Zardari-Singh meeting — breaking the ice

Published: April 19, 2012

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

It is churlish on the part of a few Indian circles to oppose a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until Pakistan makes amends for the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. The matter is before the courts of both countries and everyone should wait till the process of justice is complete.

Similarly, I do not understand why some elements in Pakistan are making noise over an 18-hour visit to India by President Asif Ali Zardari. People should take into consideration that the ice has been broken after the Zardari-Manmohan Singh meeting. There is suddenly an atmosphere of give-and-take at the highest level. This will help peace efforts.

Two words that Manmohan Singh used after his meeting with Zardari at Delhi have been missed in the midst of media hype and extra caution on the part of officials. He said that they discussed all problems between India and Pakistan and found “pragmatic and practical” solutions. In other words, both leaders went beyond the official and public line on Kashmir and other pending issues.

Whether and how the solutions they discussed would be implemented is not possible to guess. Essentially, the steps they would take are dependent on the consensus they are able to build in their respective countries. The Zardari government has been left with less than a year before it faces fresh elections. It has many masters to placate to retain a majority in the National Assembly. And then the biggest party is the army, which is the country’s third chamber.

Zardari was himself conscious of the forces he had to reckon with. Therefore, he met the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at Lahore before leaving for Delhi. Zardari — by now an astute politician — must have been briefed about the contours within which he had to stay.

Manmohan Singh is adept in compulsions of the coalition dharma. The support accorded to Zardari’s visit by former Indian foreign minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha indicates that the party known to have an anti-Pakistan image also backs steps for normalisation. This makes things easier. Manmohan Singh’s problem will be from within his own party. One indication was the absence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi from the lunch given in honour of President Zardari. She — who monopolises the party — did not consider her participation important.

The most charitable explanation of her absence is that Sonia Gandhi wanted her son, Rahul Gandhi, to get all the limelight when he was introduced to the heir apparent, Bilawal Zardari, son of Benazir Bhutto and grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Maybe, she would have emerged in a better light if she had blessed the scions of the new generations of the two dynasties.

Zardari’s visit — which began with a pilgrimage to Ajmer and developed into a political event — has made Manmohan Singh’s trip to Pakistan easier. Both sides  have discussed ways to accelerate the process of prosecution of LeT detainees in Pakistan. Yet, this legal or somewhat motivated delay must not come in the way of Manmohan Singh’s visit. At stake is missing the aperture which Zardari’s one-to-one 40-minute talk has provided.

It is apparent that the alleged mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, Hafiz Saeed, was discussed in detail. Zardari must have felt that action against Hafiz Saeed is a litmus test, which will enable India to measure whether Pakistan is really keen on punishing those who attacked Mumbai from its soil. Pakistan, too, is beleaguered by the elements which Hafiz Saeed has unleashed. This calls for a firm action. What is needed is a joint mechanism to eliminate the Taliban.

Now that the American and Nato forces would be leaving the region in another two years, it is imperative for New Delhi and Islamabad to think of filling the resultant vacuum. Kabul’s sovereignty is important, more so because it is bearing the brunt of the Taliban.

Pakistan has experienced how the Taliban behaved when they took over the Swat valley. Pakistan does not have the resources to fight this battle alone, particularly at a time when relations with the US are turning sour.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.

Reader Comments (20)

  • Apr 19, 2012 - 10:43PM

    Let them break the ice at Siachen. it will help the rescue operation.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 19, 2012 - 11:05PM

    I am glad to see that Mr Kuldip Nayar has such a long life.

    His most outstanding achievement in recent years was his clear assertion that the Mumbai attacks were carried out by Hindu extremists. To his great credit, he is among the few who have never retracted from this position. A man of great learning and integrity, he is quite likely right, and Indian government is hiding facts from the world.

    Thank you, Sir, for stressing that India must not withhold vacating whatever advantages it has because of the Hindu extremists who killed those in Indians in Mumbai!

    May you have many more years of service, dear sir.

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  • Babloo
    Apr 19, 2012 - 11:28PM

    @kaalachakra, did you read what Mr Kuldip Nayar wrote ? He holds, like rest of the entire world, the LeT and Hafiz Saeed responsible for the 26/11 attacks.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 20, 2012 - 12:38AM

    Babloo

    Having read more of Mr Nair’s articles than I care to recall, it’s clear that the great man wants India to engage in ‘constructive dialog’ with Pakistan. Toward that goal, he does seem willing to call Hafiz Saeed ‘the alleged (by Indians) mastermind of 26/11. Nowhere does he retract his unambiguous previous assertions that the attack was carried out by Hindu extremists.

    Those of us who openly support Professor Hafiz Saeed for his great charities and bravery can live with that little fib on Kuldip Nayar’s part.

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  • Santosh KC
    Apr 20, 2012 - 12:55AM

    Kuldip,

    until Pakistan makes amends for the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. The matter is before the courts of both countries and everyone should wait till the process of justice is complete.

    Lets not allow a few facts to get in the way of an op-ed piece. So what if the case in India is closed with Kasab sentenced to hang. So what if other conspirators didn’t face trial as they are in Pakistan. So what if Pakistan has dropped even the charade of an investigation. I’m sure you find it churlish, but I still think about the 195 people who died and their families. I’m kind of petty that way, but hey for bigger and better people like you – there are bigger and better things to worry about like Aman Ki Asha. So you go on and forget about the few hundred Mumbaikars who have died and the perpetrator of their murder is a revered guest at the Rawalpindi Corps Commanders banquet and a popular TV guest – let it not get in the way of your laudable achievements. We taxpayers have strong shoulders – we are after all used to carrying the weight of your pet scions existence. Please unburden yourself and let the memory of the 195 dead weigh on our shoulders!

