Monday, August 12, 2013

Why engagement with Pakistan is a must

Unless the attack at the LoC had the sanction of the Nawaz Sharif government, and most would agree that it did not, there is no rationale for calling off the dialogue
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CROSS IT OFF:Retaliation against Pakistan is militarily and politically unviable. The picture is of the border at Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu. —PHOTO: REUTERS
CROSS IT OFF:Retaliation against Pakistan is militarily and politically unviable. The picture is of the border at Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu. —PHOTO: REUTERS
When the commotion and outrage generated by last week’s unfortunate killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K subside, those in charge of the country’s foreign policy should do some “strategic thinking,” something that is sorely missing from the ongoing debate on the issue. It is widely understood that India-Pakistan relations are severely crisis-ridden and that is why the relationship between the two countries simply does not improve. The 2004-2008 dialogue process, arguably the most successful India-Pakistan dialogue ever, was called off after the 26/11 attacks. Similarly, the renewed dialogue process was interrupted after the LoC killings in January this year. Again, just as the stage was being set for a resumption of the talks, last week’s killings are threatening to derail it.

In other words, occurrence of crises, be they terror attacks, ceasefire violations or terrorist infiltration, can interrupt the dialogue process between the two countries at will. Both India and Pakistan are well aware of it and also know it is impossible to rule out such crises. Therefore, it is important for India to determine how to deal with them, when to continue the engagement and under what circumstances it should withdraw from engagement. Let us look at four different scenarios so as to better understand Pakistan’s liability in the most recent crisis between India and Pakistan.

Four scenarios
Scenario 1: The ambush of the Indian soldiers was undertaken by the Pakistan Army on the orders of Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is unhappy that Kashmir is slipping away from its hands and would like to increase the heat along the LoC to aid the infiltration of more terrorists into the State in order not to lose its influence in the Valley. Moreover, Pakistan continues to believe that India is its eternal enemy.
If this is even close to what actually happened, there is absolutely no point in engaging in a dialogue process with Pakistan. Force is perhaps the only possible answer along with drumming up international support for isolating Islamabad. But is this what happened? Most Pakistan-watchers across the world and senior officials in New Delhi would agree that this is not what happened.

Scenario 2: It was the handiwork of the Pakistan Army’s top brass who, as many Indian analysts have pointed out, including former diplomat Vivek Katju in The Hindu (Op-Ed, Debate@ The Hindu , “Before talks, Pakistan needs to settle internal equations,” August 9, 2013), is not keen to give much leeway to Mr. Sharif with regard to Pakistan’s India policy. The Pakistan Army, as Ambassador Katju points out, though not in a position to stage a coup, but desirous of reasserting its traditional position in the country and unhappy with Mr. Sharif’s overtures to New Delhi, has decided to frustrate the dialogue process with India. Hence, the attack on the Indian soldiers.

This is not an unconvincing scenario. However, the more important question here is not whether this is what happened or not, but what India’s response should be if this is indeed the case. If Pakistan’s current civilian leadership, like the previous one, is keen on improving relations with India which the country’s army does not want to see happening, does it really serve New Delhi’s strategic interests better to sever all ties with Pakistan? No. New Delhi, on the contrary, should strengthen its ties with Pakistan and put pressure on Mr. Sharif to isolate the army, something he would not be very averse to doing. If New Delhi severs the dialogue process with Islamabad, the Pakistan Army will achieve both its objectives: damaging the dialogue with India and discrediting Islamabad’s political establishment both of which are detrimental to India’s long-term interests. By not talking to Islamabad, New Delhi would ultimately strengthen the hands of the Pakistan Army.

Scenario 3: Pakistani troops carried out the attacks in Poonch in coordination with terror groups, but without the knowledge and support of the Pakistan Army’s top brass.

Given the extent to which jihadi elements have infiltrated the Pakistan Army and the existence of competing perceptions of national interest within it, such a possibility cannot be ruled out. If this is what happened, it would be strategically unwise to call off the dialogue process. Instead of suspending the dialogue process, New Delhi should radically expand its engagements not only with Islamabad but also with the Pakistan Army, especially at the quiet back-channel level.

Scenario 4: “Terrorists wearing Pakistan army uniform” carried out the attacks. If this is the case, then Pakistan has been telling the truth and New Delhi would be doing itself a great disservice by not talking to Pakistan. India should continue to engage Islamabad and make efforts to coordinate with the Pakistani Army to explore ways and means to better target the terror groups. It should send a highly specialised team of experts to Pakistan in order to explore ways to do precisely that. Merely blaming Pakistan for what it is incapable of controlling would achieve nothing.

An examination of the four potential explanations for what happened at the LoC last week makes one thing abundantly clear: Only if the attack was carried out with the sanction of Prime Minister Sharif should New Delhi call off the dialogue process with Pakistan. If not, it would be shooting its own feet by refusing to talk to Pakistan. Those advocating calling off the dialogue with Pakistan need to answer one simple question: What could New Delhi potentially gain by not talking to Islamabad? Those advocating the “no talks” option are not really offering any alternative. The fact is that there is no alternative. The only other alternative, other than refusing to talk, is military action against Pakistan which if carried out on Pakistani territory, under the existing balance of military power in the subcontinent, is bound to end in disastrous results for New Delhi.

In other words, military retaliation against Pakistan is militarily and politically unviable.

Calling off the dialogue process with Islamabad, then, will be a strategically ill-advised decision. New Delhi can do so, but sooner or later, it would be forced to revive the dialogue process again. Therefore, not only should India redouble its efforts at engaging Nawaz Sharif but also explore the possibility of establishing backchannel contacts with the Pakistan Army.

