Pakistan’s polity does not have the capacity to sustain a normal relationship with India, former foreign secretary and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said as he characterized relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors as “managed hostility”. “I would characterize (India-Pakistan relations) today as managed hostility, which I hope it stays managed,” Menon said in response to a question on relations between the two nations at a panel discussion organised by the ‘South Asia centre at New York University’ in New York on Thursday.
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On whether he sees any prospect for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Menon, who has been India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, replied in the negative.
He said many of the issues relating to Kashmir have been around for a long time and “we know the solutions” to many of them but they seem to be “politically difficult” to serve.
“Today I don’t think Pakistan’s polity has the capacity to sustain a normal relationship with India. I think there is a very strong institutional interest there,” he said.
Menon, who has authored the book ‘Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy’, however added that his “fear” is that if “it becomes a party political issue in India, which it has not always been, then you have the same dynamic operating.”
He emphasized that expectations in India on any improved relations with Pakistan are “very very low” particularly after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
“There is very little public support for actually trying to fix those issues after the Mumbai attack and the series of cross-border terrorist attacks doesn’t help either. Given that, I wouldn’t expect rapid resolution of all these issues,” he said.
Menon was asked given that India’s position on various global issues like Syria, Russia and Yemen has been different from that of the US, would it vote along side the US as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
He replied India should not spend its time worrying about a seat on the UN body.
“For me frankly a seat on the Security Council, with due apology, is a status quo. That is a beauty contest. You want to win a beauty contest – go ahead and enjoy yourself,” he said.
“That’s not the point. Our point is to create an enabling environment for India’s transformation and work with the US for that. I think that’s in the US interest too,” he said.