Antony may be right

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on August 21, 2013

Putting people first.

Non-state actors want to scuttle efforts at improving Indo-Pak ties.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, exhorted New Delhi and power centres in his own country not to waste economic resources on military preparations and conflict but to channelise them into ongoing efforts to reduce disease and poverty.

Given that India’s Prime Minister has made similar remarks, this points to the fact that the proposition is to the best interests of both countries..

However, despite the fact that improving the living standards of people in the two countries is need of the hour, it is a tragedy that bilateral policies cannot be publicised without being dubbed a “peacenik”, or someone who does not have the courage to give a fitting reply to the country’s enemies.

Complex problem

The problem is that what was once a straightforward distinction between “good” and “bad”, between “national interest” and “enemy activity”, has today become much more complex --- with people using the military rivalry between India and Pakistan to camouflage their own mischievous ends.

Therefore, we really cannot blame the Defence Minister for initially saying that the Pakistani army was probably not fully involved in the August 6 incident on the LoC, in which five Indian jawans were killed and another injured.

However, A. K. Antony had to retract his statement under intense domestic political pressure and put forward another one, this time squarely blaming the Pakistani military.

The truth is that terrorists — who are as much an enemy of Islamabad as they are of New Delhi and other world capitals — do not want India and Pakistan to be at peace. They usually get alarmed every time there are signs of good sense prevailing in the two capitals; it provokes them to trigger border incidents (and terrorist acts) which upset the peace applecart.

Such incidents occurred in January this year (before Sharif came to power) — involving the beheading of an Indian jawan — and again earlier this month, the objective clearly being to make New Delhi respond jingoistically, which would then raise the hackles of the Pakistani military and worsen bilateral relations with a ripple-effect in other spheres as well.

Underlying objective

One of the principal aims of the perpetrators at the moment is to scuttle a possible meeting between the two prime ministers in New York next month which, they perhaps feel, could take the emerging new phase of India-Pakistan bonhomie to a new high. So, both New Delhi and Islamabad should work overtime to ensure the meeting does take place, which of course, assumes that the UPA Government will be able to get over domestic opposition to such an event.

Possibly, a “third-track diplomacy” strategy will have to be inaugurated, amid the confusion of charge and counter-charge orchestrated remotely by the enemies of both India and Pakistan.

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Published on August 21, 2013
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