‘Sidelining Pakistan will dash hopes of regional peace’
* Roundtable regrets recent statements by Indian policymakers against CPEC’s geographical trajectory
ISLAMABAD: Increased show off on the issue of Pakistan by India is detrimental to peace prospects in South Asia, participants said at Jinnah Institute roundtable titled ‘Opportunities and Challenges in South Asia – the UK Perspective’ on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion, participants noted that mounting anti-Pakistan rhetoric by Indian leaders was shrinking the space for peacemakers and peace constituents on both sides of the border.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent statements against Pakistan in Bangladesh reflected New Delhi’s new provocative posturing. Despite the optimism of the meeting between the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad in March, and ceremonial telephone calls by Modi to Nawaz Sharif for Ramazan greetings, the current impasse between New Delhi and Islamabad continued to be a cause for concern. With the ceasefire in tatters, Indian policymakers were not only strategically indifferent to reconciliation with Pakistan, but also increasingly legitimising the use of sub-conventional warfare.
Participants further agreed that reducing the bandwidth of the Indo-Pak dialogue process to the Lakhvi trials was a mistake, and left little room for optimism.
Participants agreed that the stability of Pakistan was linked to regional stability, and hoped that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be a lynchpin of a more secure, prosperous and interconnected region. They also regretted recent statements made by Indian policymakers against the planned corridor’s geographical trajectory. Modi was increasingly eschewing the bilateral route
– his telephone call to Nawaz was part of a string of calls to Muslim leaders, and should not be read as a foreign policy initiative on Pakistan.
Given that major political parties in Pakistan on either end of the spectrum were all keenly sensitive to the idea of normalizing ties with India, participants observed that Modi’s turn towards hard conditionality was that the international environment as overwhelming favourable to India.
On the issue of Pakistan-Afghan ties, participants felt that the initial confidence that had been inspired by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s outreach towards Pakistan had begun to wane in the past few months.
A deadly summer offensive in the north of Afghanistan was costing Ghani increasing political capital, and each subsequent terrorist attack in that country only seemed to strengthen Kabul’s anti-Pakistan lobby.
On domestic terrorism, a few participants believed that the issue of extremism and terrorism needed to be tackled decisively not for the sake of appeasing India, but rather to consolidate Pakistan’s own internal security situation. "Should Read - Pakistan eschewing its International Terrorism in General and prepetrating Terrorism in India in Particular will consolidate Pakistan’s own internal security situation.
The roundtable was also attended by former foreign secretary Salman Bashir, Tariq Osman Hyder, Sarwar Naqvi, Talat Masood, Athar Abbas, Dr Rifat Hussain, Dr Simbal Khan, Mosharraf Zaidi, Hamid Mir, Zahid Hussain, Ejaz Haider, Naseem Zehra, Cyril Almeida and Arifa Noor.