Siddharth Varadarajan, writing in NDTV.com reminds us that the Hurriyat leaders meeting Pakistanis is nothing new: PM's Pakistan Outreach Ends in Predictable Whimper:
On April 16, 2005, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had this to say when reporters asked him whether the government had any problem with Pervez Musharraf meeting the Hurriyat leaders in Delhi before he met the Prime Minister: "Pakistani leaders come, they meet any Hurriyat leaders ... we are a democratic country, we have no problem with these kind of meetings."
Nor was this some sort soft-underbellied approach initiated by the Congress. On the eve of the Agra summit between Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the National Democratic Alliance and General Musharraf, for example, the Hurriyat leaders attended a reception hosted by the Pakistani High Commissioner for his visiting President...
What makes the Indian decision even more problematic is that New Delhi is fully aware of the domestic criticism Nawaz Sharif faced after his May 26-27 visit to India. Sharif was pilloried for not raising the issue of Kashmir in public and for not meeting the Hurriyat...
By reacting the way it has, the Modi government has inadvertently strengthened the hands of Pakistan's military and the political ecosystem it supports. Prime Minister Modi might well have also set a bar for future dialogue that is too high and also completely irrelevant. It is too high because it is hard to imagine any leader in Islamabad publicly declaring that Pakistan will henceforth never meet the Hurriyat; and it is irrelevant because such meetings do absolutely nothing to alter the political, territorial or military status quo in Jammu and Kashmir.
Read the full article at NDTV
R Jagannathan in the Firstpost:
So should we talk to Pakistan’s government or not? My answer is yes. We should keep talking but without expecting them to lead anywhere. The purpose of talking is not to solve anything, but to tell the world that we are talking, and also to make our points strongly. The suspended round of foreign secretary-level talks, for example, could have been used to narrow the talks down to the Hurriyat issue, or to terrorism. If they don’t want to talk, let them call it off. The second purpose of talking is to make sure they understand our own no-nonsense approach. Too often, they interpret our decision to talk as a sign of weakness. Maybe we should use talk to appear stronger so that they don’t mistake our intentions.
Read the full article at Firstpost
In Scroll, Shivam Vij, while offering Five reasons why Modi’s snub to Pakistan over Kashmiri separatists is a terrible idea, has a useful practical insight:
Perhaps the real reason why Modi cancelled the talks was that Nawaz Sharif is domestically rather weak, so there is little to be gained from conducting discussions with him. If this were the case, Modi should have chosen the increasing number of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control as the excuse for cancelling the talks. That would have deflected the blame to Pakistan. Using the Hurriyat as the excuse, Modi has brought the focus on the issue that India wants to keep away from the limelight: Kashmir. This plays into the hands of Kashmiri separatists and the Pakistani right-wing.
Vij concludes by pointing out:
At a high-powered national security meet in Islamabad on August 9, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a gathering that included the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence chief, "We don't have good relations with any of our neighbours except China. For development, progress and economic growth, Pakistan needs to have friendly and cordial relations with all its neighbours, especially India and Afghanistan." He added, "You cannot progress in isolation."
It’s the kind of plain-speaking the Pakistani army does not like from civilian prime ministers. Saying what Nawaz Sharif did there, he took a risk. He had also taken a risk coming to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony despite hard-line elements in Pakistan opposing it. Returning to Pakistan without having said a public word about Kashmir in New Delhi earned Sharif even more criticism.
Modi’s needless cancellation of his government’s first dialogue with Pakistan, over an irrelevant meeting with an inconsequential Kashmiri separatist leader, is likely to weaken the peace lobby in Pakistan, making it difficult for them to argue with those Pakistanis who want permanent hostility with India. The anti-India lobby in Pakistan will now present India as the one which does not want to hold dialogue and resolve issues.
Read the full piece at Scroll
M K Bhadrakumar in rediff: The real reason why India scuttled Pakistan talks:
Consider the following. There is every indication that the BJP will make a strong pitch to form the next government in Srinagar following the forthcoming state assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir in October.
The chances are that the BJP will succeed in this project.
Now, with a BJP government in both Delhi and Srinagar, how long can Modi delay the implementation of the RSS-driven pledge to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution?
Unlike the other two RSS demands -- a common civil code and a temple in Ayodhya -- this one is entirely 'do-able' if the BJP succeeds in forming the government in Srinagar.
Nay, the RSS will insist on it and as a good pracharak Modi will have no option but to comply. Looking back, Modi's Leh speech last week was a harbinger of the shape of things to come.
And, herein hangs the tale of the scuttled foreign secretary level talks. Both Delhi and Islamabad are anticipating gathering storms on the horizon. Modi's inaugural bash already looks a distant dream, as ancient passions take over.
Times of India editorialises: Talks called off: New Delhi cancels earlier script on Pakistan, but it must develop a new script
With Sharif hemmed in his room to negotiate is limited and it’s unlikely the foreign secretary-level talks, even if held, would have achieved much. Nevertheless it’s imperative that New Delhi keeps channels of communication open with Islamabad. Else its hardliners will comprehensively dominate policy vis-à-vis India and its peace constituency diminish further.
How can New Delhi square this seemingly impossible circle? It makes sense for New Delhi to open direct lines of communication with the Pakistani army that anyway determines Islamabad’s India policy. Given that under Pervez Musharraf the two countries had almost concluded a Kashmir deal, talking to Rawalpindi GHQ will yield better dividends for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown, twice, that he can deviate from the tried and tested script with regard to Pakistan. He must do it a third time.
Read the full piece at the TOI
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