India will kill talks if Pakistan grandstands | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India will kill talks if Pakistan grandstands

delhi Updated: Feb 19, 2010 01:38 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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In India’s view, the resurrected dialogue will have a bleak future if Pakistan decides to grandstand at the coming foreign secretary-level talks.

Whether the dialogue develops traction after the February 25 talks in New Delhi will depend on how constructively Islamabad approaches the talks.

If Pakistan plays to the gallery, following a script that allows it to go back to its public and say it talked only of Kashmir and conceded nothing on terrorism, dialogue can be expected to run aground.

India doesn’t expect the talks to come up with any instant solutions. The talks won’t have a predetermined agenda. But terrorism will be the overriding criteria for India.

Pakistan is free to raise whatever issues it may wish, including Kashmir and Balochistan. New Delhi is confident it has a response to whatever Pakistan may raise.

Pakistan’s insistence on resuming the composite dialogue, in effect picking up from where it left off after 26/11, is unacceptable to India.

One, in India's view, Pakistan has violated the basic quid pro quo of the dialogue — that it wouldn’t allow terrorist attacks against India from its soil.

Two, resuming dialogue would allow Islamabad to assume the Mumbai attacks had no impact on relations.

Three, Mumbai interrupted the dialogue just after the three senior-most-level meetings had taken place. To pick off where it ended would mean a resumption at a low level of officials.

India believes the regional situation has changed dramatically, even from a year ago. Pakistan's civilian government is weaker. New Delhi is relatively certain the dialogue will really be a conversation with the Pakistan military. But Islamabad is also more confident because it sees the situation in Afghanistan moving in its direction.

India sees the purpose of dialogue as no longer about accomplishing diplomatic goals. Its function is more about ensuring Pakistan has no excuse to escape its troop commitments on the Afghanistan border and the military can’t rally Pakistani nationalism to legitimize its political interference.

New Delhi believes terror attacks against India will continue, irrespective of whether there is a dialogue or not.