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Renegotiating Strategic Alliances

By: Khursheed Kasuri
Published: January 24, 2017
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Way forward
Donald S. Trump, who takes oath as the 45th US President on January 20, has been making headlines the world over. Almost all countries are analysing the impact of his Presidency on their respective relations with the United States and on the ‘Washington Consensus,’ which forms the basis of not just economic institutions and policies since World War II, but also a liberal political dispensation characterised by rule of law, human rights and democracy with the US and the EU as its champions. In other words, we are living in challenging times and may see unexpected developments over the next few months. The Trump Presidency is bound to impact Pakistan in many ways, both expected and unexpected. As 2017 begins, I see the following challenges for Pakistan on the foreign policy front.

The Indian challenge
India used the September 18 Uri incident last year to divert the world’s attention from its gross human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir. The Kashmir situation is truly heart-rending, where even children are bearing the brunt of the brutality of Indian security forces. The Modi government has also encouraged the Indian media to create war hysteria and, in that process, boxed itself into a corner. Having been advised by experts that war with Pakistan was not an option, India announced with great fanfare that it had carried out ‘surgical strikes’ inside Pakistani territory to deceive its public. The Pakistan Army exposed Indian claims by taking foreign journalists to sites where the alleged attacks took place. Pakistan needs to be on its guard as the Bharata Janata Party (BJP) is unlikely to give up inflammatory rhetoric prior to elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Barring a handful of experts, the common misconception in India remains that it will be able to push Pakistan into an international isolation. This delusion is primarily based on the perceived and real differences between Islamabad and Washington – mainly over Afghanistan.

Pak-US: A complicated balancing act
Indeed Pakistan-US relations are complicated. There are many areas of divergence between them, but their interests also converge on many fronts. Both countries find it in their respective national interests not to let the relationship deteriorate beyond a certain point.
Leading American author and South Asia specialist Daniel S. Markey, in his book ‘No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad’ does not predict the two countries coming out of their mutual embrace anytime soon due to “Pakistan’s huge and expanding population base, its growing nuclear arsenal, its geo-strategic importance and its relationship with China and India all of which are likely to force themselves on to geo-strategic map.”

Trump’s election cannot change this ground reality. Despite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to isolate Pakistan at the eighth annual BRICS summit in Goa last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping took him head on and called for concrete efforts and a multi-pronged approach that addressed both symptoms and root causes to global challenges like terrorism — an argument that mirrored Pakistan’s Kashmir position. This was obviously jarring to Modi’s ears.

The State is trying to guard against the consolidated blowback, which it would have to face, were it to open fronts against all non-state actors simultaneously

BRICS is predominantly a multilateral economic forum comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In violation of international practices, not to use a multilateral forum for bilateral disputes, it was noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his remarks, did not mention terrorism at all. Similarly, at the recent Heart of Asia Conference held at Amritsar, Zamir Kabulov, the Russian President’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan, objected to Afghan and Indian attacks on Pakistan and said that Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz made constructive comments.

Unfortunately, in their attempt to score points, the Afghan President and the Indian Prime Minister forgot that Pakistan is the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan. The Afghan President, in particular, must understand that any perceived failings in Pakistan’s conduct has more to do with the complexities of the problem, rather than Islamabad’s desire to contribute to the mayhem in Afghanistan, which directly impacts Pakistan’s own security.
The lead role that China took at the BRICS summit to object to Modi’s comments on Pakistan was performed by Kabulov at Amritsar does not seem to be a coincidence. More likely, it is yet another sign of a greater understanding emerging among Pakistan, China and Russia on regional issues, particularly Afghanistan. They are, after all, meeting in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan. This portends well for the future.

I am not overlooking the zero-tolerance attitude of the international community towards terrorism. Pakistan, being a major victim of terrorism itself, will have to make great efforts to root it out. This is recognised by the Pakistan Army, which has destroyed the terrorist infrastructure in the tribal areas, particularly, North Waziristan.

