Posts Tagged ‘ Manmohan Singh ’

Pakistan Leader’s India Visit Hailed For Its Symbolism

By Mark Magnier for The Los Angeles Times

Pakistan’s president arrived in India on Sunday, the first official visit one leader of the wary neighbors has paid to the other nation in seven years. No breakthroughs were announced, but both sides hailed the meeting as a sign of easing tensions along one of the world’s most dangerous borders.

Spinmeisters on both sides worked overtime to lower public expectations of the “private” trip that saw Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discuss the 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, modest if expanding trade links, the disputed territory of Kashmir and efforts to bring various militants to justice.

The Pakistani president then visited a famous Muslim shrine for Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, offering a $1-million contribution.

“I am very satisfied with the outcome of this visit,” Singh said. “The relations between India and Pakistan should become normal — that is our common desire.”

The rapid-fire luncheon and shrine visit weren’t enough to overturn long-standing distrust between the nuclear neighbors, however, as summed up in a headline in India’s Mail Today tabloid newspaper: “Eat, Pray, No Love.”

The meeting is part of an apparent effort to follow the diplomatic model in place between India and China, which fought a war in 1962 over their disputed border: Put aside the most nettlesome issues for the time being and focus on building investment and trade links that benefit both sides.

This year, India and Pakistan approved a most-favored-nation agreement, lowering taxes that impede trade. Although India had offered this benefit to Pakistan in 1996, it wasn’t reciprocated until recently. Official two-way trade of about $2.6 billion is heavily weighted in India’s favor.

Sunday’s one-day visit was heavy on symbolism if not on substance. Zardari invited Singh for a reciprocal visit to Pakistan, which the Indian leader accepted, although no date was set. Zardari’s 23-year-old son, Bilawal, invited ruling Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi to Pakistan, which was also accepted, again with no date set.

On other fronts, both sides agreed in principle to ease visa restrictions. India offered its assistance in the wake of this weekend’s massive avalanche in the Siachen Glacier area, which buried about 130 people on the Pakistani-controlled side of the border in disputed Kashmir. And both sides did lots of glad-handing for the cameras.

“We had fruitful bilateral talks,” Zardari said. We “hope to meet on Pakistani soil very soon.”

But any bid to bring to justice those who planned the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed at least 166 people was sidestepped. India has long blamed Pakistani-based groups for plotting the attack.

Last week, Washington offered a $10-million reward for information leading to the capture of one Pakistani militant leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who enjoys widespread support in Pakistan.

Analysts on both sides of the divide welcomed the gradual thaw even as they acknowledged its slow pace. That no date was set for a return visit, and that Congress Party head Sonia Gandhi — characterized by some as India’s real leader behind the scenes — didn’t meet Zardari or attend the lunch, suggests the Indian government is wary of getting too far ahead of public opinion, some observers said.

“There have been some useful steps forward,” said B. Raman, director of Chennai’s Institute for Topical Studies and a former Indian intelligence officer on the Pakistan desk. “But the government has taken a cautious line.”

The fact that Zardari, 56, made the trip at all suggests that Pakistan’s military realizes improved relations are in its interest, added Talat Masood, an analyst and retired Pakistani general.

“They’re overstretched, realize the economy’s in a shambles and that you can’t have a genuine defense without a good economy,” Masood said. “It’s very sad in a way, that the process has been held hostage to jihadi groups and hard-rightists on both sides.”

Singh, 79, heading a weak government beset by corruption scandals, has pushed for improved ties with Pakistan in a bid to secure a legacy, analysts on both sides said. “Prime Minister Singh realizes he’s only going to be there a few more months,” said Masood. “He wants to do something positive so he’s remembered.”

Why President Zardari’s Visit Is A Small Bonus

By Soutik Biswas for The BBC

Hope is not a policy, but neither is despair, as South Asia expert Stephen Cohen says in a recent essay on Pakistan.

So it is with relations between India and Pakistan.

The past few days have shown how fragile the relationship can be – even as India welcomed President Asif Ali Zardari’s private trip to India on Sunday – the first by a Pakistani head of state for seven years – and PM Manmohan Singh invited him for lunch, the $10m US bounty for Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, provoked the cleric to openly launch a fresh attack against India (and the US).

But people live in hope, so Indian media is gung-ho about Mr Zardari’s visit.

They say the Pakistani president must be applauded for trying to end trade discrimination against India, easing petroleum imports from across the border, and moving towards a liberal visa deal.

“Under Mr Zardari’s watch, India and Pakistan are considering a sweeping agenda for economic co-operation for the first time in decades. The prime minister has every reason to welcome Mr Zardari warmly and consider the next steps in consolidating the unexpected movement in bilateral relations,” the Indian Express wrote.

Analyst C Raja Mohan believes Mr Singh must make an official trip to Pakistan after his meeting with Mr Zardari. “For his part,” he wrote, “Mr Singh should convey to Mr Zardari his readiness to move as fast and as far as the Pakistan president is willing to go.” Others like Jyoti Malhotra actually find Mr Zardari’s visit to the shrine of a famous Sufi Muslim saint in Rajasthan loaded with symbolism in these troubled times. “Clearly, Mr Zardari has stolen an imaginative moment from the bitter-sullen history of India-Pakistan, by asking to come to pay his respects to a cherished and much-beloved saint across the Indian subcontinent,” she wrote.

The relations between two neighbours remain complex. A 2010 Pew survey found 53% of the respondents in Pakistan chose India as the greater threat to their country, and only 26% chose the Taliban and al-Qaeda. At the same time 72% said it was important to improve relations with India, and about 75% wanted more trade relations and talks with India.

Pundits like Mr Cohen believe that it will “take the [Pakistan] army’s compliance, strong political leadership, and resolutely independent-minded foreign ministers to secure any significant shift of approach towards India”.

None of this appears to be in much evidence at the moment.

