The Indian government is sending the message to Pakistan that it must restore its credibility as a dialogue partner. This in effect means taking action against Pakistan’s terrorist infrastructure, say sources.
Even if the peace process is resumed, New Delhi is saying, the talks are unlikely to be of the nature that had existed before the Mumbai terror attack.
The Indian government accepts that, given its size and economic rise, it has the most to gain from stability and the most to lose from instability in the region. This “strategic imperative” is why India is prepared to go back to the negotiating table. New Delhi has to keep making the effort, say sources, despite the inevitable criticism that such talks accomplish nothing and even at the risk of making itself look foolish.
Nonetheless, India needs to have the confidence that commitments made by Pakistan at the table will actually be fulfiled. If the dialogue is to resume, there has to be a commitment to an absence of violence and action against perpetrators of attacks like Mumbai.
Credibility is at the heart of India’s position regarding the resumption of the dialogue. New Delhi has never said no to dialogue. In fact, is because India takes dialogue with Pakistan seriously that it needs to know if it is speaking with a “credible interlocutor”. This means Islamabad had to take tangible action against terrorist infrastructure, say sources.
In New Delhi’s view, the two countries had developed a good, working peace process between the end of 2003 and March 2007. Islamabad had pressed the pause button because of militant activity and, later, judicial battle that eventually led to the fall of the Pervez Musharraf regime. Subsequently, ceasefire violations, the Kabul embassy blasts, Mumbai and other events had brought the dialogue to an end.
India is at pains to not specify what action Islamabad needs to take for fear that anti-dialogue segments of the Pakistani establishment will seize upon such demands as an example of Indian bullying and scuttle the process. But the two countries have spoken of a wide range of potential anti-terrorist activities that Pakistan could consider over the years.
Pakistanis are reportedly increasingly concerned at the degree of US control of their country and the pressure Washington is placing on their government. The Indian view is that so long as there is no political will among local leadership to take responsibility for their actions, such outsider attempts to solve the region’s problems will be inevitable.