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Overtures to Pakistan

India showed its political tact by sending Foreign Secretary Jayshankar to Islamabad to diffuse tension over heavy shelling at Uri across the LOC. And next Pakistan Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik was invited to participate in a WTO ministerial meeting in March. Delhi is still committed to a bilateral dialogue. Of greater significance is the decision of both countries to release all prisoners in each other’s jails, especially the most vulnerable including women, children and the mentally unstable. India therefore seems to see the bigger picture overcoming minor irritants like cease fire violation. It is aware of the destabilizing influence in Pakistan of the Army and the ISI. President Donald Trump never hesitates to condemn Pakistan as terroristan as the Financial Action Task force emphasized in Paris a few days ago. India goes up in the estimation of foreign powers by taking big steps to promote people-to-people contact with Pakistan. Amritsar and Lahore can build a bridge.

Emphasis should be placed at the same time on the old idea of boosting trade and investment along with expanding energy pipelines. India must be alive to the fact that the roots of the persistent tension between Delhi and Islamabad lie in the Jammu and Kashmir issue. It cannot be denied that India often forgets the provisions of the Simla Pact (IGTI) which produced a climate of understanding. It will not do to deny that Kashmir is the central issue in bilateral talks as India did when Pervez Musharraf made his historic visit to Delhi. The US under Trump may turn its heat on Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism but its traditional policy has been to insist on bilaterism as the key to a resolution of the India-Pakistan standoff. But India must secure its border and its Intelligence agencies have to guard against Jihadi infiltration. No war but peace will ensure growth in both countries.

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