Home Contact Us  
   

Indo-Pak - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5039, 26 May 2016
 

IPCS Discussion

India-Pakistan Under Prime Ministers Gujral-Sharif: A Retrospective
Report
 

On 18 May 2016, the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies hosted a discussion on India-Pakistan bilateral relations during the governments of Prime Ministers Inder Kumar Gujral and Nawaz Sharif, at which Ambassador (Retd) Salman Haidar, Patron, IPCS, read from his unpublished memoirs. Amb Haidar was involved in the dialogue process as the Foreign Secretary of India. He served in this capacity during the years 1995-1997. The discussion was chaired by Ambassador (Retd) TCA Rangachari, who also served as India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan.
 
Opening Remarks
Amb (Retd) TCA Rangachari
Member, Governing Council, IPCS, and former Ambassador of India to Algeria, France and Germany

In comparing the relationship between the two countries in 1986 and 2016, it is noticed that not much has changed in terms of dialogue. Talks seem to proceed in a vicious circle, eventually reaching a stalemate. The relationship in 2016 has become more rigid, and positions seem to have become frozen on the Pakistani side, which does not consider the various options available through diplomacy. It is hence important to lend consideration to Ambassador Haidar’s opinion on the relationship the two countries share, as much of his tenure coincided with the first term of Nawaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Amb (Retd) Salman Haidar
Patron, IPCS, and former Foreign Secretary of India

There seems to be no progress in relations between the two countries. Dialogue seems to be caught in a vicious circle repeatedly, and India and Pakistan are exactly where they were thirty years ago, perhaps even worse. Reminiscent of the relations today, diplomats were on the sidelines during the tense conditions that prevailed in the late 1990s. This time period can therefore be seen as an example to emulate for work on relations today.

Despite the maltreatment, roughing up and manhandling of Indian diplomats in Pakistan, the diplomatic process was restarted through the exchange of non-papers. India sent six non-papers, covering a wide range of issues, while Pakistan sent just two, focusing primarily on Kashmir. While this sort of exchange does not lead to a solution, it is useful in specifying what the issues to be discussed are, and consolidating them. This starting of dialogue combined with the better treatment of diplomats in Pakistan following an appeal to the High Commissioner brought about the level of decorum required for dialogue to start.

It must be understood that India is the driving force in the relationship between the two countries. Without the efforts undertaken by India to work on diplomatic relations, much of what the two countries have today would not have been possible. Prime Ministers Deve Gowda and IK Gujral both believed in this.

It was during the term of Deve Gowda as Prime Minister, and IK Gujral as Minister of External Affairs that diplomats in India were asked to develop dialogue with Pakistan. This was influenced by political change in Pakistan, with Nawaz Sharif being re-elected to office. He was believed to have a more positive approach to India than his predecessors. The dialogue formally began with the visit of the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Shamshad Ahmad to New Delhi. The first day was marked by an overwhelming public presence, where nothing but formal positions could be exchanged. The rest of the visit was therefore held in a more private setting, where the two teams of 4-5 individuals each were introduced to each other. This is where the discussions regarding dialogue and diplomacy on the various common issues continued. However, due to the collapse of the Deve Gowda government, this dialogue reached a brief hiatus. He was succeeded by IK Gujral as Prime Minister.

Mr Gujral’s foreign policy – it may be debatable to call it a doctrine – believed in not expecting any reciprocity in India’s dealings with its neighbours, with the exception of Pakistan. This was brought about as a reflection of the tense state of affairs between the countries in the late 1990s. Despite this, it was his efforts during the ninth SAARC summit in Malé in 1997 that prompted a personal meeting with Nawaz Sharif. It is here that SAARC, and Rajiv Gandhi, should be appreciated.

While SAARC in itself is a weak organisation, and is kept so because it suits the purposes of its two largest members, this meeting is a perfect example of SAARC working towards its mandate of regional cooperation. Because of the erstwhile Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s insistence that SAARC summits should involve all the heads of state, it provides an occasion annually that can be employed for dialogue.

Mr Gujral and Mr Sharif availed this opportunity and prompted diplomats in their countries to resume talks where they had been left off.

