FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Talking to Pakistan: India must tread the middle path, simplify issues
Updated:Mar 10, 2015
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Ramya P.S.
 
Several rounds of fire were exchanged between India and Pakistan on New Year’s Eve. The violations at the Line of Control (LoC) continued till the last week of January 2015 ultimately signaling further deterioration in the already fragile relationship. An analysis of the media reports and official statements from both sides reveals an interesting picture. Following, is a table collated from various government and media sources regarding the ceasefire violations that took place in the month of January.
 
       
While the violations were concentrated in certain sectors, what made them noteworthy was the exodus of people from the scene of action. Certain reports claim that over 6,000 civilians fled from their homes to avoid the exchange of fire. Furthermore, the month of February saw reports emerging of Pakistani Rangers resorting to firing in RS Pura and Arnia sectors on the Indian side.
 
Some believe that Pakistan remains a mere irritant in India’s rising power status and therefore, the obsession must be curbed. On the other hand, a case is built to engage Pakistan in constructive dialogue and develop concrete mechanisms to avoid clashes at the border. The reality lies somewhere in between these two approaches.  India must widen its foreign policy goals and must in this regard expand her strategic vision beyond South Asia to fulfill her power aspirations. At the same time, in order to do so India must positively engage with her neighbours, including Pakistan.
 
However, the political overtures made by the nuclear neighbours are confrontational at best. While, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif maintained that India wants to engage Pakistan in a ‘low-intensity war’, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar warned of taking ‘proactive steps’ to end Pakistan’s ‘proxy war’. The concern remains that the ‘eye for an eye’ rhetoric is steeped in the popular but, majoritarian view on both sides.
 
Treading the middle path remains the only option for India in dealing with Pakistan. This becomes particularly significant given that the lack of engagement tends to result in border violations. India’s Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju’s statement that “India does not need to be hawkish on Pakistan” becomes significant in such a context. The need for a structured mechanism to deal with border violations is obvious but, the complexities associated with bilateral ties remain insurmountable.
 
The increasing complexities of the bilateral relations between New Delhi and Islamabad have been attributed mainly to ‘policy of linkage’ followed by either sides. For instance, Pakistan through the course of developing its nuclear programme linked nuclear deterrence to conventional asymmetry with India. In turn, the nuclearisation of the two states allowed Pakistan to further internationalise the issue of Kashmir by raising concerns of stability in the region. This opened space for negotiating with India. In turn, the policy of low intensity conflict (LICs) gained momentum as Pakistan linked LICs to conventional asymmetry. The implementation of LICs policy is witnessed in ceasefire violations.
 
It must be noted that Pakistan has advocated the policy of LICs well before pursuing its nuclear weapons programme. This is seen in the case of Operation Gibraltar and Operation Grand Slam wherein Mujahideen and Pakistani forces combined to launch attacks against the Indian side in 1965. A similar strategy was seen in the Kargil Conflict of 1999. The difference was that unlike in 1965, the Kargil Conflict occurred under a nuclear shadow. Therefore, pursuit of the LIC policy by Pakistan under the nuclear shadow impacted the crisis escalation between the two states. Furthermore, policy of LICs coupled with the nuclearisation of the two states was linked as depicted by many as ‘stability-instability paradox’. The paradox of increasing conflict escalation at the lower levels (LICs) feeds into the larger policy of linkage implemented by Pakistan.
 
Other reasons have been attributed to the ceasefire violations such as deliberate firing by the Pakistani troops to provide cover to infiltrators entering Kashmir. Also, ceasefire violations occur in response to political developments between the two states. In the recent months, the cancellation of the foreign secretary level talks and the red flag raised by India against the talks between Pakistan and the separatist Hurriyat leaders has caused friction and is reflective in the spike of violations. However, when viewed in totality it feeds into the ‘policy of linkage’ practiced by Pakistan resulting in a complex web of issues which are intricately entangled and difficult to negotiate.
 
If India continues to break away from talks and link issues, as has Pakistan, the resulting logjam will only spike the ceasefire violations. Therefore, India must work towards breaking the linkage policy and compartmentalise issues. This will prove to be an uphill task. Setting a specific agenda for negotiations in the case of ceasefire violations and developing a framework could be a possible way of compartmentalising the large scale problems between the neighbours. The agenda covered by the numerous peace talks held between the two states has often been large and reflective of the policy of linkage. Hence, limiting the agenda of the talks and delinking issues could in the long run opens space for negotiation.
 
(Ramya P.S is Research Fellow, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. She can be reached at contributions@spsindia.in)
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
  Nearly 58 per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive