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India seeks peace, stability in Pakistan

india Updated: Nov 07, 2007 02:47 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Hindustan Times
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The Indian government, relieved that for the first time it is not being perceived or blamed as a part of the problem during an internal crisis in Pakistan, is hoping for the process of ‘democratisation’ to begin as it closely monitors the evolving situation there.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India sought "peace, prosperity and stability" in Pakistan. Speaking on the margins of an India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference, Mukherjee, when asked to comment on the declaration of emergency in Pakistan said, "We are watching the situation. We do hope the process of democratisation in Pakistan can begin and people of Pakistan will get an opportunity to have their government as per their Constitution."

<b1>India, which has been very muted in its reactions to the internal crisis in Pakistan, has regretted the imposition of emergency and hoped for "conditions of normalcy" to "soon return permitting Pakistan’s transition to stability and democracy to continue."

"The government has been very correct in its response," said G Parthasarathy, former Indian envoy to Pakistan. According to Uday Bhaskar, former Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, "The muted Indian response is in keeping with a general caution within the foreign policy establishment to comment on internal affairs of its neighbours. The government has made very restrained statements within the diplomatic protocol, with Myanmar and Pakistan being the most recent examples."

"It could also stem from a realization that India does not have the ability to influence issues there, like the United States,” he said.

According to a senior official, India has to be very low key in its responses because of the very high stakes it has in wanting peace and stability in its neighbouring countries. Also, for the first time, it is not being seen as part of the problem in any of the domestic crises in neighbouring countries, whether Pakistan or Nepal or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.

"To that extent, it could probably be seen as a positive evolution of Indian foreign policy," the official said. Since India and Pakistan launched the bilateral composite dialogue process in 2004 to resolve disputes including Jammu and Kashmir and raised people to people contacts substantially, there has been a perceptible improvement in levels of trust between the people of both countries.

"There is much less of India as the enemy or the ‘bogeyman’," Bhaskar said. "For the last few years, the internal discussion in Pakistan has been more focused on its western borders than on the eastern one and blaming India." "India has two major concerns at this point," Bhaskar said. "The nuclear weapons (in the control of the State – Pakistan’s National Command Authority and particularly the Strategic Plans Division drawn mostly from the army) and the terrorism arm, which comprises non-state actors, not all of whom act in tandem with the Pakistani state," Bhaskar said.

"It is very significant that more people within Pakistan are saying that the Pakistani military and ISI are involved in terrorism in J&K, including even (former ISI chief) Hamid Gul," Bhaskar said.

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