Disappointment at Kathmandu!

Published: November 27, 2014
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

I am much disappointed (Note: I write this before news of what happened at the Retreat on the second day of the Summit in Kathmandu) as one who believes that Pakistan and India simply have to move to a better place for the sake of obviating any chances of a conflagration between the two nuclear armed adversaries. Indeed, so that both countries spend less on the weapons of war and destruction and more on development, and on the uplift of the poor people of the subcontinent.

The disappointment comes from seeing the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers staying away from each other, and not even exchanging pleasantries; but little wonder given the angry, almost rancorous rhetoric coming out of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Little wonder again, considering that the fiery Ms Sushma Swaraj is the foreign minister of India.

In my piece in The News of July 21, 2001, trying to recap what happened during the Agra Summit and why it just simply imploded, I quoted from Dr Aijaz Ahmad in Frontline, the excellent English newspaper The Hindu’s magazine, as follows: “What had gone wrong? First of all, the utter lack of preparation especially on India’s part … when Musharraf started demonstrating his flexibility we were bewildered. He could do so (we were told) … because he was absolute ruler whereas a democratically elected prime minister could not take any such steps without consultations. But virtually the whole government was there in Agra: Home, Defence, External Affairs, Finance, Commerce, Information, what have you. Why was a situation allowed to develop in which Pakistanis were briefing the media … while Indian officials gave no briefings, except the wilfully disastrous one by Sushma Swaraj who simply hijacked the prerogatives of the MEA?”

I concluded: “The fact is that we came within a whisker of an agreement. How then can Agra be negated so completely? It is heartening of course, to note that Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and his foreign minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, are repeatedly saying that the summit was not ‘unsuccessful’, meaning what else but that it can be built upon later. We can only pray that that happens.” Well, as it happens, Ms Swaraj is the foreign minister today while Mr Singh is out in the wilderness having been hounded out of his own party.

Peacenik though I am, I have to say I agree with our prime minister that, after needlessly and arbitrarily cancelling the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled to be held as a result of Mr Sharif’s meeting with Mr Modi on the occasion of Mr Modi’s swearing-in as India’s prime minister, it is now up to India to take the first step in initiating fresh steps towards trying to resolve the differences between the two countries.

I can only hope that this happens sooner rather than later, and that both countries address that most frequent cause of conflict: violations along the Line of Control (LoC). I repeat myself here: the fact is that there exists an international body put in place by the United Nations called the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which is physically present in India and Pakistan, for precisely this purpose.

We have to note of course, that whilst we allow members of the UNMOGIP to go where they please along the LoC, India does not. Indeed, it has asked the UNMOGIP to move out from a house provided to the observers in Delhi under the pretext that its role has been “overtaken by the Simla Agreement and the establishment of the LoC”. What could be further from the truth? Repeating myself again, the Simla Agreement in no way bars either country from seeking third-party arbitration.

Let me add, and I have said this in the past too, several times on Indian television channels: in cases of LoC violations, let both countries have flag meetings at the appropriate level at the scene of the violations and form joint inquiry boards to investigate the incidents. I am sure the officers of both armies are honourable enough to say it like it is. Both countries have to grow up and act in mature fashion, not merely strike attitudes.

Let me add here and now, that the Mumbai terrorist attacks must be brought to closure by speeding up the court proceedings here in Pakistan. If people are found to be guilty let them be punished; if they are innocent let them be released, but for God’s sake let us leave the acrimonious past behind and move on.

To end, it was amusing to read the other day a Pakistani ‘security official’ saying that the Islamic State (IS) was not present in Pakistan because it hadn’t yet announced the name of its representative in Pakistan. Meaning what, good sir? That the IS had not yet gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission in Islamabad and filed the Articles and Memorandum of Association? That it hadn’t yet got itself an NTN (National Tax Number) from the Federal Board of Revenue?

If multifarious ‘groups’ of murderers and savages can kill people of other religious persuasions and sects with the impunity with which Christians and Hindus and Sikhs and Ahmadis and Shias are being killed in our country, merely for the reason that they do not subscribe to a particular faith or denomination, then the IS in all its (in the words of our FO) ‘forms and manifestations’: ISIL; ISIS; Daesh, has been around for too long now.

