New Delhi: The power struggles vis-a-vis strategic thinking and foreign policy in Pakistan have again come to the fore as Army Chief General Asim Munir Ahmed must not have approved Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s call for a dialogue with India.
In an interview with UAE’s ‘Al Arabiya’ news channel, Sharif said: “My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that, let us sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues like Kashmir”.
But in no time, the Pak PMO issued a statement stating, “Without India’s revocation of this step (abrogation of Art 370 in Jammu and Kashmir), negotiations are impossible”. This virtually stalls whatever idea was generated by PM Sharif’s remarks in the media interview.
The Pakistan PMO spokesperson said that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute “must be in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The prime minister made this position very clear in his interview with Al Arabiya during his recent visit to the UAE,” he said.
Of course, it has become clear to the world that in Islamabad, the so-called Prime Minister is less powerful than the men in military camouflage in Rawalpindi. But there are wheels within wheels.
Pakistan is on the verge of a major economic crisis, and this has made many people in that country understand the importance of normalising relations with India. At one point, even former Army Chief Javed Bajwa had spoken about ‘geo-economics’ stressing normalising ties with New Delhi to revive the trade.
Importantly it may be noted that Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, in his interview, also tried to be candid.
“We have three wars with India, and it only brought more misery, poverty and unemployment to the people. We have learnt our lesson and we want to live in peace provided we are able to resolve our genuine problems.
We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity, and provide education and health facilities and employment to our people and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition,” Sharif had said in his interview.
Many others seem to understand the agony of the Pakistan Prime Minister. A recent article in the newspaper ‘Dawn’ said, “The ongoing crisis is a result of years of irrational policies pursued across the political, economic and foreign policy domains. The solution then is to fundamentally alter the status quo in three key domains: foreign policy, economy, and governance”.
The writer Uzair M. Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, had also said that if the Pakistani ‘elites’ (one can safely include the military) continue with their
“Irrationality”, Pakistan’s survival over the next 75 years will require a “miracle”.
Now, here is the paradox. India is what Pakistan can never be. Both countries have completed 75 years since Independence. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls it ‘Amrit Kaal’ and asserts that Bharat will soon enter into its “Sarvottam Kaal (“best era”), in Pakistan, the story is entirely different.
Pakistan’s list of challenges includes – macroeconomic instability, high inflation, poor public services, criminal neglect of the social sectors, corruption, crippling power outages, growing unemployment, deepening poverty and a deteriorating debt profile.
Successive civilian and military governments have only produced an outcome in which Pakistan became increasingly dependent on external financial assistance, aid and borrowings.