The direction is clear. Under former President Pervez Musharraf, following the events of 9/11, Pakistan took on the Al Qaida and paid a big price for it. His successor, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, launched major operations in Bajaur, the Swat Valley and South Waziristan in 2009 and was the first one to categorically state that “the internal threat is greater than an external one.” His successor General Raheel Shareef launched Zarb-e-Azb as the State’s response to re-establishing the writ of the State and uprooting terrorists from their sanctuaries in North Waziristan and elsewhere with even greater passion. I have no doubt that his successor, General Qamar Javed Bajwa will continue along the same trajectory.

More than 2,000 years ago, Greece was torn apart by Sparta’s failure to manage the rise of Athens. A hundred years ago, Europe was torn apart by its failure to manage the rise of Germany and, as a result, the world suffered two world wars. If the 21st century is to be more peaceful than the 20th, America and China must learn to co-operate

It is axiomatic that a modern state must have a monopoly over violence. I know that some sections in the West, and in India and in Pakistan as well, talk of Pakistan differentiating between ‘good and bad terrorists’. In my opinion, the relevant quarters are clear that militant non-state actors must be curbed, and it is a question of sequencing. The State is trying to guard against the consolidated blowback, which it would have to face, were it to open fronts against all non-state actors simultaneously.

Indian sources admit that cross-Line of Control (LoC) violence was significantly reduced when the peace process moved effectively. In other words, when Pakistan and India are involved in a serious and meaningful dialogue, holding out hope for Kashmiris as happened during Musharraf’s tenure, even Kashmir-related violence goes down.

The terrorism challenge does not merely emanate from Pakistan and the Pak-Afghan border region. The rise of ISIS has, for the first time, enabled non-state actors to capture and hold sizeable territory. ISIS’ violent extremism, its radical ideology and brutal methods pose a threat not only to the Middle East but beyond, including South Asia. Pakistan and parts of India are shown on ISIS’ map as part of the Islamic caliphate. Sections of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and some radical groups in Afghanistan are inclined towards its ideology. In the past, the Pakistani state’s apathy provided non-state actors the space to grow. Successive governments failed to put forward an effective counter narrative to extremist ideology. Both failures contributed to the proliferation of radical groups. The Pakistan government’s 20-point National Action Plan notwithstanding, a lot needs to be done to counter the extremists’ narrative and to uproot their infrastructure because they pose an existential threat.

The election of Trump makes this all the more necessary. While the ground reality compels Pakistan and the US to remain engaged, it should not be forgotten that it had been one of Pakistan’s foreign policy successes to maintain close and warm relations with both the United States and China.

We also must not forget that although the Republican Party historically has had close ties with Islamabad, this was primarily due to the situation and Pakistan’s ability to find areas of convergence with US policy during the Cold War era. Later, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, and the United States’ desire to avenge Vietnam, brought the two countries close together. But Pakistan paid a big price for that.

Following the 9/11 terrorist strikes on US soil and the binding UNSC resolutions, Pakistan entered into an alliance with Washington. Some analysts predict that the Trump Administration may not show much interest in Asia or in Afghanistan and would focus on combating ISIS in Syria and Iraq. There are, however, early indications that some Trump advisors may ask him to adopt a different course.

Peter Bergen, a leading US national security analyst, believes that Defense Secretary-designate, Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, is likely to “push for a more robust troop presence in Afghanistan, unconstrained by arbitrary pull-out deadlines.”

Trump’s choice for Secretaries of State and Defense may bring about some changes. He has already brought in Gen. Michael T. Flynn as his National Security Advisor, who has dealt with Pakistan and knows the complexities of the Afghan conundrum as well as of Pakistan-India relations. There are indications that Gen Flynn may show greater understanding for Pakistan’s problems. Furthermore, early indications in the form of the Trump-Nawaz Sharif telephone contact and the release of its contents to the media, though embarrassing in some respects, do indicate a fresher and, hopefully, a more positive state of mind.

Currently, all centres of power in Washington are with Republicans. The last time this happened was in the early days of the first Bush Administration when Pak-US relations were forged. When Bush Senior formulated policy towards Pakistan, he got strong backing by both the houses because of President Musharraf’s decision to align himself with Washington. We may have a similar situation now with the Republicans in control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Unlike the Obama Administration, Trump might not mince words in talking to Islamabad and Pakistan would be well advised to follow up on the direction that it has already taken regarding the non-state actors, which Islamabad initiated in its own interest.

