Home Contact Us  
   

South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5293, 9 June 2017
 

Three Years of the Modi Government

India-Pakistan: Three Years of Wasted Effort?
Rana Banerji
Member, Governing Council, IPCS, & former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India
 

Despite flash in the pan initiatives like the May 2014 invitation to SAARC heads of government at its inauguration and the `out of the box’ Lahore visit in December 2015, the incumbent Indian government’s relations with Pakistan remain mired in a bitter stalemate. Both sides seem caught in a test of wills, promoting opposing visions of how relations can be normalised, and pursuing mutually exclusive, self-sufficient narratives on why talks between the two end in mutual recrimination instead of mutual understanding. For Pakistan, it is the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, whereas India accords higher priority to terrorism.
 
Ironically enough, during the 2013 election campaign in Pakistan, public opinion there did not think obsessively about India. When India approached elections in 2014, there were credible assessments about the possible victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) victory. Sections of the intellectual elite and media even projected that détente had a better chance of succeeding whenever strong leadership existed in both countries. However, an almost visceral dislike of the new Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi persisted among hardliners as they expected a turn towards ultra-nationalism in India. A year down the line, even this grudging optimism had eroded. Escalated military confrontation along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB), provocative incidents like the attacks in Uri, Pathankot and now, the Kulbhushan Jadhav abduction, have confirmed worst fears that no silver linings can be found in a relationship so burdened by history. 

Talks between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif - on the sidelines of the July 2015 Ufa summit - saw a much delayed resumption of the engagement process between the two countries. However, the way the Ufa resolution was played up, over-emphasising terrorism and underplaying Kashmir, it put the Pakistani side on the defensive. After Ufa, new ‘red lines’, suddenly delineated about when to meet with the All Parties’ Hurriyat Conference and what to do or not do with them, led to the cancellation of the foreign secretary-level talks that were slated to be held in Islamabad in August 2015. Also, terror incidents with an evident Pakistani hand, in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and in Udhampur, Jammu & Kashmir, saw a familiar pattern of tension being ratcheted up.

PM Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 signified a clever use of symbolism to generate impetus to the peace process. As the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan after 11 years, it was welcomed by major opposition parties and civil society in Pakistan. However, predictably enough, spoilers from across the border soon threw a spanner in the works. On 2 January 2016, a major militant attack was carried out on the Pathankot Air base in India by suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants. Though a Pakistani Joint Investigation team (JIT), including officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence was allowed to visit the site in March 2016, the promise to assist in investigations on the Pakistani side never materialised. In fact, a report in Pakistan Today, a pro-establishment newspaper, quoting a source within the JIT, even alleged that this was a 'false flag' incident, stage-managed to give Pakistan a bad name.

Pakistan’s bad name as a state sponsor of terror is globally acknowledged, especially after nine years of feet-dragging in the trial of the seven accused in Pakistan in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case. Arch terrorist, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was granted bail. Trial Judges keep getting changed. As one of Pakistan’s most respected police officers, Tariq Khosa, who headed their Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), remarked in August 2015, "Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil. This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes."

Though Pakistan was forced on the defensive when Kashmir began to simmer again, an opening presented itself. The mention of Balochistan during PM Modi's Independence Day speech in August 2016 was seen as a menacing and malign challenge. Buoyed by new promises of Chinese support, the Pakistan Army probably did not want to let it go unanswered. Plans for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s abduction from Iran may have been set in motion. Earlier, a Karachi underworld criminal, Uzair Baloch had been arrested and taken into the Pakistan Army's custody, as part of the cleanup operations undertaken by Pakistan Rangers. Pakistan is now claiming Jadhav was mixed up in the Karachi terrorist violence as well.

Pakistan suffered a setback though, in the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) provisional relief judgment at The Hague in May 2017. Asserting jurisdiction under Article 36(1) of its statute, the ICJ stayed Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution and ruled that 'spies' or 'terrorists' cannot be excluded from consular access under the Vienna Convention. This completely vindicated the Indian position.

Though Jadhav may not be immediately hanged, the Pakistan Army seems in no mood to react rationally to this verdict. Consular access is unlikely to be given. The Sajjan Jindal track-II initiative was seen in the Pakistani media as too surreptitious, a move not possessing the blessings of their military establishment. It would be unreasonable to expect the civilian leadership in Pakistan to construct any diplomatic or legal strategy where the Army is on a different page. Positions in Pakistan seem to be hardening, with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passing a resolution demanding Jadhav’s execution. Because of this case, relations may worsen before they get better.

Over the past three years, the incumbent government in India has tried various hard-line postures. This does not seem to have worked. An alternative approach for India would be to make talks with Pakistan 'periodic' or almost routine, without any expectation of outcomes. However, before that India must set its own house in Kashmir in order, quelling the unrest in South Kashmir.

After the ICJ verdict humiliation, albeit temporary, an assessment is needed, possibly through a new 'track-II' outreach to the appropriate quarters, on what would be the minimum terms of Indo-Pak engagement the Pakistan Army could live with. A way forward could then be sought through a mix of gradual, middle-of-the-road approaches, vis-à-vis long-pending or contentious bilateral issues, accommodating reasonable expectations on both sides, based on abiding national interests.

In the present ambience of unmitigated hostility, even small steps in this direction seem unlikely.

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
Pakistan: The Nawaz Ouster

The ISI and Kulbhushan Jadhav's Second ‚ÄúConfession‚ÄĚ

Pakistan and the Panama Papers Verdict

In Context: Pakistan's New Army Chief Gen Bajwa

Fragility in Pakistan

Book Review: "Much Ado About Nothing"

Pakistan: Kamalís Dramatic Return and the Fate of MQM-A

Has Peshawar Changed Pakistanís Approach to Tackle Terrorism?

Pakistan: MQM Under Siege

The Military Reshuffle in Pakistan: Is the Army Chief firming up his control?

Pakistan: A Hyper-national Security State

Talks with the Taliban: Endgame for the Military

Pakistan 2013: Civil-Military Relations

Pakistan: The Military Shuffle and Consolidation under the New Chief

Pakistan: The Hakimullah Mehsud Killing

Intrusions along LoC/IB in J&K: Pakistanís Objectives

Pakistan: Who will be the next Army Chief?

Pakistan: Civil-Military Relations and the Instrumentalisation of Political Power

Pakistan: The Abbottabad Commission of Enquiry

B. Raman (1936-2013)

Special Commentary: The Military and Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan

Pakistan Elections 2013: Caretaker Prime Minister & the Election Scenario

Pakistan: The Curious Case of Tahir-ul-Qadri

Balochistan: Looking Beyond the Hazara Massacre

Pakistan: President versus Judiciary versus Military

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
 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.