Both countries have seriously weakened governments that makes them unable to move towards any radical confidence building measures. In the current circumstances, President Zardari’s visit can only be a small bonus. And as scholars like Kanti Bajpai suggest, India must remain patient (even if faced with another Mumbai-style attack), continue to engage with Islamabad, help the civilian government in Pakistan politically, try to resolve a few outstanding disputes like Siachen and Sir Creek, build a relationship with the army and explore the possibility of cooperating with Islamabad on the future of Afghanistan. Despair does not help mend a stormy relationship.

Trust Deficit with Pakistan Shrinking: Singh

As Reported by The Express-Tribune via AFP

 

 

The leaders of India and Pakistan will meet on the sidelines of a regional summit this week, as the nuclear-armed rivals seek to push a tentative rapprochement in their fractious relationship.

Talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani will take place at the summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations that opens Thursday in the Maldives.

India’s foreign minister said Wednesday that a “trust deficit” with Pakistan was shrinking as he headed for a regional summit, in a clear sign of warming relations between the neighbours.

“The trust deficit with Pakistan is shrinking,” S.M. Krishna said on board his flight to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

He also said that it was necessary for Pakistan and India to develop a joint strategy to fight terror in the region, the agency reported.

Their meeting follows what Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai described as “positive indicators” from Pakistan in recent weeks that it is serious about reducing tensions.

An Indian military helicopter which strayed into Pakistani territory last month was promptly released along with its crew and returned to India, avoiding what in the past could easily have escalated into a diplomatic row.

And last week the Pakistani cabinet approved a proposal to grant India the status of “most favoured nation” in a move towards normalising trade relations.

“These are I would say indications of forward movement,” Mathai said, adding that “all aspects” of the India-Pakistan relationship would be discussed during the Singh-Gilani talks.

The two prime ministers last met in March when Gilani accepted Singh’s invitation to watch the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final. They last held formal talks at the 2010 SAARC summit in Bhutan.

Talks between the neighbours’ foreign ministers in July failed to produce a major breakthrough, but both sides signalled a warming of ties, with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani speaking of a “new era of cooperation.”

But efforts to reduce tensions have been complicated by the increasing influence of Afghanistan in the bilateral equation.

Indian involvement in Afghanistan is sensitive, with Pakistan vehemently opposed to its arch foe meddling in what it considers its backyard. Islamabad’s suspicions were fuelled when Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership pact last month.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also attend the SAARC summit, along with the leaders of other member nations Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Previous summits of the regional body have been largely overshadowed by the India-Pakistan dynamic — a fact that Mathai acknowledged with regret.

“We would like the focus to remain essentially on the common business of SAARC … and hope that the focus will not be diverted to one single event,” he said. The summit is being held in Addu, on the southern Maldives’ island of Gan.

Mumbai Counts Its Losses

As Reported by The Hindustan Times

The improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in the triple bombings were not crude but prepared with “some level of sophistication”, the government said as investigators scrambled for clues on a rain-soaked Thursday and a weary Mumbai picked up the pieces after yet another terror strike.

A day after 17 people were killed and 131 injured when synchronised blasts rocked India’s financial capital, striking the congested areas of Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House within minutes of each other, there was no breakthrough on who was behind it.

“We will ensure no matter wherever the accused are, we will identify them and bring them to book,” Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria vowed, appealing for faith and trust.

In a flurry of activity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi headed for Mumbai. Home minister P. Chidambaram reached on Wednesday night and opposition leader LK Advani on Thursday morning.

Resigned, outraged or simply stoic, Mumbaikars rallied around to battle the crisis, 31 months after the Nov 26-28, 2008 terror assault, India’s worst. They waited outside morgues to claim the bodies of their kin, lined up at hospitals or packed into trains and buses to go about their daily work.

“I am a Mumbaikar and we shall not be scared by these terror attacks. Like me, lakhs of co-commuters are in the trains, buses and roads. It actually helps gives strength to each other,” Archana Shukla said as she went to work.

In Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai’s most popular address for jewellery that on Wednesday saw its third terror strike, merchants were shocked. But said firmly they were staying put.

“What is the point in shifting base? Are other business locations safer?” asked Raju Solanki, a gold jeweller.

That was a question even experts were loathe to answer as investigators began unravelling the conspiracy behind this latest assault by yet unknown terrorists.

Various agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG), the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Mumbai Police, were involved in the probe.

According to union home secretary RK Singh, the ammonium nitrate-based IEDs were “not crude” but indicated “some level of sophistication”.

A top doctor at one of the hospitals where the bodies of the dead were taken for a post mortem said an electric circuit, that may have triggered the blast, was found on one of them, leading to speculation that it may have been a suicide bomber at work.

Sources said traces of ammonium nitrate, also confirmed by Chidambaram, and fuel had been found in the explosives.

“Ammonium nitrate was used with a timer. The fact that they all took place within minutes of each other — eight-to-10 minutes — shows that it was a coordinated terror attack,” Chidambaram said.

The CCTV footage holds the key. Sources told IANS that some of the footage was marred by the rain and bad light Wednesday evening.

Hours after visiting the terror sites, Chidambaram said 131 people had been taken to 13 hospitals with injuries. He said one severed head was also found at the site that could take the death toll to 18.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, he admitted there was no prior intelligence input.

Quick to seize the initiative, BJP leader Advani pointed the needle of suspicion towards Pakistan.

“It is a policy failure not intelligence failure. There have been repeated attacks on Mumbai, this is a failure of policy,” Advani told reporters.

Advani quoted reports of a probable link between the blast and the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and said even if it were behind the attack it was being sustained by Pakistan.

“The last attack on our land is proved to have been engineered by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence),” Advani said.

“So far as India is concerned, the government of India should shed its ambivalence to terrorism,” Advani said.

Pakistan’s foreign minister comes to New Delhi for talks July 26-27 and external affairs minister SM Krishna said the terror strikes would not impact the strategic dialogue.

The timing of the attack has raised suspicions in informed strategic circles over whether the serial blasts were engineered by those who wanted to derail the peace process in the subcontinent.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteWe at Pakistanis for Peace are saddened by this loss of life and would like to let our Indian friends know that we as Pakistanis for Peace stand in solidarity with India against acts of terror.