An important part of these proceedings is the framing of an agenda. It has to be put forward in neutral terms and annotations, and both sides have to be prepared for a certain amount of ‘give and take’. For instance, if negotiations occurred like they did earlier, choosing to talk about contentious issues like Kashmir and terror result in higher chances of the talks reaching an impasse. If the very first item on the agenda leads to disagreement, it greatly influences how the rest of the talks pan out. The concept of an agenda has to be understood not only as a list of points, but as a complete process.

This framing of agendas and the constructive mindset on both sides were responsible for the opening up of channels of communication. Diplomats were no longer on the sidelines; they were fulfilling their mandate for talks between the two countries. There were simultaneous talks occurring, dealing with different issues and agendas. A disagreement in one did not necessarily mean a disagreement in another. An idea of working groups was put forward, but met with opposition from within India. Several politicians, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee felt that an issue like Kashmir could not be discussed as part of a larger continuous engagement.

On the Pakistani side, there was the question of how the Army reacted to these talks. Though the military was not a part of the dialogue, there was a feeling of some opposition in the ‘establishment’ to the improvement of relations between the countries. This is however a constant, and despite the fact that some individuals in the Pakistan Foreign Service were close to the Army, there no active opposition felt.

These talks during IK Gujral’s tenure led to several outcomes that can be used as a standard for bilateral dialogue even today:

The formulation of the eight issues to be discussed under the composite dialogue process:

I. Peace and security including confidence-building measures (CBMs)
II. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)
III. Siachen
IV. Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project
V. Sir Creek
VI. Economic and commercial cooperation
VII. Terrorism and drug trafficking
VIII. Promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields

The processes followed during these talks proved to be especially successful. The policy of not allowing one item to block other agendas is what allowed talks to progress despite issues like Kashmir and terror. Seeing the dialogue that is in place today, with talks being hampered by the problem of Kashmir hijacking the discussion, it would do well to follow these processes once again.

A comprehensive approach to the issues was taken, and effort was made to ensure the development of communication channels. Nothing was excluded, and neither of the two sides prejudged anything on the agenda.

Closing Remarks
Amb (Retd) TCA Rangachari
Member, Governing Council, IPCS, and former Ambassador to Algeria, France and Germany

The communication and language that existed between the diplomats of the two countries were especially praiseworthy. So much so that when there were claims in Pakistan that the Indian side while talking about Kashmir was only willing to discuss Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), it was the Pakistani Foreign Secretary who dismissed them as baseless. This is in contrast with the state of communication that exists today, which has quite an aggressive tone.

There were three meetings between the Foreign Secretaries in 1997, which culminated in a proper procedure through which communication was to occur. 1997 was the high point of that particular time period as it brought diplomacy back into the India-Pakistan relationship, but was unfortunately followed by the nuclear tests of 1998 and the Kargil War of 1999. Prime Minister IK Gujral must hence be given due credit for his role in facilitating the dialogue. The result of the talks was more than satisfactory, and it is unfortunate that they had very little time to act due to the events that followed.

Rapporteured by Samanvya Hooda, Research Intern, IPCS

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
The People Next Door: The Curious History of India's Relations With Pakistan

Tibetan Caravans: Journeys from Leh to Lhasa

Chinese Military Reform, 2013-2030

Dominant Narratives in Kashmir: Evolving Security Dynamics

The Nuclear Future

Dealing with Dirty Wars

India-China-Nepal Trilateralism

'25 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between India and Israel and the Way Forward'

The Roles and Dimensions of Science and Technology in India’s Foreign Policy

Maldives: Contextualising Freedom of Speech in the Murder of Yameen Rasheed

India’s Nuclear Strategy

Diplomacy and the Politics of Language

2017 Indian Assembly Elections: How Did the States Vote?

'Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan'

Women & Public Policy Journal [Vol. 2] Launch: 'Afghan Economy in the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024)'

India-Australia and Roles in the Indo-Pacific

Equality, Equity, Inclusion: Indian Laws & India’s Women

"Our Bilateral Relations"

Regional Power Play and Rise of Radicalism in Afghanistan

Afghanistan-Pakistan-India: A Paradigm Shift

Security of Bangladesh in the South Asian Context

Who Sets the Table: Negotiated Sovereignty and the Indo-Naga Relationship

A Changing Myanmar: Challenges, Opportunities & Future Perspectives

Discussion Report: Indiaís Role in Building a Counter-Narrative to Isis Propaganda

China's Continental Strategy Over the Next Twenty Years

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.