The Indo-Pak relationship is defined by a history that casts a long shadow over the future,plus,of course,the long list of shadowy figures who play a role in the contemporary narrative. On both sides,theres the question of whos in charge. The one-on-one meeting between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York will offer some insights into the relationship. Heres how it could go.
Manmohan Singh: I have been instructed by my government to register a strongly worded protest against the atrocities in Jammu the other day…
Nawaz Sharif: But you are the government?
MMS: Oh yes,so I am. Its the stress of the job,I tend to forget sometimes. I wake up in the middle of the night wondering what I am,who I am,what am I doing,and then I hear this calming voice with a foreign accent telling me its all right and that Im doing a great job. It must be Mother Teresa,she is now a saint. There is another voice that gives me sleepless nights…
NS: Yes,I hear the saintly voice too,it is either Allah telling me to pray that all is well,or it is the Army,asking me to stay out of politics,or it is the ISI,telling me not to go beyond my brief,which is extremely brief. And sometimes it is America,waking me in the middle of the night because of the time difference,but all I hear on the line is a droning sound.
MMS: Back to business,this infiltration must stop,this killing of soldiers must stop. The Line Of Control has become the line of no control. There is pressure from all sides not to even have this dialogue with you,there is this man Modi accusing me of being in a soft state and saying that Nawaz is not to be trusted. His followers even have a joke about us; they say on that side,there is Nawaz Sharif and this side is Na Awaaz,Na Sharif.
NS: Thats quite funny,must tell that to my wife,but seriously,we are facing a common enemy,as you said,the enemies of peace. On your side,its Modi and his followers who are urging you to take action against Pakistan,on my side,there are so many Ive lost count,plus,there they are mostly known by their initials.
MMS: The National Security Adviser?
NS: Non State Actors
MMS: Our problem is that its your army on the LoC,they are not stopping the infiltration. Kayani should be pulled up.
NS: I will put in a request. Now,what about Kashmir?
MMS: There will be no discussions on Kashmir till the issue of infiltration is sorted out.
NS: But what do I tell my people when I return?
MMS: You can say both sides agreed to a number of CBM but that does not include giving of MFN and that we were mindful of NPT and the prospect of MAD if we use our ICBMs and get into conflict over people from PoK or Pakistan players in IPL.
NS: Thats too simplistic.
MMS: OK,translate it into diplomatic code,say that the talks were fruitful,substantive,wide-ranging and forward-looking and all substantive issues were discussed.
NS: Talking about forward-looking,you are the one in election mode,what will you carry back?
MMS: Ill say Pakistan has assured the Indian side that the state will act against the non state. I can add that my talks with Barack Obama also examined the question of the US backing for further talks on the LoC.
NS: Did they?
MMS: Yes,except he thought I meant a Letter of Credit.
NS: Understandable,in the circumstances. FDI and CAD must be a worrying factor.
MMS: Not as worrying as Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed. It would make things easier if you put them behind bars.
NS: I will put in a request. Or we can leave it to Imran Khan. He says that cricket can cement Indo-Pak relations.
MMS: Great idea,let Dhoni and Misbah sort it out,or maybe Ill ask Rahul Gandhi. He fancies himself as a game changer.