India and Pakistan Discuss Demilitarisation of Siachen

As Reported by The Economic Times

India and Pakistan today discussed demilitarisation of Siachen, a mountainous region where borderline is not demarcated, in a “constructive framework”, picking up the threads of the issue after a gap of three years.

The issue came up for discussion during the 12th round of two-day Defence Secretary level talks between the two sides.

“The talks were held in a constructive framework. Both sides apprised each other of their perception about the Siachen issue and also discussed the surrounding issues,” Defence Ministry officials said.

Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar led the Indian delegation at the talks with his Pakistani counterpart Lt General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali.

The decision to resume the talks between the two countries was taken last year during the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Thimpu when they decided to take forward the dialogue process.

While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes Special Secretary R K Mathur, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General A M Verma and Surveyor General S Subha Rao.

The Pakistani Defence Secretary met Defence Minister A K Antony in the afternoon for over 20 minutes.

The two sides may come up with a joint statement tomorrow after the talks, the officials said.

Pakistan has been asking for demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier and raised the issue of climate change there due to presence of troops from both sides and its effects on the environment.

Siachen, with an area of over 2500 sq km, the world’s highest militarised zone, has been a long pending issue between India and Pakistan over differences on the location of the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Soltoro Ridge and Siachen Glacier.

India’s Own Operation Geronimo?

By Ashok K Mehta for The Wall Street Journal

Every time there is a Pakistan-sourced terrorist attack in India, the reaction in the world’s largest democracy is predictable. Demands range from “hot pursuit” of the terrorists across the border to cries for all-out war. In the last decade, analysts have proposed other alternatives: surgical air strikes, a limited armored offensive and covert operations. The latter option seems especially inviting after U.S. special forces took out Osama bin Laden last Sunday.

These demands for strong action are in stark contrast with the way the Indian government has responded to these attacks: pursuing bland diplomacy. The starker this contrast gets, the more complicated it will be for New Delhi to implement a foreign policy that is assertive, yet careful and deterrent, in the future. Instead, if the government displays the requisite will and capabilities for a targeted strike today, it can avoid the need for an actual strike later.

History offers some perspective. After the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked New Delhi’s Parliament in December 2001, the U.S. had to step in quickly to prevent armed clashes between the arch rivals. In May 2002, following yet another terrorist attack and after months of coercive diplomacy by both New Delhi and Washington, Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf offered a very strong assurance that his country’s territory would not be used to host attacks against India. This assurance was conveyed to New Delhi by then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who said that terrorism emanating from Pakistan would end “permanently, irreversibly, visibly and to the satisfaction of India.”

New Delhi bought that assurance and started to reach out to Islamabad diplomatically. Yet its pattern of responses since 2002 has led to six more terrorist attacks originating in Pakistan. All Islamabad has done is give similar reassurances.

After the attack on Mumbai in November 2008, India found itself in the same trap. It issued the usual protests accompanied by vague threats of retaliation and called off the dialogue that had started a few years ago. But Islamabad denied any state complicity. At that point, India’s strategic-affairs and military community noted that New Delhi had to raise Pakistan’s costs of encouraging cross-border terrorism.

However, by 2009, the Manmohan Singh government’s energies were focused on sending dossiers of evidence to Islamabad, pointing to proof of LeT’s hand in the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan’s civilian government stalled on them. Still, Mr. Singh staked his reputation on trying to start a dialogue. Earlier this year it began, most visibly at the sidelines of the cricket world cup.

These diplomatic back-and-forths have not yielded results. Despite playing nice, Islamabad has snubbed its neighbor’s friendliness. Last week, Pakistan’s government called India’s demand for the Mumbai 2008 suspects “familiar and outdated.”

What should New Delhi do then? Even with the world’s fourth largest military, India has failed to deter Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism. Now, the success of America’s Operation Geronimo in killing bin Laden has whetted its appetite to do more. Last week, when asked if India could pull off a similar mission, India’s armed service chiefs replied in the affirmative.

This could well be bravado on the chiefs’ part, because India suffers from fundamental deficiencies. For one, India’s political leadership has been risk-averse. Even before the two sides fought a limited war in Kashmir in 1999, New Delhi had already announced that it would never cross the Line of Control, the de facto border. This tied the Indian army’s hands when Pakistan crossed this amorphous line and claimed Indian soil as its down. More broadly, India has a history of strategic restraint, which means its diplomatic and military strategy hasn’t been focused on assertively achieving select goals.

As a result, India has invested in neither the legal architecture nor the physical capabilities to pull off an Operation Geronimo. For instance, U.S. counterterrorism policy declares that terrorists in breach of U.S. laws who are harbored by any state will be brought back for prosecution through “induced cooperation” and, when necessary, force. India needs something like this. Such laws would give its counterterror operators legal cover as well as set the ground for dealing with other gray legalities in the war on terror.

Then there’s the question of what intelligence and arms India can put on the ground. Its human intelligence across the border and experience in foreign clandestine operations is weak. Unlike the U.S.—which probably maintains an estimated 3,000-4,000 intelligence operatives in Pakistan—India has been scaling back its intelligence infrastructure inside that country for the past 15 years. In the late 1990s, then-Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral consciously dismantled this infrastructure as part of a new doctrine for peace, a grave strategic error.

Equipment- and training-wise, too, India falls short. Indian commandos freed the Mumbai hostages with much clumsiness over a prolonged 72-hour operation in November 2008, making some wonder how they would operate in alien environments.

None of this is to suggest that India should prosecute an operation similar to Geronimo in coming months. But being ready for one is necessary. It sends a strong psychological deterrent to those in Pakistan’s intelligence services who may sympathize with and assist the likes of LeT—just like possessing more tanks and fighter jets deters a conventional military threat. It suggests to Islamabad that New Delhi has the necessary political will.

