Artboard 3 Created with Sketch.
 
Has India Unveiled  New Pakistan Policy In Its Tough Talk?
Snapshot

The previous week witnessed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) talking tough with Pakistan.

It was after months that both the Foreign Ministry and Home Ministry spoke in one voice creating an impression that there the concerned ministries were working in unison and that New Delhi now meant serious business.

The moral of the story is that the New Delhi’s new foreign policy towards Pakistan has the potential of undoing all the wrongs committed by the Indian political class after Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India.

The previous week witnessed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) talking tough with Pakistan. It all started with the MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup’s 3 June statement on Pakistan, Kashmir issue, political status of Jammu and Kashmir vis-à-vis India and Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (POJK).

Talking to reporters, Swarup, inter-alia said:

The Kashmir issue was not the main cause of tensions between the two countries and externally sponsored terrorism and POJK were the central issues. we completely reject the insinuations by the vested interests (read Pakistan) against India which has rightful sovereignty over the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir…Pakistan needs to vacate its illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Vikas Swarup didn’t stop just there. He rejected outright the Pakistani sinister contention that Kashmir issue had international dimensions. “We stress that there are no global dimensions of the Kashmir issue except in the minds of those who (in this case Islamabad) seek to needlessly internationalise a bilateral matter” (The Hindu, 3 June).

And by bilateral matter, he clearly meant the political future not of this part of Jammu and Kashmir but POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, which have been occasionally witnessing anti-Islamabad upheavals for quite sometime now with radicals in both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir State not only demanding independence from Islamabad but also on occasions raising pro-India slogans.

Stop interfering in the internal affairs of India, end cross-border terrorism and vacate the aggression were the three fundamental upshots of the Vikas Swarup’s plain-speaking.

And the very next day, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh went a step further. He, said:

India will not talk on Kashmir with Pakistan. If at all India and Pakistan talk, the talks only will be on POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan and not on this part of Jammu and Kashmir. The world knows that the Pathankot airbase terror attack was the handiwork of fully trained terrorists. While India allowed Pakistani intelligence team to visit Pathankot airbase to see for itself what was done by terrorists to enact a major anti-India act, Islamabad has not reciprocated”(Dainik Jagran, 5 June).  Rajnath Singh made this statement in Pathankot while addressing an intellectuals’ meet.

There was no ambiguity in what Rajnath Singh and Vikas Swarup at two different places within a short span of two days. It was after months that both the Foreign Ministry and Home Ministry spoke in one voice creating an impression that there the concerned ministries were working in unison and that New Delhi now meant serious business. In fact, it was for the first time in more than six decades that the Union Home Minister and the Indian Foreign Office said what they said.

What they said about Pakistan, Kashmir issue, POJK and related issues did suggest that the attitude of New Delhi towards Pakistan had undergone some change. It’s no wonder then that what they said surprised many. The reasons were obvious.

One of the most disturbing reasons was the manner in which New Delhi dealt with Pakistan after the 10 July, 2015 Ufa (Russia) India-Pakistan joint statement. Between 10 July, 2015 and 1 June, 2016, when Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said that India was “running away” from talks, the New Delhi’s Pak policy was known more for flip flops than anything else. There is no need to catalogue these flip flops as they are too many.

Suffice it to say that the nation would appreciate the Modi dispensation if it held its ground firmly and didn’t kneel under any pressure whatsoever.What Rajnath Singh and Vikas Swarup said would rattle Pakistan is a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the unequivocal stand of New Delhi has sent a strong message to Islamabad.

Disturbed by the response Pakistan, which till not-so-long-ago, had been accusing New Delhi on almost daily basis of not moving forward to resolve all the outstanding issues between the two nations, including the so-called Kashmir issue, on June 6 said that it was not desperate to resume talks with India.

Pakistan is not desperate to resume peace talks with India,” a top official said at Islamabad. “There was no restlessness on the Pakistani side for a dialogue,” Sartaj Aziz, the Advisor on Foreign Affairs to Pakistan Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, was also quoted as saying. “If South Asia had to see peace, there had to be ‘coordination first’…India never opened a window of opportunity for dialogue goodwill with Pakistan”.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s report quoting Sartaj Aziz in this regard further said:

All the developments in this regard were sabotaged when the talks between the countries were postponed after the terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot in January. It is a very strange thing to say as it was decided here on December 9 that the dialogue will resume but then the Pathankot incident occurred and everything vanished into thin air” (IANS, 6 June ).

Of course, neither the said “top official” nor Sartaj Aziz referred to what Rajnath Singh and Vikas Swarup had said, but the very fact that the statement of Sartaj Aziz came a day after Union Home Minister declared that the talks only will be on POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan and not on Kashmir explained everything.

Indeed, what the South Block and North Block on 3 and 4 June said could be construed as a new foreign policy of New Delhi. This policy, if became a permanent feature, would, on the one hand, open a new chapter in the history of Indo-Pak relations and on the other, also adversely impact the ongoing freedom struggle in parts of the Kashmir Valley.

It will put Pakistan in its place and enhance India’s stature in the eyes of the international community. Besides, it would lead to the disintegration of separatist outfits in the Valley and weaken the position of the People’s Democratic Party, the National Conference and the Congress. All these outfits, separatist and the so-called mainstream, have been surviving and thriving on the support they get from New Delhi. Not only this, it will also have a positive impact on the country’s religio-political scene.

The moral of the story is that New Delhi’s new foreign policy towards Pakistan has the potential of undoing all the wrongs committed by the Indian political class after Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in accordance with constitutional law on the subject. The only caveat is that the Modi Government needs to stand by what the Union Home Minister and the MEA said, much to the surprise of the nation.