Imran Khan is now wearing the peace mask and offers talks to focus on “poverty”
It is of course, an impressive change. Not just for Pakistan as a nation, but Imran as a person and politician to suddenly discover the need to reduce poverty in the sub continet. We remember Bhutto’s “eat grass but wage a 1000 year war with India” bombast. That pretty much summed up Pakistan’s India’s policy all these years. Although the man himself was hanged in the “who is more fanatic barbarian terrorist when it comes to India” contest that has also defined Pakistan all these years.
We also know how Khan himself campainged heavily on the slogan of “Whoever is Modi’s friend is a traitor”. Didn’t take him that long to become one!
Then we have our mainstream media going gaga over these peace overtures and painting Modi as the instrangient, hawkish leader who is rejecting such nice offers.
Be that as it may, what should India under Modi or for that matter, any PM, be doing?
Shut the door to talks, but leave the key with Pakistan!
What we mean by that is, make abundantly clear to Pakistan, the steps it has to take to get them started. Make them public and make clear there is no point asking every week “When are you going to talk to Imran Khan?”
- Kill or handover all “guests” like Dawood Ibrahim and other worthies. They simply do not benefit Pakistan in any way unless that way is the terrorist way.
- Stop interfering in affairs of Indian states other than Kashmir. We can exempt Kashmir because after all Pakistan wants to enhance its negotiating position and if playing games there is part of their strategy, we can deal with that. But NO other state. Certainly not Punjab.
- Stop anything other than routine recital of the Kashmir lament in the international forum such as UN, OIC etc. Any hostile statement should reset the counter to zero.
- Through back channels or whatever, make absolutely clear the ISI/Army cabal is behind the talks even if publicly they are not involved. After all everyone knows Imran is running a eunuch regime and the real Sultan is the Army chief of the day.
Conditions that have no meaning and India should not insist on
- Civilian oversight over Pakistan’s Army/ISI/terror/nuke infra. This just is not going to happen and is not our problem. In fact it suits us this way for reasons mentioned earlier. As long as Pakistan is effectively run by its military, its chances of entering the community of civilised nations is zero. It will remain a pariah state which others engage simply because they want to keep an eye on its terror infra or want to use it for their own strategic goals (like US, China is doing)
- Handover Pakistani citizens who are terror figureheads. A meaningless gesture when the entire state is nothing but a huge terrorist cesspool. Getting hold of one or two, like Saeed or JeM chief, that too when he is old, retired and useless, expendable to his masters, is a meaningless victory. Let Pakistan keep them! Chances are they will one day bite the hands that feed them.
- Other matters such as trade, transit, MFN, Bollywood films ban etc etc. These can be matters discussed during real talks.
Should India wait for the stuff to hit the fan?
That is a nice temptation. After all, Pakistan is teetering on the edge. But then it has always been! But not collapsing or imploding, thank God for that! But it suits India perfectly to have it in a perpetual state of semi-collapse. Or does it? Is time on our side?
- Time is on our side. But it is also in our interest to get this millstone off our necks.
- Even if the Kashmir issue is settled, in ways that Pakistan can claim “moral victory”, it is highly unlikely its 50 year love affair with Islamist terror and fanatic barbarism as state ideology will end. Ask any Paki, Pakistan ka matlab kya?
- They may not be sponsoring or paying off the terrorists but they are not going to bring them to heel either. The genie is out of the bottle.
- But then, it will cease to be “blamed” on us. By sections of the international community. IF only you guys can be nice to them.. We can simply shrug and move on. Of course, protest ourselves to the best extent possible as we anyway have to do.
- It will also bring some degree of internal peace in India. After all, the Indian (particularly North Indian) Muslim community has some worries that India Pakistan tensions are a reflection of Hindu - Muslim tensions. And that they are under suspicion because Pakistan is hostile. You may argue that is wrong, but perceptions are self sustaining.
To summarise, close the doors, leave the key with Pakistan. Open when you are ready!