Dr Zafar N Jaspal
PAKISTAN’S bilateral relations with its eastern and western neighbours severely deteriorated during the last two years. Though Islamabad did its best to engage constructively both New Delhi and Kabul, yet failed due to Premier Modi’s domestic politics (state elections) priorities and President Ghani’s internal security challenges. Premier Modi used anti-Pakistan catchphrases for mustering the support of the radicalised Hindus during the state elections in India. Similarly, blaming Pakistan is the famous tactic of the Unity Government in Kabul to conceal its failure to establish its writ in eastern and southern Afghanistan. Despite the baseless allegations, the Pakistani ruling elite continues its efforts to engage both the neighbours constructively for the regional peace and prosperity.
The recent Murree yatra of the Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal’s may be an attempt to break the stalemate between India and Pakistan. Many analysts opine that it was not a business trip of Mr. Jindal. It was an attempt by India and Pakistan to restart the stalled dialogue. Perhaps, the dialogue is the only option for both the belligerents to decrease the tension at the border. Importantly, the restart of dialogue automatically quashes Premier Modi’s policy to ‘isolate Pakistan’. Despite the probable positive aspect of the visit; it has unleashed a pessimistic debate in the country. The opposition parties questioned the timing and tried to establish the visit was a mere business trip. The media discourse and conspiracy theorists seems successful in heightening distrustful in the domestic politics of the country.
The biggest hurdle/problem while dealing with New Delhi is the prevalent chauvinistic domestic Indian political atmosphere. Premier Modi, during the recent states elections campaigns, used warmongering as a tactic for mustering the support of radicalised hawkish Hindu voters. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured majority in the important states’ elections and constituted its governments. The campaign, however, amplified anti-Pakistan feelings in the Indian society. The resumption of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad would not be acceptable to the preachers and followers of Hindutva.
Since one year, the innocent Kashmiris have been suffering from the brutality of the Indian armed forces. Despite the worst type of state terrorism, the Indian civilian and military law enforcement agencies have failed to restore the writ of the state in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. Instead of addressing the real cause of Kashmiris uprising, the Modi government has continuously been blaming Pakistan. Recently, the Indian Army alleged Pakistani border forces for the violation of Line of Control and mutilation of the bodies of its two soldiers. On May 1, 2017, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) refuted Indian army claims. It stated: “Pakistan Army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier even Indian.” The Indian Army occasionally charges Pakistan Army for the mutilation of the dead Indian soldiers bodies for maligning the latter.
The death sentence of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav is equally disturbing for the Indian spy establishment and hawks. Jadhav is an Indian Naval Officer, who works for India’s premier intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He was arrested by the Pakistani law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan. He admitted that he was involved in terrorist and other subversive activities inside Pakistan. The Indians expressed their desire for the release of Jadhav. The Government of Pakistan, however, seems reluctant to compromise on the punishment of Jadhav.
Pakistanis are concerned about the fact that the terrorist groups have been receiving financial and intelligence support from both Afghan intelligence and RAW for conducting their terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. In April 2017, Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesperson of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, surrendered to Pakistan Army. He claimed that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies were financing and supporting terrorists groups to subvert the internal security of Pakistan. Certainly, the continuity of such nefarious activities of Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies would not be tolerable for the sake dialogue process.
Although the Afghan Unity Government constantly levels baseless allegations against Pakistan to camouflage its own failure, yet Islamabad is determined to engage Kabul for cordial bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The bloody terrorist attacks in February 2017 forced Pakistan to take punitive action to destroy the terrorists sanctuaries located on Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In addition, Islamabad intensified its border management undertakings. It closed legal border crossings. Which affected both sides’ traders. Concurrently, Islamabad is endeavouring to maintain its contacts with Kabul.
Last week, two high-profile Pakistani delegations visited Kabul, ie Pakistani parliament delegation led by Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and military delegation led by Chief of General Staff Gen Bilal Akbar. The objective of both the delegations visit was to alter enmity with amity. To conclude, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan need to realize the efficacy of the connectivity between/among the neighbours for the prosperity of their people in the twenty-first century. Indeed, the mistrust hinders constructive engagement. Therefore, it’s imperative that they start a sustained dialogue process.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.