How the return of the Taliban can fuel Indo-Pakistan hostility: the Tribune India
The reconquest of Afghanistan is a sweet comfort for the Taliban after their military defeat in 2001. For the Taliban, who had said: “While the Americans have the watches, we have the time”, the circle has come full circle.
Pakistan’s contribution to his return to power is not negligible. This is sure to fuel hostile relations between India and Pakistan, already at an all-time low due to India’s reading of Article 370. Pakistan has tried to keep Afghanistan out of its bounds. India.
In 2007, Foreign Minister Nirupama Rao negotiated with her Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khan for the inclusion of Afghanistan as the ninth element of the composite dialogue, but the Pakistani military never let it happen, saying that ” that would legitimize India’s role in Afghanistan ”.
Islamabad has done everything in its power to keep New Delhi on the fringes of Afghanistan, persuading the Americans to keep India out. President Ghani initially placed India in the farthest circle of his policy of concentric circles based on the power they wielded. Likewise, Russia, at Pakistan’s request, ensured that India was excluded from the enlarged Moscow-led troika, made up of China, the United States and Pakistan, saying that New Delhi could not influence the Taliban.
Lately, however, the Foreign Ministry spokesman has started to describe India as Afghanistan’s “neighbor”, but that is now an outlier.
Crisis-prone Indo-Pakistani relations have seen several interventions by the United States, the USSR and the United Kingdom. To avoid third-party mediation and following the Simla agreement, India and Pakistan opened a backchannel initially between diplomats and later institutionalized between NSAs. It was the 2004-07 Satinder Lambah-Tariq Aziz backchannel that produced the four-point formula on Kashmir that was closest the two countries had reached to resolve the dispute. Pakistan has not always had an NSA after Major General Mohamad Durrani was sacked for identifying one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attack. Sartaj Aziz was appointed NSA in 2013-15, followed by two retired generals – Janjua and Lodhi – with diplomat Haroon briefly in between.
The backchannel also experienced variations: direct talks between the ISI and R&AW; between ISI and NSA. NSA Ajit Doval is believed to have met with Pakistani Army Chief General Bajwa in London last year after his presentation at the security dialogue in Islamabad where he mentioned the shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics and urged India to bury the past. UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al Otarba admitted it was a mediation – what he meant to facilitate – between India and Pakistan for a healthy and functional relationship . Doval and ISI Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed negotiated the February 25 ceasefire in Dubai.
Whenever there is a hint of optimism in bilateral relations, it is usually due to the backchannel. Pakistan’s young and talkative NSA Moeed Yusuf has publicly confirmed that India sought the back channel that spawned the ceasefire. This is highly plausible, given India’s intention to defuse the situation on two fronts after the PLA intrusions along the LAC. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott Clark, co-authors of RAW and ISI’s Spy Stories-Inside Secret World, confirm that the backchannel was up and running before 2018-19.
India did not believe the ISI when it declared in New Delhi that it was not responsible for the Pulwama attack and bombed Balakot. It was the Jaish-e-Mohammad who led the strikes on Pulwama, Pathankot and Uri earlier as the Lashkar-e-Taiba lay low after Hafeez Saeed’s house arrest. For some time, the authors acted as a channel for the exchange of operational intelligence between the two parties. They claim to have had unprecedented access to key intelligence players in both countries.
Success via the backchannel encouraged good nature. Prime Minister Modi wished Imran Khan on his country’s national holiday, followed by ‘recovery’ wishes after contracting Covid-19. Khan told Modi he looks forward to a results-oriented dialogue.
The highlight of the backchannel was that Pakistan agreed to buy cotton and sugar from India in April 2021. Unsurprisingly, the plan was scuttled on the pretext that it had not been cleared by Cabinet. . This reflects Pakistan’s 2013-14 power purchase agreement that was canceled for similar reasons – read military. Apparently, the generals do not accept the idea of burying Bajwa’s past and wish to keep relations on fire.
The sticking point for the normalization of relations is Article 370 on which Pakistan is tied. Both countries have assimilated, through legislation and mapping, the parts of J&K they hold. Pakistan occupies 15 percent of J&K, of which 85 percent is Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly the northern regions. He made strategic Gilgit-Baltistan almost Pakistan’s fifth province (provisional provincial status) and integrated it into the Center.
India has stirred the hornet’s nest following the inclusion of Aksai Chin on the new map, urging the PLA to encroach on the LAC in eastern Ladakh. In addition, Pakistan accuses R&AW of terrorist attacks in Lahore (near the residence of Hafiz Saeed) and in Balochistan against a bus full of Chinese. Additionally, ISI replaced human infiltration with drones through the LoC. Yet the Indus Water Treaty Commission met after three years and India granted sports visas to Pakistani cricketers.
On Kashmir, China said, “This is a historical dispute that must be resolved peacefully through the United Nations Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recalled in 2019 the 1972 agreement on the bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan – the Simla Agreement – which stipulates that the final agreement on the status of Jammu and Kashmir must be settled by peaceful means in accordance with the charter of the United Nations.
Obviously, Kashmir is not India’s domestic affair. Hot shot, cold shot Indo-Pakistani relations await normalization: restoration of full diplomatic relations, including the return of ambassadors and all staff, resumption of trade through Wagah and the LoC and the resumption of dialogue global bilateral started in 2015.
Pakistan’s insistence that India roll back its constitutional changes in J&K before any normalization dialogue only adds to the complexity of India’s conditionality that talks and terror do not go hand in hand. The intrepid backchannel must create the conditions for an unconditional dialogue, without prejudice to the positions of each.