Uninterruptible relationship with Pakistan
Somebody is scheming. Prime Ministers Gilani and Singh meet in the picture-perfect hill town of Thimpu in Bhutan (SAARC 2010), or in a sensory heaven called Addu in Maldives (SAARC 2011) or in another beach resort of Sharm-el-Shaikh, Egypt (CHOGM 2009).
They talk about terrorism and expectedly, they decide that the bad guys are doing it. Democracies have good guys; they can't kill, they don't kill; and both India and Pakistan are democracies. Democratically elected leaders must and will resolve such issues. This is a Utopian world.
In reality, the military-jehadi duo in Pakistan has always been in charge of dealing with India. If India says Yusuf Raza Gilani is a "man of peace" and thinks it is doing business with Mr Gilani, it is mistaken. It is doing business directly with the army in Pakistan. The Prime Minister said, "When I discussed with the Pakistani Prime Minister whether Pakistan's armed forces were on board (on the peace process) the feeling I got was that they were on board." So the fig leaf is off. The government of India is dealing with the Pakistan Army.
lip service: Manmohan Singh and Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani speak at the
SAARC meet in Addu, Maldives
Further, the Prime Minister also said that if a Mumbai-like attack takes place again, the peace process could be affected. Dr Singh said, "India-Pakistan relations are subject to accidents, and therefore we both recognise that if there is another incident like the Mumbai terror attack, that could give a big setback to the process of normalisation." How terrified would the likes of Hafiz Sayeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakvi be on hearing the word "set-back". Will they stop plotting the next attack? Will they stop recruiting more jehadis for the Gazwa-e-Hind (holy war against India)? Will retired and serving Pakistan army officers, bred on hate against India, now recite the peace mantra?
There is no equivalent of Pakistan's military-jehadi duo in India. Indian army plays no role in deciding government of India's foreign policy. There are no jehadis plotting and planning attacks on Pakistan. There is no holy war that any of India's religious majority or minorities has on their 'to-do' list. No, not even the Sri Rama Sene or the Shiv Sena.
Prime Ministers Gilani and Singh expressed the desire to write "a new chapter in the history of our relationship" as "too much time had been wasted in acrimonious debate." That the reason for acrimony is terror attacks on India, sponsored by elements in Pakistan, is an inconvenient fact to be glossed over.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Khar sagaciously announced that both Mr Gilani and Mr Singh in their talks "had noted that terrorism was a common problem." Yes, it is, but terror is a problem in India is because it is exported by Pakistan to India even when we haven't placed an order for its import. One could lose patience with such comments coming from Pakistan, but then they are oft-repeated in India by the establishment and commentators.
Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in Maldives that there is insufficient evidence in the Mumbai trial case and that as far as Pakistan is concerned, India could and should hang Qasab. Well yes, sure Pakistan would like to see Qasab dead. He was on a suicide mission; he didn't die, so it would be nice if he is disposed of quickly to avoid further questions about him.
Mr Malik also expressed his inability to curtail the activities of the Mumbai mastermind Hafiz Sayeed who continues to recruit jehadis for his so-called charity organisation, Jamaat ud Dawa. The excuse: "He was bailed out by the highest court of Pakistan (for lack of evidence) and the government can't do anything about it."
So we are back to square one. We just have to accept that in some cases the Pakistan government (read Army) can't do anything and in others, it won't do anything. We meanwhile will just go on collecting evidence against Pakistani actors (state or non-state), processing it and then presenting it to Pakistan, only to have it flung back at our faces as mere information. And this is the 'new chapter' that we have to welcome with enthusiasm. Why?
Smita Prakash is Editor (News) at Asian News International. Follow her on Twitter@smitaprakash