By and large majority of the opinions express justified anger at Pakistani army men killing our innocent five Jawans. Pakistan does not,therefore, commend itself to be a serious partner in dialogue. If war is excluded as an option as it should,the alternative is only dialogue. If India defers dialogue till(1) it is clear that Nawaz Sheriff as Prime Minister is in control of the situation with his authority remaining not undermined and(2) his equation with the military is such that it guarantees civilian supremacy, there will only be indefinite drift in Indo-Pak relations Which will not enhance peace prospects.So dialogue productive or otherwise is a must.In all our dealings with Pakistan, China with its unfriendly stance in Ladakh and Arunachal should be factored in.

from:  Dr.Rukmini J.Rao
Posted on: Aug 16, 2013 at 00:50 IST

India is in a double bind situation as regards its dealings with Pakistan. What is unalterable is that war is no option.To my understanding the dialogue is not just about border adjustments at LOC but about the substantive Kashmir dispute in its entire gamut.The ground reality is that neither side can afford to give up territory already in its possession and control.Then what is the dialogue for? With rigid stand already taken by the two sides in regard to the main Kashmir dispute,the only subject remaining to be tackled is Pakistan's cross border violence.The dialogue forum will have only this topic to talk on.Such talks may at least mean that the two sides are on talking terms ensuring absence of hostilities.The two countries may put in place a mutually agreed fool proof permanent mechanism to oversee and ensure peace along the entire LOC border.

from:  G.Jagannathan
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 23:46 IST

Exceptionally logical.

from:  Amir Jan
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 18:51 IST

Close scrutiny of the last three scenarios reveals that Sheriff government is not in full control and occurrences are an aberration. Nevertheless, India bore the brunt . Will it be right to engage in dialogue with a government that is not in absolute control and is ignorant of the motives and plans of key functionaries. What assurance can a PM give to his counterpart when without his knowledge army violates, terrorists plunder surreptitiously and Provincial governments remain mute spectators. Nawaz Sheriff has assumed Power recently and has lots to clean internally. Any assurance from him now would be only a proposal that has to be accepted internally. Dialogue is not to be called off but at the same time should not be at the level of PM. Flag meetings and Secretary level talks have to take place now through which India’s concerns should be made loud and clear so as to reach Pak PM. Once Nawaz is internally in control comes the time for Ministerial meetings.

from:  S Raghavan
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 17:46 IST

' under the existing balance of military power in the 
subcontinent'...are you kidding me..or you post articles without full are calling Indian military power is no better than 
Pakistan's and by including subcontinent you also include Sri Lanka, 
Bangladesh,Bhutan and should probably clear out your facts 
about Indian military before making such an comment..

from:  H.R Bharat
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 08:09 IST

This is a tactical analysis of a incident at LoC and not a strategic analysis and tactical analysis don't lead to good decision making. There was a suicide bombing attempt on Indian embassy only a few days back, communal riots triggered by people using provocation, multiple LoC incidents, UN general assembly session , the recent Hafiz Saeed speech and finally US withdrawal from Afghanistan. If anybody thinks these are not related, there is a bridge in Brooklyn for me to sell you. Any strategic analysis would have to consider all scenarios and then try to sell "keep talking" approach. 
and whats up with calling a military conflict with Pakistan "militarily and politically unviable" ? while I agree most Indian politicians don't have the backbone to lead a country during war let alone during peace, I wouldn't go as far to say it is militarily enviable.

from:  Hemant
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 03:55 IST

The fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons is enough reason for us to move cautiously. They might not have anything to loose but we certainly do. An all out war will push our country into critical condition. Also if we at all care about unfortunate loss of life of 5 Jawans, don't forget that a war will claim lives of countless more as well as civilians. Let us not give in to our bestial nature and seek blood.

from:  Rksaren
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 00:40 IST

Talks with Pakistan ,an always controversial issue.It has been 
controversial because the Pak government , never knows "WHAT HAPPENED" 
.Even if it presents an "Escape" , it never has proof of its innocence 
. Moreover,most of the time,when there is an opportunity for the 
NEIGHBORS to present itself as a some sensible nation,it blows it.As 
the example has been sited in one of the previous comments for ossified 
attitude towards the 26/11 attacks,makes pak look more guilty than the 
nation , that can be talked to.But to make this a sole platform to 
hamper the talks, is not India.Obviosly, we are not sure,whether the 
attacks were president's orders or not.Nor we ARE the USA,who can just 
secretly intrude the country and hunt down the "JEHADIs". Only we can 
do is talk.Even if the intelligence agency warns that there can be 
intrusion from Neighbourhood and demonstrated well,Still we can talk 
.Even if the caught terrorist concedes to be a Pakistani,Still the only 
thing we can do is talk happily.

from:  Aman
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 00:38 IST

I think the author is misguided. The question should be "what is 
the point of talks, or even agreements, if Pakistan has no 
intention to honour it's commitments"? 
Let's assume that Pakistan agrees to cease all cross border attacks. is it worth the paper it's written on? The next day there would be more firings and more Indian lives would be lost, wouldn't it? Are we going to say, "let's talk again"?????Ant talks are meaningless if one party is not bound by it. 
What we need is decisive action against Pakistan, not any more talks please.

from:  kadiyan
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 00:27 IST

Its useless not to talk to Pakistan. Considering what Pakistan is already going through, it is unjust to blame them for the activity. Both countries don't share a good experience of wars. We should put an end to this and utilize our resources for peace, prosperity and well being of our poor people. What is war going to bring to both countries? If we attack them thinking they are inferior to us, we are amusing ourselves. They also got a force and they will do anything to defend their country.

from:  Prasad S
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 00:04 IST

Finally an article that employs more logic than emotion, on the subject. Its easy to get carried away by emotional responses and mob fury. The fact is, political strategy is a game of the brain not the heart.

from:  Krishna Prashanth
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 23:47 IST

The latest mischief of killing 5 solders by pakisthan army or militant in pak solder's dress ,better call it pakisthani,has reinvigorated the contention between both country.actually in pakisthan there are two party who r ruling the party.first is the prime minister,second the army general,presently mr.kayani.when india wanted to have a good relation through delegation with the pakisthan,cease fire has been violated.there could be two reason.firstly militants would never want pakisthan to have a good relation with india.secondly india never give the focus to army general of pakisthan.even john kerry didn't keep himself away from meeting mr when india announces meeting with pakisthan,it should announce meeting with army general too. so our prime minister or any minister should visit with our army generalwhen everindia want a peaceful talk with pakisthan.

