 and that there was a “deal on paper†as late as November 2008 is quite significant. Despite America midwifing a ‘peace deal’ and a democratically elected government in Pakistan reasonably keen to have a normal relationship with India, that the Pakistan military is able to torpedo the entire peace process sufficiently indicates the real power centre in Pakistan.

    The military holding the fulcrum of power in Pakistan is a hard reality. New Delhi has all along conducted business with military dictators and military backed civilian governments in Pakistan.

    Therefore, Manmohan Singh trying to open channels of communication with the all-powerful military chief should not come as a surprise. It is quite possible that Manmohan Singh is eager to pick the threads from where Musharraf had left and may have sent feelers to General Kayani. Ironically, the architect of Kargil eventually proved to be a potential peacemaker.

    The progress made from 2004-07 in the ‘backchannel’ is the bedrock of what is being described as “deal on paperâ€.It’s the most favourable bargain wherein India could have clinched the deal without losing an inch of territory under its control in Kashmir.

    It is true that only a military dictator in Pakistan can make amends to its deeply entrenched Kashmir policy and anti-India outlook. In this regard, Musharraf proved to be more than handy. But there are other critical factors also that prompted Musharraf to think of normalising its relations with India. The fall of the Taliban after 9/11 deprived Pakistan of its so-called strategic depth. On the contrary, it was facing the prospect of getting squeezed between a hostile Afghanistan and an antagonised India.

    The Taliban forcing a stalemate and the forthcoming American withdrawal from Afghanistan has dramatically altered the geopolitics of the region. Despite the risk of a failing state still looming large, Pakistan, in comparison to 2001, is presently better placed. That’s the reason why it wants to start a fresh and is not inclined to pick the threads from where they were left in 2007.

    India seems to have missed a rare opportunity.

    Nothing wrong in Manmohan Singh seeking talks with Gen Kayani - India - DNA
     
  2. CONNAN

    CONNAN Major ELITE MEMBER

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    Back Channel with Pakistan Army: A Gambit Worth Trying

    The denial by both the Prime Minister’s Office in India and by the military spokesman in Pakistan of the story in The Times of an ‘unofficial back channel’ that had opened with the de facto ruler of Pakistan, General Ashfaq Kayani, isn’t entirely unexpected. If indeed there was such a back channel then it is best kept under the wraps, not so much because it would make public what was being discussed or even negotiated – the details of the ‘official’ back channel negotiations during the Musharraf era are still secret even though the main protagonists claim to have nearly reached a deal – but more because it would be premature to admit the existence of such a back-channel until it had become a regular feature instead of a one-off contact. On the other hand, if there was no such back-channel contact, then the denials are perfectly in order and would end needless speculation on the nature of contact established between the Indian and Pakistani establishments.

    Quite aside the fact that the denials would have come as a dampener for those who believe that there is a dire need for putting in place a channel of communication and dialogue between the establishments of the two countries, the very nature of the contact claimed by The Times – ‘unofficial’ – raises serious doubts about the efficacy of the so-called back-channel. Even so, there is still a strong case for some sort of contact – in the preliminary stage, perhaps only a military-to-military exchange between the National Defence College in India and National Defence University in Pakistan – being made with Pakistan’s military establishment and exploring this track to see if a more sustained engagement is possible with the real rulers of Pakistan as opposed to the civilian show-boys that India has been so comfortable in dealing with.

    The aversion in India to dealing directly with Pakistan's military establishment is entirely understandable, but is also unreal given the power dynamics of Pakistani politics. Pakistan is, in a sense, a schizophrenic society. At one level, there is deep distrust and suspicion of the establishment and a tendency to attribute not only the most bizarre conspiracy theories to it but also hold it capable of, if not responsible for, the most horrible crimes. But, at another level, there is an innate, almost blind, trust and faith in the ability and capacity of the military establishment to protect the country and put things right. Most Pakistanis are quick to follow the lead of the army on issues of national security, especially when it comes to relations with India. As a result, when the army allows it, people gladly reach out to India (the 2004-2008 period bears witness to this), and when the army shuns it, the very same people pull back on all contact with India.

    This remarkable ability and agility of the Pakistani military establishment to manipulate public opinion must be taken into account by the Indian establishment before it takes any initiative on mending ties with Pakistan. The bottom line is that while India can have as many ‘uninterrupted and uninterruptible’ dialogues with the civilians in Pakistan as it wants, unless it manages at least a modus vivendi with the all-powerful Pakistan army, none of these dialogues will lead to anything at all. Without getting the Pakistan army on board, any dialogue with Pakistan will either be a dialogue of the deaf or one with the meek and powerless, who, one daresay, are unlikely to inherit Pakistan.

    There are essentially two ways that India can approach Pakistan. The first is to engage Pakistani politicians and civil society, promote people-to-people exchanges, trade and what have you, in the hope of creating a constituency of peace that will force the hand of the military establishment to normalise relations with India. But quite frankly, for this strategy to work, India will have to wait till the cows come home. An alternative strategy is to continue with the above strategy, but simultaneously open a sustained channel of communication and engagement – to start with, an ‘official and empowered’ back-channel – with Pakistan's military establishment.

    Needless to say, given the power structure realities of the establishments of the two countries, the back channel contact will have to be handled with great care. In a democratic country like India, a back channel naturally tends to evoke suspicion. One way to counter this is to set up a multi-track back-channel – between intelligence agencies to discuss issues like terrorism etc., between the militaries to discuss purely military matters, and a track in which both top civilian and military officials discuss security and doctrinal issues.

    If this ‘composite’ (given the diplomatic and political sensitivities of the Indian government, perhaps the word ‘comprehensive’ is more appropriate) back-channel shows promise, and in the course of discussing professional matters, creates an opening for discussing the strategic dimensions of the bilateral relationship, the two sides could consider bringing it on the front channel. In other words, they could make the transition to a ‘strategic dialogue’ in which a working group comprising designated civilian and military officials led by either the National Security Advisor or the External Affairs Minister discuss matters of higher state policy and the future trajectory of bilateral relations.

    But even if the back-channel contact remains a desultory track, there is still something to be said for continuing to engage an adversary but without the hype that normally accompanies any India-Pakistan engagement. If anything, the one thing that the two countries need to avoid is hyping up the expectations of a breakthrough by indulging in high profile jamborees – Mohali comes to mind. Quiet, serious and sustained diplomacy is perhaps the only way forward, even if this takes a long time and denies the politicians the legacy that they so desperately crave to leave behind.

    Back Channel with Pakistan Army: A Gambit Worth Trying | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
     
  3. tariqkhan18

    tariqkhan18 Major Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    Kayani i dont think can do much. It is the ISI that we need to talk to. It is what runs Pakistan.
     
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