Probably Abdul Basit, the Pakistan high commissioner to India, was selected to ensure that relations between both countries remain stagnant. To define it technically, relations between India and Pakistan have always followed a sine wave, with varying frequency. This was the case, after the 1971 war and even after Kargil war. Indira Gandhi, already flattered by the paeans by the opposition played the role of being magnanimous by returning the ‘land’ that Indian forces have occupied. In fact, this was a sort of historical blunder. Surrendered forces are a liability and she could appear generous by simply releasing them, but she gave the land also back. And the paper on which Shimla agreement can only be used to wipe one’s hands after eating samosas.
Prime Ministers came and went in India. Prime Ministers and dictators came and went in Pakistan. But the oscillating relationship has sustained. The Mumbai attack had spurred the then Congress Government to take action, but somehow, it could not materialise, but talks were suspended.
Then came Narendra Modi, initiating the diplomatic relations with his dashing acts like inviting Nawaz Sharif on the eve of his swearing ceremony and dropping in Lahore on his birthday. But, it seems Modi had to realise that it is easy to have a Congress Mukt Bharat, rather than having a genuine relationship with Pakistan.
Post the Lahore birthday bash, Pathankot occurred. Though the handling of the situation at site had raised doubts on the strategical depth of the execution team that was more than covered by the follow up done in the case. Risking huge political notoriety, Modi government allowed the JIT from Pakistan to visit even the air base at Pathankot and provided them with all forensic evidence. In fact, this is the only best thing that the government did, apart from asking Pakistan to vacate from PoK before any plebiscite in Kashmir– in the last two years.
Pakistan was caught off-guard when the Indian government allowed their JIT and pursuing the case from technical angle, with the only aim to solve it. But, the other Sharif, who really runs Pakistan could ill afford such a successful investigation and had to scuttle it. And so, came Kulbhushan Yadav and his confession. Then came a denial by JIT that they were not allowed to meet witnesses to the attack. And a series of statements have started from both sides, i.e., till Abdul Basit decided to stop the charade.
The Pakistan government cannot afford to deny forensic evidence. More so, India had already contacted FBI to gather and substantiate the technical evidence. Things have started going out of control. Like they used the confession of Yadav, they need another diversion. So, Abdul Basit called the ‘peace talks’ between India and Pakistan are suspended – and only because India doesn’t want any comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan.
The failed attempt of India in getting UN sanctions at UN is another headache, though Pakistan had got a temporary reprieve because of timely intervention of China. But, the immediate reaction of India that Chinese investments would be subjected to security clearances had China rattled. Though the popular Chinese dailies warned India that India may lose more than they gain by such restrictions on Chinese investors, it will be China that would suffer a lot more than India. As such, the world is being used as an outlet for all Chinese products and India is one major market. China had finished most of its infrastructure projects and the excess production capacity of Steel and Cement would become redundant if no customer is available. In Modi, they have a sort of reliable partner and it is easy to do business in India. At the same time, once rubbed wrongly the nationalist government, unlike the previous regime would simply prohibit China from accessing the increasing market in India. The result of this would be devastating considering the investment in India would be at least for the next five to ten years.
And the response of China to their technical blocking of sanctions on Masood Azhar was guarded and they claimed to have played a ‘neutral’ role, which means if India tries for sanctions again, they may not come in between.
Almost similar experience with the United States. Despite Obama calling Southeast Asia a hot nuclear zone, once the Indian government expressed disappointment, white house wasted no time in explaining that the President was talking about the tactical warheads indicating Pakistan.
In a way, Modi and his team had Pakistan cornered from all sides, even if the obedient opposition was calling him names over the JIT visit to Pathankot. Now, Indian NIA team was supposed to visit Pakistan, which as explained by Abdul Basit, in all probability will not happen. So, that is the end result of Pakistan’s hard game of shadows.
In all this, what is in store for Modi? Especially after the chutzpah of Abdul Basit. First NIA will be pursuing with FBI to establish the involvement of Azhar and Co. This is the second time Pakistan had declared that there will not be talks. So, the onus of continuing talks is with Pakistan. Now, the situation had reached such a low, all opposition parties are playing overly patriotic and so they will not and cannot demand any resumption of talks. Slowly, relations would deteriorate. Now, with the onslaught of ISIS and the resultant crisis in Europe, Pakistan’s image would be even negative. Moreover, as Pakistan linked the Baloch terror angle, they are not supposed to talk with the perpetrator, in this case – India.
Abdul Basit ensured, we are at a stalemate. Then, what is the assessment of Modi’s adventures?
First, when Modi took over, none expected him to talk to Pakistan. Now, he put himself in a position and can claim that he tried more than anyone else, but Pakistan, being Pakistan is not suitable to have relations with. He pulled the drama to such a point, when Congress and its cronies have accused Modi for stabbing Bharat Mata, which was supposed to be the shrilling slogan from BJP. From this offending position, it would be difficult for Congress to plead for talks with Pakistan. So, Modi can afford to forget Pakistan and may have some time to cater to internal issues.
However, for a man who was called a local leader, Modi had mastered the art of international diplomacy by the way he played to galleries of various countries. And in case of Pakistan, one thing Congress leader should learn is – Diplomacy is effective when one practices it from the position of strength. This is what Modi did!
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