NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISERS(NSA) MEET ON 23RD AUGUST: BY SHANTONU SEN
This meeting, were it, to take place. will be the first of its kind since these institutions have come up in both our countries. They have, of course met, as a part of delegation of both countries but I cannot recall the two agreeing to meet to discuss mutual relations and then holding a meeting. The past history of any agreement to meet at a high political level has a dodgy trail. The agreement to meet fails to materialize. The reason is always the same. The agreement is followed by frequent cease fire violations leaving a trail of deaths, civilian and uniformed. For us the violations are by the Pakistan army. The National Party or parties in opposition immediately demand a suspension of the talks. After some show of resistance the Government gives in and it is status-quo-ante.
This proposed meeting has shown all signs of being derailed. Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz himself balked. The stipulation that Kashmir will not be on the agenda at all galled him. Some waffling exercise to suggest Kashmir could be a peripheral talking point soothed his nerves. Thereafter the usual cease fire violations have started, They are continuing and when last counted there were eight and escalating . Not only the line of control in Kashmir is continuously bombarded also the Punjab border in Gurdaspur has seen armed to the teeth infiltrators. Suicide killers have attacked army columns and para-military inside Kashmir. Presence of mind of a bus driver in the Punjab and two BSF brave hearts in Jammu- Kashmir saved many innocent lives of our countrymen. Yet Shiv Sena, the first to demand termination of talks has remained silent, The Congress has lately made some muted cries to end the proposed talks. Nothing very vociferous.
The talks will therefore be held on the 23rd August. Our NSA, it is suggested on print, will be tough. It will be just not exchange of information and dossiers . India will seek and obtain guarantees against persistent violent cease fire violations and infiltration.
Some hopes. NSA Pakistan much as he may like to pirouette as his country’s chief spokesman in reality he speaks for a truncated country. Of the rest Pakistan Army commands a chunk, Pakistan Intelligence Service ( I S I) another part and yet another part is under the control of a motley group who create terror off and on. They take little or no notice of the elected government. They care a fig for Nawaz Shariff and even less for the desire of peaceful co-existence that has suffused the peoples of Pakistan. Time our NSA and our Government looks deep into the Pandora’s box that Pakistan is and search out solutions of a peace arrangement that has defied the past so many attempts in the last 25 years.
One factor that stares us all in the eye is the need to add muscle to the elected Government of Pakistan. It needs help. It has not helped itself. Its three competitors are the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan Internal Services Agency ( I S I ) and the different terrorist leaders holding sway, the Lashkars, the Talibans etc. These three have no desire to be at peace with India. People of Pakistan like people all over the world including India must want to live in peace. How will the two NSAs work to that end?