DIPLOMATIC APPEASEMENT: Time to fine tune diplomatic engagement with India
April 13, 2012
The cordial relations with the neighboring states are imperative for the security and prosperity of Pakistan. The government has seriously been endeavoring to improve Pakistan’s relations with both regional and international actors. It has been approaching New Delhi to chalk out a new course of action in both states’ bilateral relations.
President Asif Ali Zardari visited India for prayers and thanksgiving at the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti on April 8, 2012. Though it was a private visit, it generated a cordial atmosphere between the belligerent neighbors. The President had a brief dialogue with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan. The India Prime Minister’s response to the invitation was very calculated and diplomatic. President Zardari and Prime Minister Singh deliberated and expressed their resolve to create a win-win situation for India and Pakistan.
President Zardari stated: “We would like to have better relations with India. We have spoken on all topics that we could have spoken about and we are hoping to meet on Pakistani soil very soon.” Indeed, the President discussed all the issues, but the response or practical goodwill gesture from New Delhi is awaited. Since the Americans announced a $10 million bounty for the arrest or capture of Hafiz Saeed, the Indians have been pressurizing Pakistan to act against Hafiz Saeed. The government of Pakistan has categorically stated that without the actionable information against Hafiz Saeed, it is unable to arrest him. Neither Washington nor New Delhi is realizing that Pakistan’s judiciary is an independent institution and the citizens of Pakistan enjoy fundamental rights. Therefore, the government of Pakistan cannot arrest and try any citizen of Pakistan without appropriate evidences against the person.
The shrine diplomacy did have a positive impact, but the issue of Hafiz Saeed is very critical. Because, the Indians are convinced that he and his organization were responsible for terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. But they failed to provide evidences on the basis of which Pakistan could arrest him and initiate a trial against him.
Islamabad has already been engaged in a protracted destabilizing global war on terrorism. This war has wrecked its economy. It cannot afford a new front against the religious forces by arresting Hafiz Saeed to satisfy both New Delhi and Washington. Islamabad has limited options to cope with the emerging strategic puzzles due to its economic challenges and unending war on terrorism. The economic limitation necessitate that Islamabad must be vigilant, calculated and sensitive to India’s bait-and-bleed and bloodletting strategies, i.e. a costly arms race, limited war and above all luring it into a prolong struggle with religiously radicalized/extremist groups through its armed forces.
Though it sounds jingoistic-alarming, it is a reality that Pakistan should be careful in dealing with India. Prime Minister Gilani’s cricket diplomacy and President Zardari’s shrine diplomacy may have short-term positive outcomes, but in the long-term, there are ample chances that these appeasing tactics of the ruling elite multiply India’s superiority complex and it starts treating Pakistan’s strategic concerns vaguely. The systemic and domestic constraints have limited options of Pakistan to deal with India. In spite of these constraints, Islamabad still has room for maneuvering in the diplomatic realm. Therefore, the ruling elite should chalk out a realistic transparent foreign and strategic policy towards India.