Starting of structured dialogue between India and Pakistan has received preliminary support from various political parties, but questions are being raised over lack of transparency and strategic vision behind the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue declared by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Ms. Swaraj’s diplomacy with Pakistan was appreciated by Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress who believes that resumption of structured dialogue is a part of the idea of “uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue” that he has personally advocated.
However, he pointed out that Ms. Swaraj, who is expected to make a statement in Parliament soon, would have to answer tough questions over the real contours of the new dialogue mechanism. “I am intrigued because the Joint Statement did not mention the Hurriyat, though Pakistan in the past has cancelled talks with India over the Hurriyat. So does the resumption of dialogue mean that Pakistan has compromised on inclusion of the Hurriyat in the dialogue?” Mr. Aiyar asked, pointing out that such a compromise would encourage the hawks in Pakistan and might jeopardise the Pakistani part of the initiative. Ms. Swaraj also received support from the Left leaders who have praised her diplomacy. D. Raja of the CPI told The Hindu that India’s move to restart dialogue was welcome but hoped that more details would be shared by the External Affairs Minister with Parliament to increase confidence in the Pakistan policy of India. However, strategic affairs commentator P. Stobdan pointed out that the resumption of dialogue means a major political achievement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy despite the fact that the government was making a number of critical comments about Pakistan just before the announcement in Islamabad. Dr. Stobdan said resumption of talks with Pakistan indicated that Mr. Modi would seek credit for dealing with Pakistan in his own way without surrendering to conditions from Pakistan.
Mr. Aiyar, however, said the talks would not last long if the secret compromises and draw-downs were not discussed transparently with all stakeholders of India-Pakistan ties.
However, addressing Mr. Aiyar’s concerns, BJP spokesperson, M.J. Akbar told The Hindu that a lot of careful planning and thoughts had gone into the restarting of dialogue. “The developments in the case of David Headley have shown that our dialogue process with Pakistan is getting the required response on the terror front. It proves that Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue is not a knee-jerk response but a carefully thought out move,” Mr. Akbar said.