Categorically ruling out resumption of peace talks with Islamabad despite a more peaceful Line of Control (LoC) and improving situation in Kashmir, a top government official said India would “seek peace with Pakistan at a time and place of its own choosing”. New Delhi also feels that last month’s house arrest of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed is due to a combination of factors, most of them internal to Pakistan. “There are no back-channel talks with Pakistan currently on, nor do we have any intent to resume talks now. The process will not start till we are sure that we will gain something as a country. We desire peace but it will be on our own terms. Peace with Pakistan will be at the time and place of our choosing,” the top government source told The Sunday Express.
He highlighted the cessation of ceasefire violations at the LoC since new Pakistan army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, took over on November 29 and said this had been accompanied by a fall in infiltration across the LoC, an improved internal security situation in Kashmir and a reduction in terrorism. He, however, argued that New Delhi could not always “respond to a stimulus from the other side”, and talk whenever Pakistan wants it to.
Explaining the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the top government source said there was no one cause for Islamabad’s action. “Please note who else from LeT/JuD, besides Hafiz Saeed, has been put under house arrest. We had pressed only for the arrest of Hafiz Saeed but others have been arrested because the PML-N government in Pakistani Punjab is worried about the areas in the province which are its political stronghold. Nawaz Sharif has his own personal insecurities about Punjab and Shahbaz Sharif, his brother, who is the CM, has acted. Now that he has an army chief in General Bajwa, who is less confrontational than the previous one, General Raheel Sharif, Nawaz Sharif also has more space to act,” he explained.
“They have also noted the increasing instability in Balochistan, indigenous protests in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and the increasing attacks on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” the source added. According to the source, New Delhi’s assessment is that the likely policy changes under US President Donald Trump and the diplomatic pressure exerted by India to get Pakistan declared as a terror state had also contributed to Saeed’s house arrest. The top government source also ruled out that India would consider linking with the CEPC for trade in the region. CEPC is a collection of infrastructure projects currently under construction, at the cost of $54 billion, which will connect the port of Gwadar to the Karakoram Highway.
“CEPC is not acceptable to India. It will be a bleeding artery for Pakistan and China. The gains to Pakistan are considerable but even now, it is being threatened by elements in Balochistan and frontier areas, “ the top government source said. According to him, New Delhi has taken up the matter of putting Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, in the list of global terrorists under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 for a larger strategic reason. China had blocked India’s move at the UN.
“From Dawood to Hafiz Saeed, so many people in Pakistan are already placed under UNSCR 1267. We know that putting Masood Azhar into that list will not end terror. But we want to expose that Pakistan is supporting terror, and China, which is a bigger, more responsible state, is not also coming on board. China feels isolated on this issue and as signatories to 1267 and 1333, it has to act,” the government source said.