The US-India strategic alliance is evolving with New Delhi making the nuclear field as its focus. India is also expanding relations with China’s adversary Japan, which is epitomised by the first-ever sale of amphibious sea-planes to India and the promise of multi-billion dollar Japanese investment there over the next five years.
Modi, during his Japan visit in November, signed a deal for the supply of nuclear reactors, fuel and technology. This is significant since it is the first time that Japan signed such a deal with a non-signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The deal will help India build six nuclear reactors by 2032.

Australia is also adopting a similar course and has signed an agreement for the sale of Australian uranium to India – a non-signatory to the NPT – for its ambitious civil and military nuclear programme.

This is in line with Obama’s pivot to Asia strategy aimed at containing the astounding rise of China. The recent decision by outgoing President Obama to host ASEAN leaders in California for US-ASEAN Summit 2016 was another step in this direction. But Trump can throw a spanner in the works. He announced that his first executive act will be to dissociate the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This could well sound the death knell not only for the TPP, but also to Obama’s “rebalancing” Asia policy.

China’s rise is peaceful and to the immense benefit of international trade and commerce. India and the United States should know “that the lesson of history is that everybody loses if the world allows legitimate worries to get out of hand and is unable to accommodate the rise of a new world power.”

More than 2,000 years ago, Greece was torn apart by Sparta’s failure to manage the rise of Athens. A hundred years ago, Europe was torn apart by its failure to manage the rise of Germany and, as a result, the world suffered two world wars. If the 21st century is to be more peaceful than the 20th, America and China must learn to co-operate.

China-Pakistan relations
China remains Pakistan’s most reliable friend and partner. The timing of its recent statement regarding the dams on the Brahmaputra River, where China is the upper riparian, has not escaped anyone’s attention following India’s threat to revoke the Indus Basin Treaty. In recent military exercises, Pakistan displayed the WZ-10, China’s latest and most modern helicopters. Indian analysts did not miss the import of this development. China’s recent action, extending its technical hold on Masood Azhar’s terror listing at UN, is yet another example. This does not mean that Pakistan can afford to ignore its relations with the United States and the European Union; it will do so at its own peril.

China is also sensitive to terrorism. In fact, one of the main motivations of China and Russia in promoting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a major Eurasian forum was to fight terrorism, though its scope has since been extended. Pakistan should try to play an important role at the SCO, more so, because Modi is bent upon weakening the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Nonetheless, I am not advocating that we abandon SAARC and focus only on the SCO.

CPEC – a game changer
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is genuinely a game changer, but in view of its importance, and to avoid provincial bickering, it is essential that it be put under independent professional management. The CPEC is President Xi Jinping’s flagship ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) grand initiative, designed to link China by land and sea to Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The CPEC was initiated during the days of the Musharraf-led government. Gwadar Port was completed in December 2006. Musharraf’s government attached a lot of importance to the Pak-China economic corridor, which envisaged a road, railway, fibre optic communication, and pipeline linkages between Gwadar and Xinjiang in Western China. I am happy to note that the successive governments of the PPP and the current PML (N) continued this process. According to latest reports, work on CPEC-related projects has started in earnest and their value is worth over $13 billion. Moreover, the Shanghai Electric Power Company recently unveiled a $9.0 billion investment plan to improve transmission, distribution and generation system of the K-electric – the power utility it proposes to acquire for $1.7 billion.

The economic corridor across 3,000 km of Pakistani territory will link Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang province. Once completed, the CPEC will link China directly to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, providing easy and quick access to the Middle East and Africa. Currently, a massive amount of China’s trade with Europe goes through the Strait of Malacca which, in case of hostilities, could be blockaded.

Thus CPEC provides China a securer and shorter trade route. The CPEC will bring in huge investment from China, which will encourage other foreign and local investors to come forward with new projects. These investors have hitherto been constrained because of terrorism and lawlessness. The Pakistan Army’s operation in North Waziristan, coupled with dedicated security arrangements for the protection of Chinese workers, can make all the difference in attracting new capital. We must take note of India’s public objections to CPEC running through what it describes as ‘Pakistani Occupied Kashmir’ but what is, in actuality, Azad Kashmir. In view of CPEC’s importance to China, Indian opposition is only strengthening Beijing’s resolve to thwart efforts to sabotage this important project. If India would try to resolve its outstanding disputes with Pakistan, the CPEC would work to the advantage of the entire region.

