April 2004 News

Hawks And Doves

6 April 2004
The Dawn
Dr Mubashir Hasan

Karachi: The ruling elites of Pakistan represent a house divided against itself when it comes to normalizing relations with India. Similar is the case with the Indian ruling elites. It is gratifying to note that the Indian leadership has rightly concluded that the latest, somewhat belligerent, remarks of President Pervez Musharraf about progress on the resolution of the Kashmir issue had arisen out of domestic compulsions. There are hawks and doves on both sides. The stakes for the doves as well as the hawks are high. Mostly behind closed doors, the struggle amongst the elites in each country is fierce. The doves see their benefits significantly enhanced through changing the status quo by normalizing relations with the other country. The hawks want to continue to enjoy the benefits under the status quo. The billion-plus people do not appear in the equation. War is waged in their name and peace is also claimed in their name. Yet it is the high interest which weighs heavily in the process of decision-making to bring about normalcy between the two countries. Perceptibly, the doves are gaining strength relative to the hawks. They are not strong enough yet to prevail over the hawks. They have yet to prove the case that normalization of relations will bring immense dividends to them. The hawks have a proven case in the form of the immense benefits that the ruling elites have reaped in the past. The passions and prejudices of the past also go in favour of the hawks. The doves initiate an agreement, the hawks shoot it down and do not allow it to be implemented. Examples abound. Foreign secretaries Niaz Naik and Rasgotra almost concluded a draft agreement for improving relations between the two countries. The Pakistani hawks shot it down. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Pakistani counterpart approved a settlement of the conflict at Siachen. The Indian hawks shot it down. Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral initiated and approved a format for a comprehensive dialogue at the level of secretaries. The Indian hawks shot it down. Vital ground-breaking agreements at the Lahore summit between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India got blown up on the Kargil heights by the Pakistani hawks. The consensus on a document between Prime Minister Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh on one side and President Musharraf and Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar on the other side at Agra took no time to be shot down by the hawks in India. Following the attack on their parliament in December 2001, the Indian hawks reigned supreme. They brought armies on Pakistan's border and carried out a propaganda war. While Pakistan offered a renewal of dialogue at any time, any place without any conditions, the Indian doves took their time. With great deliberation and sophistication the Indian doves cleared the ground and met their Pakistani counterparts early this year. On February 18, 2004, the foreign secretaries announced a schedule for a composite dialogue: the foreign secretaries would meet in May-June for talks on peace and security including confidence-building measures and Jammu and Kashmir. They further announced that talks on Siachen; Sir Creek; terrorism and drug trafficking; economic and cultural cooperation; and promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields will be held at agreed levels in July. The agreement also provided that the foreign minister of Pakistan and the external affairs minister of India would meet in August to review overall progress. This was a giant step forward. The text of the agreement of February 18 was negotiated in great secrecy. The announcement caused consternation among the hawks in Pakistan. The doves of Pakistan had staged a significant coup against their hawks. However, the pendulum had swung a bit too far. A correction was due in favour of the hawks. It came in the remarks made by General Pervez Musharraf while answering questions before select audiences in Delhi and Islamabad. He seemed to indicate that progress must be seen in the composite dialogue on the question of Kashmir by July-August. Progress with India on the Kashmir issue will be an empty one unless the Kashmiris have full participation in the process. The two governments are hardly strong enough to impose a solution on the former state against the wishes of the people of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the doves in the governments of Pakistan and India have done little to mobilize the forces of peace and settlement in Kashmir. Meanwhile hawks on both sides are having their way. The two governments have failed to realize how easy their task would be, how weak the hawks of India and Pakistan would become if the people of the former state were mobilized for peace and settlement. Meanwhile, help has come to hawks as well as doves from two sources. The announcement by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, conferring on Pakistan the status of a non-Nato ally, is bound to strengthen the hands of the hawks in India. For the present the 'status' only means that certain sanctions against sale and transfer of war material against Pakistan will be lifted. The adverse effect of the high-profile announcement upon the future of the composite dialogue should have been foreseen. Colin Powell should not have been allowed to make the announcement in this fashion. There were many ways to say the same thing. Why did the US choose this particular mode? Extraordinarily huge help has come to the doves of Pakistan and India from the people of both the countries. In the last few months, the bon homie exhibited by the people in criss-crossing the borders in very large numbers enormously strengthens the hands of the doves. Now the ruling doves can reduce the flow of human traffic only at their own peril. They should let Kashmiris also criss-cross the Line of Control in the same fashion and reap the dividend in the form of peace and settlement.

 

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