Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan has displayed his willingness to walk the extra mile in order to solve the complex web of Bharat-Pak relations. The ball now is fairly in Pakistan’s court. Pakistan has to reciprocate Modi’s bold and jaw-breaking initiative by displaying its sincerity in improving the relations with Bharat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the world by surprise when on the morning of Xmas-2015 he tweeted “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore this afternoon where I will drop on my way back to Delhi.” This tweet was received in the two hostile neighbours Bharat and Pakistan with ‘awe and shock’, an unexpected development for which neither the media nor the public was prepared. Soon the news hogged limelight and prime time. The Bharateeya PM landed in Lahore late in the evening for one to one talks with his Pakistani counterpart—the first visit to Pakistan by an Bharateeya Premier in more than 10 years breaking all protocols. For the majority of Bharateeya who have grown up with the conventional diplomacy laced with strict protocols, conventions and formalities it was difficult to fathom the new ‘out of box’ approach of Modi. Hence, this initiative of his has drawn a mixed response especially from those belonging to the old school of thought. While all leading political parties in Pakistan except Jamat-i-Islami have welcomed the initiative of Modi, the reaction at home has not been very favourable with most of the Opposition parties being deeply critical. The Congress spokesperson went to the extent of terming it as threat to national security, “Diplomacy has gravitas maturity. It is not a joke, only for news. The PM has no vision”, said former Minister Anand Sharma of Congress.
The criticism by the Opposition at home is understandable and worth ignoring. The matter of the fact is that Modi has once again surprised them with his audacity and ‘risk taking
capability’, essential quality of a
successful leader. The difference between an ordinary and successful leader is that while the former prefers to be a ‘fence-sitter’ and avoid taking decisions because of his ‘status-quo’ bent of mind, the later prefers to take calculated risks to upset the opponent,
convert adversity to advantage, put the opponent on back-foot and finally snatch victory. Modi with his ‘Modi-fied’ diplomacy has made his intention clear that he wants to be in the league of successful leaders who not only dream but have the capability of converting their dreams into reality even at the risk of facing temporary setbacks. Such leaders are motivated by King Robert Bruce who in turn was motivated by a spider, “try, try and try again—till you succeed.” Modi has displayed his
willingness to walk the extra mile in order to solve the complex web of Bharat-Pak relations. The cynics, though, are not fully convinced. Many term it as a mere exercise in reciprocity wherein Modi has reciprocated the bold initiative taken by Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in ceremony. The others term it as a PR exercise and some have even gone to the extent of terming it as a private visit. It may be a little too presumptuous to expect a
miracle out of this initiative of the Bharateeya Premier yet he needs to be complimented for this unconventional approach to resolve the long outstanding disputes between the two nuclear neighbours.
The critics are also justified to an extent when they question the logic for this sudden turn of events because there appears to be no visible change in the situation on the ground. Given the fact that the relations between the two neighbours have been full of mutual distrust with events and experience in the past not being very encouraging, the old guard fears the new found
Changing the Indo-Pak Narrative
Modi’s visit to Lahore may not give any immediate gains, but a continued environment of trust and mutual accommodation between Bharat-Pak will reap handsome results.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, once again, exhibited his dynamic and unconventional approach towards tackling such issues that have attained an unacceptable level of dormancy. His impromptu visit to Pakistan to wish his counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday has caused ripples across the world not to talk of the two countries. He has created a diplomatic history by virtue of the sheer boldness and diversion from convention of his act. He has made it very clear that he is not ready to carry on with a status quo and will willingly walk the extra mile required to resolve a pestering issue of Indo-Pakistan relations.
bonhomie to be another trap laid by the forces inimical to good Indo-Pak relations. At the same time they also agree that there is no substitute to dialogue and talks between the two nations to resolve their differences and build the bridge of friendship. But they recommend treading very cautiously. While the desired end state is common the approach to achieve the same varies. I see a ray of hope as for once the two Sharifs, Nawaz and Raheel; appear to be on the same page. My optimism is based on the fact that new National Security Advisor of Pakistan is a trusted man of the Army Chief and Nawaz Sharif would not have dared to walk this much without the tacit approval of policy-makers in GHQ Rawalpindi. The actual reason for change of heart of the military establishment in Pakistan viz a viz relations with Bharat continues to be shrouded with mystery. One can only hazard a guess. Pak Army has failed miserably to fight the menace of terrorism at home and is fast losing the grip on the situation. Radicalisation of the Army is another worrying factor for the establishment. All this is being further compounded by the challenge posed by the ISIS. Security of Sino-Pak economic corridor and TAPI gas pipe-line, lifeline for dwindling Pak economy, is also causing worries to the military. Pak military appears to have realised that it can no more continue with its dual policy of ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’ and would need Bharateeya support to combat the growing menace of terror.
The ball now is fairly and squarely in Pakistan’s court. Pakistan has to reciprocate Modi’s bold and jaw-breaking initiative by displaying its sincerity in improving the relations with Bharat. Pak Army has yet to give up its doctrine of “Bleeding Bharat through Thousand Cuts”. One cannot hope for reduction in violence in Kashmir till the doctrine remains in vogue. J&K is affected most by the state of relations between the two neighbours. It is therefore not surprising that Modi’s initiative has been hailed by all segments of the Kashmiri leadership including the separatists. End of Pak sponsored proxy war is a prerequisite for holistic development of the state which in turn would generate employment-bringing an end to the gun culture.
Some of the indicators that would display Pak’s sincerity in building bridges with Bharat are: ceasefires on the border, maintaining sanctity of the LC/IB, ending infiltration, winding up terror infrastructure including training camps, pace of 26/11 trial, action against likes of Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi and Azhar Masood, returning Bharateeya prisoners of war languishing in their jails, MFN status to Bharat repatriation of Dawood Ibrahim. Modi through his ‘Modi-fied’ diplomacy has conveyed to Pakistan, “Dosti aam hai lekin aye dost, Dost milte hai badi mushkil se”.
Brig Anil Gupta (The writer is a political commentator, security & strategic analyst)