More than 2,000 years ago, Greece was torn apart by Sparta’s failure to manage the rise of Athens. A hundred years ago, Europe was torn apart by its failure to manage the rise of Germany and, as a result, the world suffered two world wars. If the 21st century is to be more peaceful than the 20th, America and China must learn to co-operate

Russia – another emerging player
Russia is now also emerging as a more active player and flexing muscle as a great Eurasian power, finally coming out of hibernation following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Following Trump’s election victory, there is now optimism in Moscow that its relations with the US can improve in a way that would be acceptable to Russia. This would entail Washington leaning on Kiev to implement the Minsk II agreement (negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany at their summit in Minsk in 2015) while easing the sanctions regime on Moscow. The United States and Russia can resume diplomatic collaboration in Syria and start a joint military effort against ISIS and other extremists.

There are, however, complications because of Trump’s harsh rhetoric on Iran, which could pose problems for Russia as Tehran remains its ally.

There is great potential for strengthening our relations with Russia. Ever since India started throwing its lot in with the United States and distancing itself from Russia, which had hitherto been its major arms supplier, Moscow has been keen to improve relations with Pakistan.

I remember making a tongue-in-cheek remark to President Putin in a meeting on the side-lines of a United Nations General Assembly session in New York whether India had a veto power over Russian sale of weapons to Pakistan. President Putin’s emphatic remark was that India did not have a veto over Russian defence equipment sale to Pakistan. This has since proved correct as Russia sold sophisticated defence equipment to Pakistan.
Russia also recently sent troops for joint military exercises with Pakistan in an area of Gilgit-Baltistan, while Pakistan-India tensions were at a high following the Uri incident. Russia went ahead with the exercise despite strong Indian objections.

If a potential Trump-Putin understanding materialises, there could be a complete revamping of US-Russia relations. This could have a positive impact on budding Moscow-Islamabad ties – believed by many as having the potential to develop into a Russia-China-Pakistan axis. It could also provide the necessary impetus to Pakistan to go for a decisive crackdown against the global militant organisations, spearheaded by the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Al Qaida, which have footprints in Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India.

Christophe Jaffrelot, a French political scientist who authored The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience, in a recent interview, said: “In geopolitical terms, OBOR is part of the ongoing China/Pakistan rapprochement, which the US/India rapprochement is also fostering. The role of Russia remains unclear, but if New Delhi continues to turn to Washington, Moscow may get closer to China, and Pakistan.”

Afghanistan’s concerns
We have to address Afghanistan’s concerns, but must realise that New Delhi and Kabul have joined in a chorus and are trying to influence others because we failed to better manage relations with the US, as we should have. We must persist with efforts at better and more effective border management and checks on those moving from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan and vice versa. At a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers at Potsdam, I made a suggestion to fence the border. Unfortunately, the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, kept quiet fearing it would upset Afghanistan because of the Durand Line issue. The Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay understood Pakistan’s position and said that you cannot both ask Pakistan to prevent undesirable movement and oppose its offer to fence the border.

It is appropriate to mention the need to revive talks for peace and stability in Afghanistan again as mentioned in the Heart of Asia – the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan – meeting held in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. In the recent past, it seemed that a greater understanding had developed between Pakistan and the United States on Afghanistan. It was wisely decided to create a ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ (QCG) comprising Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan made huge sacrifices following the events of 9/11 and subsequent developments as well, but for various reasons, its policies came in for a lot of criticism. Washington also found it convenient to blame Pakistan for its own failures in Afghanistan, mainly to justify to its public the massive loss of blood and finances sustained in this war.

Largely, for the same reasons, they continued to understate the effects of corruption, warlord-ism and the failings of the Afghan Administration itself, where only recently Parliament sacked seven ministers and where President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah barely seem to be on talking terms. Although Pakistan made many mistakes, the US found it useful to put the maximum blame on its ally. Hopefully, the new Trump Administration will not be a prisoner to the Obama Administration’s policies in South Asia.

