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Back channel diplomacy hits road block, if Pakistan shuns terrorism, all paths will open

10/08/2022 at 7:34 AM

Arun Joshi

Back channel contacts between India and Pakistan have halted and this is a bad omen for the region  which is experiencing  a number of shared problems from climate change to terrorism. The back channel diplomacy , in the absence of formal  and visible talks, is critical for the relationship between the two countries  cannot be overemphasized , but more importantly it holds key to peace and stability in the whole of South Asian region. Most important in this spectrum is that if  Pakistan shuns its terror ideology it stands to gain a lot. That is the time when India can do hand holding.

Pakistan’s  prominent newspaper Express Tribune  reported on Monday that,” back channel contacts  between Pakistan and India have met a dead end  as both sides have struggled to agree on the moves that may pave the way for slow but gradual improvement in the relationship..” The report, “ Pak-India back channel talks hit dead end,” quoting unnamed sources familiar with the  behind-the scene developments , said: “ Talks have been going on  but have reached a point where things aren’t moving anywhere.”, despite the desire from both sides  to break the impasse  but the issue is how to move forward  from  this point onwards.”

Primarily , there are two issues involved in  Indo-Pak relationship – what should be their first goal   how to live up to their own expectations. India wants and continues to press for it that Pakistan should end export of terrorism. India ‘s point is in Pakistan’s interest. The export of terrorism from Pakistani soil is a big menace for  India , and in particular ,  Jammu and Kashmir on this side of the Lin of Control., but it has bigger connotations for the rest of the world, which vies and rightly so, Pakistan as a haven for terrorists and terror outfits. The  West with which Pakistan had had sweet-sour relationship ever since it came into being in 1947 to the days of its physical split  in 1971 with East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh, is now increasingly aligned with Indian thinking that Pakistan should stop supporting anti-India terrorists.

This is not because of a sudden love  for India  that  the west has veered around to Indian  viewpoint – it is  more than acceptance of the perception , it is a firm acknowledgement of the reality .  Since 9/11  some of the terror assaults  across the globe from London  bombings in 2005  to  attempted Times Square bombings  in New York, America in 2010 ,  have been traced to Pakistan in one way or the other . And,  in the recent years , it has become more than evident that  Pakistan has been behind  Taliban take over of Afghanistan . It has supported all the terror groups , directly affiliated with Taliban, including Al-Qaeda ,   Haqqani network .  Pakistan  is yet to get a green light for exiting the gray list of Financial Action Task Force , the international watchdog monitoring terror-funding .

Pakistan  should know that India is talking  not only of its own safety and security against Pakistan sponsored terror attacks, it is  talking of peace in Pakistan and the region as well. Pakistan is under threat of its own creations – terror groups of all hues , killing its officers and soldiers, and civilians . That is making it to bow to the terrorism as such as it is showing  signs of wilting under pressure  of the terror groups –  there are many concessions , territorial and legal, it is making to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan , the terror group that killed more than 130  students and  teachers at  Army Public School, Peshawar in December 2014.

The problem with Pakistan is that  its own institutions are collapsing , they are unable to devise a policy to deal with the  menace of terrorism .  The narrative generated by it of the non-state actors being responsible for  acts of terrorism in India and elsewhere loses all the argument because how can the non-state actors operate without  state’s patronage .. The  world knows it very clearly now that the non-state actors are the  product of the  state, Pakistan has used the ( non-state players) terror groups as its  strategic assets  in attempting to  achieve its foreign policy goals . In Afghanistan , it wanted to increase its strategic depth as also to control the  territory and governments over there – the return of Taliban  in Afghanistan is less owing to  Doha  agreement  and more of Pakistan’s use of Taliban – its own creation-, to gain control of  its  western neighbour ..

Against India , its designs have  been on since the Partition  It has been harping on Kashmir  since . It fought wars and now is engaged  in proxy war  for the past over three decades .

A point  for Pakistan to ponder  is  what happens to it if it  looses all its contacts with India .  It will increase its isolation in the world order. It should have  recognised its isolation  when the OIC also refused  side with it  when it raked up the issue of the abrogation of Article 370 .  It is  imperilling its own existence and place in the world. Its relationship with India will open  doors for trade and it can be a contributor to peace in the region.

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