NEWS & VIEWS
Prime Minister Imran Khan in his tweet invited India for a dialogue on all conflicts for normalising relations between the two countries. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also said that he would send a message of peace towards India and Afghanistan, as war between two nuclear states is not an option. Although the contents of Narendra Modi’s letter to Imran Khan are not known except his message of congratulations on his election as PM, Congress presumed that PM Narendra Modi suggested dialogue with Pakistan. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “There seems to be a suggestion of resumption of a dialogue despite all the red lines, which means that there will be no talks till terror from Pakistan stops, till the trial of the 26/11 perpetrators is not resumed, till Lakhvi is not put back in the prison, till Hafiz Saeed, who heads the Jamat-ud-Dawa, is not incarcerated.”
This is reflective of Congress’ mindset; of course both BJP and Congress have identical views so far as Pakistan and Kashmir are concerned. However, Kashmiri leaders welcomed the statements from India and Pakistan, and radiated an aura of optimism that dialogue would help resolve the Kashmir dispute. Talking to Indian English daily The Hindu, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said: “It reflects new positivity. We hope that the channels of communication will remain open to build trust. It is in the interest of Kashmir and also in the interest of the entire region if the two countries come closer and resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute.” India and Pakistan had scores of dialogues in the past including the stalled Composite Dialogue; but after deliberations on other issues whenever Kashmir issue came under discussion, India on one pretext ended the talks. Lately, India and the US are trying to undermine the CPEC.
India has attempted every ruse and subterfuge to forestall CPEC. Taking the plea that Gilgit Baltistan is part of Kashmir, India has been consistently pressurising China to halt progress on CPEC, especially in GB. India’s demand is a frustrated move aimed at diverting the attention of world community from boiling situation in IOK, as it stands exposed in the world. India has conveyed its concern to Beijing over Chinese construction activities in, what it called, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and has asked them to stop it. “Government is aware of Chinese construction activities in PoK, and has conveyed to the Chinese side its concern over these activities, which we see as violating our sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have asked the Chinese side to cease these activities,” Minister of State in the External Affairs Minister VK Singh said. It has to be mentioned that Kashmir is very much on the agenda of the UN.
As regards Afghanistan, the US continues with the litany that Pakistan has to do more against terror organisations. It recently said that Pakistan should either bring the Taliban on the negotiating table or push them into Afghanistan. Pakistan has many a time categorically stated that the Taliban leadership is not in Pakistan. When Taliban control about 45 to 50 per cent area in Afghanistan they do not need sanctuaries in Pakistan or elsewhere. In July, the United States had termed the Taliban’s refusal to engage in dialogue to end Afghanistan’s nearly 17-year conflict as “unacceptable”, and called on Pakistan to exert more pressure on the militants in this regard. In July, US envoy Alice Wells had visited Islamabad for talks with senior civil and military officials. “Increasingly I think it’s becoming simply unacceptable for the Taliban not to negotiate,” she had said.
The other day, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells said: “Pakistan has an important role to play in furthering stability in Afghanistan. We have expressed our concern over the fact that terrorist proxy groups continue to be able to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan. We are urging the government to do more to bring pressure to bear against these organisations, externally oriented terrorists groups. Pakistan has an important role to play… but we have not yet seen that sustained and decisive action on the part of Islamabad. It’s going to be very hard for us to achieve our objectives… if Pakistan isn’t working with us.” The White House has been ratcheting up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on extremist groups operating in the country after suspending military aid to Pakistan in January, what it said, because of its inaction, conveniently forgetting the sacrifices made by Pakistan and its army in conducting operations.
Pakistan has long been accused of supporting the Afghan Taliban and providing safe haven to its leaders, the charges Islamabad denies. Pakistan, in return, has accused Afghanistan of sheltering the Pakistani Taliban. There is increasing debate within the Taliban leadership over how to respond to the growing pressure to take part in talks, a Western official said. “I think there are real opportunities now after 17 years of war and mounting international consensus to achieve the kind of talks and schedule that President Ghani laid out,” the official said. During the last two weeks, there has been an unprecedented increase in the attacks of Taliban as well as in the causalities of Afghan National Defence Forces. Kabul administration is being criticised by the citizens for failing to evolve an effective security policy. Gains of the Taliban have once again proved that the peace in Afghanistan cannot come without direct purposeful dialogue with the Taliban.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.