The inclusion of US and China in the QCG was meant to add transparency to efforts to bring both Kabul and the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. But as a result of Pakistan-Afghanistan misunderstandings, this group seems to have gone into hibernation. Let’s hope that it is revived under the Trump Administration.
Nevertheless, time does not stand still. As a result of growing understanding between Russia and Pakistan, Moscow will soon host the first-ever talks in coming weeks, which will also involve China, in an effort to crack the Afghan conundrum. This need not be at the expense of the QCG and hopefully, with greater understanding between Moscow and Washington, both the QCG and the new trilateral group could reinforce each other by involving all relevant stakeholders on Afghanistan.

As a result of growing understanding between Russia and Pakistan, Moscow will soon host the first-ever talks in coming weeks, which will also involve China, in an effort to crack the Afghan conundrum

Pakistan must continue to work towards encouraging the Afghan Taliban and Kabul to resume dialogue, which is being supported by the US and China. The Afghan peace process will be cumbersome and slow. The situation has deteriorated, but the representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban met in Qatar in September 2016 without Pakistan’s presence because of rising suspicions by the Afghan government about Pakistan’s intentions towards the Haqqani network. There was also some unhappiness from the Afghan Taliban over the Pakistan government’s decisions to curtail their activities and arrest some of their leaders (a case of Pakistan suffering from a double whammy). Some even suspect Pakistan of having informed the CIA about Mullah Mansour’s whereabouts, when he was killed by a US drone (while the US blamed Pakistan for harbouring Mullah Mansour – another double whammy).

This only highlights how complicated and tricky the situation is. Be that as it may, we have few options and need to put our house in order as soon as we can. We must engage with Trump’s National Security team and emphasise the necessity of better border management and make it clear that the Afghans cannot ask to prevent ‘terrorists’ moving from Pakistan into Afghanistan and, at the same time, oppose efforts to better monitor the border.

Iran prospects
The lifting of sanctions by the UN and by most European countries will have a positive impact on Iran-Pakistan trade, particularly on the gas pipe line project. It must, however, be noted that Trump’s victory is calamitous for President Hassan Rouhani. He has invested heavily in securing a nuclear deal, which is now in peril. Were the United States under Trump to ‘rip’ up the nuclear deal with Iran or try to renegotiate it, which would amount to the same thing, remains a question. However, any renegotiation would be opposed by other signatories (the P5, along with the EU and Germany in particular) to the agreement.

Regardless of the wrangling that would follow among them, Pakistan would also face consequences since trade between the two countries has the potential of growing manifold. Pakistan has a difficult job balancing its relations with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. The new Trump Administration could pose more problems in our relations with Iran.

In a recent speech, Defense Secretary-designate Gen. Mattis said Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” According to a leading American analyst, such views are shared by Trump’s designated National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his nominee for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo. We can expect this troika to push for tougher action on Iran.

There are contradictions in Trump’s policy towards Russia, with which he wishes to improve relations, while to go tough with Iran – Moscow’s main ally in the Middle East. Similarly, Trump is on record saying that he would work with Syria and Russia to fight ISIS – and again Iran and Hezbollah or the main supporters of President Assad.
These contradictions will have to be smoothened by the US Administration. This will also provide Pakistan diplomatic space. The challenge for the Pakistan Foreign Office is to cultivate good relations with Iran and the US simultaneously. This was done when I was the foreign minister. Pakistan defied American pressure on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Also, Pakistan opposed any talk of a possible attack on Iran on the nuclear issue. Additionally, we did not vote against Iran in the IAEA moot in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear issue, while India did despite its good relations with Iran. We were thus able to resist US pressure, despite our good relations with Washington at that time and also maintained excellent relations with Iran.

Conclusion
However there remain some glaring weaknesses which need to be removed if Pakistan is to fully meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities that may arise in the future.

