Bilateral

Indian army chief’s remarks

Sep 8, 2017
Smashing all hopes for talks with Pakistan has become normal practice for the current Indian military establishment. Indian Chief of Army Staff, in a show of prowess on the anniversary of the 1965 war, has stated that militarily solutions to regional problems will not be ruled out.
 
The remarks are reflective of a current stalemate in Pakistan-India relations. China and India have just ended a 73-day face off in Doklam plateau near Sikkim — a cause for concern as Pakistan strengths its alliance with China. Importantly, China is increasingly lending diplomatic support to Pakistan in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s South Asian policy which demonised Pakistan in the war on terror. Moreover, Trump’s call for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan is a compounding factor in relations between India and Pakistan, constricting any efforts at improving the situation in Afghanistan.
 
Topping it off is the situation in Kashmir, which on the imperative of India, remains a no-go area in Indo-Pak relations, effectively making diplomatic relations even more constrained.
 
Despite these less than salutary remarks, it should be kept in mind that they come from the military high command which should be dealt with a pinch of salt from diplomatic missions and the bureaucracy. Pakistan and India have more in common than most neighbouring countries do given our history and Pakistan should keep in mind the necessity for peace with India for progress in the region.
 
In India, increasingly threatening statements by military personnel are reflective of the trepidation with which the country foresees a strengthened alliance between Pakistan and China. However, there is no reason for India to believe that such an alliance necessarily will be against its interests. In fact, a three-way arrangement between Pakistan-India-China is the only way out for securing prosperity in the region.
 
The diplomatic peace process between Pakistan and India needs to be resumed to achieve this end. This should be done with the priority for democracy kept in the forefront.Democratic dispensations can invigorate diplomatic relations with more measured declarations and less hawkish remarks from unelected institutions in both countries.
 
Daily Times, September 8, 2017

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