from:  prince prakash
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 23:23 IST

The question is not why such articles are written, but why they they are published. 
Please don't bin this in the same category as "Well, we are The Hindu, we respect all opinions." If that is the case, you should atleast be consistent, anything that is slightly critical of this newspaper never sees the light of day. 
What hypocrisy!! 
BTW, there is a lot to be gained by not talking. It is your right to stand up and say "Look, this is not going to work this way anymore. You better get your act right, or this is the end of the road". 
It is stupidity to say you should talk and be nice when you are being stabbed in the back.

from:  Bhargava Ravoori
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 23:12 IST

The Indian media has to wake up and stop catering to those in power. It is the natural course of things, that the media has to support those in power, but not completely. 
All this talk about continuing dialogue with Pakistan is meaningless. Remember Kargil. Last I remember, it was Sharif then who was the PM and the blame was laid on Musharaf's shoulders. 
People in india should understand a simple psychological ploy - Good cop / Bad cop. Now think who is being portrayed as good cop always and who as the bad cop. 

End of the day, Pakistan gains what it wants. 

The solution to this issue is 

a) If the people of Kashmir want a plebiscite, please do so and lets close the issue. 
If the policy holders are worried about New Delhi's proximity to the border, then create a de-militarised zone and allow the rest of the state to decide. 
Stop encouraging Pakistani political establishment and the Army by giving them credence. Focus on development in the country.

from:  M Raja
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 22:49 IST

Hello Indians. I appreciate the good thinking of the writer, someone like him is also needed here in Pakistan. After six decades of fighting how many period would be required for peace in South Asia. We both need to observe other countries that live peacefully despite differences on basic issues. All the issues can only be resolved through dialogues not Wars. Some comments are very disappointing for me. Anyhow have a nice Independence Day to all the Indians. Bye 

from:  Mohammad Ikram Pakistani
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 22:43 IST

Sir, I do not agree with the author at all. I do not agree with the author that we are not in a position to impose military costs on Pakistan. Considering the present balance of power in the sub continent Indian armed forces should be and will be able to inflict severe pain on Pakistan and our leadership should give our armed forces the green signal. Also we should dramatically raise our covert activity in Pakistan and support materially the aspirations of the Baluchistan people for Independence. We should also think of abrogating the Indus water treaty.

from:  dr gn seetharam
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 21:42 IST

The Nawaz Sharif government clearly wants peace with India. The 
Pakistani Army on the other hand sees peace as a direct attack on its 
privileged position. So it will oppose all peace efforts unless it is in 
line with its self interest. India gains nothing by just talking. It 
should continue talking, but every provocative action by the Pakistani 
Army should be met with massive retaliation. That is the only way the 
generals there will see sense and support the desire for peace among 
ordinary Pakistanis.

from:  CS Venkat
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 20:56 IST

The article tries to portray a viewpoint that, if followed as a 
foreign policy strategy, is likely to embolden the Pakistani army. 
While our defense minister's initial statement may have had the last 
laugh of the Pakistani army top brass, continuing with the dialogue 
process would make them indulge in more killings across the border, a 
matter of glee. Anyway they know for sure our PM keeps silent on even 
the most important of issues: the security and self respect of our 
country. Imagine, five soldiers of any other country being killed by 
the enemy. Would they have engaged in camaraderie when their border 
keeping personnel are done to death in a dastardly attack? The 
strength of a country lies in its self respect and its seriousness in 
guarding its borders. It should not be for India to commiserate with 
the Pakistani government. Let them sort out their internal problems. 
If Nawaz Sharief is so powerless, what is the point in having a 
dialogue with him? 

from:  Shivaram Nayak
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 19:28 IST

With the scenario of being in a globalised world, the need to have links and known-ness of fellow cohabitors is indispensable. I think in situations like this, there is nothing in effective and swift that can be done on the political front; Its basically the question of how can some insurgent penetrate our borders audaciously by more than half-a-kilometer and then kill dozen of our soldiers, without having any harm on their way. Our political leaders are been get seated to carry out their shows and talks, they should not be stopped from having their fun and neither they will, but the issue is that we and our army should be such capable enough that no organisation from anywhere should have their fun in carrying out some 'Capability tests' on our National establishments, which are the very matters of our pride as a nation. You wanna talk, you go talk, its rather a need for an ecosystem to exist, but let us ourselves be such strong enough that we can protect our 'Do Gaz Zameen".. 

from:  Bhagirath
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 18:22 IST

How do we know that it was - or wasnt - officially sanctioned? (The 
Attack?) We dont. 

What next? Trust the words of Mr Lahore Declaration - Kargil Nawaz 
Sharif that the attacks were not sanctioned? I dont think so. Hence, no 
talks. No way. Even if they werent, it is Pakistan's internal problem. 
Let them sort it out for themselves! Till then, namaste. No talking. Not 

from:  Vishal Kale
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 18:21 IST

@Balanagendran, and to all others opposed to the talks, with all due 
respect, this is coming from a person whose Grandfather, father and now 
brother along with uncles and other relatives have been serving and are 
serving in the Indian army. We can hold the Pakistani government 
accountable only when we directly engage them in talks. And why is our 
thinking is so shallow? Even the extremists, be it the Paki army or the 
Jihadis or whoever, know that the normalization of the relationship can 
only be carried forward via talks. This is the sole reason that 
whenever these two countries start engaging in talks, these anti 
societal elements start conspiring against it and such incidents 
happen. They have been successful in the past, so they are applying the 
same formula again. Is it not evident enough in itself that even they 
consider that the talks would normalize the relationship. Why is it so 
tough to understand?

