Chandigarh, December 2
Saying that diplomacy should be the principal weapon to deal with neighbours, political leader and former diplomat Mani Shankar Aiyar today stressed the need to revive diplomatic relations with Pakistan that are based on people to people contact.
Need to build on Goodwill of Pak people
Our single biggest asset in Pakistan is the goodwill of its people and we need to build up on this, which makes the prospects of relations with the country viable. — Mani Shankar Aiyar, political leader & ex-diplomat
Speaking online at a session on “Strategy India should follow to deal with a declining Pakistan and a Taliban bent upon expansion”, at the Military Literature Festival here today, he pointed out that during the last 10 years, there had been no dialogue of any significance with Pakistan.
He said the most important strategic change in recent times was that the Chinese were no longer behind the Himalayas but were now on the Indus at the same point where Alexander was in 326 BC. So there would not need to be a pincer movement by Pakistan and China to attack India, but they could join hands to attack India on the western front, which would lead to a truly difficult military situation, he said.
“These circumstances reinforce the need to resume diplomatic contact and uninterrupted dialogue with Pakistan as past experience has shown that dialogue has resulted in solution to difficult situations,” he said. “Our single biggest asset in Pakistan is the goodwill of its people and we need to build up on this, which makes the prospects of relations with the country viable,” he said.
“There are elements in Pakistan that will continue to support proxy war and terror attacks in India and this makes it more important for diplomats to be given the opportunity to talk to their Pakistani counterparts. We have to keep ourselves militarily ready, but the most important arrow in our quiver should be diplomacy and negotiation,” he said.
Pointing out that “we were wrong not to militarily challenge Pakistan earlier for what it did in Punjab and Kashmir”, Ajay Bisaria, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, said there had been a paradigm shift in policy where India was beginning to find the instruments to convey to Pakistan that a Pulwama-type incident was not acceptable.
He said, “We have a situation where Pakistan has refused to reform because of the stranglehold of the army on its economy.” He said the geo-political good times for Pakistan ended with the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the overall relevance of Pakistan declined. The failure of its Afghanistan policy aimed at creating strategic depth because of the Afghan Taliban not being compliant with Pakistan and keen to deal with India added to its security crisis, Bisaria said.
Stating that elections in India and Pakistan next year open a political and diplomatic window that present an opportunity to normalise relations, he said three possible scenarios emerging in the next few months that India needed to look at were the situation in Pakistan getting worse and the country collapsing, Pakistan muddling through with the help of last-minute loans and Pakistan normalising with some economic reforms taking off, he added.
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