There are times when seeking a positive passage through a vexed relationship, ridden with the potholes and baggage of history, requires rare moral fibre. It is so much easier to fall back on the “prestigious” positions of yesteryear and end up not moving anywhere. India and Pakistan find themselves in such a situation yet again, but with the Prime Ministers of both countries having made recent attempts at rapprochement they are now required to sustain their ‘nerve’ and take that process forward. Stuttering, stumbling on their way perhaps; but declining to take the easier way out and falling back to hostile, confrontationist, stand-offs. That “Pathankot” did not trigger another round of customary belligerence is welcome, what is awaited is New Delhi’s assessment/reaction to the outcome of high-level meetings in Islamabad. Having indicated a degree of patience and flexibility when “putting the ball in Pakistan’s court” there is no reason to have sought a “soft” lob that could be easily smashed. The domestic compulsions that provoke strident positions in New Delhi operate in Islamabad too-it would be naïve to expect (as some “experts” do) Pakistan to overtly crack down on anti-India terror outfits, signs of covert pressure on them ought to suffice to keep the dialogue on track. A jingoistic response-which the BJP favoured when it was an opposition party-and calling off the scheduled meeting of the foreign secretaries would be handing “victory” on a silver platter to the terrorists.
They would have breached more than the perimeter of the military facility. There would, however, appear to be mature reasoning to the suggestions that those talks be deferred a trifle, preceded by an early meet of the NSAs (accompanied by border management officials?) to plug the gaps being exploited by terrorists and smugglers. The dialogue can be delayed, not abandoned. The “hawks” would be disproving the theory of superior vision if they did not perceive some subtle differences in Pakistan’s post-Pathankot position. It did not come up with a blanket denial, held two high-level security meetings and repeated its promise of “action”. And it has been quiet on the LOC. Is that good enough? It would be wishful thinking to hope that it would accept the Indian “information” as a plan of action.
And to be fair, the details being “fed” to the media by the NIA and other investigation agencies are rather far-fetched. If New Delhi cannot rein in its cops and ensure investigations that are more professional and less publicity-oriented can it demand that the police in Pakistan be directed to silence anti-Indian tirades? Mr Narendra Modi “stuck his neck out” on 25 December, now he must prove “tall” enough not to emulate a turtle when complexities arise.
Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/opinion/sustain-the-nerve/115802.html#5co6GWQ3JYSozfiK.99
The Statesman, Janaury 11, 2016