Preparing for such small operations can prevent larger debacles in the future. Unless Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex is completely dismantled, it can still pose a threat to India. And the more that threat looms large and the less India prepares to stay ahead of it, there could come a day when a big terrorist attack makes India’s electorate—infuriated with its government’s bland version of diplomacy—scream for blood.

Political pressure could then compel an Indian prime minister to hurriedly send in a team of commandos without any direction. Worse, it could hurl the subcontinent into full-scale war.

Mr. Mehta is a retired major general of the Indian Army and founder member of India’s Defence Planning Staff.

Dialogue Key to Peace with Pakistan, Says India

By Anjana Pasricha for The Voice of America

As India and Pakistan get ready to restart peace talks after more than two years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says dialogue is the only way to resolve their differences.  The embattled Indian leader is also vowing to tackle inflation and punish those guilty of corruption — two issues which have put his government on the ropes at home.

Speaking to parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Singh said South Asia will not realize its potential unless India-Pakistan relations are normalized. India is willing to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan, he said.

But, striking a cautious note, he expressed hope that Islamabad will give up allowing its territory to be used for terrorist activity directed at India.

“I sincerely hope and believe that the new ruling classes of Pakistan would grasp the hands of our friendship and recognize that whatever our differences, terror as an instrument of state policy, is something no civilized society ought to be using,” he said. “I am not saying that we have today an atmosphere in which negotiations can go forward, but there are hopeful signs.”

Earlier this month, both countries decided to restart a peace process, which New Delhi had put on hold after blaming Pakistan-based Islamic militants for mounting the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet in the Indian capital in March. Their foreign ministers are to meet by July.

Singh’s comments on the peace talks with Pakistan came during an address to parliament, in which he outlined the priorities facing his government.

He pledged to lower inflation from 10 percent to seven percent by the end of the year. Food inflation is even higher and has emerged as a major worry in a country with millions of poor people.

Singh has promised to bring a new food security bill in parliament to ensure that poor people are protected from rising food prices.

Inflation has to be tackled in a manner that it does not hurt the economy, which the prime minister says is growing well.

“If we had a ham-handed [heavy] approach, we could have killed the growth process which is the only source of providing jobs for our youth. So, this delicate balance has to be preserved between control of inflation and protection of employment,” he said.

The Indian leader also vowed to crack down on those guilty of corruption in connection with sale of telecom spectrum, in 2008, and the organization of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, last year. Allegations that officials siphoned off billions of dollars have put the spotlight on corrupt practices in government contracts.

With the two corruption scandals dominating headlines in recent months, Singh expressed fears that the wrong impression may be going out.

“The message should not go out that India is adrift, that India has lost its way, that the enthusiasm for getting this country moving forward is something that is no longer in evidence,” he said.

The Congress-led government was voted back to power in 2009, but is facing a rising wave of discontent both becauseof high food prices and the high-profile graft scandals.

Will India Win Coveted UN Seat?

By Sunil Sharan for The Huffington Post

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao says Pakistan is hypnotically obsessed with India but she and her bosses too are fixated on a coveted prize, a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The mandarins of New Delhi must be pleased as punch to have had over to visit leaders of all five permanent member countries in quick succession. Inexorable appears the march but will India find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? And, if it does, what are the implications for itself as well as for Pakistan?

First in was David Cameron of Britain, who arrived during the summer and offered unstinting support, whetting local appetite for the main American course. And, did he fail to disappoint? No sir, Barack Obama set the cat amongst the pigeons by endorsing India for the seat, the first time ever by the US. India rejoiced while Pakistan recoiled.

But a careful examination shows him adhering closely to what he told Bob Woodward in the book, Obama’s Wars. In lieu of the seat, he expects India to resolve Kashmir. At a press conference with Manmohan Singh, Obama characterized Kashmir as a long-standing dispute making the latter stutter that the K-word was not scary. Only then did Obama hand over the endorsement in India’s Parliament but couched in such diplomatese that countless local hair were split over when “the years ahead” would dawn.

Next waltzed in Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The French, like the British, have consistently seen merit in India’s case. Sarkozy though, true to type, proved an enigma. He first tagged on the applications of Africa, the Arabs and pretty much the rest of the world onto India’s, befuddling his hosts, who are willing to concede as equal aspirants only “self-appointed frontrunners” Germany, Japan and Brazil. Just as they were about to give up on him, Sarkozy warmed the cockles of India’s heart by throwing in 2011 as early as when it could make it.

But soon came the caveat. Sarkozy, just like Obama before him, cautioned that with great power status came great responsibilities. Whereas Obama wanted India to be more mindful of human rights violations of countries such as Iran and Myanmar, Sarkozy wanted India to send military forces to keep world peace. With India already being one of the foremost contributors to UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world, the mandarins of New Delhi must have been left wondering what more was being asked of them.

No matter, three down, two to go. By now the state jets were landing at Delhi airport almost on top of one another. Wen Jiabao, the leader India was least looking forward to, came with the master key to entry. Shortly before his visit, WikiLeaks revealed China’s opposition to any council expansion. Indian hopes were up nevertheless but Wen remained inscrutable, willing only to acknowledge an understanding of India’s aspirations. No one in India knew quite what to make of him and since Wen was off to Pakistan next, all the country could do was wait with clenched teeth to hear what he would say there.

Rounding off the passage to India was Dmitry Medvedev. Relations between Russia and India have frayed considerably since the heady days of the cold war, so much so that Russia has waffled on India’s bid. Medvedev signaled that the waffle still needed baking, voicing support for India while reiterating that reforming the council was tough and required consensus.

All the while Pakistan protested vociferously against what it deemed an indulgence of Indian hegemonism. But what will India gain with a permanent UN seat? Could it block Pakistani claims on Kashmir? True a permanent member wielding veto power can stonewall but the veto seems unattainable for seekers since they themselves have forsaken it. And, while India sees red when the K-word is uttered in the UN by Pakistan, no ascension to permanency can make it strangle the latter. Nor can it efface any past security council resolutions.

