Hopes of a breakthrough in the India-Pakistan relationship after the election of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister are eroding fast
by Ramananda Sengupta
NEW DELHI: Hopes of a breakthrough in the India-Pakistan relationship after the election of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister are eroding fast. Khan, who is seen as a puppet of the all-powerful Pakistan military-mosque combine, had made all the right noises. “I have widely travelled in India because of cricket and I want good relations with India. I really want to fix our ties, you take one step forward, we will take two steps forward.”
New Delhi, on its part, staunchly maintains that talks are futile unless Pakistan stops cross-border terror, or at least takes tangible steps to curb it. But, Pakistan’s apex court ruling allowing Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its “humanitarian arm” Falahi Insaniyat Foundation to continue its “charity work” is seen as a step in the other direction.
“We all know that Khan won because of support from the mullah-military combine,” said a senior Indian security official. “So, expecting him to oppose them and really reach out to India will be naïve. Sharif tried, so did Benazir. And, see what happened to them.”
So what are India’s options? “Well, we can continue to squeeze them politically, economically, and strategically, and hope that someday things will change, but that has not worked so far. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that,” the official said. “The other option is to talk directly with the military, and hopefully come to some kind of an understanding.”
But would that not undermine the democratically elected government? “Who the hell cares who we undermine?” asks Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan. “Do you think the politically elected class there loves your face? This is stupid thinking. I am not saying we should directly go and talk with the army. But you will have to divide modalities. The Americans do it, the Russians do it, the Chinese do it, the British. Why are we the only holy virgins?”