Reacting to the aggressive statements of Indian leaders about Pakistani troops’ alleged intrusion into the Indian occupied part of Kashmir across the Line of Control (LoC) and killing of two Indian soldiers, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar termed them “highly inflammatory” as well as “extremely contradictory”. Ironically, it is Pakistan that is the aggrieved party since the Indian forces entered into Pakistani side as far deep as 400 metres and killed a Pakistani soldier and wounded another a little over a week back and since then they have violated the LoC twice. The latest was on Tuesday when they opened fire across the LoC at Hot Spring and Jandrot sectors in which one of our security personnel lost his life. To settle which side is justified in complaining, the Indians should accept the Pakistani suggestion of a UN inquiry into the matter that Ms Khar reiterated. New Delhi’s aversion to the idea of a neutral inquiry tells the truth behind its rhetoric that can doing but vitiate the atmosphere of cautious optimism diligently built by both Pakistan and India over the years.
For some unknown reasons except, perhaps, the wish to exercise its hegemony, Indian leaders have been shooting from the hip. Their irresponsible statements, “it is absolutely unacceptable, ghastly, and really terrible and short-sighted on their part” (External Affairs Commissioner Salman Khurshid) and the instructions given by Indian COAS Bikram Singh to his commanders to be “aggressive” can only complicate matters. Now, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has added his voice to this unfortunate line of thinking; he told the media that after the violation of LoC incident there would be no “business as usual” between India and Pakistan. Soon after, the Indian authorities at Wagha found some technical glitches in the procedure relating to visa-at-border for senior citizens and suspended their entry into their country. As they had only a day earlier declared that all procedural details had been sorted out and Pakistanis of above 65 years of age could come to India, their observation that the glitches had nothing to do with the incident would hardly look credible. Seemingly, it is an example of ‘no business as usual’.
Foreign Minister Khar has urged the Indian leadership not to let the controversy affect the peace process that serves the interests of both. Nevertheless, the unsubstantiated allegation against Pakistan that appears to have been levelled only to put the world off track about its own intrusion into Pakistani side should prompt our leaders to seriously reconsider our obsequious attitude towards India. The grant of Most Favoured Nation status is the biggest confidence building measure by Pakistan, a concession that would prove ruinous to our industry, agriculture and the economy as a whole. It had better be reviewed, especially as India has shown once again that it can block progress, indeed reverse the trend, to growing understanding on one pretext or the other in order that its wishes are obeyed. It must not precede settlement of the Kashmir dispute.