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Great Indian sulk

The NSA-level talks India and Pakistan agreed to hold in September were called off because New Delhi balked at the prospect of a meeting between Kashmiri separatists and the Pakistani PM’s special envoy, Sartaj Aziz.

By: Express News Service | Updated: October 3, 2015 12:15 am
India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Exactly 274 of the 2,995 words that made up External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s superbly crafted speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday dealt with Pakistan. Her message, delivered in response to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four-point peace plan, was simple. “We do not need four points,” she said, “we need just one — give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.” “Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs [national security advisors] on all issues connected to terrorism,” she went on. “If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”

This apparently reasonable formulation, as the world’s diplomats would have known, elided the real problem. The NSA-level talks India and Pakistan agreed to hold in September were called off, after all, not because Islamabad was unwilling to engage in discussion, but because New Delhi balked at the prospect of a meeting between Kashmiri separatists and the Pakistani PM’s special envoy, Sartaj Aziz.

The external affairs minister’s speech points, in fact, to the deeper problem. Not talking is merely a posture, not a policy. Delhi is seeming to simply be digging in its heels and holding the line, rather than creatively forging a way forward. Nawaz’s four-point proposal was deeply disingenuous, for demilitarisation of the Line of Control without a commitment to end cross-border infiltration is meaningless. However, it at least gave world leaders the appearance of a leader willing to address the world’s concerns on the prospects of India and Pakistan lurching into a conflict through missteps or miscalculation. Swaraj’s speech, on the other hand, proposed no roadmap for action.

For all practical purposes, India is appearing like a kindergarten student insisting on sulking until her demand for ice cream is met.

Delhi can, and should, be more creative in pushing forward its counter-terrorism concerns. Clear and consistent articulation of the steps Delhi wishes Pakistan to take is a critical step forward. India has, in the past, laid down all sorts of demands — from action against Lashkar-e-Toiba military head Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi to the rendition of top terror fugitives — only to back down later. Learning from this experience, Islamabad has every reason to expect the same process to play out again. Instead of allowing Islamabad to take the lead, and eventually be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the table by the United States, Delhi would do well to seize the initiative, and spell out what it wants to talk about, and when.

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  1. A
    AN
    Oct 3, 2015 at 3:55 am
    I don't why IE is so awestruck by Mr Sharif attempt to pose as leader who is ready to address the growing concerns of other world leaders over the Kashmir issue, through his 4 point agenda, which actually does not make any sense. Moreover what further surprises me is IE's approach towards Mrs Swaraj's address in the light of the same. I mean, is it really that important to come up with a roadmap just for the sake of global politics over Kashmir? And as we all know, unless stan is not going to give up on its current stand over Kashmir and separatists, no roadmap is actually going to work out. To add on to this, for coming up with this roadmap, India will also need to bend and flex on its own current stand which eventually will set low the bar for Indian diplomacy.
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    1. M
      M M
      Oct 3, 2015 at 7:38 pm
      As India aspires to be a major economic power, it cannot afford to acquire an adversarial position with any country, especially its neighbors which are maintaining cordial relations with USA and China. We ought to reach out to stan and join hands with the countries engaged in controlling terror activities. Recent developments at the stan and Nepal boarders are no good pointers for internal peace and security, and foreign trade and investments. A far sighted approach must be adopted.
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      1. G
        G M
        Oct 3, 2015 at 1:33 am
        stan is already successful in persuing hate agenda against India in the form of sponsored terrorism . That also without any reprimand from word power and united nation. Now, think what are the gains for stan by making good relations with India.
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          iaj
          Oct 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm
          The External Minister is quite right in insisting that stan give up on Terrorism first before taking next step. What is the use of talking when the next Gurdaspur or Udhampur is waiting to happen and the talks to get suspended. Have'nt we seen this happen umpteen times? Let us wait -there is no hurry. stan also has its hands full and we should allow it to settle down.
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          1. N
            Nandita
            Oct 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm
            BS article, no wonder author's name is not mentioned ! So India is sulking like a kindergarten kid for being firm on stan sponsored terror, shame on Indian Express for ignoring the deaths of villagers and soldiers on the borders with stan when it says India is in a sulk.
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