Front channels, back channels and woofers

Pakistani media leaks about ‘back-channel’ talks trouble India

The Indian establishment’s signal through the press is simple: the secret talks between national security advisor J N Dixit and Musharraf’s Man Friday Tariq Aziz that form the real meat of the peace process risk ending up in failure if the Pakistani establishment continues to leak their details to the media before they occur. C Raja Mohan suggests that elements in the Pakistani establishment opposed to the peace process may be behind these leaks. What he does not say is that those elements may not necessarily exclude the big woofer himself.

Dixit and Aziz have their task cut out in keeping the peace process afloat and ensuring that Singh and Musharraf can announce some positive outcomes in the peace process.

But the big question is whether Dixit and Aziz will be allowed to succeed. In Pakistan there is talk of the foreign office professionals returning to the driving seat in the negotiations with India. Given their track record, one can bank on these ‘‘professionals’’ to rapidly take the Indo-Pak dialogue towards a dead-end. New Delhi would like to know if there is political will in Islamabad to ensure the much needed secrecy of the back channel and breathe some new life into the peace process. [IE]