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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Indian fits of brinkmanship

American National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s visit had been planned in advance had nothing to do with the current tension between India and Pakistan. Also, it would be unrealistic to harbour expectations regarding the US role in Indo-Pak relations. Notwithstanding, trails of Indian arrogance lead towards undue coddling by America. India has to realize that the only way to bring an end to human misery on both sides of the border is to hold talks—especially on Kashmir. Idian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s frustration is understandable, due to childish approach, he has gathered phenomenal political baggage on personal, domestic and foreign policy counts. Modi’s obsession to cage Pakistan is firing back. During his recent visit to UAE, Modi tried to woo the Arab countries towards India, with a condition that they ditch Pakistan enbloc and comprehensively. He offered them defence cooperation in lieu of Pakistan’s constraints regarding sending its forces to quell the Yemen insurgency if Arab countries withdrew hand of assistance to Pakistan and show indifferent attitude to Pakistan on defence and economic matters. Again, Modi underestimated the depth of the relationship between Pakistan and Arab countries. King of Saudi Arabia made it clear in categorical terms that Saudi Arabia would never allow any Modi-led conspiracy against Pakistan to succeed. Tainted with his terrorist background, Modi lacks civility, patience and diplomatic skills. BJP needs to reconsider its prime ministerial choice lest all gained during Vajpayee era in India Pakistan bilateral context is reduced to ashes.

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Body language of Pakistan-India peace talks!

For some years a politically prompted theme had been circulating amongst Indian academicians and strategists that India should abandon bilateral talks with Pakistan for a decade or so, hoping that by then Pakistan would be so weakened that it would accept to talk to India on Indian terms. This fantasy echoing Nehru era wishful fallacy ‘that newly created Pakistan would not survive long and Jinnah would approach Nehru with his knees bent for its re-merger with greater India’ appears to have gone to the head of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His national Security Adviser Ajit Dival is still suffering the hangover of his police assignment. Emerging Modi-Doval doctrine is to impose a new bilateral regime whereby Pakistan should forget about Kashmir, water and talk about terrorism, and that too as interpreted by India. Indian external affairs minister Mrs Sushma Swaraj has a vast experience of sabotaging Pakistan-India peace process. She was instrumental in scuttling Agra Summit 14–16 July 2001, while she was Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting. Pakistan has rightly taken a position to follow multi-lateral route for presenting its dossiers on Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan should India shut the bilateral window on flimsy pretexts. Dialogue between India and Pakistan has never been an easy ride. Most of the agreements of strategic dimension could only come about with formal or behind the scene intervention, facilitation and or prompting of a third party. Pakistan need to revisit its policy of dying for dialogue with India, calculations indicate that there is not much that Pakistan is likely to gain from this futile approach.

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Afghanistan’s erratic trajectory

Afghan government is pressurizing Pakistan through the US, it has persuaded America to suspend the next tranche of Coalition Support Fund(CSF) to Pakistan for not doing enough against Haqqani network. Though formal announcement is likely to take sometime, reportedly the decision has informally been conveyed to Pakistan's embassy in Washington. This would cause a loss of US$ 1.5 billion; the amount has already been budgeted in the current year's budget. CSF is a reimbursement of amount already spent by Pakistan for providing services in connection with American counter terrorism effort. It is unbecoming of an ally to withhold such payments. This would be a setback for Pakistan and Afghanistan would stand absolved of what all it has uttered in the recent past. President Ashraf Ghani’s frustration is understandable, but his approach to resolve the issues is unfortunately getting more and more erratic. More than a decade long Pakistan bashing neither helped Americans nor Ashraf’s predecessor; it is not likely to help him either. Americans have corrected their course, and it would serve Ashraf well, if he follows the suite. Afghan conflict needs a professional handling. President Ashraf Ghani should have done his calculations before signing the Bilateral Security Agreement with America that a very powerful component of Taliban is not likely to compromise on presence of foreign troops on American soil. Despite stern tone in his comments on Pakistan, Ghani failed to come up with something concrete to achieve the desires objectives. Afghan leadership should comprehend that it is an exercise in futility to assume that Pakistan has compelling influence on Taliban. Bad experience of cobbling together a broad based Mujahedeen government in the wake of Soviet withdrawal from Kabul in the 1990s is not a distant memory; and ever since, Afghan insurgent leadership’s psyche has not changed much.

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Iran nuclear deal and our evolving region

[featured Image: Courtesy www.usnews.com] After13 years in the wilderness, potentially dangerous row over Iran’s nuclear programme is hopefully coming to a close—at least for the time being. Iran has undertaken to review its nuclear research and development programme in return for lifting of crippling economic sanctions. Over play of Iranian nuclear bogey had caught the American policy makers by throat in the form of Israeli and Saudi pressure to use military option for settling the perceived Iranian nuclear threat. Likewise Iran had missed out on the dynamics of the World led by a single super power; it failed to comprehend that after making noises remaining countries of P-5+1 invariably submit to American pressure. Both sides have learnt their lessons in the form of nuclear deal. Pakistan should make an effort to formally induct Iran into Murree peace process so that it becomes a stakeholder in the political process. At the same time, Iran needs to do its part to dispel the public perception in Pakistan that it is not a party to the sectarian problem of Pakistan and that it is not involved in stalling the development of Gwadar port project. It will be worthwhile for Pakistan to support Iran’s induction into CPEC projects. Pakistan should complete the IP project and not fall in the trap of clubbing it with the revivals of IPI. If India seeks to revive the project, and most probably it would, then IPI should be negotiated fresh and independent of IP project. Pakistan stands to gain if the nuclear deal goes through smooth implementation; and wishes Iran God’s speed in this regard.

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Afghan peace process: which way?

President Erdogan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, inter alia, discussed the prospects of budding Afghan peace process during their meeting in Chaklala. Over the previous years, Turkey has been taking keen interest in the negotiated settlement of Afghan crisis; initiatives like Istanbul, Ankara and Heart of Asia processes are just some of Turkey’s creativities. Matter was also discussed during a meeting between the US Special Representatives Daniel Feldman and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. Participants of both these meetings have expressed the hope that the talks would resume soon. Taliban are facing their biggest challenge. Death of Mullah Omar is certainly a strategic blow to the outfit. His charismatic stature had kept the group together and effective; his successor is not likely to attract the same esteem. Reports indicate that many senior Taliban commanders are not satisfied with the new ‘Supreme Leader’. Paramount question haunting the strategists is whether the movement would survive as a cohesive force, or splinter out around at least half a dozen second tier leaders vying for power. Historical record of Afghan militant leadership supports the notion that there could be some fissures; especially so when Mullah Omar’s family, too, has refused to pledge allegiance to him, until he is unanimously elected. Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding the death of the two iconic leaders of Taliban movement, there is a silver lining that successors to both departed leaders are known for their pro-peace commitment. Though all is not well on the Taliban side, hopefully, Siraj and Mansur will be able to carry along the major chunk of Taliban towards Murree peace process. The good omen is that Mansoor, who has been the defacto leader for quite some time now, is a pro-peace process leader and he is also keen to include the Doha peace commission into the Murree peace process. Appointment of new leadership may help foster a semblance of unity within the Taliban; Mansoor's appointment was any way unlikely to please everyone in the Taliban community.

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