Is Pakistan's foreign policy perspective undergoing a shift towards harmony with its neighbours, particularly India, after 60 years? And have the recent high-level talks between Pakistani and US military and intelligence leaders yielded positive results?
It might be na�ve to expect a real breakthrough in the relationship between Pakistan and India any time soon, but the process has started in Thimpu after realisation in Pakistan of the need to improve ties with its eastern neighbour.
Hina Rabbani Khar and SM Krishna will meet and talk about a host of issues next week. Whether the meeting will be historic is yet to be seen.
"The government has adopted a policy based on the Chinese model; our priority is to provide peace, development and prosperity to the people of Pakistan. It is a successful model for internal and regional peace"
Senior officials at the Foreign Office and analysts believe that the Pakistan's power-wielding institutions and the policymakers in Islamabad are ready to evolve a mechanism for peaceful relations with India. But they differ on the contributing factors.
It is important for all institutions in Pakistan to be in harmony on the dealings with India. That was not the case during important talks in the past. But this time it is more likely that they are, because of both the economic situation and the problems on the Western border. These are the key factors that will determine a shift in policy.
"The present democratic government in Pakistan has adopted a policy based on the Chinese model, wherein the priority is to provide peace, development and prosperity to the people of Pakistan. It is a successful model for internal and regional peace," Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said.
The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai were very unfortunate not only in terms of human loss but also because they hurt the peace process between India and Pakistan. It is believed in Pakistan that in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, the Indian government opted for anti-Pakistan rhetoric and narrowed political space for itself. It was left with no room to manoeuvre. This became obvious when an outcome statement by prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Dr Manmohan Singh in Sharmul Sheikh created embarrassment for the Indian government at home.
Pakistan's alleged links with terrorist groups have led to Islamabad's isolation at the international level. Economic factors and problems on the Western border have made various institutions agree on improving relations with India
The Thimpu meeting between the two prime ministers proved productive and the two sides agreed on three things: the only way forward is dialogue; it is important to resolve the issue of trust deficit; and the two countries must continue contacts at all levels.
The emerging shift in Pakistan's policy towards India has many other dimensions, according to analysts. They believe that growing terrorism and Pakistan's alleged links with terrorist groups led to Islamabad's isolation at the international level. The focus has shifted from the Kashmir dispute to terror.
"Pakistan is shifting its policy and seems to be thinking of easing its relations with India," former ambassador Tayyab Siddiqi said. "That is primarily because of four major factors: first, the emergence of a strong peace lobby inside Pakistan like Aman ki Asha etc; second, the international community is increasingly taking Kashmir as a fatigue and not buying our perspective on the problem at the moment; third, hard economic factors, for example, Pakistan Railway could benefit from importing carriages from India; and four, the business community in Pakistan wants a rapprochement with India because of economic interests." The former diplomat believes there is a visible shift in Pakistan's policy towards India. "There is a definite change in our policy, for a rapprochement with India. Somehow, we have accepted the Indian perspective that terrorism is a core issue. It is a major issue," he says.
Senior officials in Islamabad want the counter-terrorism dialogue to continue. "Pakistan has always wanted constructive and result-oriented dialogue with India and we remain focused on it. Terrorism is a global phenomenon that has hurt both the countries," Tehmina Janjua said. "The people of Pakistan and India have suffered from terrorism. We agree that counter-terrorism should be discussed bilaterally and within the existing mechanism of the interior/home secretaries' meetings."
The Chinese model that Pakistan says it has decided to follow has no room for military engagement. It is focused completely on economic development.
"The ideology of military conflict should have no place in the paradigm of our relationship in the 21st century," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said at a briefing after a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Pakistan on June 24.
The restraint shown by India after the terrorist attacks on July 13 indicates the two countries have come to some sort of an understanding, but how that will crystallise into concrete policy making is yet to be seen.
Shaukat Piracha is a senior reporter based in Islamabad
courtesy : www.thefridaytimes.com
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Page 191 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
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