The outcome of the Modi-Nawaz meeting was predictably seen as disastrous by the swelling pro-army tide in Pakistan.
Pakistan and India have once again tried to forget the past and patch up, using the swearing-in of India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, as the peg. The extremists are not happy; they didn’t want Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to go to New Delhi. The “doves”, who matter less and less in Pakistan, hope their leaders can climb over the brickwalls the two sides have raised to perpetuate conflict over many decades.
In Pakistan, waters of all discussion were muddied by Sharif’s recent quarrel with the army over internal policy. Pakistan was polarised between him and the army before Sharif took off for Delhi for his meeting with Modi on May 26. Predictions in Islamabad were dire: he is about to be dragged down in a re-run of many earlier overthrows. Army chief Raheel Sharif, who never looked the part, was supposed to depose him and replace him with no one knew who.
The media, “drunk with the wine of nation-worship”, as they say, backed the army in the quarrel. There was a kind of double-take by most TV anchors who first thought hanging Pervez Musharraf was the right thing to do and the government was right in talking peace with the Taliban. General Sharif, by his actions, seemed to signal to them that this was not what the army wanted. Then the split came out in the open.
General Sharif first reasoned with PM Sharif over the treason trial of Musharraf; then, after being ignored, demonstrated the de facto power of the army by literally blacking out the GEO TV news channel across Pakistan for insulting the ISI, Pakistan’s world-renowned, army-controlled intelligence agency.
Discussants on TV talkshows were predominantly right-wing pro-army. Cloying intellectuals, sprinkled liberally with sharp-tongued retired military officers, shut up the moderates who thought PM Sharif had done the right thing by inviting Modi for an official visit and then attending Modi’s swearing-in.
The outcome of the Modi-Sharif meeting was predictably seen as disastrous by the swelling pro-army tide. TV anchors said: Sharif didn’t bring up Kashmir and Pakistan’s rivers being diverted by India; and Modi unfairly demanded an end to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, not even waiting for Sharif to return to Islamabad before appearing to order a move in Parliament to remove the constitutional provision giving special status to Kashmir and thus making it an integral part of India. And that Sharif did not mention Balochistan, where rascally India was stoking an insurgency, but for which Pakistan has so far been reluctant to share proof continued…