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no begging for talks with india

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    no begging for talks with india

    Some of the newspapers at the end of every year publish an annual chronology of events. Pakistan's intellectuals should take time off from their busy schedules and make a list of foreign dignitaries like Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Executives and Ministers and even Ministers of State who visited our Islamic Republic during the year 2000. It would not be a difficult exercise because it is likely to be covered on one page. The next step is to compare this one page list with a similar one for India. You should not be surprised to discover that the difference in scale will be like one to 100, if not more.

    Some foreign dignitary is visiting India almost everyday and he or she is mostly not even given front page coverage; we are so hospitable that we give an imposter Minister from some unknown country in Africa big coverage and the President readily meets him. Any professor of an American University (and there are thousands of them in the United States) can come to Pakistan and meet our President, PM and other Ministers. Pakistan's isolation in the world may not be startling our folks in the Foreign Office but it is frightening and one is scared to say that we are fast joining the Burma League. In fact, Burma in certain ways is still doing better than us because at least foreign investors made a direct investment of US$7 billion during the past year. The resident Pakistanis probably have made a direct investment abroad of a similar amount during the same period.

    Pakistan's isolation and economic precariousness is not concealed from the world community particularly our friends sitting in New Delhi. They are relishing every moment of this situation; and are unlikely to take any steps that may help Pakistan in coming out of this mess. The government of India perceives Pakistan's desperation to initiate talks as an attempt to legitimise its present political system in the eyes of the world community and to convince the world about its peaceful intentions by shedding the image of exporting Islamic fundamentalism which has been created over a period of time by the world media but exacerbated by the Indians.

    The desperation shown by the Pakistani establishment to talk to the Indians is thus getting to be hilarious and must be music to the Indian ears. And it is quite a turn around in just 16 months from the Kargil days when the freedom fighters were being portrayed as breaking the backbone of the Indian Army might in Kargil and about to liberate Kashmir. From such a euphoria, things have reached the point where some of the APHC (All-Parties Hurriyet Conference) leaders are camping in Delhi to wait for the Indian government to extend an invitation to talk. The stage appears to be set for a sizeable section of Kashmiri leaders and the Indians to talk as both sides are seeing the futility of the status quo; it goes without saying that many notables remain opposed to a dialogue with the Indians without Pakistan's involvement. The Kashmiris are gradually realising that the idea of a military solution of the imbroglio in Kashmir is unlikely to happen and they cannot afford to see the Kashmiri youth bleed for an indefinite period. The Indians themselves are bleeding and the degree varies from period to period but they would obviously like to put an end to it, if possible. The biggest factor that has prompted the Kashmiris to change their thinking is the involvement of foreign mercenaries in the whole scenario which is being immensely resented by the local Kashmiris as firstly they are being seen as foreigners and no one appears to appreciate their zeal to curve out an Islamic state from a Hindu one; and secondly, the repercussions on the local populace following a Mujahideen action is tough and can get to be excruciating after a while.

    In these circumstances, it would be naive on the part of the Pakistani establishment to be expecting the Indians to grab the first invitation emanating from Islamabad to start talks. In addition to this, the general Indian public opinion is opposed to holding negotiations with Pakistan in the present condition as the whole nation genuinely feels betrayed by the Kargil invasion taking place so soon after PM Vajpayee's yatra to Lahore in February 1999. The Indian government's persistent opposition to any talks before Pakistan ceasing all the so-called cross border terrorism should be seen in the context of such a public opinion and can also be regarded as a political maneuver by the NDA government to exploit the public sentiments in its favour. The whole government machinery in Pakistan should thus concentrate in assuaging this Indian public emotion instead of trying to constantly show to Washington that it has been a good boy in trying to talk to the Indians.

    Apart from the above constraint of Indian opinion, Indians perceive Pakistan as an isolated state which majority of them regard as a failing one. India has undergone a euphoria during the past ten years since the time that Narasimiha Rao started to open its economy to the outside world. The middle class is booming and the software engineers consider themselves indispensable to the Western technological system. The Indian girls continuously winning the Miss World and Miss Universe competitions have elated the egos of majority of Indian females. India, just like Pakistan, is a nuclear power but it is also talking of launching a mission to the moon by the year 2003. In other words, the country despite possessing majority of the world's poor and illiterates, is in an extremely confident mode and the thinking of the masses is forward looking.

    As opposed to the Indian elation, we have been in a depressing state for a number of reasons. If things are bad in our country, we cannot make them excellent by simply stating that they are as good as in other nations: it is not so simple and we all would have to do a little more than just keep expressing our patriotism and criticising those who point out the ills in the existing system. Indians appreciate Pakistan's dilemma and would not come to Pakistan's aid to bail it out of the present predicament without getting something in return. What that bargaining chip is going to be will be totally dependent on the economic, political and diplomatic conditions existent at that moment. Hopefully things would be as Shaukat Aziz says they would be by that time.


    Opinion Next

    The News International, Pakistan

    A tiny reminder, first please post a link to the site youíre borrowing from, second itís not acceptable to leave an article without any personal comments, so till you figure out what you want to say with this, Iíll close it. In future abide by the rules of this forum, thanks.