(i) The PM would have to get used to institutionalised decision-making to avoid misunderstandings of the type that have beset almost his entire tenure as well as his earlier ones. He must understand that it will strengthen his hand, and that of Pakistani diplomats, in dealing with its neighbours and major world powers. This will only happen if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif takes all the stakeholders on board, including the Foreign Office, the military, the intelligence agencies, and obviously, his main political colleagues. In all important countries – with a democratic dispensation or otherwise – military and intelligence agencies have an input in policymaking. This is all the more so in countries involved in military action. Pakistan has major problems on its eastern and western borders. I can say from my own experience that if civilians make a rational case, the military will not oppose it.

(ii) The diarchy at the helm in the Foreign Office sends confusing signals and undermines its effective functioning. Therefore, an empowered Foreign Minister is a must. An effective Foreign Office will enable us to better deal with challenges expected from the new US administration and avail more effectively from newly emerging opportunities with Russia and give momentum to our relations with China.

(iii) Appoint a lobbyist in America. Everyone knows the importance of lobbying in the United States. I found Congressman Charlie Wilson to be very useful in my meetings with key senators and congressmen. With the new administration to take over in January 2017, it is imperative that we get an effective lobbyist.

Pakistan-India: dialogue the only option
Regardless of the current situation on the LoC and the Modi government’s rhetoric and regardless of who minds the store in Islamabad and Delhi, neither country has a choice but to resolve differences through a meaningful dialogue.
The nature of Pakistan-India relations is such that in the absence of a positive stimulus, they do not remain on an even keel. The relationship either goes up or down if there is no dialogue. Modi must realise that both countries have tried everything else including five wars (Rann of Kutch and Siachen included), near war situations and a period of perpetual tension. There is nothing new that Modi can do. Both countries have large standing armies, nuclear weapons, with miniaturisation at a fairly advanced stage, with an ever growing stockpile of fissile material, and sophisticated delivery systems, consisting of both ballistic and cruise missiles as well as advanced aircraft.

Furthermore, both countries have a second strike capability which means that neither party can get away with a surprise attack since there is bound to be retaliation. This ought to impose a degree of responsibility among war-mongers on both sides and calls for adopting a policy of restraint.

The nature of Pakistan-India relations is such that in the absence of a positive stimulus, they do not remain on an even keel. The relationship either goes up or down if there is no dialogue

George Perkovich and Toby Dalton, in their book Not War, Not Peace? Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism, write: “We have asked Indian and Pakistani officials and experts to answer whether and how their countries could negotiate a lasting peace. We can only say that the condition of not war is unsustainable if not peace is the case of either state’s policy.”

They reached this conclusion after finding that “India and Pakistan are approaching rough symmetry at three levels of competition: sub conventional, conventional and nuclear. One of the countries may be more capable in one or more of these domains to deny the other confidence that it can prevail at any level of this violent competition without suffering more costs than gains. The condition of rough balance and deterrence across the spectrum of conflict amounts to an unstable equilibrium.”

India and Pakistan need to embark upon comprehensive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue – a stand which Mani Shankar Aiyer, India’s top Congress leader, also emphasises by calling for uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue. Let me remind Mr. Modi that we tried to achieve a similar objective through the Joint Statement on Irreversibility of the Peace Process announced in Delhi in 2005.

I am not a soothsayer. But if you go only by the current situation on the LoC, the future looks bleak indeed. I can only analyse the way any rational person would, regardless of any technical deviations for minor political advantage as Modi seems to be doing very irresponsibly. I cannot believe that it is actually his desire that the current situation be escalated to a point where war breaks out, which will inevitably drag in the international community, given that even the spectre of a possible use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, more than anything else, will internationalise the Kashmir dispute.

Secondly, there would be a stampede of capital out of India let alone any foreign investment heading in its direction. As a rational person, regardless of his RSS background, he must understand that it is essential to engage Pakistan and that the dialogue has to be unconditional as his predecessors PM Vajpayee and PM Manmohan Singh had realised.

Vajpayee in Kumarakom Musings openly admitted that two things were keeping India from achieving its potential at the international level; its problem with Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. PM Singh showed equal wisdom by openly expressing his desire to turn Siachen into a ‘mountain of peace’. I hope PM Modi will reach the same conclusion sooner rather than late

About the Author
Khursheed Kasuri
is a veteran politician and diplomat who served as the foreign minister of Pakistan from November 2002 to November 2007. He is also the author of 'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove'.