from:  Piyush Gurung
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 18:20 IST

I am writing this not only as a citizen, but also a son of an army man who served more than 18 years for our nation by leaving his friends, relatives, importantly his loveable and affectionate souls aside. after reading this pool of ideas and strategeies, i came to conclusion that the writer should have done propper research. he showed his academic intellectual by asking "what could be gained by not talking"? well let me ask the writer 2 questions, 1. can you write another article on "what we have gained by talking except gun shorts on our innocent but patriotic souls and the dead carcus of saurabjeet singh"? 2. imagine your son is among the 5 soldiers who got killed. would you still proclaim india to continu the dialogue? it is easier to write by sitting in a lavishly bedecked room than to stand and face the attacks at the borders.

from:  Balanagendran
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:57 IST

the question is why these talks were started in first place when pak has done nothing in the 26/11 issue.....second point is our PM either does not speak at all..and when he speaks his remarks r wayward...third if u want talks with pak, first tell the nation what is the agenda of talks from indian viewpoint....

from:  pooja
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:52 IST

It is easy to pass on intellectual opinions. But who is suffering due 
to these indecisive actions ? How many times we will say, it is ok, 
let us start new chapter? We are sick of these stands. If Pakistan is 
an enemy let it be so. Why we have to color it to see from other 
angles ? IF Pakistan goes into the hands of Taliban, let it so. We are 
not the guarantors for Pakistan peace. But we should learn to keep our 
borders secure. This stand of saying we don't have alternative is 
demoralising and shall not promote any good will. It is already 6 
decades and how many more years ?

from:  prince
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:44 IST

The summary of this article indicates how ill-advised is the author and view point. 
I say what is the point in talking to a govt. which cannot even control of enforce a view point on its citizens. Normal diplomatic re-courses cannot be applied to Pakistan. Pakistan is a unique country in itself. Here the army has the country unlike other countires which have an army. 

The Paki army or the Paki Govt. understands only one thing...that is force. Please recall the mental conditioing of paki citizens who think one Paki = 10 Hindu. They are taught that. With such a mindset, one would be foolish to assume that talks will yeild results. At best talks would be a charade for the world. 

India needs to be strong and respond in a fashion where these elements understand. It would be unbelievable that Nawaz Sherief is unaware of the incident. Even if we assume that he was not in the loop i can understand one incident, but 8 violations of ceasefire with 7000 rounds of ammunition fired thats dreaming

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:27 IST

I do not for a moment understand the issues, however I wish our newspapers in Australia would publish such considered views on various issues. 
Ken Needs

from:  Ken Needs
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:17 IST

Pakistan is a fallen state today. There is no point in talking to them 
at this point in time. The leadership in Pakistan, is not in the hands 
of civilians despite the recent election of Nawaz Sharif, which is in 
the control of the Pakistan Army. They are clearly not interested in 
having a better relations with India. For Sharif it is a clear case of 
hunting with the hound and running with the hare, his political and 
ceremonial premiership survival is at the mercy of the Pak Army and 
the Islamic clerics and hardliners. While it is a good idea to engage 
them in a dialogue process, it is equally futile to think of a 
credible solution emerging from the talks with a rogue state. 

The most appropriate thing for India to do is to beef up security at 
its borders with two of its notorious neighbours. And in addition try 
to unmask the dangerous design of the Pakistani establishment, also it 
should desist from taking orders or friendly cues from the US to 
engage in the dialogue process with Pak.

from:  Atul K Bhaskar
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:17 IST

Recent violation at LoC could be seen as an attempt to disturb dialogues 
between the two countries. Historically, Nawab shariff's government had 
been pro India. But it is very unfortunate that as a PM he does not have 
100 percent control on his army. Specially General Kayani who was close 
aid of Mushraf during Kargil war. 

Calling off the dialogue process is strategically unviable. But India 
has to draw a sand in the line so that this kind of ambush never happens 

from:  Satender
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 16:16 IST

There is no need to derail the dialogue process completely but a 
little halt must be applied before sending a strong signal through to 
the other side of LoC. As the article suggests, there may be 4 
imperatives but not sure. First, Indian Army ought to send a stern 
signal to that uncertain or blurred figure who is rampaging this peace 
process every now and then. During this time, dialogue need to be 
halted, trade and commerce flow also should be little suppressed, just 
to support our defense countermeasures instilling the trust and 
confidence in our corps by sending some stern message aka broadcasting 
it to the ones who are in disguise beyond LoC. Otherwise some more 
incidents like this will repeat and more hatred can collapse the 
analysis of the probable peace imperatives itself. Hence, some 
abnormalities need to be inculcated in the dialogue process just to 
let their civil government know that everything is not fine across the 

from:  Saurabh Bhardwaj Patna
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 15:56 IST

Scenario # 4 is illogical as it would have been impossible for 20 odd terrorists to infiltrate in Pakistan Uniform through such sensitive post without the support of Pakistan Army. Scenario # 3 is imaginary as Pakistan Army top brass would never be in a position where they would be unable to control its troops. Scenario # 2, ideally yes, also with the support of hardliners. Considering Scenario # 1 would not be there, at the end of the day what is the purpose of engaging in talks when their civilian government neither would be in a position or nor would want to control its army? The whole exercise would only be futile. The only solution would be to deal sternly and decisively on any case of violation of ceasefire along the LOC.

from:  Partha
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 15:46 IST

Scenario 5: Sharif and Army cheif of pakistan has ordered his army to see the possibility of making another kargil attempt.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 15:26 IST

Though the trust level between the two countries, or to be specific, the 
armies of the two countries is not much to to speak of to start the 
back-channel contacts as suggested by the author, giving the 
circumstances it could be a significant move towards normalizing the 
relations between the two countries. Not holding any talks with Pakistan 
would be a strategic mistake. It would be better if we can manage to 
follow the two-pronged approach of engaging talks at both the political 
and military level.

from:  Piyush Gurung
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:44 IST

