The Indo-Pak dialogue seems to have started even though Indian side is still maintaining some ambivalence about its nature content and purport. The meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of SAARC at Thimpu has left no one in doubt that Manmohan Singh is more than eager to start a composite dialogue with Pakistan than his counterpart.
In almost all his briefings to the media Pakistani Prime Minister maintained a brazen stand that the terrorism should be delinked from dialogue and acts of terror have no bearing on the dialogue. The articulation of this position at the highest level by the Pakistan government has almost meant a diplomatic affront in full view of the public since Indian position after 26/11 has been that terror and talks cannot go together.
However there are many other reasons to believe that Pakistani Government is less than eager to go ahead with a dialogue with India. Pakistani government allowed the anti-India rhetoric to build up to feverish pitches in Pakistan around the time diplomatic efforts were on to restart the peace process. LeT was almost given a free reign to blurt out anti-India venom. The Pakistan government demanded access to Kasab. And last but not the least the Government of Pakistan at various levels distanced itself from the Musharraf plan which many believed had brought about a convergence between governments of India and Pakistan.
The distancing by the Government of Pakistan from Musharraf plan has left peace brokers on this side gasping for breath, as they have in recent times left no stone unturned to give an impression that India and Pakistan were just a signature away from an understanding. More disconcerting has been the visible US involvement in pushing forward the dialogue. Demonstrating almost an abject servility the Government of India sent its foreign secretary to brief Americans immediately after the resumption of dialogue at the foreign secretary level between India and Pakistan in New Delhi. The presence of Robert Blacke at Thimpu and his statement to press before the two Prime Minister’s met sounded as if the big brother was setting the agenda.
Experts in India have belatedly started asking as to why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is so eager to engage with Pakistan. The rumours are doing rounds that the Prime Minister is very diffident because he is face to face with a two front situation with Pakistan and China. Some say Pakistan army has communicated unambiguously through its channels that without a solution to Kashmir, it may be forced to use the nuclear option. Some say Prime Minister is not sure about the support of Indian Muslims in case of a building stalemate with Pakistan.
In this building confusion it should have been very appropriate for the Prime Minister of India to take the nation into confidence about what exactly he is seeking to do through a dialogue with Pakistan. He should have taken the nation into confidence about the contours of the solution which as per Pakistani leaders was just a signature away. The impression which is taking roots in the public mind is that India is behaving as a surrogate nation, a colony of somebody else. We have a scenario were a principality large countries are offering its offices to mediate between us and Pakistan.
For the Prime Minister of India it is high time either to demonstrate that Indo-US strategic relations have brought strategic dividends for the country or take the country into confidence about nation’s isolation and prepare the people for a long haul. India is a nation and not a banana republic. Indian people have the resources and the spirit to withstand any pressure and eventually defeat its enemies.