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US Vice President Joe Biden has singled out Pakistan along with Russia and North Korea and others for making "counterprodu
In a sweeping response to election hacking, President Barack Obama today sanctioned Russian intelligence services and thei
The US today closed its missions to Turkey for the day after a shooting incident overnight outside the American embassy in
Strongly condemning the recent terror attacks in India and other BRICS nations, the five-nation powerful grouping today as
Pakistan has launched a fresh drive to gather support for its NSG membership bid with a top official today embarking
India today pitched for the formation of guidelines for enhancing flexibility, developing methodologies and ensuring trans
India today pressed the international community to work together to erase the scourge of terrorism by taking speedy action
The leaders of the Group of Seven rich economies ended a summit today by issuing an action plan for countering terrorism a
The United Nations Security Council today blasted North Korea for firing what the hermit state claimed was a successful su
India today signed the historic Paris climate agreement here along with more than 170 nations, marking a significant step
It's been a while since l'affaire Sharm-el-Sheikh, but with the Americans active behind the scenes, and the two foreign offices and various sets of politicians involved in daily skirmishes, there is no getting away from Pakistan.
MJ Akbar points out something your correspondent had noticed as well: "a delicate blur in Pakistan's long-held position that might not be noticed at first glance" when Islamabad foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit clarifyied that there had been no change in Pakistan’s stand and it still wanted an independent Kashmir. [emphasis mine] and wonders: Could a deal come precisely because Islamabad realises that conflict with India has strengthened forces that are now the biggest danger to Pakistan’s civil society, democracy and evolution towards a modern nation?
Shekhar Gupta thinks peace with Pakistan ... "can only happen with the Americans not merely leaning heavily, but even under-writing some Egypt-like arrangement to change the very nature of Pakistani society and establishment"
Vir Sanghvi revisits the various arguments and says: Pakistan has one set of standards for the West and another for India and the language that Islamabad understands best is the language of strength.
R Jagannathan in the DNA on Manmohan Singh's statement on Balochistan:
The real issue is this: by talking about an open book, we are taking a moral position instead of being driven purely by the country's long-term interests. And this has been true for us since the time of Gandhi and Nehru. Manmohan Singh is only the latest leader in a long line of people to believe that somewhere, sometime, Pakistanis will want peace as much as we do.
They won't. There are several reasons why there won't be real peace in our time. One is a civilisational issue. The second is ideological. And the third has to do with geopolitics.
More here: Neither War Nor Peace
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express says "the disappointment with the PM’s statement in Parliament was that it did nothing to assuage his detractors. It also gave no evidence that he will have the credibility to carry the country when genuine peace might be possible":
The PM is technically right in his statement: mere mention does not amount to an admission of anything. But this technical self-exoneration misses the larger politics of the issue... Whatever is the truth of the matter, there is a propaganda war on this issue; and recently scholars in the US have given succour to claims of Indian involvement. Our challenge will not be issuing denials: it will be reclaiming the moral high ground.
...What makes this task odd is the fact that the Pakistani government, instead of doing something that would appeal to Indian public opinion, went on to milk the Sharm el-Shaikh statement in a propaganda war. And we took the rather bizarre line: go by the interpretation we are giving, not the interpretation Pakistan is giving. This is an odd new definition of a “joint” statement. It is awkward for the PM to say “trust but verify,” when at the same time the Pakistani leadership seems to be cocking a snook at you.
...By putting Balochistan on the table we are continuing to feed Pakistan’s self-perception that it is the victim. This sense of victimhood is the biggest obstacle in Pakistan’s coming to terms with its problems
Full piece: Making Sense of Pakistan
On a related note, in the Hindustan Times, Ram Guha points to the elephant(s) in the room:
"..it is worth investigating the background of the three men who have primary responsibility for our foreign policy. These are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan.
Two things are common to these men — their age, and their relative lack of experience in foreign policy.
At the risk of being accused of ‘age-ism’, one must ask whether the recent misjudgements in our dealings with Pakistan and the United States are completely unconnected with the age of our principal negotiators. For the worrying thing is that the prime minister, the foreign minister and the NSA are all the wrong side of 75. In the rocky ocean of global politics, the Indian ship of State can carry one old man, perhaps even two. But three?
Syed Saleem Shahzad reports in the Asia Times:
Intense United States efforts and assurances have put Pakistan and India on track to renew their dialogue process over key contentious issues, such as divided Kashmir.
An important upshot of this is that Islamabad has begun a crackdown on jihadi assets its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) raised in the 1990s for asymmetric warfare against India after losing three battles against its much bigger neighbor.
Asia Times Online has learned that a nascent crackdown on militants in Pakistan's largest province, Punjab, will turn into a major operation and the remnants of all defunct jihadi organizations, no matter how peacefully they operate inside Pakistan, will be dismantled. A showcase of this exercise took place Monday in Anti-Terrorist Court II in Rawalpindi, the garrison city twinned with the capital Islamabad.
...Whatever the backlash that might come from the militants, the point is Pakistan has made a significant shift and taken Washington's desires to heart.
Whether it has or not and whether it is just some more spin is a moot question, but as my friend Omar Ali from Pakistan, who forwarded this link, cautions, even if there is a change of heart, the going is not going to be very smooth:
According to Arif Jamal (author of Shadow war; the untold story of jihad in Kashmir*), the military and its subcontractors have trained about half a million jihadis. IF the army really goes against its former trainees, the battle will be very long and very violent. Let's assume 400,000 will get the message and move on to civilian life and 90,000 will transfer their skills to various "tolerable" forms of armed action (bodyguards for feudal bullies, kidnappers for ransom, armed robber who give the appropriate cut to the police, MQM, SPSF and so on) that still leaves 10,000 ready to fight to the death. Even with 98% attrition, the remaining 2% can do a lot of damage.
Someday, we will also have to investigate whose brilliant idea it was to train so many armed men and turn them loose...
*Haven't read the book, but been meaning to, since I read a review here a few weeks back.