In PAK PM is not aware or not consulted on LOC aggression it is a clear indication he is only a puppet PM. If so what is the use of taking him. He can not take any decision or even if agrres it will be violated shortly by the Army or the Jihadis

from:  Gowrishankar
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:42 IST

Quite dumb line of reasoning indeed..“Terrorists wearing Pakistan army uniform” carried out the attacks. If this is the case, then Pakistan has been telling the truth and New Delhi would be doing itself a great disservice by not talking to Pakistan".... and pray tell me, how would you ensure that the army is telling the truth, and they did not help the mercenaries ?.. What would be the foolproof method to ensure it ?

from:  ranmac
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:38 IST

Under no circumstances India should resume the dialogue process.What has 
India achieved by these talks ? Nothing.

from:  M.Janardhan Rao
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:36 IST

We have enough of our own problems to deal with. I am not against 
engaging in a dialogue with PAK Govt but, why is it that they are not 
trying to help from outside to improve the situation? We engaging in a 
dialogue is fine but how will the reality on ground change for either of 

from:  K Kiran Kumar
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:19 IST

It is advisable to resolve conflicts through dialogue.Both the parties 
should genuinely seek peace and wholeheartedly engage in talks.Now the 
question arises as to who is calling the shot in Pakistan.Whether the 
Army and the religious fundamentalists will allow the govt to talk to 
India. Pak PM should ensure that the rival power centers are on board. 
Talks may fail and for this reason talks should not be abandoned.But 
talks will not serve any purpose if one party talks just for record and 
continues its 'business' as usual. 
In India,the parliamentary system has not matured to evolve consensus on 
vital issues.The onus is on the ruling party to take initiative.The 
opposition parties should respond positively. 
How to persuade Pak for talks? There should be pressure from the people 
in Pak on the troika.For this,India should gradually minimise its 
trade,cultural and sporting ties with Pak. There should not be any 
rhetoric/brinkmanship.A firm and strong India will force Pak to come to 

from:  S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:14 IST

The dialogues must continue. But, it is not sufficient if the dialogue is used to tell "I am OK, you are OK". They must cover incidents like 26/11 or LoC killings and countermeasures must be reviewed. Otherwise, it would be like Teller-Oppenheimer handshake where everything is nice and fine in front of the camera and behind everything is hunky dory. Unfortunately, there is no indication that past dialogues addressed any contentious issues. It is imperative that the contours of dialogue must be redefined regularly. Without that, it suffices that MMS just shakes hand with NS in New York for the sake of the camera.

from:  Arun Murthy
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 13:55 IST

It's evident from this article that there is no point keeping aside the 
dialogue process. But, we should not contemplate on who were the 
attackers-whether army or terrorists camouflaged in army uniform. Need 
of the hour is to take a hefty military action and unfurl the tricolour 
at Islamabad. It is the high time when we would have gone berserk on our 
sweet neighbour but our timid Prime-minister has highly disappointed us.

Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 13:43 IST

While urging Indian authorities to do some Strategic thinking, the author has done exactly opposite. He has listed the scenerio to arrive at his own favourite conclusion. He has forgotten to include the timing of attack on Indian Consulate in Jalalabad and its connnection with killing of Indian soldiers. He has also not included the budgetery support, ( from government pocket) Nawaz Shariff has openly given to Hafeej Sayeed and its message to Indian State. We are hoping good relations across the borders from the time of Prithviraj Chauhan and continuing dialogue. We must include our past experience of dealing with Pakistan, in our strategic thinking.

from:  masa
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 13:35 IST

Protecting the dignity and playing compassionate brethren to Pakistan Government who is realistically out of control over their ISI and army is one thing. But, securing the lives of the Indian soldiers must be the greater agenda that the Government of India has to have. The confusion in action and response at New Delhi is quite evident. Finally, the buck must stop at the Government of Pakistan, even when they may not be directly responsible for what is happening at the border. One can't go on protecting them for long from their rogue army and their actions against the Indian soldiers. Magnanimity has it's limits!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 13:33 IST

Very thought provoking artical,throwing light on the possible reasons 
for the recent ceasefire incidents across the LOC. Pak has its own 
problems and the most important is to bring army under civilian 
control,which it has been failing to do so. We have witnessed the 
tensions escalated in the past too and there seems to be well 
coordinated ,timely pattern on the skirmishes along the LOC. Before 2 
month,pak ws on the verge of successfully electing the civilian govt 
for the first time afer the completion of the then govt, it was the 
historical moment for the rest of the world too. it was seen as the 
game changer in pak politics and a balm for India, since the 
democratic govt stablises the country and India has been looking 
forward to that.Right at the nick of the time, we confronted with the 
beheading of our soldiers to ratch up tensions along the Loc.Given 
the army history in pak, it was an open secret that it was the 
cabibrated planing of pak army to derail the political establishment

from:  neeraj bhatt
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 13:27 IST

So does the author mean to say we must be ready to loose a few or more lives of army men, in exchange for a fruitful dialogue with pakistan..????. when pakistan cannot even honour a simple mutual ceasefire agreement,should we believe they would abide by the outcome of dialogue with them...???

from:  Ajay V
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 12:48 IST

We have a long list of eternal optimists in our own country before we counter the actual enemy. Here is one of them. Being purely logical Mr. Jacob here is my response to your stupid analysis:
Scenario 1: How can you be 100% sure this is not the case? Any circumstancial evidence or simple guess work? Guess work I believe. 
Scenario 2: Here you are suggesting we should impress upon Mr. Nawaz Sharif to control their army which has not happened since independence? How naive. 
Scenario 3: My primary response here is, it doesnt look like you have India's interests in your mind. Secondly you are saying the onus is on India to ensure we continue to talk till good sense prevails on the establishment in Pakistan to control their rogue elements, notwithtstanding the bleeding which India takes? 
Scenario 4:Mr.Jacob would you be willing to risk your son on the front if this is the case? Have you heard the concept called self-protection first?