So then, what is it? Nothing comes to mind but the obvious, the acceptance that any arriviste craves. Even that appears a false hankering because ever since its early years, Gandhi’s legacy and Nehru’s charisma burnished the country with global influence disproportionate to its economic and military capabilities. A bee once in one’s bonnet is hard to get rid of though. And, as every journey must have a fitting end, India has found a destination to its liking.

Flush with cash, New Delhi wants to beef up its military. All of the recent visitors bar China are major suppliers of defence equipment to India. As bees flock to honey, they arrived armed with catalogues of the most terrifying stuff. Inherent was a delicate diplomatic quid-pro-quo. The more arms you buy from us, the more we will push your candidacy. As Islamabad keeps raising the bar for India’s seat, so too will India have to up its arms binge.

Lost in Pakistan’s current rhetoric was its vote in October to put India in the security council for two years beginning January 1, 2011. Once on, we will never get off is the new mantra of India’s brave. India seemingly returned the favor by taking in stride the sale of Chinese nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Is there more afoot than meets the eye?

Every country is entitled to its obsession. Pakistan’s is obvious. By continually thumbing its nose at a NATO mired in Afghanistan, it has put the K-word in spotlight, albeit on the backstage. A deal has been blessed by the powers that be. Both the seat and Srinagar are not far away.

The writer edits a website on India: http://www.scooptime.com.

China’s Wen, India’s Singh Make Little Progress at Summit

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Thursday in New Delhi, the main event of a three-day summit aimed at building trust and reducing long-standing irritants. But they announced no substantive breakthrough and little progress on border disputes, access to shared water resources or security issues.

Nor was there any apparent progress on India’s bid to open Chinese markets to its software, pharmaceuticals and farm products. New Delhi also remains wary of Beijing’s regional ambitions and its ties with Pakistan, India’s nuclear adversary.
The two rising Asian superpowers made some modest progress on the economic front, pledging to expand trade to $100 billion by 2015 from $60 billion at present and try to reduce the trade gap. China is India’s largest trading partner, but trade flows are heavily weighted in Beijing’s favor.

The two leaders also agreed to set up a hotline, and both sides spoke about the need for improved ties.

“I hope that my visit will help increase our cooperation in a wide range of fields and raise our friendship and cooperation to an even higher level,” Wen told reporters on leaving a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace.

“A strong partnership between India and China will contribute to long-term peace, stability, prosperity and development in Asia and the world,” Singh added.

But any move to turn the regional cooperation rhetoric into reality will quickly run into roadblocks, analysts said, given the nations’ differences over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, North Korea’s long-standing conflict with the international community and continued warfare in Afghanistan.

China appeared keen to outdo the recent visit to India by President Obama. Chinese officials brought a contingent of 400 business executives, compared with the 250 American business men and women who accompanied the U.S. leader. And they signed $16 billion worth of business deals, compared with America’s $10 billion.

Singh and Wen reportedly discussed many of their nations’ core differences, including Pakistan; divided Kashmir; and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader based in northern India and considered by Beijing to be a “splittist” enemy of a unified China. But neither side made any significant concessions.

The two nations agreed to keep working on peacefully resolving their lingering border disputes, the focus of a brief war in 1962. Talks have languished for years.

China claims much of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, whereas India wants China to back away from a slice of territory it controls in Kashmir, the disputed region largely divided between India and Pakistan.

“It will not be easy to completely resolve this question,” Wen said in a speech. “It requires patience and will take a fairly long period of time. Only with sincerity, mutual trust and perseverance can we eventually find a fair, reasonable and a mutually acceptable solution.”

In other words, said analysts: Don’t hold your breath. Add it up, they said, and this meeting — the 11th between the two leaders in five years — accomplished relatively little.

“Issues that fuel mutual mistrust, such as Kashmir for the Indians and Tibet for the Chinese, were addressed, but not substantially,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The boundary dispute has not been resolved. There’s no road map.”

 

11/26/2008: How India Debated a War With Pakistan that November

By Pranab Dhal Samantha for Express India

The last of the 26/11 terrorists had been killed only a few hours back when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presided over an urgently called meeting of the country’s security top brass. Present at that meeting on November 29, 2008, were Defence Minister A K Antony, the then National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, heads of both intelligence agencies and the three service chiefs — the Army was represented by its Vice-Chief Lt Gen M L Naidu as Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor was overseas — among other high-ranking officials. The key issue on the agenda — India’s response.

By then, there was no doubt among any of those present at this meeting, which lasted for over two hours at the PM’s residence, that the entire attack had been controlled, coordinated and plotted by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and its handlers in Pakistan. An undeniable body of evidence had already piled up from the calls monitored between the terrorists and their handlers in the course of the attack. More evidence was pouring in by the hour. There was no way any government in New Delhi could drag its feet — the Prime Minister knew he had to ask the dreaded question to all those responsible for the defence of India.

He started with the words that the people of India “will not forgive us” for what had happened and that the government had indeed failed them. This was not an empty comment. About 10 days before, US intelligence had intercepted a phone call from “somewhere in the Arabian Sea” to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. The input with coordinates of the boat’s position had been passed on to Indian agencies and then disseminated but not with the immediacy and urgency it deserved. Coast Guard authorities carried out reconnaissance sorties but by then it was too late. They found nothing on those coordinates except for scores of fishing boats that looked alike. The boat had obviously moved on. The Coast Guard filed a report that it needed the latest coordinates. And that’s where matters lay until the night of November 26 when the 10 terrorists surfaced in the heart of Mumbai.

Yet, the Prime Minister kept his calm and turned to the three service chiefs. He asked them whether they had any options in mind. In the same breath, he preemptively made it clear that he did not favour another Operation Parakram. That option was off the table from day one, recall sources. The then Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta chose to remain quiet. After all, the Navy was carrying out exercises in the area when the 10 terrorists slipped in without raising an alarm. The Army Vice-Chief wanted to wait for Gen Kapoor to return before they could crystallise their thoughts.