All it really needs to do is to gather all of the above-mentioned murderers and savages under one flag by pumping in the money it is making selling captured oil on the black market; dress them all in black; and with the added strength go all out doing what they do: killing and murdering all who come in their way.

Incidentally, a report has it that a person named Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost was behind the wall-chalking and posters and bumper-stickers announcing the arrival of the IS/Daesh in Pakistan. Could he be the ‘representative’ of the IS in Pakistan? What more incentive is needed for us to be more than prepared for the coming mayhem if the murderous organisation does set up office here? 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Rahul
    Nov 28, 2014 - 12:08AM

    Whatever talks have taken place so far is mere posturing for the press. Pakistan continues to support terrorist activity in India. Talks must have realistic goals. Pakistan is not going to get Kashmir in Talks. Trade and people contact is not possible if your Politicians, Press and Textbooks spew hatred.


  • javed Iqbal
    Nov 28, 2014 - 12:27AM

    Is the writer disappointed first time ?????


  • indian
    Nov 28, 2014 - 12:55AM

    you can seek UN but we won’t , UN is full of your patrons , one is america and rest all islamic countriesRecommend

  • Cynic Waheed
    Nov 28, 2014 - 1:11AM

    I have to say for the first time ever I kind of agree to your article until you started bashing Pakistan again! Despite a brilliant start about Pak/Ind relation how did you suddenly jump to ISIS, the connection of the two is beyond me!?


  • YaAli
    Nov 28, 2014 - 1:49AM

    Indeed, so that both countries spend less on the weapons of war and destruction and more on development, and on the uplift of the poor people of the subcontinent.

    you need to get notice of this……indias defence budget will always be 2-2.5 percent of gdp…much lesser than pakistan 3%….as indian economy develops…budget will increase…presently its 10 times….tommorow it will become 20 times…we will build toilets..we will build space technology..we will spend r and d on weapons..because the nations who have remained backward in technology have never ended up getting a slice of technology..its upto pakistan..pakistan whole budget is around 30 billion dollars a year…India’s only defence budget is greater than 40-50 billion dollars..facts….


  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 28, 2014 - 5:54AM

    @javed Iqbal: ” Is the writer disappointed first time ?????”
    No he is a career disappointee.


  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 28, 2014 - 5:58AM

    ” Indeed, so that both countries spend less on the weapons of war and destruction and more on development, and on the uplift of the poor people of the subcontinent.”
    And more on the PMs trip to NY!
    See ET:http://tribune.com.pk/story/798232/over-rs30-million-spent-on-pms-recent-trip-to-new-york/


  • Author
    Nov 28, 2014 - 9:26AM

    I suppose other heads of government and their delegations travel for free…


  • Khan
    Nov 28, 2014 - 9:36AM

    Hurriyat leaders have no say in Kashmir as proven in massive polling in j& k after the call for boycott from Hurriyat.


  • Feroz
    Nov 28, 2014 - 11:52AM

    It is almost impossible to force two people who do not share common interests, goals, mindset and world view to be friends. Talking is possible but what about remains the question. Pakistan has so far even failed to identify the real threat to its existence, sooner or later it will and this provides grounds for optimism. Till such time it is better for the two countries to mind their own business and get working on domestic issues that can benefit their citizens and improve the quality of their lives.


  • abreez
    Nov 28, 2014 - 12:02PM

    For India, balancing factors against Pakistan are Iran and Afghanistan and India shows no hesitation in its relations with Iran or Afghanistan. For Pakistan, balancing factors against India are China, Burma, Nepal, Bhutan and Sir Lanka and when ever one raise the matter of Pakistan relations with these countries, One get quick response, India is our neighbor and one cannot change his neighbors. And when one raise India’s relation with Iran and Afghanistan, one get the response, India is very big country that needs relation with every country of the world.
    Pakistan must act as an independent country and realize the cruelty of politics and selfishness of survival. Therefore those with weaker hearts, stay away from this subject. I know someday time will come when Pakistan will compel to have trade relations with India, but after one or two decades, until then we have to explore other areas like our relations with other neighbors that can create an economy of $10-12 trillion and deprive India from balancing factors against Pakistan.