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 12:41 IST

First strong and swift retaliatory action. In addition talk, if they 
still would like to.

from:  kvjayan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 12:22 IST

Weather the Nawaz government sanctioned the killings or not, for once the government has to acknowledge that it was carried out by/with the help of elements in the Pakistani army. That precondition is must for any constructive dialogue, as it would signal our neighbor's departure from their traditional mode of response, i.e., denial. 
The outcome of any dialogue without the precondition is predictable, and cannot deliver progress in the relationship.

from:  dinesh
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:51 IST

I am just worried if not retaliating hard enough may not bolster confidence in Pak Army section of a different kind. There should be less debate on over and above instant reaction in such circumstances.

from:  Shaurya
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:39 IST

Mr Jacob, 
No one is asking for calling off the dialogue with Pakistan. We are 
asking MMS to exert pressure on Nawaz Sharif to demonstrably reign in 
his Army. Nawaz Shrif may g=have to pull up - (top brass - Scenario 
2), (Lower rungs - Scenario 3) or (Army lower rungs who support 
terrorists enter India - Secnario 4). If Nawaz Sharif cannot control 
his own army, then what is the use of talking to him? 
If Nawaz Sharif demonstrably punishes the army vagrants (like Col Purohit is in Jail in India), puts Hafiz Saeed in jail and hands over Dawood Ibrahim... then we can have our PM talk to him.
Till then, let our Foreign Ministry officials continue talking to Pakistani officials!

from:  Sandeep K
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:26 IST

The number of scenarios cannot be limited to only these four that the author has conveniently developed to suit his line of reasoning. We should not forget that Nawaz Sharif was in the loop regarding Kargil but deliberately kept himself at an arm's distance so that he could put on act of injured innocence if things turned out bad. That was what happened and he blamed Musharraf who promptly de-throned him and expelled him from Pakistan for his perfidy. Pakistani leaders are not averse to (mis)adventure even when professing 'peace'. Today, the Pakistani tail is up and the history of last 66 years shows that every time it was up, it decided to strike at India. Now, the tide has turned massively in the Pakistan-US relationship, Pakistan's protege the Taliban are likely to at least share power especially controlling Southern Afghanistan, the US is leaving, US will transfer massive left over arms free to Pakistan and it has given primacy to Pak in Afghan affairs. It is deja vu for Pakistan.

from:  Subramanyam Sridharan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:23 IST

If the Pakistani Army can conduct operations without the knowledge of 
the civilian govt, then is there any point talking to such a govt? 
Moreover, what is the guarantee that the promise that the govt. of 
Pakistan gives will be respected by the army?? Haven't we seen the 
bus service followed by Kargil war?? 
I think those questions would convince the author that the talks the 
first 3 scenarios is pointless. If the last scenario is true, then 
also talks are pointless because the civilian govt as well as the 
army is then not in a position to check its own borders. 

from:  Sidharth
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:22 IST

Writer has tried to cover all the scenarios but overlooked the cease fire violations in last two-three days. So, if only when soldiers are killed at LOC, we should feel offended and overlook the thousands rounds of ammunition fired? This firing is certainly not by any terrorists or being done without top brass uninformed. Pakistan will have to set his house right first. We can't afford to engage in diplomatic relations in New York and simultaneously fight at LOC. And such keen desire for friendly relationship has also to be shown by Pakistan by mounting some pressure on Army. Otherwise,this dream of friendly relations will just prove itself a waste of time and energy once again.

from:  vishwas
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:13 IST

The author's question of "what could be gained by not talking" can be answered easily. It conveys a message to Pakistan that India was no longer going to keep absorbing blow after blow and tougher measures would follow if the hint was discarded. Unfortunately, it is true that India always chickened out of escalating the diplomatic tough talk with tougher diplomatic actions. Of course, nobody is talking of war, lest it is misinterpreted that way. So, Pakistan knows that even when India broke off from talks, it was only a matter of time that it would come around. This is especially so after the US inserted itself in Indian decision making processes after circa 1999, more especially with UPA and most especially with UPA-II. Again, the author comes to the conclusion that the 'no-talkers' have no alternative and concludes the only alternative is military action. He forgets there are shades of grey too. There is a range of diplomatic measures that can be taken and we never explored them.

from:  Subramanyam Sridharan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:11 IST

There is another possible scenario: Pak army deliberately carried out this act NOT to disrupt the dialogue but to elicit a military response from India to create an alarm and then use that as an excuse to withdraw troops from the Western border where it is expected to, but does not want to fight TTP and other insurgents. India must NOT let the talks be derailed while giving a measured response to any provocations at the LOC.

from:  Manjit Sahota
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:58 IST

It is not unfortunate incident as stated by you but it is a planned attack. Enough of the dialogue-baji. Why waste time on it. Success of any dialogue is the end result. On one hand you say that 2004 talks were most fruitful which was broken by the hideous Taj attack resulting in killing of nearly 300 civilians.It is evident that Someone from pak, especially their terror outfits and ISI alongwith their Army donot want this peace process which will put their importance in the back burner.Yes, we understand the fact that a stable Pakistan is in the interest of India.. but this efforts shud come from pakistan, atleast halfway. When their govt donot have any control over their Army, this argument does't hold good from indian perspective. 
Let us agree that Nawaz sharif ddi't play a role in the LOC attack. But before any dialogue to take place, he needs to reign in his army and ISI. Give us some indication that he is in-charge of the country. 

from:  raghav uchil
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:44 IST

Happymon Jacob has made up his mind to suggest to Pak need engaged in peace talks 
irrespective of any of his scenarios being true. Our intelligence is not that naive and 
incapable to assess and confirm which of the scenarios is true. Every time there is a peace 
process initiated, there are corresponding efforts to sabotage the same by the 
fundamentalist/ separatist disruptive elements and experience/history has established that 
these are supported by Pak Army. We have come a full circle from the Kargil instance and 
unless Nawaz Sheriff's Civilian government takes control of the Army, there shall be no 
respite in our borders nor there shall be any let up in their terrorist activities on our soil. While 
engaging Pak in talks, our Army should have full powers to retaliate the aggression from 
across the borders; also, beef up surveillance network Policy towards Pakistan need to be 
more aggressive putting strong conditions for talks. You may not ' bite'; yet have to 'hiss..'