It was Air Chief Marshal Fali Major who eventually spoke up and suggested striking terror camps in PoK. The Air Chief was sure that his planes and pilots could do the job but the intelligence agencies would have to provide the coordinates. There was no further discussion on the subject that day, but it was also not the last conversation.

So, how close did India and Pakistan come to war? The views range from “very close” to “fleetingly close” but the fact which all key players confirm is that the military option was indeed on the table. It was subsumed by only a larger question of how would Pakistan react?

IN the days that followed, the military top brass went aboutnworking on the options. The Air Force, in particular, did go into the finer aspects of conducting a limited air strike in PoK but the political decision-making never moved any further.

However, the Defence Minister did hold a meeting with the three service chiefs after the PM’s first meet. At that point, the Army Chief was asked whether limited ground strikes could be carried out. Gen Kapoor is said to have responded that an operation was possible but he would need a week’s notice and that it would be a “highly risky” affair. He is said to have added that any political approval on this must include flexibility for the Army to respond anywhere along the LoC or for that matter, even the international border. In the Army’s assessment, any strike would definitely lead to an escalated military conflict and the government ought to prepared for it. The Air Force agreed that a strong Pakistani reaction was certain but was not willing to predict the levels of escalation.

While this continued, the Army proposed that it would like to prolong the stay of two of its brigades involved in a scheduled peacetime military exercise on the Rajasthan border. The go-ahead was given and the two brigades overstayed for about two weeks.

Much later, in early January, when then Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who is now the National Security Advisor, visited the US, his eloquent assertion in all his meetings about how India had not provoked Pakistan was only once challenged. Gen David Petraeus is learnt to have told him that this was not true because Indian troops had overstayed after finishing their military exercise. To Pakistan, he felt, this was a provocation to which it gave a disproportionate response by placing troops on alert and moving its fighters closer to the border.

There was also another incident about an Indian plane violating Pakistan airspace which apparently led to a F-16 scramble on the Pakistan side. Islamabad lodged a strong diplomatic protest. India denied with equal conviction. But at the same time the Air Force was asked to carry out an investigation.

The result was that there was indeed some violation by a reconnaissance plane of the Aviation Research Centre, RAW’s air wing, that was conducting a sortie along the LoC. This aircraft, perhaps, went too close to the LoC, violating the rule that both sides will not send their aircraft that near.

A few days later, a meeting was held in the nuclear bunker where the top leadership of the government is to be rushed in case of a nuclear strike. This was not provoked by 26/11. It was scheduled much before the attacks with the objective of familiarising the PM and other ministers of the emergency drill. But in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks, the meeting could not have ignored the security environment of the day.

The PM is believed to have asked how would one distinguish a nuclear strike from any other non-nuclear, yet devastating attack. This was important because like many in the bunker, he too wanted to be sure that sufficient safeguards were in place to prevent a mistaken response. A long explanation was given. The PM then wanted to know if there was a chance Pakistan could misjudge a conventional strike by India and trigger a nuclear response.

There was near silence. Pakistan, by then, had already created “war hysteria” which many felt was unprovoked. The larger consensus was that you could not be sure about Pakistan’s response. It’s reliably learnt that it was this uncertainty which halted Indian strategists from fully backing any military response.

Under considerable pressure to show some response, the Prime Minister had independently tasked Menon to draw up a list of India’s options. Menon did carry out the exercise like a professional and gave an unsigned note that started with extreme measures like a limited military strike to less effective but dramatic steps like scaling down diplomatic relations, stopping cricketing ties, visa restrictions among others. He and Narayanan met regularly, at the PM’s instructions, to discuss the question of options in the days and weeks after the attacks.

In the wake of all the uncertainty over how Pakistan would respond, there was also talk about the “deniable option”. One which would involve covert operatives carrying out a sensational strike in Pakistan or in PoK. It’s learnt that RAW and the Army were specifically asked this question. RAW’s response to the NSA stunned all except, perhaps, Narayanan himself who is among the doyens of Indian intelligence. India’s premier external intelligence agency admitted that it had no assets in Pakistan to carry out such an action. It was explained that India lost all the meagre local support it had in pockets of Pakistan after the Babri Masjid attack and what little was left, was shut down by a prime ministerial diktat during I K Gujral’s tenure.

The Army said it had the ability to carry out commando operations but the government had to be clear what would be the approach if anyone was apprehended. Also, the Army let it be known that it was not sure how Pakistan would react if it found out.

This discussion headed nowhere after this because the ground realities were clear that India had consciously not cultivated this option. Some others felt it was pointless to discuss the “deniable option” because the whole idea of a response should be that the “other side” should know who did it.

Just as Singh deliberated these issues here, on November 29 itself, then US President George W Bush held a meeting with his security advisors and also on the video link with his missions in India and Pakistan. He told them that the last time something like this happened in the United States, “we went to war”. Prime Minister Singh, he added, was also under immense pressure and that the United States must do all it can to help him so that he does not go to war.

That eased matters a bit as Bush made it clear to Pakistan that it needed to “roll up and crush” the terror outfit behind the attack. US assistance was unprecedented, forcing Pakistan to accept that the attack was carried out from its soil.

But when the dust settled, all agreed that the unpredictability on the Pakistan side and the fear that its decision makers could opt for a disproportionate response, including the nuclear option, stymied any possible chance of military action on India’s behalf after 26/11.

After the first two weeks following the attack, the question that overtook everyone’s mind was what if there is another terror strike? Would India be able to hold back then?

Two years later, when asked if that phase is now over, a high-ranking security official remarked: “I can’t say, but I think that the question is still as serious. Can we keep quiet if there is another Mumbai? No, this question is still relevant.”

India, Pak Almost Agreed on K-deal: Musharraf

 As Reported by The Press Trust of India

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Friday said India and Pakistan were “moving forward towards drafting an agreement” on Kashmir during his tenure and that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was genuinely committed to peace in the region. “I was certainly trying for it (peace).