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  • gp65
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:42AM

    @Author” “What is needed is a joint mechanism to eliminate the Taliban”

    India does not care about Taliban (TTP or Afghan Taliban). India wants Pak got to leash LeT and JeM who have a track record of attacking India.

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  • Ammad
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:46AM

    We need to break ice on Kashmir as well, Indians keep talking about terrorism coming from Pakistan but they should not forget that the root problem is Kashmir to appease tensions. We need to proceed on it as well and discuss these smaller matters like Siachen and Sir Creek and trade later. Make solid progress on Kashmir and you would start seeing the benefits.

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  • Mir Agha
    Apr 20, 2012 - 4:42AM

    Indian commentators are coming to an understanding, and it is a positive one at that: that their rhetoric about Saeed are just allegations. Kudos to the author to realize that justice will take its course, and the loud indians should be prepared to face the facts. They shouldn’t get emotional over the death of those in Bombay. Take measures to prevent india killing innocents first and show the way.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 20, 2012 - 6:43AM

    Santosh

    More people die on the streets on Bombay every day than were killed on that day. And don’t forget, there is every indication that those attacks were carried out by Hindu extremists. Please read Sir Kuldip Nayar’s past articles for all the details about the people who carried out those attacks.

    Please stop pretending that those sort of things don’t happen every day in India. You are lucky to have a brilliant individual of such out supreme integrity like Kuldip Nayar. if you listen to him, India will become very safe.

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  • khaliq
    Apr 20, 2012 - 8:16AM

    all the problem between india,pakistan are caused by kashmir issue.peace can not be established until kashmir issue is resolved.india shoul take measures in this regard instead of demanding prosecution of hafiz saeed.documents provided by indian govt failed to establish hafiz saeed’s involvement in mumbay attacks.therefore,he was acquited by court.nobody has right to call him a criminal anymore as he is a declared innocent by court.

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  • Usmani
    Apr 20, 2012 - 10:21AM

    Few of bright aspect of Mr. Mr Kuldip Nayar Article is the Rhetoric of continuation of dialogue between India and Pakistan ,no matter what hurdles,potholes are in the wat

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  • malatesh
    Apr 20, 2012 - 11:56AM

    @Kalachakra,
    Please dont blame Kuldp Nayar.

    I think you cant understand english article thats why your post is meaningless.
    @Ammad
    Well, To address your concerns, there is only one possibility to resolve regional issues. All Kind Terrorism will stop Both in Pakistan and India And Kashmir will be resolved too only if Narendra Modi becomes PM. China will also going to work on our footsteps.

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  • Apr 20, 2012 - 12:54PM

    It amazes me how Indians keep going on and on about Mumbai, what Mumbai experienced that one day, we experience things of even bigger magnitude every day, the only reason Mumbai is such a personal one for u guys is the emotionally penetrating media coverage in the aftermath of Mumbai, and the reason for that coverage is that those that died that day were prominent people from Mumbai’s elite, its possible. politicians sitting in New Delhi had influential party benefactors die that day.

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  • wonderer
    Apr 20, 2012 - 1:19PM

    @kaalchakra:

    You have written the following about Kuldip Nayar:

    His most outstanding achievement in recent years was his clear assertion that the Mumbai attacks were carried out by Hindu extremists.

    You can either prove the correctness of this statement for a prize of $10m. or render an unconditional apology to Mr. Kuldip Nayar on this blog.

    Recommend

  • reasonable
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:05PM

    @Deen Sheikh:
    Deen, If some one from within India would have done that then it would be a different matter as India would have nothing to complain as all perpetrators would be in India or Indians and government would have taken action against them. But since it seems like the most of the planning and logistics all took place outside India that is the problem India cant get their hands on them to prosecute.
    I do understand that Pakistan is faced with Mumbai type incidents every second day but it is Pakistan which has to deal with it. As all most all of these incidents are carried out by Pakistanis the onus is on Pakistan to investigate these attacks and take it to the logical conclusion, If in the investigation any outsider involvement is found then Pakistan needs to take it to the concerned country.
    But the logic of saying that our country is faced with these type of attacks every day some why get concerned with Mumbai is wrong.

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  • Shyam
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:27PM

    @Kaalchakra
    And don’t forget, there is every indication that those attacks were carried out by Hindu extremists.

    I guess that means LeT has converted to Hinduism.

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  • Shyam
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:30PM

    @Deen Sheikh
    It amazes me how Indians keep going on and on about Mumbai

    Then act against the perpetrators and Indians will stop

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  • Apr 20, 2012 - 2:40PM

    @Deen Sheikh:

    You have experienced a thousand Mumbais, but there is a difference. Your own people are responsible for them, no matter what conspiracy theory you believe in.

    In Mumbai, people from Pakistan came down to kill innocent women and children. Thats not acceptable.

    No Indian group comes to Pakistan to kill Pakistanis, but the opposite is not true.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 20, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Wonderer

    I would settle for half that amount! Move it into an escrow account and it will become worth my while to summarize all of Sir Kuldip Nayar’s research into how dangerous and shady Hindu extremists carried out Bombay attacks killing hundreds of people. Alternatively, you could pick up any of Sir Nayar’s articles after the attack and read.

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  • wonderer
    Apr 21, 2012 - 8:04AM

    @kaalchakra:

    You should have done your “research” before writing what you wrote. You know very well you have lied.

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