Pakistan has expressed a firm sentiment about both the handing over of the deep-sea Gwadar port to a Chinese firm, and the recent execution of Afzal Guru for the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament. The Foreign Office spokesman said that while the modalities of the handing over of the port were still being worked out, the government felt that ‘this is not something that any other country should have any reason to be concerned about.’ It must be remembered that the hand-over is only occurring because the port could not be handled by the original company, which belonged to Singapore. If indeed India is concerned, as it purports to be, about the coming of another power into the Indian Ocean, it should not forget the event which was not mentioned by the spokesman: the Indian agreements, signed during French President François Hollande’s recent visit, to buy 126 Rafale fighters from Dassault for $12 billion, as well as a $9.3 billion 9900MW nuclear power plant in Maharashtra. India’s buying both arms and nuclear technology, the latter because of the nuclear deal with the USA, means bringing a foreign power, and that too a Western power, into the region, while carping at Pakistan for relying on a true and tested friend which has always shown an all-weather friendship.

The spokesman also said that Afzal Guru was a martyr. There are a number of aspects to this. Foremost is the question of what sort of trial did Afzal Guru get. It is clear that it was not at all fair. The reason for this, that he was a Kashmiri Muslim. This led to what the spokesman said about the Kashmir issue, that the government had made no changes to its stand, and still desired a solution in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the relevant UN resolutions.

This is a welcome reassurance, though the government must give more substance to this sentiment than mere words in Islamabad, in the midst of trying to develop ties with India on its terms. A symbol of this is the grant of MFN status to India, which is not only to India’s advantage, and not only destructive of Pakistani commerce and industry, but also took place without even a mention of Kashmir by Pakistan. As India wants the dispute suppressed, it is incumbent upon Pakistan not only to raise the question at bilateral negotiations, but also at multilateral forums. With elections just around the corner, the government must show its commitment, or prepare for punishment.