And we were reaching success. I have always praised Prime Minister (of India) for his sincerity to reach peace,” said Musharraf, in an interview with NPR. Manmohan Singh and we almost reached peace on all the three issues…the third one, Kashmir, we had made some certain parameters and we were moving forward towards drafting an agreement,” he added. “Unfortunately, that was not to be, but I tried my best.”

Noting that peace is the only way forward, Musharraf noted that the deadlock on Kashmir was rendering the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) useless.

“And I think the way forward is peace for the sake of world, which thinks that this is a nuclear flash point; for the sake of SAARC, which is impotent because of the conflict because of India and Pakistan,” said the former president.

“And for the sake of bilateral Pakistan-India advantages socio-economic advantages which will flow from peace between the two countries,” he noted.

Musharraf is in the US to drum up support for his comeback, which he announced earlier this year by launching a new political party — the All Pakistan Muslim League that would contest elections in 2013. Earlier this week, he accused India of trying to create an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.” “If I’m allowed to be very, very frank, India’s role in Afghanistan is to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan, said Musharraf, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday.

Today, he characterised the narrative of the Indo-Pak dispute as “impartial”. “So, unfortunate reality, why I have to be so emotional about it, is every time it is Pakistan who is a rogue,” he said.

“Indian bomb is not a Hindu bomb. Pakistan bomb is a Islamic bomb. I think we are being very impartial, we are being very unfair to Pakistan…”

Obama Calls for India – Pakistan Peace

By Andrew Buncombe for NZ Hearald

Barack Obama has called on India and Pakistan to renew their efforts to find peace, even as he said Islamabad was not moving quickly enough to counter militants operating from inside its borders.

In comments that appeared to underscore the high-wire act of diplomacy the US president is trying to pull off while on the three-day visit to India, Mr Obama said Washington would not act as an intermediary between the two countries.

However, he told a group of students in Mumbai: “My hope is that over time, trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins, perhaps on less controversial issues, building up to more controversial issues. There are more Pakistanis who’ve been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else.”

The president has received criticism from some opposition parties in India after he failed to directly mention Pakistan when he arrived in India on Saturday and spoke of the 2008 attacks at the Taj Hotel and other locations in Mumbai, that left more than 160 people dead.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the so-called “composite dialogue” peace process between India and Pakistan was put on hold and while there have been a series of high-level meetings, the relationship between the two remains tense.

The president, who stayed at the seafront hotel in what aides said was a clear sign of solidarity, had talked about the militants and the terror they wrought, but was criticised by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for failing to attribute the blame to Pakistan.

Asked why he had not done so, Mr Obama reflected a reality in which the US is paying billions of dollars to Pakistan in aid as it pushes it to do more against militants responsible for cross-border strikes in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is a strategically important country, not just for America, but for the world,” he said. “India and Pakistan can prosper and live side by side. This can happen and this should be the ultimate goal. The US can be a partner but cannot impose this process. India and Pakistan have to arrive at an understanding.”

Mr Obama started his visit to India, one of four countries he is including on a tour through Asia, by announcing more than 20 deals he said were worth up to $10bn and would help support 50,000 US jobs.

He also said the US was to relax export controls over sensitive technology, a demand of India’s that will help deepen ties between the two countries. The president is to hold formal talks today with India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

On a domestic level, Mr Obama also recognised he needed to make “midcourse corrections” in the aftermath of last week’s mid-term elections if he is going to win over a frustrated and divided electorate.

India Urged to Revive Pakistan Talks

By James Lamont and Edward Luce for The Financial Times

Barack Obama, the US president, has urged India to step up its dialogue with Pakistan to help to secure the region’s stability, warning that efforts to combat extremism in India’s nuclear-armed neighbour have not progressed as quickly as Washington had hoped.

Mr Obama, on a three-day visit to India, called on Sunday for New Delhi to revive a dialogue with Islamabad badly set back by the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai by Pakistani militants.

His comments at a town hall event with students in Mumbai were a sharp break from his initial emphasis on creating jobs in the US and gaining more access to the fast-growing Indian economy for US companies.

“My hope is that over time trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins,” he told students at St Xavier’s College. “Ultimately India and Pakistan have to arrive at their own understandings”.

Mr Obama cautioned that the economic success that India was enjoying would be imperilled by an unstable region where militant insurgencies raged in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where US troops are fighting the Taliban.

“The country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan’s success is India. I think that if Pakistan is unstable that is bad for India. If Pakistan is stable and prosperous that’s good,” he said.

Mr Obama recommended the two rivals start talking about the “less controversial issues” and then build up to tougher issues, such as the disputed territory of Kashmir, over which the two have fought three wars over the past 63 years.

Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, believes the two countries have shared destinies, and has stressed that India poses no threat to Pakistan in an effort to scale down military forces on the border.

Yet Mr Obama’s emphasis of linkages between Pakistan and India, which were separated at the end of British rule in 1947, is highly sensitive. Many Indian leaders gauge the growing maturity of New Delhi’s relationship with Washington by what they call the “de-hyphenation” of India and Pakistan in recognition of India as a global power and vibrant economy.

New Delhi is suspicious of US military assistance to Pakistan and is uneasy about Washington identifying any role for Islamabad in bringing stability to Afghanistan and brokering talks with the Taliban.

Mr Obama warned that Pakistan was confronted by a “profound problem” and that its progress towards eradicating extremism was “not as quick as we would like”. He said that his administration was “engaging aggressively” with the Pakistani government to bring peace and stability.

“There’s a need to look for practical steps . . . Living in the past simply won’t work,” said Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in Washington.

“I see a 100 years of conflict between India and Pakistan looking ahead.”

Pakistan’s Strange Response Towards Indian Aid offer

by Omer Farooq Khan for The Times of India

The worst floods in Pakistan’s history provided a good opportunity for both the South Asian nations to come closer. Accepting Indian aid offers half-heartedly and that too after US insistence, Pakistan has given an impression that it is convinced that its policy on India cannot change.