from:  M.r.Sampath
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:37 IST

Mr.Happymon Jaocob has analysed the problem of negotiation between India and Pakistan.The alternative to negotiation is only delayed negotiation and not armed conflict.Even stopping of armed action needs negotiation. It is better to negotiate now for Political leadership of Pakistan is very enthusiastic about it. We must strengthen the hands of the democratically elected government and ignore the army till the negotiations end. It is for the Pakgovernment to make the army fall in line with its decisions and commitments. The US has the strings to pull to make the Pak-army comply with civilian goverment's decisions.US is also urging us to start negotiations,and has commitment to make it work.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:11 IST

It is clearly evident that the terrorists are aided and abetted by Paki"s ruling establishment and the army. It is surprising the writer is not taking note of the threats to India by the terrorist organisations roaming freely in Pak. The so called self seeking intellectuals should first stay in the border areas to fight for the country instead of sitting in air-conditioned comforts of Newdelhi and giving free advices.In case of Pak, US is responsible for the current position.They have been financing Pak with billions of dollars to help its arms lobby to improve its profits. USA should be declared as a terrorist nation as it is responsible for death of millions of innocent people be it Vietnam or Afganisthan, Iraq and many other places

from:  S Lakshmi Narayana
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 09:38 IST

"In other words, military retaliation against Pakistan is militarily and politically unviable". 
Of what use then is India's military might if it can not be deployed when necessary? 
I understand that military option must be used only in rare circumstances, but Pakistan seems to be pushing India towards that. 
A full blown war will not be in either country's interest, but if India does not retaliate, then we will only lose valuable lives of our brave soldiers.

from:  Guruprasad S
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:50 IST

Rightly said.

from:  Sanjay basumatary
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:50 IST

Mr. Jacob accuses India of lack of strategic thinking yet his analysis 
provides a DEEPLY flawed rationale. Consider the following. Suppose 
India does nothing except talk in response to these attacks. What will 
the various actors in Pakistan going to learn from this lack of action 
? Using Mr. Jacob's logic if it was the terrorists it would make no 
difference in perpetuating their actions and no reason for any other 
elements in Pakistan to take actions to stop this. If it was with the 
connivance of some or all of the elements of Pakistani military then 
it would embolden these elements to escalate their actions. If the 
Pakistani government was in collusion behind this attack on Indian 
armed forces then it could conclude that this was the best course of 
action to continue to put India on the defensive while negotiating. 

The problem is that game theory as it is applied to war is the best 
way to approach this problem as it is done currently in USA and not 
Mr. Jacob's reasoning.

from:  H. Hamid
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:42 IST

Easily said than done.....the dialogue process with pak has nothing to 
do with the incident,however it can be suspended till a point of 
decision is reached among senior leadership about future course of 
action, which i think they don't really have. The cease-fire 
violations along LoC should be retaliated with full effort. Surgical 
strikes/raids on possible terrorist camp/posts is best solution to 
such cowardly incidents(the killing of five Indian Army soldiers and 
beheading of other two previously). This will set the stage for 
further so called talk/peace process in the manner that nobody in 
Pakistan(govt/army/terrorists) will ever again try to repeat the same. 
Carrying on peace process is a good idea but not before resolving the 
LoC crisis.

from:  amit
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:35 IST

Dialogue is for normalization of relations with Pakistan, and assuming 
that dialogue is a tool to do that, question is whether the objective 
would be achieved. What is the scenario in Pakistan today? 
In Pakistan today, terrorists are in control of citizens’ lives in 
some parts of the country. It is a country wherein suicide bomb 
attacks and shooting of innocent citizens, etc. have become common 
incidents. In fact killings and other types of violence have become a 
very normal activity. Terrorist organizations like Taliban and LeT 
would always try to disturb normalization of relations with India. 
That is the reality. Hence any engagement with the Nawaz Sharif 
government cannot ignore this realty. 
Nevertheless we cannot give up hope and we must continue our efforts 
to establish peace with peace and for this to happen, LoC violations 
must be totally avoided. 

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:13 IST

India's pacifism or reluctance to respond to attackers from across the borders for the sole reason of not risking conciliatory talks that never held much promise any way, must be considered as an unrealistic expectation if not bad policy. Wise statesmanship would have it that one must keep on trying until one succeeds. However what is the guarantee that the Pak government, its army and the third force, euphemistically called as non-stage actors, would not each in turn use India's opposition to violence as a double edged weapon to serve their particular interests?

from:  john
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 08:09 IST

Your suggestion in every scenario misses a valid Point. This is the 
Same PM who has such a weak Control over Its army that lead to ARMY. 
Recently Taliban Freeing Prisoners from Pakistan is clear sign of 
strengthening of terror Forces. For Last few Years Pakistan was Silent 
mainly due to American presence inside and Vicinity. With they Backing 
out, Top Political class of Pakistan is crumbling. The situation is 
Similar to Egypt where Army let go its face under people's pressure 
but found a way out. The Current Government is just a face of the 
current Army Establishment. 