  • Parvez
    Nov 28, 2014 - 12:49PM

    There are times when you are really good………this is one of those times.


  • Nov 28, 2014 - 1:31PM

    and how to do so????When China cant successfully balance India and is now slowing down while India moving fast how a small nation like pakistan plans to do so???
    and this $10-12 trillion logic is beyond someones logic,can you explain plz??


  • zubair
    Nov 28, 2014 - 1:49PM

    India was never interested in resolving any issue with Pakistan especially kashmir. Only vajpayee government showed some intent rest others are merely involved in procrastination. suspending talks on one or the other pretext..India has killed more than 5 lac Kashmiri’s since their occupation against the wishes of Kashmiri’s..massacre after massacre is being carried out with full official patronage, fake encounters ,rapes, arson, looting, killing innocents forced disappearance mass graves kashmir history is full of all this..unless and until Kashmiri’s are given right to self determination and plebescite is held India and pak will continue to be on nuclear flash point..India human rights record is worse even compared to Israel..


  • Vakil
    Nov 28, 2014 - 2:06PM

    +++++++ “Repeating myself again, the Simla Agreement in no way bars either country from seeking third-party arbitration.” +++++++++

    … hmmm Ok… so Pakistan is not “barred from seeking” it… fine. In the same way India is not “barred” from rejecting it (so-called “third-party arbitration”). Make sense to you now…? It certainly has made sense to practically every country and entity on this planet, which is why nobody chooses to get involved. Question is: WHY then does it still not make sense to you or to your country???


  • bahadur khan
    Nov 28, 2014 - 3:56PM

    Kamran shafi is a good writer, totally agree. As per article President Mushraf was prepared and Indians were not ready/unprepared it is possible. The marks go to Musharaf, The background being 2001, post Kargil, . Musharaf had a tendency to change shirt, coat, suit every meeting, A tendency to address media unilateral while having breakfast, a sudden handshake during SAARC summit in Kathmandu a few months eralier in 2001. No doubt Mushraf stole the show, nhen compare to the slow moving 77 years Atal Vajpayee, with arthritis. In hindsight Musharaf was possibly not able to connect,


  • V. C. Bhutani
    Nov 28, 2014 - 4:24PM

    Dear Mr Kamran Shafi,
    Someone should tell Mr Nawaz Sharif that there is a bottom line which must be observed if he wants good relations with India. One. India cannot and shall not give Kashmir to Pakistan. Two. Indians believe that Pakistan is responsible for terror which is designed to browbeat India into concessions on Kashmir. All terrorism emanating from Pakistan must cease completely. Three. The guilty of Mumbai 26/11 including Hafiz Saeed must be brought to justice and not merely to law. Four. Pakistan should take immediate steps to ensure that madrassas do not teach anti-Indian and anti-Hindu lessons. It is this teaching which prepares youngsters for terrorism. Five. Terrorist training camps in Pakistan and POK must be closed. When Mr Nawaz Sharif can demonstrate that this has been done, then India should be ready for good relations with Pakistan.
    China’s ideas and initiatives like AIIB, BCIM, the Silk Route, and the Maritime Silk Route will be successful if China can demonstrate that other countries can trust China and that China has no hidden agenda behind these ideas. For instance, if China goes on being overly and demonstratively pro-Pakistan in its orientation towards South Asia and Saarc, then it should not expect an enthusiastic response from India at any rate. Several countries of Saarc and Asean have been concerned about Chinese activities and claims which have the aspect of neo-imperialism, especially its claims in South China Sea and East China Sea. Several of these countries have been alarmed by China’s rise. As a result they seek countervailing presence of USA in these areas as some sort of assurance to them that they shall not be at the receiving end of expansionist actions by China. China needs to act to promote feelings of trust among the countries through which the Silk Routes will pass.
    With regards,
    Yours sincerely,
    V. C. Bhutani


  • Its (still) Economy Stupid
    Nov 28, 2014 - 7:49PM

    Myopia of Pakistani policy makers: Anytime cross border trade and movement of people across continent comes Pakistani policy makers and general public can only think of trade between India and Afghanistan and beyond. They forget about trade, rail and road connectivity between Pakistan, via India, with Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and even parts of China. At the end of the day when GDP is calculated every little bit counts. Pakistani either have to prepare to pay more taxes or start liberalizing trade. You can not run country with trip to IMF or other world lending institution with a begging bowl. End of the days those loans need to be repaid.


