It will be some time before the true outcome of the first meeting of the India-Pakistan joint terror mechanism makes itself visible. For now, we must be satisfied that the two sides met, exchanged views on terrorism, put forward evidence and data on terrorist activity being conducted on their soil by people from the other side, and agreed to meet again four times a year.
India and Pakistan are clearly in uncharted waters at present. Further, their motives in joining hands this way vary sharply. India sees the mechanism as an addition to the means it already deploys to fight terrorism. Pakistan, on its part, sees this as a way of showing a sceptical world that it is no longer part of the problem, but the solution — indeed, a victim, rather than perpetrator, of terrorism.
During the meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan’s strategy was to avoid discussion on Jammu and Kashmir and put forward the view that only future acts of terrorism should be considered by the mechanism. In addition, it sought to give the impression, without any real proof, that India was somehow involved in the Balochistan insurgency. The reason for this is that many of the incidents in the past have had the stamp of official Pakistani involvement. In addition, Pakistan would like to argue that J&K is a special case and terrorist activity there is not ‘terrorism’, but action in aid of a freedom struggle. However, the Indian side insisted and was able to discuss some of the J&K terrorist acts in addition to past activities of terrorists.
Even now, as it stands on a perilous slope, with the forces of fundamentalism gaining ground in its North West Frontier Province and other parts of the country, Islamabad is unwilling to give up what it sees as the Great Game against India. Not surprisingly, India is wary of the mechanism, and the (mis)use Pakistan may make of it. However, the real proof of the pudding will be in its eating. In the coming year, it should be clear whether or not Pakistan is serious about the mechanism. If it is not, the government should give it a quick, if decent, burial.