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SACW #2 (30 August 01)

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire / Dispatch No.2 30 August 2001 http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex [ Interruption Notice: The SACW Posts will be interrupted between the period
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2001
      South Asia Citizens Wire / Dispatch No.2
      30 August 2001

      [ Interruption Notice: The SACW Posts will be interrupted between the
      period 31st August to 7th of September 2001]


      [1.] MB Naqvi on the upcoming Musharraf - Vajpayee jaw jaw session
      in New York



      MB Naqvi Column

      Karachi August 29:

      Although the origins of the Indian change of mind to utilise the New
      York visit of Premier A. B. Vajpayee for another jaw jaw session with
      Pakistani military strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf are not known here,
      the prospect has concentrated the minds of many commentators here. They
      have begun warning both leaders to avoid another fiasco like Agra’s.
      While some are euphoric at the mere prospect of another meeting --- the
      resumption of the much needed dialogue --- others are steeling
      themselves to the inevitable failure.

      Insofar as the incurable optimists are concerned, little need be said.
      Given half a chance, they would daydream of a successful parleys even at
      this preliminary stage. As for the equally incurable pessimists, who
      always emphasise that the glass is half-empty, again there is nothing
      much to say. They would always foretell failure. Wouldn’t they?

      There are however some who hold that both success and failures are
      possible. For success in Indo-Pakistan talks they think the precondition
      is a change in mind sets in the two ruling political classes. Unless
      this happens, they think the two sides will go on talking at each others
      and getting angrier and angrier. Look at what happened at Agra. The
      Indians thought that faced with a parlous economy and recognising the
      change in the international situation, Musharraf would noticeably
      dilute, if not change, Pakistan’s traditional stance of prior
      satisfaction on Kashmir before agreeing to more trade, more regional
      cooperation and true normalisation with India. They proved wrong.

      There are three perceived circumstances that tend to harden South
      Block’s position on such talks: Pakistan is perceived in New Delhi as a
      weak, rickety and accident prone state with an economy teetering on the
      brink of collapse. That confers on India a position of strength to
      negotiate from. Secondly, Pakistan is internationally isolated; India’s
      burgeoning quasi-alignment with the US leaves no scope for Pakistan to
      go on resisting Indian wishes on Kashmir. Thirdly, there is the
      ineffable mischief of nuclear weapons: it has conferred on India an
      arrogance of power; feeling invincible, it is hard for India to be

      But as it happened, what Musharraf said and did in India during his July
      visit was contrary to Indian government’s expectations. There are
      several grounds for his hanging tough: nuclear capability has also gone
      to Pakistanis heads; they too think their defences behind the nuclear
      shield are unassailable. Secondly, there is a perception that on Kashmir
      India is inherently in a weaker position: Pakistan’s demand --- self
      determination for Kashmiris --- plus India human rights record add to
      Pakistan’s negotiating strength. Thirdly, Pakistan’s regime is a
      national security regime par excellence; it does not fully comprehend
      the economic or even political weaknesses of Pakistan. At a pinch, it is
      prepared to go on being a broken back state but would not bend before
      India. It also seems to have other assessments of its situation, either
      its own or given by others.

      These mind sets, so long as they remain unaltered, are incapable of
      compromise and mutual accommodation. It so happens that the two
      governments comprise forces that thrive on Indo-Pak enmity, originating
      in India’s historic Hindu Muslim Problem; in basics both are communalist
      in their outlook and purpose.

      What conclusions follow from this analysis of only a few analysts in
      Pakistan? The Valhalla of an Indo-Pakistan rapprochement --- even one
      between the two sets of political elites --- is long way off. Some
      Indians think that Mr. Vajpayee is a statesman, in contradistinction to
      being a BJP politician, and that he wants to see his name go down in
      history as someone who achieved an apparently impossible task. It is
      hard to assess personal motivations. But circumstances don’t seem to
      support this kind of supposition. Those Pakistanis who went to Agra have
      come back with the impression that Mr. Vajpayee’s position in India’s
      power system is vulnerable and that he could be vetoed.

      But say a few: ah! You are ignoring the special character of
      India-Pakistan relations. They are capable of even causing a nuclear
      war, at one extreme, and they can sustain even the closest of
      friendships if only there is statesmanship to realise the latter
      potential at the other end. They say look at the way that Indian public
      opinion and even the media were euphoric by the mere fact of the summit;
      the BJP government was indeed taken by surprise at the upsurge of the
      feeling that desired friendship. But these people are basically
      optimists who think that since a possible foundation exists, someone
      will build on it. All you have to do is to ask them: please identify any
      leader on either side who is ready to make even a minor sacrifice for
      this end? They all think they are hard-boiled players of power game.

      The conclusion of perceptive realists is that these two horses are being
      taken to the water in pursuit of America’s leadership role in Asia and
      there is not much likelihood that the two will actually drink. If indeed
      it is a command performance there should be no hope --- look at the way
      the South Block was sure that India’s PM would have so very little time
      at his disposal in New York that a meeting with Musharraf in the lifts
      or canteens of the UN building will be most unlikely. But then suddenly
      he seems to have found several days in New York --- within days. Could
      this change be attributed to the US being almighty?


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