Even if any of your other 3 scenario is right, then do you really 
thing it will bring fruit. With USA out (Aid remaining) Can Pakistan 
Army is buckled other than driving them to bankruptcy. No dialogue is 
needed in current testing situation. Not out of Emotion but 
considering the inability and lack of willingness of Political 
establishment and moral bankruptcy of Pakistan Army. You can not cook 
in neighbors house.

from:  Sudhanshu Kumar Ashwini
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 07:55 IST

We need both a carrot and a stick. While we may continue the dialogue, 
we cannot let the culprits go unpunished either. With only dialogue, 
we will reinforce the belief that we can be hurt at will, and that just 
can't be allowed.

from:  V. Ramaswami
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 07:30 IST

My compliments to the writer, for realistic &balanced analysis.Most sensible citizens in the two countries want to live in peace& let both develop for their citizens betterment.Nearly a century has gone-by and cancer of Kashmir still unresolved to the acceptance by both countries &THE KASHMIRI,S.Only after that the bitterness will start to dissolve.Bharat is a big brother and needs to be honest & magnanimous.Qaisar

from:  Qaisar Mahmud
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 06:08 IST

I agree with the author's analysis. India will gain nothing by severing 
the dialogue process instead the government should advocate backchannel 
talks as early as possible.

from:  prabu rathan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 06:02 IST

What is the point of talking to some one who has no power on his own Army. What do we achieve out of this, how do we know that this is not a game. The most important question is what is the point of talk when there is no benefit for India. This is just a waste of time there is nothing that India is going to gain.

from:  Anjaneyulu
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 04:51 IST

I remember reading the news that there is a "lobby" which really wants a war between India-Pakistan and India-China so that the business of that lobby will flourish. But obviously; the business is about military arms and ammunition. This lobby has veiled themselves so carefully in the political circle that the government is not able to flush them out. At the same time; government does not want to make them 'happy' - tough task! Government, opposition and media must take a note of it for sure. We Indians indeed do not want to make 'their business' a successful one.

from:  Shrihari Kulkarni
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 03:28 IST

There is an alternative which the author did not consider at all. Why 
not India remain silent with neither war nor dialogue with Pakistan? 
However, at the same time India should protect its borders even more 
strongly and carefully. The Indian army should not leave any chance 
for the repetition of the recent brutal attacks on our soldiers. In 
the event of a similar attempt none of their attackers should go 
alive. Coming back to the engagement with Pakistan, as a responsible 
neighbor India should allow the people of Pakistan to decide what they 
want to do with their country. No amount of engagement with the 
civilian government of Pakistan will improve the relations between the 
two countries, we cannot simply forget the history.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 02:26 IST
This refers to the article “Why engagement with Pakistan is a must” (Aug.13), and the four scenarios listed by the author. Of them, the third one, that “the recent firing along the LoC was the handiwork of the Pakistan Army,” sounds plausible. The Pakistani Army seems to dislike Nawaz Sharif’s overtures to India and wants to reassert its role. At this juncture, I would suggest that India adopt a two-pronged strategy. Now that India has substantial, military capabilities, we should remind Pakistan in small ways that we cannot be taken for granted. Even if we keep silent in the face of incessant attacks, Pakistan will cry itself hoarse that it is India that is violating the ceasefire along the LoC. Knowing well that Mr. Sharif can’t isolate the army, this strategy will send a strong reminder to the Pakistani Army that India cannot be taken for granted.
N.G. Subramaniam,
Mr. Happymon Jacob examines at length four scenarios and concludes that dialogue is the wisest course. Then, he makes the assertion that there is indeed no other option, which renders all his previous analysis an academic waste of time.
While talks with Pakistan’s political establishment should be pursued vigorously and sincerely in the interests of furthering peace and goodwill, our military should be authorised, on a standing basis, to take limited on-the-spot retaliatory action across the border (without the government’s overt sanction and parliamentary uproar) whenever the Pakistani Army and/or its terrorist protégés engage in adventurism and provocation. There is also no point in always being fearful that all retaliatory, military action would lead to an all-out war, disastrous to India and only to India.
A.N. Lakshmanan,
The analysis that there must be continued engagement with Pakistan even on a larger scale to strengthen the new Pakistan Prime Minister’s fragile position and to also defeat the traditional and nefarious designs of the Pakistani Army is interesting. Using Scenario 2 and ruling out a military coup, the Pakistani Army knows that escalating border skirmishes with India is the only way it can assert its gradually eroding supremacy over the civilian government. India needs to strengthen the hands of the Sharif government to free his country from the Army’s treacherous grip. We cannot be a partner in crime in acting against the civilian government.
Capt. Thongath Raju (retd.),
Most diplomats would agree that isolation or silence are excellent coercive tactics. Countries like the United States sustain their international diplomacy solely by duress. By agreeing to re-engage with Pakistan without establishing guilt in the LoC skirmish, India would be blazoning its weakness to the world. By not engaging with India on the economic front, Pakistan stands to lose more than India. Why should we not leverage this to solve festering cross-border insurgency issues?
Aditya Radhakrishnan,
It has always been one step forward and two steps back as far as the relationship between India and Pakistan are concerned. There was sufficient evidence of Pakistan’s involvement in the bomb blasts in Mumbai in 2008 but it has failed to either take any action against the kingpin, Hafez Sayeed, or hand him over to India for further action. Subsequently, there have been several violations across the border and senseless killings of Indian soldiers. But in spite of all these provocations, India has always been consistent in its attempts to repair the relationship and put it on an even keel. Yet, Pakistan continues to display its usual belligerence.
When Nawaz Sharif took over as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, it was expected that he would do something to improve the matter. But the way in which he has responded to the recent killings of the soldiers does not inspire confidence. There is reason to think that like his predecessors he too will remain a silent spectator, unable to rein in the Army. Though war is not a desirable option, India seems to be twiddling its thumbs unable to decide which way to go.
A. Michael Dhanaraj,
In my fifty five years of life, seldom I have seen such truly analytical piece of writing. Hats-off.
from:  irfan iftekhar
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 01:43 IST
(Source: The Hindu, August 13, 2013. URL: )

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

-Why are you so keen to support a country that sells nuclear weapons to the highest bidder? (AQ Khan and Libya)
-Why are you so keen to support a country that hides international terrorists?
-Why are you so keen to support a country that gives death sentences to minorities under a blasphemy law?
-Why must we speculate on their possible scenarios and put our hand forward?
None are so blind as those that will not see..