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Talks without any purpose

Talks without any purpose
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First Published: Mon, Feb 08 2010. 12 39 AM IST
Updated: Mon, Feb 08 2010. 12 39 AM IST
When it comes to relations with Pakistan, everything is suspect, from cricket to bilateral relations. It does not need one to look far to see why that is the case. It’s understandable why an offer for talks with Islamabad?has been greeted with scepticism.
What needs to be understood is why diplomacy has resulted in few returns. The limitations of this process ought to be understood clearly.
Talks at all level between the two countries have seldom borne any fruit. The Simla Agreement of 1972 was, perhaps, one exception. Talks, of course, serve other purposes: These range from scoring points to attracting international attention (in Pakistan’s case) to wearing down each other with meaningless formulae for peace and security.
The present case illustrates these problems well. India wants Islamabad to tackle the problem of terrorists using its soil to attack India. Pakistan just wants one thing: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Neither side is going to relent. The Indian position on J&K is clear and so is Pakistan’s use of terrorists as a strategic tool against New Delhi. So why is India going ahead with talks?
One reason for this is the mistaken belief that by talking with a democratic government we can change the situation with respect to terrorism. The argument being that this will strengthen its hands and also exert pressure on the army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to desist from encouraging terrorists against India.
That is a facile conclusion. When a civilian government is installed in Islamabad, its relationship with the army undergoes changes over a period of time. Originally, the army establishment is on the defensive after handing over power; it remains neutral with respect to the civilian establishment. But at no point of time does the latter control the army. Then begins the subversion of duly established rule. In this, ironically, politicians help the army. Their inability to put in place sound governing structures and meet popular aspirations discredits them. India cannot change this. It is folly to expect that while this dynamic is being played out, a civilian government can persuade the army-ISI combine to give up its only effective tool against India.
Will talks with Pakistan deliver anything positive? Tell us at views@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Feb 08 2010. 12 39 AM IST
More Topics: Ourviews | Diplomacy | Democracy | Terrorism | India |