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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014
Pak should not have let meetings with separatists derail talks with India
Hindustan Times
August 19, 2014
First Published: 22:52 IST(19/8/2014)
Last Updated: 22:55 IST(19/8/2014)

Such provocations are par for the course and seem to form a vital part of Pakistan’s diplomatic armoury against India.

So the Pakistani high commissioner meeting the Kashmiri separatists would probably have passed with a sharp censure from New Delhi and then it would have been business as usual.

But this time around, Islamabad knew it was dealing with a different kettle of fish in the Narendra Modi government and yet still went ahead with the meetings.

New Delhi has rightly called off the foreign secretary-level talks. But if we were to look at this eagerness to talk to the separatists from Pakistan’s point of view, we will find that it makes little sense for that country.

The Kashmiri separatists, who turn up for meetings with the Pakistani envoy each year around the time when bilateral talks are on the cards, are the usual suspects. They are not part of the electoral process and have always shown a marked reluctance to step into the electoral fray.

The likes of Hurriyat leader Ahmed Shah Geelani have creditable rabble-rousing capabilities, but were he to stand for elections, chances are he would be trounced. The others would fare no better.

The separatists have been able to cash in on India’s missteps in Kashmir but beyond berating India and demanding secession or joining Pakistan, they have nothing concrete to recommend as a solution. Pakistan should have seen through their game by now.

They can offer Pakistan nothing in Kashmir and they can offer India nothing. In the end, the two democratically elected governments have to work out a viable deal. These meetings between the envoy and the separatists will obviously serve to annoy India, but that is about it.

After Mr Modi extended a hand of friendship which was reciprocated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India to attend the swearing-in ceremony, an atmosphere of cordiality was created.

The fact that this fruitless meeting with the separatists has derailed these crucial talks suggests that Pakistan is not on top of the diplomacy game.

No one can blame India for saying that despite fair warning, Pakistan has fired the first hostile salvo by these meetings. As for the separatists, people would take them a bit more seriously if they would come out with a blueprint of their own.

As of now, we can only conclude that they have vested interest in keeping the pot boiling in order to preserve their own relevance in the scheme of things.

It is time Pakistan did something that would be in its own interest if it is indeed interested in peace.

And that would be to tell the Hurriyat leaders that unless they have something substantive to contribute to the dialogue, they should not drop in for a cup of tea and a chat before any significant bilateral talks.


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