  • Naeem Khan
    Nov 28, 2014 - 9:26PM

    “Both countries have to grow up and act in mature fashion, not merely strike attitudes.” When would Pakistanis ever realize that India was never a friend and never will be and we should operate on that premise. Have we not learn any thing from the past, they got the chance in East Pakistan and dismembered Pakistan. Indians say that Kashmir must not be given to Pakistan, who is asking Kashmir be given to Pakistan. The fact is that India has triple the security forces to Kashmir’s population in Kashmir tells the world what they want to do with those unfortunate people. They have killed more than 65’000 and some say close to 100,000 Kashmiris and raped their women folks in the last 12 years, while the world community has not moved because Indians will not allow the world press to go there and ask the local people of the atrocities which has been committed by Indian security services. Here is a country which has elected a person who was Chief Minister of Gujarat while the massacre of 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat was taking place under his watch. He has aversion to Muslims at large and hatred towards Pakistan in particular. We should not pick a fight with them but any provocation should be answered in befitting manner and not this wishy washy rhetoric from prime minister of Pakistan. Indians know that it is not 1971 and they will be destroyed too in the process in case they try to dismember Pakistan like they did in 1971, there should be no doubt about it and we should act accordingly and deal with them from strength and not any weakness. Kashmir is internationally recognized disputed area and Indians should know that they can’t keep people subjugated for ever because the Kashmiris don’t want to be subjugated and eventually will get freedom and will have their own country which will also include Pakistani side of Kashmir. By the way this Simla agreement is dead and should be treated as such, one should not honor some dictators doing, he was not a legal President and therefore what ever he signed should be negated.


  • Rex Minor
    Nov 28, 2014 - 11:39PM

    @Naeem Khan:
    @V. C. Bhutani:

    Your narratives have more or less spelled out what must India do and what must Pakistan undertake to bring some civility in relations between the two contrahands. Forgotten in your narratives are the people of the two countrieis, who simply want to be allowed to live and learn and prosper as other people of the world. This is being denied them and there is nothing that they can do about it. They have no future nor had any rosy past living in the crown colony.

    Rex Minor


  • Mirror
    Nov 29, 2014 - 12:15AM

    @ V. C. Bhutani. You need to correct your side first and foremost before spreading lies. Recently a retired Indian Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has admitted that India sponsored bomb blasts in Pakistan and doled out money to the separatist elements in Balochistan, a disclosure downplayed by the Indian media so far.





  • Author
    Nov 29, 2014 - 8:33AM

    @Naeem Khan: “Whatever he (ZAB) signed should be negated”? Should we then return Pakistani territory that we got back from the Indians as a result of the Simla Agreement?


  • bahadur khan
    Nov 29, 2014 - 10:33PM

    @Naeem Khan: East pakistan was lost the day, rawalpindi refuse to treat bengali as islamic language,They treated it as Hindu language. 03 million hindu refugee escaped from east pakistan in 1970-1971. It was worse than Suhrawardy who in 1942-1946 sent 2 million Hindus to heaven, Noakhali was the highlight, Rao Farman Ali sent to heaven 1000 east pakistan literate person 90% of them hindu. what do we do then ?


  • Asok
    Nov 30, 2014 - 3:04AM

    Considering the facts had changed (Nawaz and Modi shook hands, a multilateral agreement was signed), maybe ET should’ve Kamran-saab to review his opinion piece rather than go with it as is.


  • Naeem Khan
    Nov 30, 2014 - 11:19PM

    My apologies, yes it was ZA Bhutto who had signed the Simla Agreement. Some how I was thinking about Musharraf, I don’t know the nitty gritty of what Musharraf was offering to the Indians in regard to Kashmir and that was in my mind. Bhutto was a world class Statesman and he knew what he was doing but I don’t think the Indians specially the current government is sincere about settling the Kashmir issue amicably to the benefit of Kashmiri people. Sorry for my misjudgment.


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