Nawaz's Peace Initiative: A Well-laid Trap For India

1 October 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's speech at the United Nations General Assembly marking its 70th anniversary would be remembered for its superb diplomatic diction and shortchanging the history of Kashmir as part of his obligation to the army, ISI and anti-India hawks back home. Refocusing on the Kashmir issue, the bizarre distortion of historical facts by Nawaz proved that he was under pressure to unload his political, diplomatic and geo-strategic sagacity that he had displayed in Ufa, Russia, on July 10 when Pakistan and India had promised to discuss terrorism and sort it out. The outstanding issues - Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek - were more than implicitly expressed and included in the joint draft in Ufa. That became his undoing in Pakistan where army chief Raheel Sharif and others literally challenged his authority and made him reverse the sagacious course resulting in the collapse of the National Security Advisers-level talks on August 23-24. Nawaz attempted to pull wool over the eyes of the world on Kashmir. The tool he used was the distortion of history. Jammu and Kashmir has acceded to India. Therefore, the nation born out of India, Pakistan, which sponsored tribal invasion with the active support of regulars and illegally occupied the Indian territory was a 'foreign occupier'. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. It is also a global knowledge that terror factories of the state and state-patronised non-state actors are producing terrorists. Pakistan used terrorists to increase its 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan and 'bleed India'. Now, they have come to haunt Pakistan itself. Pakistan itself is to be blamed for the misfortune that has befallen it. Nawaz's four-point peace initiative with India is a trap. An imaginary backdrop is drawn in which he asks India 'to refrain from fomenting instability in Pakistan'. He also went on to say: 'The two countries should address and resolve the causes of tension and take all possible measures that are the simplest to implement. 'We propose Pakistan and India formalise and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir.' History has been taken for a ride here. It overlooks the fact that the Id-ul-Fitr ceasefire agreement of November 26, 2003, was a sequel to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee 'extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan' from Srinagar on April 18, 2003. The ceasefire agreement was for all borders, including the international border, Line of Control and Siachen Glacier, and not the LoC alone. The ceasefire agreement had certain fundamentals: neither of the two armies nor border guards was to fire at each other. But Pakistan started violating it from January 2005 onwards to facilitate infiltration. The Indian side had reserved the right to retaliate if provoked. India's restraint was read as its weakness. It was only after the Pakistani army launched a mini war on the LoC and international border and started targeting and killing innocent civilians that the Indian Army retaliated. There were unfortunate deaths on the other side as well. Nawaz absolved the Pakistani army of blame for the border hostility and injected an element of mischievousness. He sought the expansion of the role of the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan. It was a part of Pakistan's machinations to pressurise India into accepting the third party role in Kashmir. 'Pakistan and India reaffirm that they will not resort to the use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances.' Here Pakistan wants to have its cake and eat it too. It was Pakistan's national security adviser Sartaj Aziz who brought the Armageddon scenario by threatening to use the nuclear weapons. 'We are nuclear power,' Sartaj had said. What did he imply? Nawaz has also demanded 'demilitarisation of Kashmir'. That, in simple terms, means that Pakistan wants to have a clear field for its terror machine in the Valley. It is a known fact that the only force that can counter terrorism effectively is the Indian Army. He also talked about 'unconditional withdrawal from Siachen Glacier'. Here, it would be worthwhile for the Pakistan premier to look at what had happened in the early 1980s and how the glacier became the 'highest battlefield in the world.' Nawaz could not stop the Kargil intrusions. Was that his payback to the Lahore declaration? What should be made of this 'peace initiative' it may be asked.