Officials in the know in Delhi aren’t sanguine about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting Pakistan in the near future.
They cite many reasons for it, notable among them being the lack of domestic support for scaling up dialogue without tangible progress on disputes dealt directly by the Pakistan army.
“There isn’t much enthusiasm for upgrading talks even in our Punjab that’s usually receptive to peace initiatives,” said an official.
He felt a summit-level visit can be helpful to the bilateral process only when there’s something to show to the people by way of achievement.
Visible movement is there on issues on which the army has given the PPP-led civilian regime a relatively free hand – improved visa regimes, promotion of trade and people-to-people contact.
But there has been no substantive progress on combating cross-border terrorism, Siachen, Sir Creek or Afghanistan that are under the GHQ’s charge, said a well-placed source.
Besides Islamabad’s limitations in delivering on complex issues without the army’s nod, the UPA regime’s own agenda at home leaves little room for a summit without assured results.
It’s noted in this context that on Kashmir, the Pakistan army – under General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani – has reverted to its original plank of self-determination for Kashmiris as envisaged under the relevant UN resolutions that India believes have been superseded by the 1971 Shimla Pact, the essence of which is bilateralism.
A reflection of it was found in President Asif Zardari’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he referred to the Kashmir dispute symbolising the failure of the UN process.
His comments met with external affairs minister S M Krishna’s rebuttal, reiterating New Delhi’s standard formulation of Kashmir being an integral part of India.
In the back channel talks until 2007, when General Musharraf was at the helm, Pakistani interlocutors had moved away from their traditional stance on Kashmir to explore and discuss “out-of-the-box” options.
Very much part of that approach was the shift from “new borders to no borders” along the LoC.