And India is in denial
In December 2003, when Gen Musharraf dropped hints that Pakistan was willing to drop its insistence on implementing the age-old UN resolutions over Kashmir (that call for a plebiscite after Pakistan pulls out of the parts of Jammu & Kashmir it occupies), the move was heralded as one that finally established Musharraf’s credentials as a man with whom India should do business with. An entire ‘peace-process’ unfolded.
He backtracked almost as soon as he made those overtures, but India largely ignored suggestions that Musharraf would go back to square one, choosing to believe in the Theory of Domestic Compulsions (especially when applied to military dictators). It took a speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week, in which Musharraf sang Pakistan’s 80’s hits (“Kashmir is like Palestine; India should implement those UN resolutions”), for India to reluctantly sit up and take note.
Judging from the editorials in the Indian Express and The Hindu, it appears that India is still in a state of denial. After having bent backwards to accomodate Pakistan’s position over the Kashmir bus-service (the terms of which, if challenged in India’s judiciary, are likely to be found unconstitutional), after having given Musharraf the pass even after jihadi groups began to mobilise even more openly and after according a large amount of undeserved political legitimacy to the Hurriyat, after having decided to pull the BSF out of urban Kashmir, not to mention engaging in umpteen heartwarming ‘confidence-building measures’, India has invested too much in Musharraf to be able to realise that it may be time to realise the General’s true colours.
It has been called a national Stockholm syndrome. Those in denial, those with a proclivity to moralising, and those who like to use the word pragmatic, may well advocate that since India is partly responsible for the stalling of the Indo-Pakistan ‘bicycle’ it is incumbent upon it to make further concessions. It would be an error of monumental proportions if the Indian government now decides to believe in the Theory of Unilateral Concessions in the name of peace. The fact that Musharraf has been emboldened enough to revert back to Pakistan’s boilerplate stance over Kashmir, even as he has shown no signs of winding down the anti-India jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is the clearest signal that the only reason Pakistan is negotiating is to seek a deal on its own terms.
India has shown far too much flexibility for it to be seen as the cause of any impasse in peace process with Pakistan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showed the correct way forward when he cited Pakistan’s continued support for cross-border terrorism in his meeting with President Bush. India should hold the line on this one. There’s little point in engaging Musharraf as long as India has yet to see any permanent change in that one thing that is the root cause of its problem with Pakistan — the proxy war directed at India.