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Season of flip-flop across borders

india Updated: Dec 25, 2008 00:24 IST
Amit Baruah

It’s the time of the year when fog settles over the cities of Delhi and Lahore. Visibility is usually low; clarity elusive. This year, the fog looks to have enveloped the entire India-Pakistan relationship.

We will cooperate fully, said Pakistan post-26/11. After deciding to send the ISI chief to India to help in the Mumbai probe, Pakistan’s civilian leadership backtracked following a rap from the military establishment. Now, there is one line from the military and civilian leadership.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said India was trying to make a “scapegoat” out of Pakistan.

Indian ministers, too, have blown hot and cold. War is not an option, said one. All options are on the table, said another. Finally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepped in to say on Tuesday, “No one wants a war.”

Even opposition politicians like former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif are not averse to playing to the gallery. After declaring that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani, Sharif said on Monday that if India didn’t have any evidence on Mumbai, it
should avoid making fake allegations that create tensions.

“The media is trying to dictate the relationship. TRPs (television rating points) dominate the show between us,” said Aziz Khan, Pakistan’s former high commissioner to India, from Islamabad on Wednesday.

But, what about the Pakistani planes apparently buzzing over Lahore and Islamabad? “Aap kehte hain ki hamare jahaz ur rahein hain, ham kehte hain ki aapke jahaz ur rahein hain (you say it is our aircraft, we say it is your aircraft),” added Khan.

“Our TV channels are going berserk. They’re trying to set the tone for the relationship,” a former Indian ambassador, who chose to remain anonymous, felt. “The crux of the matter is terrorism. We should not say or do anything that that adds to the war scare that Pakistan is trying to create,” T.C.A. Rangachari, who has worked as India’s deputy high commissioner to Pakistan, told HT.

But, already, the US seems to be concentrating on reducing tensions, not on getting Islamabad to deliver on winding up terrorist groups. “The nations (Pakistan, India and Afghanistan) must improve attacks like the one in Mumbai don’t escalate closer to conflict,” Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s top military official, said on Tuesday.