The Afghan instrumentality

Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan met on the margins of the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan. The foreign secretaries had stopped meeting after the Pathankot terror attack. Later, a Pakistani joint investigation team came to India to investigate the Pathankot attack. But confusion followed. The Pakistani High Commissioner said that bilateral talks had been suspended though the Pakistan foreign minister insisted that both sides were working on the modalities of talks. Inside Pakistan, the civilian government in Islamabad and the army in Rawalpindi were not in agreement on India. It is possible that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minster Narendra Modi who have got closer are in favour of the dialogue process. But the Pakistani army chief, Rahil Sharif has a greater say in Pakistan’s India politics. The two Sharifs have also been fighting over the Panama papers.

The foreign secretaries meet has to be put in proper perspective. It may not indicate the possibility of resumption of dialogue but it is a point of contact. India should insist on a reciprocal visit. It means that an Indian investigation team should go to Pakistan following the Pakistani visit to Pathankot. The conference on Afghanistan should be built on trust. India and Pakistan should realize that they are both stake holders of the same nature in peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. So far attitudes of India and Pakistan to the conflict between the Taliban and the Kabul government have not been altogether friendly. Cooperation between the two countries is of great importance. Peace in Afghanistan will improve the security situation in South Asia.


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