Before September 11, terrorist attacks in U.S. officials in India and Pakistan were engaged in finalizing plans for another summit-level talk to pieces up threads from the abortive meeting of Agra of July 2001.The effort was summarily called off when India volunteered to sign up with the U.S. in a global coalition against terrorism. But the U.S. was not include to betray its strategic partner nor was it willing to confront the reality that the worst kind of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was a subsidiary project of Afghan jihad which it sponsored and funded. India’s plans failed when Musharraf was able to tune up solidly behind the U.S. in its new crusades. Indian efforts to pillory Pakistan as a source of global terrorism resulted in a more uncompromising posture of Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir. After the terrorist attack on parliament, relations between India and Pakistan were stained to the extreme when more than a million troops eye-ball to eye-ball along the India-Pakistan border. This time was a dangerous war of words with India finding Pakistan a perfect target for pre-emptive strikes just as U.S. was doing towards Iraq. Indian leaders openly declared that it was Pakistan rather than Iraq that should have been the proper target for a pre-emptive war. It was argued that if possession of weapons of mass destruction a lack of democratic political structure and sponsorship of cross-border acts of terrorism were cause for military action against Iraq then Pakistan was a far greater offender requiring even stronger action. On its part Pakistan responded by alleging that India is piling up weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological weapons for the genocide of Muslims in Kashmir.
The United States with extreme caution warned Pakistan that any attempts to draw parallels between Kashmir and Iraq situations are wrong India was strongly urged to restrain itself from using the U.S. led pre-emptive war against Iraq as a pretext for an attack on Pakistan. Under U.S. pressure or for any other reason Pakistan president and military chief general Parwez Musharraf on January 12, 2002 declared that his country’s soil would not be used for carrying out acts of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The U.S. president himself intervened to tell Pakistan’s president that he needed to stop infiltration across the line of control. In his words, “He must do so. We and others are making it clear to him that he must live up to his words”. Mr. Powell and Armitage travelled to both capitals to advice against any precipitate action. Both endorsed the honesty in Pakistan’s effort to end cross border terrorism and urged it go further and to do more.
The need for India and Pakistan to talk to settle Disputes was affirmed not only by Armitage but also by nation security adviser Mr. Rice who held discussions with Mishra and Pakistan’s foreign minister Kasuri in quick succession. India relaxed its military posture through not its rhetoric following the peaceful conduct of elections in Jammu and Kashmir in October for which India saw the main audience for its rhetoric in the west, mainly the U.S.
Time and again came an urge from the Pakistani leadership for resumption of talks on bilateral issues and repeated advice from supreme powers for resumption of talks. From India’s side through there was ease in tension on all fronts after successful elections in Jammu and Kashmir but there was continued insistence from India’s Prime Minister that for resumption of talks the attitude and sincerity of Pakistan was to be judged by deeds rather than words and unless cross border terrorism was totally stopped there was no basis for the resumption of talks. Then came a dramatic move from Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the prime minister of India in the middle of April 2003 when he visited Srinagar to fulfill his commitment to address a public meeting, the first ever by a prime minister since 1987.It seemed that his motive was simply to lend support to the policies of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed which he was following in Jammu and Kashmir. But he not only fulfilled these expectations but also went for ahead by assuring the people of Jammu and Kashmir of a future of peace and prosperity as also he extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan.
Mr. Vajpayee’s gesture was totally reverse of the official versions of the past several months and it had the effect of inducing another mind-swing which has been the pattern of neighbor-hood relations in the past years. In order to cool the euphorbia, on the following day the prime minister restated India’s position on talks with Pakistan. In a press conference just before leaving Srinagar he sought more closely to extend his hand of friendship by declaring, “If Pakistan announces today that it has stopped cross-border terrorism, ended infiltration and wound up terrorist camp”, I will send a senior official of ministry of external affairs to Pakistan tomorrow to decide the agenda. India is prepared to discuss all things including Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan.
The hand for friendship to Pakistan by Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 18th of April was exactly which Pakistan was waiting for since the relations between the two countries hit the Pakistan regime wake of the terrorist attack on parliament house on 18th of December 2001.However, it is also true that a sense of disbelief pervades the entire Pakistan establishment. Top politicians including President General Parvez Musharraf and the Prime Minister Mr. Jamali have only one in their minds-what prompted the Indian Prime Minister to reach out to Pakistan at this juncture.
The circumstances strongly suggested that India’s attitude was influenced by a concurrent effort to test the response from the United States. Three rounds of crucial negotiations involving the United States had been scheduled in the days after Jamali’s announcement regarding resumption of talks. The need for India and Pakistan to talk was affirmed not merely by Armitage but Mr. Rice also held discussions with Shri Brijesh Mishra and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood in quick succession.
Although Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his declaration of “hand of friendship” best the road ahead for India and Pakistan remains enveloped in a haze of suspicion and uncertainly. The visit of parliamentary delegation from Pakistan contributed to the atmosphere of new engagement but the conspicuous neglect of the visitors by the government indicated that the visit was premature. A reciprocal visit by Indian parliamentarians has also taken place.
As these exchanges take place Pakistan is torn by the uncertainties of the civil-military dynamics which were responsible for wrecking the Lahore initiative. The national assembly is unable to agree with the self appointed president and army chief on the legal validity of the order under which a semblance of electoral democracy was brought back to pakistan. The confrontation between President Musharraf and Pakistan opposition has reached a flash point with the general threatening to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections if the parties refuse to accept his constitutional amendments. He has reiterated that he would not quit as army chief as demanded by the opposition and said that he was allowed by the supreme court of Pakistan to amend the constitution. But due to the growing pressure of opposition General Parvez Musharraf had to yield. He ultimately continues to be levied on inter-state sells. However this will agree not to continue as army chief beyond 2004.Constitutional changes made by him would be received and submitted to parliament for approval. This signals an end to the 11 month long crisis in Pakistan parliament.
In face of the bitterness between the two countries in the past there is no doubt that the Vajpayee peace initiative has moved forward. There are two distinct elements in the initiative. The first is directed towards normalization of mutual relations and attached to it is the step towards dialogue. Normalization itself may take sufficient time. Then only some kind of negotiations may begin. Delhi wants to go on slow pace whereas Islamabad is prepared for any manner of approach.
Anyhow, India does not seem to be much impressed with the confidence building measures adopted by Pakistan so far after Mr. Vajpayee’s Srinagar offer. The only positive indication is the restoration of diplomatic relations. Politicians, however, feel that the peace process is back on track. There is likelihood of the two foreign secretaries meeting in New York on September. It seems that it will be a long road before India and Pakistan can get down to fundamental issues. Which mar the bilateral relations? The talk’s process may go on but the optimism is tempered with caution .With Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan to attend the SAARC conference the ice starts meting and it has been declared that blare talks with being in February 2004.