Continuing India-Pakistan talks

January 18, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sattar Rind

Surprising actions are being observed in Pakistan in relation to the country’s relationship with India, something not witnessed throughout history.

This new and outstanding action started the day India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Pakistan for a few hours to offer happy birthday wishes to his counterpart Nawaz Sharif on 25th December last year.

After this visit everybody predicted something would go wrong in the shape of terrorist activity in the country by non-state actors, or by those who never remain in favour of a cordial relationship between the two neighbouring nuclear power countries.

In such a meeting both leaders also agreed that long time discontinued talks between the two countries may be resumed and decided that in mid January all the conflicting issues will be discussed by level of state Secretaries at Islamabad and New Delhi.

Unfortunately however terrorists attacked Pathankot Air Base on 2nd January killing seven Indian Air force personnel. Following this it was expected that talks would be discontinued until the next surprising movement, which no one knows exactly when it may again arise.

As usual and without wasting any time India indicated that the terrorists were from Pakistan. However the astonishing point was not this but was the Pakistani government’s response to the Indian government’s primary inquiry in which they indicated that the attackers were in contact with a banned Pakistani militant organization Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and that his leader Masood Azhar was involved.

Pakistani authorities within a few days of taking the required measures took Masood Azhar into protective custody as well as arresting an unknown number of people from the same organization, along with numerous Madrasas being closed down also. One of the Madrasas in question was administratively under the control of Masood Azhar’s brother.

This is not a bad move by any means as one of those arrested was a powerful militant organization leader who made his freedom possible from the Indian Kot Bhalwal Jail through the action of hijacking an Indian airplane Flight 814, landing in Afghanistan in December 1999.

Two years later a terrorist attack transpired at the Indian parliament building in December 2001. The Indian government blamed the JeM leader Masood Azhar for being behind this attack, killing fourteen Indians. Indian parliamentarians somehow remained safe however and in retaliation, Indian security forces killed all six attackers.

In return for this incident both countries went to a standoff, military forces being deployed on their borders, alarming the world of a nuclear war, such narrow chances seemingly left for peace. Therefore a long mediating intervention came from western countries, particularly the US, defusing this almost certain war, the armies of both countries reverting to their peaceful position.

This has continued to be the case for a long period of time. When the leaders of both countries meet and a chance of peace arises then such incidents always tend to take place.

But this time Pakistan responded to India very positively and tried to assure them that Pakistan will not let terrorists go free if they were found to be involved in the attack on the Pathankot Air Base; a surprising move for every Pakistani who wants to see peaceful ties with the neighbouring country India.

As the Pakistan authorities not only hold the JeM leaders and have arrested many according to reports, a number of analysts are also searching for reasons behind this new and positive development which has demonstrated the Pakistani authorities as taking action against the JeM militants.

It may also be noted that Indian authorities are not fully, but are to some extent satisfied, as the foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup marked such action as “an important and positive step.”

Many analysts are trying to explore the reasons for this new development between two very old rival countries as it is perhaps the first time that both have announced they will continue talks, though the promised date was 15th January 2016, but now will be held in the “very near future” as announced by officials of both countries.

“This time, both states haven’t allowed themselves to be taken hostage by terrorists” Pakistan’s Information Minister proudly announced, as accepting that in the past “Terrorists used to take peace talks hostage” between the two countries.

Many analysts are of the view that it is because of the pressure from China who desire to have the Gwadar shipping port very soon in their control and are working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with 48 billion dollars invested in the project. Thus China definitely wants a peaceful atmosphere in Pakistan. For the same purpose China has also demanded that the administratively Islamabad-controlled new province of Gilgit-Bilitistan (GB) would be declared a full and fifth province of the government of Pakistan.

GB is a controversial area as it was part of Kashmir in 1947, Kashmir still being a disputed area for both India and Pakistan. If Pakistan is declaring it a full and fifth province then it would be identical to accepting the temporary UN announced Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border.

This is definitely not an easy issue to be decided by a surprising visit of Modi to Lahore to offer his counterpart happy birthday wishes. Nor does it seem that Pakistan would easily accept China’s demand just for the 48 billion dollar investments. Nevertheless the CPEC is being considered by everyone in Pakistan as “changing Pakistan” from a developing point of view.

It will and has to be clear to everyone why both countries are suddenly showing a great trust with each other against past history. It is great though for the people of both countries who have for a long time wished for the same relationship. Besides, it is also very alarming for the Indian authorities needing to know what the spy agency is doing for their country?

Anyway there are many things on the surface that indicate something is going to develop. This also sensationally seems positive for both countries as well as for the region. Therefore both, and all involved countries, must be alert to save this movement from any kind of sabotage.

 

 

 

 

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Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

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