Personal Diplomacy in Indo-Pak Relationship
By Zaheerul Hassan
Indian Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore airport on 25th December,2015, went to Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif’s home and exchanged gifts. Mr. Modi also greeted him a happy birthday and wishes for his granddaughter, whose wedding ceremony was due that day. It was totally impromptu visit that was arranged just after Modi’s call to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the same day Moreover; it was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian premier in almost 12 years. Modi’s visit lasted for two hours.
“Both leaders expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for the larger good of the people of the two countries,” said a statement from Pakistan’s foreign office.
“It was agreed to continue and enhance bilateral contacts and work together to establish good neighborly relations.”
Earlier, Late General General Ziaul Haq, General Pervez Musharraf and Rajive Ghandi tried to improve the India-Pakistan bilateral relations through track-2 and cricket diplomacy but failed to resolve the burning issue of Kashmir. Thus, recent visit of Mr. Modi is not likely to bring any major positive change to Indo-Pakistan relationship.
Relationships between two nuclear neighbours are tensed since inception and deteriorated further when Modi’s took his office as Prime Minister of India. Intensification of declining relationship can rightly be determined from Indian continuous violation of ceasefire. Over 500 times unprovoked firing has been carried out just in 2015 by India. However, these strained relations between Indo-Pak always remained concerned to super powers because they fear that ongoing proxy wars between two nuclear countries could flare into a real war. Therefore, even unscheduled visit of Modi to Pakistan was welcomed by China and U.S. But unfortunately global community failed to exert pressure on India to resolve main burning issues like Kashmir, Siachen, Water, Sir Creek and noninterference in Balochistan. Pakistani topline political parties due to presence of Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal in Lahore carefully welcomed the impromptu visit of Modi and commented it, as good stab of resumption of negotiations for personal and business interests. Sajjan Jindal is one of the businessmen who came into limelight after a TV journalist mentioned his role as a conduit in facilitating a meeting between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit last year in Kathmandu, in her book.
Indeed, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Islamabad, signing of 1,800 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project, Indian desire of utilizing Russian Hydrocarbon resources through Central Asia states, China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) and making efforts of becoming full fledge member of UN National Security Council with the help of Russia are some of the major contributory factors which really forced Prime Minister Modi to exploit personal diplomatic efforts and planned a surprised trip to Pakistan at the occasion of Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. Off course the purpose of surprise visit could be to improve upon the bilateral relationships for guarding Indian economic and political interests, regionally and globally.
Moreover, after realizing her failure India is now more interested to play some key role after departure of U.S. forces from Afghan region. Therefore, it becomes quite clear that Modi’s visit to Lahore was not surprised at all. Government must remember that before landing in Pakistan, Modi carried out visit of Russia and Afghanistan. In Russia he signed 26 Memoranda of Understanding (MMU) with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the reports, the total value of the deals which were signed between the two countries could be in the vicinity of a staggering $150 billion.
In this context, Russia will provide six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh and the manufacture of Russia’s Kamov Ka-226T light helicopters under Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme, Akula II class nuclear submarine, S-400 air defence system, three more Krivak III class stealth frigates, the FGFA and 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters and a partnership between Sukhoi and Tata to manufacture spare parts for the former’s jets in India. Modi praised Putin, saying, “Despite the various global problems, despite the confrontation against Russia, you have raised your country, your state to a qualitatively new level,” and assured him that “Russia remained India’s principal partner,” in defence. Indian piling up of weapons clearly indicates her sinister and hegemonic design against China, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Mr. Modi also criticized Pakistan while inaugurating Afghan parliament building in Kabul on 25 December 2015. . There he also highlighted India’s role in Afghanistan, including providing military assistance, which risks angering Pakistani leaders. Under this scenario it is quite difficult to claim that personal diplomacy in the case of indo-Pak bilateral relationship might not be workable. Thus, Mr. Modi need to change his hardliner attitude towards Pakistan and others regional countries for the betterment of the people of South Asia. Indian government has to say Goodbye to the police of interference in neighbouring countries and move forward to get benefit from China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) instead campaigning against it.
Anyhow, government should take parliament into confidence over Modi’s visit and before welcoming with open arms. Indian foreign office need to be conveyed that resolving Kashmir issue has the utmost importance for peace in South Asia.
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