Indo-Pak relations have remained a major foreign policy challenge for South Asia’s strategic and crisis stability. The unending twists and turns in Indian foreign policy and military planning, towards Pakistan is a vital cause for not achieving the goals, of peace and stability in the region. The way bilateral relations are being handled by India are not commensurate stabilising tactics; which many lead to further mistrust and tension between the two countries.
Foreign policy initiatives have failed since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office. The most significant aspect of Narendra Modi’s phone call to Pakistan was the unambiguous willingness to improve his country’s ties with Pakistan. In pursuance of a positive foreign policy agenda towards India, Imran Khan penned a letter to his Indian counterpart.
In the letter he expressed his desire to renew dialogue between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Furthermore he asked for the foreign ministers of both the countries to meet during the United Nations General Assembly session. The premier hoped that dialogue between the two countries will also focus on the issue of the long-standing dispute of Kashmir.
Paradoxically, the Indian government took a U-turn on Friday September 20, 2018, by calling off the scheduled meeting. The reasons given by the Indian foreign ministry are lame in their content. They blamed Pakistan, for the latest brutal killings of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities, and the recent release of a series of twenty postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism. India did not provide further details about the alleged killings.
The discouragement of peace efforts by India do not end here by refusing bilateral meetings but their military leadership is exaggerating tensions by issuing threatening statements to Pakistan.
Since the beginning of 2018, a series of provocative statements have been directed at Pakistan including a nuclear bluff. The repetitive negative signalling pattern by India seems unending. Again on September 21, 2018,Indian army chief Bipin Rawat vocally threatened Pakistan of retaliation over the unproved and alleged involvement in the killing of an Indian (Border Security Force) BSF soldier and policemen in occupied Kashmir last week.
Ironically, the remarks come a day after New Delhi called off the meeting between foreign ministers. Chief Rawat stated “We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out.” Such statements reveal the naivety and immaturity of a nuclear armed country, towards another nuclear armed country. On the contrary, Pakistan has been extending its hand for friendship.
"The salvo of aggressive, provocative and reckless statements from the Indian army,towards Pakistan, are indicators of India’s reluctant approach to discuss disputed issues including terrorism and Kashmir".
What prompted the Modi government and military leadership to do this? The intent of the current Indian government is to nurture the anti-Pakistan campaign and rhetoric for forthcoming elections. Another reason could be to avoid the on-going Indian Military activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The salvo of aggressive, provocative and reckless statements from the Indian army, towards Pakistan, are indicators of India’s reluctant approach to discuss disputed issues including terrorism and Kashmir.
The question then is If India does not want dialogue now, then when?
The recent breakthrough in India-Pakistan’s bilateral relations draws attention towards India’s priorities for bringing peace and stability in the region. The past and present gestures of India for saying no to dialogue and the continuous efforts of Pakistan to initiate talks are crystal clear.
Pakistan is showing its resolve to stabilise the region. Again this time, in response to the Indian army chief’s tirade, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry stated and conveyed that Pakistan will continue to strive for peace, and also added that the world is watching as to who wants peace and who wants war. Indian political and military leadership needs to realise that playing to the gallery only empowers the belligerents. Moreover, by not returning the call of bilateral dialogue, India is ignoring peace in the region.
So far, peace and stability is elusive in South Asia due to negative approaches in bilateral conduct. Problem solving dialogues and talks are the main imperatives of addressing mistrust and tensions between states. Therefore, they are significant for development, peace and stability in the region.
This article was published in the Daily Times newspaper on September 26, 2018.
Ms. Huma Rehman is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Islamabad, Pakistan, where she works on various aspects of Strategic security issues; International Security, Nuclear/Missile Proliferation, WMD Terrorism, Arms Control/Disarmament, Conflict management and Resolution. Among her academic degrees, she holds M.Phil degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.