As agreed by the leaders of both countries on the sidelines of SCO Summit in Ufa, Russia last month, the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in New Delhi this month. Earlier in last year, India unilaterally cancelled the scheduled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan without any plausible excuse when Modi-led BJP came to power in India. In fact, Pakistan and India have been trying to settle their outstanding disputes through dialogue for a long time. At the moment, Pak-India bilateral relations are facing two primary challenges. First, indeed, the pacific resolution of Kashmir issue. The second issue involves the internal security of both countries as both have constantly been accusing each other of planning and sponsoring the acts of terrorism in their respective territories. So far, the Pak-India dialogue process has miserably failed to resolve both aforementioned underlying issues.

As a matter of fact, India has long been using these bilateral negotiations as an important tool to accomplish its national interests and vital foreign policy objectives. It has always been determining the time, modus operandi and the agenda of the bilateral talks between the two countries. It generally chooses the agenda which best suits to its broader national interests. It readily decides when to resume or otherwise suspend these talks. It can also set the preconditions for these negations like to insist on Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s), or to ask Pakistan to take actions against the persons allegedly involved in the terrorist activities in India.

The upcoming meeting between the National Security Advisers of both countries is being expected to revolve around the security related issues, namely the terrorism. In the past, India has blamed various Non State Actors in Pakistan, namely the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), for the incidents like 2001 Parliament attack and 2008 Mumbai attacks in India. Now, in the event of recent Gurdaspur attack, the hostile Indian media has also instantly laid the blame on Pakistan without any evidence as usual. On the other hand, Pakistan has long been complaining about the alleged Indian interference in the province of Baluchistan. Besides this, Pakistan is also convinced that India has a finger in every pie when it comes to terrorism in the country. Therefore, in such state of affairs, the proposed NSA’s meeting is very unlikely to yield fruitful results.

The joint communique issued at the conclusion of Ufa summit last month is being widely criticised in Pakistan on various grounds. It is generally believed that this joint statement has only served the Indian Interests while ignoring Pakistan’s underlying concerns about the terrorism in this region. Besides this, there is no any mention of the Kashmir issue in it.

Although Pakistan has long been accusing India of planning and executing various acts of terrorism in the country, yet it has never formally complained about this alleged role of India on any international forum. However, having launched the military offensive Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan last year, some powerful military quarters in Pakistan have courageously and openly stared talking about the alleged Indian foul-play in Pakistan. Similarly, after the unfortunate APS Peshawar incident last year, there have evolved a strong resolution and consensus in Pakistan to curb all the planners, perpetrators, facilitators and executors of terrorist attacks in the country. Now Pakistani media is also extensively criticising the current role of India to harm Pakistan in this region. Pakistan has also decided to raise this issue on all potential international forums including the UN.

Through Ufa communique, not only did India somehow lower the political temperature and diffuse the current high anti-India sentiments in Pakistan, but has also made Pakistan to get trapped into the purposeless negotiations once again, to its own advantage. After this summit, in Pakistan, there have started the discussions about initiating the long-suspended so-called Pak-India peace process ignoring altogether the realties on the ground. On the other hand, India has chosen to ‘reciprocate’ this goodwill gesture by resorting to unprovoked firing and shelling on Pakistan along the working boundary and international border.

In fact, the nature and character of current allegations levelled by both countries against each about terrorism are quite different. India has been accusing of various Non State Actors for executing terrorist acts in India in the past. It has never established any involvement of the state authorities of Pakistan in these terrorist acts. On the other hand, Pakistan maintains that the government of India is pursuing its well-planned policy to destabilise Pakistan through various disruptive activates in this region. For this purpose, it has already consolidated its position in Afghanistan. The Indian NSA Ajit Doval has publicly admitted these facts some time ago in India. Similarly, in a speech at Dhaka University, Indian Prime Minister Modi has also formally acknowledge the negative role played by India in bifurcating Pakistan In 1971.

There is also no comparison at all between the nature and magnitude of the phenomenon of terrorism in both countries. There have not been any significant terrorism incident in India apart from the 2001 Parliament attack, 2008 Mumbai attacks and the resent Gurdaspur attack. On the other hand, posing a serious existential threat to Pakistan, the phenomenon of terrorism has badly jolted the very foundation of the state of Pakistan. So far, more than fifty thousand Pakistanis have lost their lives. Its economy is devastated.

It is quite ironic that the person who openly talks about destabilising Pakistan through disruptive activities in now going to represent India in the upcoming meeting between the two countries. This fact necessarily indicates towards the seriousness and sincerity on the part of India to make peace with Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan cannot be such a stupid to trust this man at all for this purpose. Similarly, the timing of the Gurdaspur incident in India has also raised many eyebrows in Pakistan. Obviously, now the Indian NSA will possess another dossier to handover to Pakistan in the meeting asking us to take serious actions against the perpetrators of this recent attack.

Although Pakistan has always welcomed the bilateral dialogue process in principle in the past, yet it has to be a bit cautious and realistic while deciding to resume dialogue with India this time. Pakistan should evolve and pursue a pro-active policy regarding its national security in this region. It must keep sticking to its previous policy of raising the issue of Indian interference in Pakistan on all international forum including the UN. India has also recently approached the UN against the release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi by a court in Pakistan in April this year.

As India’s intention to sabotage the planned CPEC is no more a secret now, therefore Pakistan must be vigilant and active enough to thwart any such attempt. Pakistan must try to minimise the Indian influence in Afghanistan. It must also intensify its current efforts to bring about a durable peace in Afghanistan. For this purpose, it should mobilise all the pro-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. Regional powers like China and Iran should also be involved in this peace process. Pakistan should not be overoptimistic vis-a-vis making peace with the ‘Saffron India’ which looks obsessed with its current Hindutva ideology. Now Pakistan can only wish and wait for another moderate political regime in India in future which may realise the very importance of maintaining peace with a neighbour to ensure a better socio-economic order to its own people.

The writer is a lawyer and columnist based in Lahore.

mohsinraza.malik@ymail.com

@MohsinRazaMalik