Nawaz-Manmohan rendezvous OR Infructuous rendezvous

nawaz-manmohanMohammad Jamil
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met on the sidelines of UN General Assembly and discussed ways to normalize bilateral ties. Both leaders agreed to restore ceasefire on LoC, and DGMOs have been tasked to do the job which they were supposed to do whether meeting or no meeting between the two PMs.  In few words, the meeting can be described as an exercise in futility, as nothing concrete came out of it; there was neither joint press conference nor a joint statement, because there was nothing to write home about. The only redeeming feature was that they met despite the fact that Manmohan Singh was under pressure from opposition BJP to call off the meeting in the wake of attacks. After the meeting, India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said that there was common understanding to address the issues vis-à-vis to bring normality at LoC, and to curb terrorism, which will help move forward to improve relations between the two countries. He said Nawaz Sharif did raise the issues of Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen as well as India’s involvement in Balochistan.

Earlier, in a hard-hitting speech at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Singh said: “Kashmir is an integral part of India. There can never, ever be a compromise on the territorial integrity of India. State-sponsored cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India, also on account of the fact that the epicentre of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan.” He virtually rejected Sharif’s demand for resolution of the Kashmir issue on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions, saying India favoured settlement of all issues on the basis of the Simla Agreement. “India is committed sincerely in resolving all issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through bilateral dialogue on the basis of Simla Agreement, as India considers the UN resolutions as outdated”. The question is when he says that Jammu and Kashmir is atut ang of India then what is to be resolved through bilateral dialogue on the basis of Simla Agreement.

Despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s adverse remarks against Pakistan, and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s reminder to the UN for having ignored UNSC resolutions, both leaders held the meeting. Of cours, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defied the pressure by Indian establishment, Indian media and hardliners of BJP who were against his meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif at sidelines of 68th session of United Nations General Assembly. But he continued with his India’s usual intransigence to avoid discussing the core issues. On the other hand, a day before the meeting Nawaz Sharif, seeking to break the impasse spreading over two years in the relations of the neighbouring countries, had called the meeting a chance for a “new beginning.” Manmohan Singh in his meeting with Barack Obama had told him that “the expectations have to be toned down, as terrorists’ presence remains focused in Pakistan”.

Affirming their deep concern over the continuing threat posed by terrorism, a joint statement not only strongly condemned the Sep 26 attack, but also called for Pakistan to work toward bringing the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice. When Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh were in the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. He said he looked forward to meeting with his Indian counterpart, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to make a new beginning in the relationship between the two nations. He also said Pakistan and India have wasted massive resources on an arms race. Nawaz Sharif had conciliatory words for Afghanistan, which accuses Pakistan of supporting Taliban rebels. “We have no favourites in the neighbouring country, he said. He said “Pakistan had lost 40,000 lives to terrorism in the past 12 years and would use all means at our disposal to fight it”. But an increase in violence in Kashmir threatens his peace efforts with India, but it is the result of their own flawed policies.

As regards violations on the LoC, Indian military not only martyred Pakistani soldiers but also propagated against Pakistan Army for having crossed the LoC and beheaded two Indian soldiers. In fact, the confrontation started when Indian soldiers started constructing a new bunker at the buttal sector on the LoC to which Pakistan’s military personnel had objected, as according to the agreement no additional bunkers could be constructed on either side. However, the continued violations of ceasefire on LoC by the Indian Army and offensive overtures made by over-zealous media and government officials are deplorable. Over more than a decade, Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships have shown restraint in the wake of provocative statements by Indian civil and military leaders. India balked at the negotiations to resolve the disputes between the two countries including the core issue of Kashmir. On the other hand, Indian political and military leadership resorted to jingoism and continued hurling threats.

Nevertheless, Pakistan should continue its policy of peace with the neighbors, but it should not be apologetic in the face of false allegations from Indian leaders and Generals. By unleashing propaganda against Pakistan military, India wants to prove that Pakistan military is against peace initiative with India. In India the jingoistic media have fanned outrage. Indian hawks and nationalists say that talking to Pakistan would amount to appeasement, and some so-called experts had also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to meet with Mian Nawaz Sharif in New York. On the other hand, Pakistan’s military is supporting the peace initiatives of Pakistan’s elected government, and does not create roadblocks in the way of peace in the region. Upholders of amn ki asha and the incorrigible optimists who feel that Pakistan should continue to beg for the dialogue should review their stances, as India will not come out of the intransigence mode unless Pakistan can establish the writ of the state, restore the economy and reduce dependency on other countries that would send the message loud and clear that Pakistan will not beg for talks with India.

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