Pakistan’s initial response to the Indian offer of five million dollars was a positive one but then it was unsure how to respond. It took several days for Pakistan to finally accept the offer, saying that the aid had to come through the UN. Now, a total of $25 million Indian assistance for flood relief efforts in Pakistan has to be spent by the UN.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said that the delay was due to the sensitivities involved in the relationship with India. Even, a section of policymakers, conspiracy theorists in media and some India-centric elements within the Pakistani establishment blamed India for opening floodgates of its dam to inundate Pakistan’s cities and towns. While building public opinion, they did not care that their contention was technically wrong. The fact is that the rivers that caused destruction in Pakistan do not originate in India.

Some defence analysts argue that Pakistan’s strange response towards India’s aid offer was meant not to get obliged. “Pakistan reacted politically towards Indian humanitarian gesture. The destruction is so colossal that petty politics must be avoided. Pakistan asks for help and when it is offered by a neighbour, its ego comes its way. The main hurdle was that Pakistan did not want to be obliged,” argues defence analyst General Talat Masood.

Kamran Shafi, Dawn’s columnist says that Indian-centric approach within the security establishment and intelligence agencies was the main predicament that the government accepted Indian offer half heartedly. “Values and wisdom demand that politics must be kept aside at time of tragedy. Pakistan needed to have warmly welcomed neighbour’s goodwill gesture.”

India and Pakistan have made major efforts in recent months to build confidence in their relations, which were badly strained by the Mumbai 2008 terror attacks that India blamed on militants from Pakistan. If Indian civil society, volunteers and NGO’s were allowed to do relief work in the flood affected areas, this could have been an ideal confidence building measure in the relations of the two countries.

Certainly, it would have served the spirit of Thimphu where Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh tasked their top diplomats to create CBMs. An opportunity is still not lost if governments, media and civil societies in both the countries come forward and create enough space to use this calamity into an opportunity.

-Editor’s Note for Pakistanis for Peace- The writer is spot on with his analysis of Pakistan’s aid offer from India. During times of a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions, its political response was petty and irresponsible to its citizens. Furthermore, half heartedly accepting several days after the response does little to build on the goodwill. Either accept it right away with gratitude (our advice) or reject it outright. It did neither and so was ineffective in either cause. The politicians of Pakistan continue to show their incompetence by ineffectively managing the affairs of the country both domestically and internationally.

India, Pakistan Can’t Break the Ice, Even in Hour of Tragedy

Reported by Sanjeev Miglani for Reuters

Pakistan’s catastrophic flood continues to boggle the mind, both in terms of the human tragedy and the scale of the damage it has wrought, and even more so over the longer term. One official has likened the disaster to the cyclone that devastated what was once East Pakistan, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to its secession and the birth of Bangladesh.

Not even that spectre, raised by Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain, can however dent the steadfast hostility between India and Pakistan. For a full three weeks as the floods worked their way through the spine of Pakistan from the turbulent northwest to Sindh in the south, Islamabad made frantic appeals to the international community not ignore the slow-moving disaster, and help it with emergency aid, funds. But next-door India, best-placed to mount a relief effort probably more because of the geography than any special skill at emergency relief, was kept at arm’s length. An Indian aid offer of $5 million, which itself came after some hesitation and is at best modest,was lying on the table for days before Pakistan accepted it. ”There are a lot of sensitivities between India and Pakistan … but we are considering it very seriously,” a Pakistani embassy spokesman told our reporter in New Delhi earlier this week. Things appeared to have moved faster only after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani expressing sympathy and reminding him of the offer of aid. Millions of Pakistans meanwhile continued to struggle for food.

To some extent, Pakistan’s hesitation in accepting aid from India is understandable. India is the traditional enemy. It is also the bigger country of the two. And over the last two decades it has become easily the more prosperous entity, courted by the world’s industrialists while Pakistan is “haunted by the world’s terrorists”, as columnist Vir Sanghvi writes in the Hindustan Times. A Pew poll that we wrote about a few weeks ago showed how deep-seated these Pakistani fears are: a majority of those polled said they considered India to be the bigger threat than al Qaeda or the Taliban, despite the violence they have suffered at the hands of the militant groups over the past few years.

As Sanghvi writes:

But, to be fair to the Pakistanis, let us accept the position that decades of hostility between our two countries have led to a situation where the Pakistanis simply do not trust us. Let us also accept that they are so resentful of India that even in their hour of greatest crisis when thousands of people have died and millions are homeless, they will still spurn India’s hand of friendship. And let us grant them their claim that given our history, they are justified in being suspicious of India.

But then, you have to wonder, if the two nations cannot even keep up basic neighbourly ties such as offering aid and commiseration at times of natural crises, what chances they can ever come to a peace deal that will demand much more from them ?

It was pretty much the same in 2005 when the earthquake struck Pakistani Kashmir and the authorities struggled to provide aid to the affected. And Indian aid offer was initially ignored, later blankets from India were accepted. But even then Pakistan had people cut out the label that read ‘made in India’ on each blanket.

Indeed, some Pakistani writers are already criticising the government of bringing dishonour to the country by accepting Indian assistance. Commentator Shireen M. Mazari in a piece entitled “What Have We Become” says the Pakistani government accepted the Indian offer for help under pressure from the United States and that it was a matter of shame. By taking Indian aid, Pakistan had let the people of Kashmiri down just when they had risen in revolt against Indian forces.

“This money has the blood of Kashmiris on it and one wonders how our Kashmiri brethren must be feeling as they face the bullets of Indian forces every day and see us taking Indian “aid”,” Mazari wrote.

Kashmir, then, can’t be far from any discourse relating to India and Pakistan. It is the core dispute at the heart of 60 years of difficult ties, says Pakistan and must be resolved before any normalcy can take place. India doesn’t even consider the territory to be disputed, so the argument, at least in public, hasn’t changed much in over half a century.

For the 20 million affected by the flooding in Pakistan, and facing a future that would daunt any of us, Kashmir must, at the moment, be a distant thought.

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